Hyderabad Literary Festival Virtual – 22-24 January 2021

Indian literature festivals thrive – digital and live

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Hyderabad Literary Festival
Hyderabad Literary Festival 2020 Image: hydlitfest.org

The Hindu reports that the Hyderabad Literary Festival (HLF) is adopting the digital medium and is set to take place in a virtual format from 22-24 January 2021. Although this is a setback for another litfest due to the ongoing pandemic, the literary and cultural events aim to gather a wider audience using the digital route.

HLF has announced its first list of speakers, including Aakash Singh, Kobad Ghandy, NK Singh, Parmesh Shahani, Devdutt Pattanaik, Amitav Ghosh, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The popular literary event has four directors, namely, professor T Vijay Kumar, Amita Desai, Ajay Gandhi, and Kinnera Murthy – who have conducted many online webinars and interactive sessions during the Covid-19 lockdown for the Hyderabad lit fest. Going entirely online was a natural progression for the organizers.

The theme for this year’s HLF will be ‘language in focus.’ There will not be any parallel sessions in this year’s event in an attempt to evade digital fatigue. The festival will have a special segment hosted by music director Ramachary and radio anchor Jyotsna to pay homage to singer SP Balasubramaniam.

The detailed schedule for the 2021 event will be announced soon on www.hydlitfest.org. The regular segments of the fair like Kaavya Dhara – poetry stream, Nanha Nukkad – children’s events, Stage Talks, cultural events, workshops, and art exhibitions will all be held virtually.

The pandemic has forced many lit fests and book fairs to go online, including the recently concluded Bangalore Literature Festival and the Military Literature Festival, which had live-streamed book readings and interactive sessions. Last month, Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) announced its much-awaited first list of speakers with plans to have a completely virtual event scheduled on the last two weekends of February.

Several fairs have been canceled in the past year, such as the Paris Book Fair and the London Book Fair, due to the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic raging across Europe. The Frankfurt Bookfair was held as a virtual event with substantial support from the German government. However, the pandemic has taken a toll on the trade fair industry, and it may take several years for these events to recover.

Guwahati Book Fair goes live

Meanwhile, the Guwahati Book Fair or Granthamela from 30 December 2020 to 10 January 2021 in the Northeastern state of Assam was held live and attracted perhaps as many as a hundred thousand visitors over the twelve days. The fair that went on till the late evenings had all the ingredients that make Indian book fairs enjoyable – politicians, authors, musicians, and numerous seminars, awards, and performances. Although Assam has a population of over 34 million, the active Coronavirus cases are relatively low at about 1,600. During the week of 8 January, there was a 0% increase in the number of active cases.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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