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LITERATURE FESTIVALS

  • For perspective: the United Kingdom is a country with a population of over 7 crores (70 millions) – a little more than that of Gujarat – but has over 300 major literature festivals held every year. Compare: GLF was the first one in Gujarat.
  • In India, literature or literary festivals are a relatively new concept. They are spread over a few days at a specific venue in a city and are mostly centered around authors and their works.
    Usually, lit-fests focus on latest books and other forms of writings. The objective of such events is to popularise books and promote their sales, by discussing newly published books with authors themselves and other subject experts.
  • According to industry estimates, the size of Indian book publishing industry is Rs 35,000 crore. This is more than the size of the Bollywood film industry and the newspaper industry put together! Of this, 70% is educational publishing. Of the balance 30% of published books- over 45% in value terms are books in Indian regional languages. Interestingly, Hindi is 35% of this pie. By numbers, it outstrips English books.
    Entry to most of the lit fests is usually free in India, following registrations. However, access to some events within the festival is not free.
  • However, the scope of ‘literature’ is much wider than just books. GLF is perhaps the only lit-fest that is exploring the whole gamut of literary creativity, irrespective of medium and language.

IMPACT

  • GLF has created awareness about the need to bring focus on Gujarati writing.
  • Gujarat was a unique state that did not have any provision to make it necessary for a child to study Gujarati during entire schooling! GLF pursued this issue with the state government to make learning of Gujarati language mandatory at primary school level. This was accepted by the state in 2018 and teaching and learning of Gujarati language is now compulsory in schools of all boards, across Gujarat.
  • GLF has inspired at least a dozen literary events across the state and scores of college and university level events.
  • A young generation of Gujarati writers have benefitted directly. Dozens of newly published writers owe their inspiration and networking to participation in GLF events.
  • The example that GLF set, made it possible for young authors to get paid for public speaking and for participating in literary events.

GETTING BIGGER

  • Reportedly, India hosts about 70-75 literature festivals of varying sizes, formats and types across the country. This excludes student body organized events.
  • Most of these happen in November-March, because of favourable weather conditions. Some of them are organized by literary bodies like Parishads and Akademis. Majority of them levitate towards being scholarly and literary events – preaching the converted – rather than popular, targeting the youth.
  • While metropolitan cities have multiple literary fests, some tier-2 cities are now also graduating to more than one festival.
  • A majority of these festivals are focused on English books and their writers. Except for the city, the speakers, ambience and the overall character of the festivals is nearly identical.
  • Majority of them do not focus on literary forms consumed more by the people – like Plays, TV serials, Web Series, Film scripts, Digital and Social Media formats.
  • Almost, none of them focus on regional literature.
  • With an inclusion of all mediums of creative expression and multiple languages, GLF’s scope of cerebral content and audience inclusion across different spectrums is unparalleled.