The first ever Andaman Literature Fest 2019, organised by the Arts and Culture Department of the Andaman Administration, Government of India was held at Megapode Resort in Port Blair, from October 22nd to the 24th. It concluded on October 24th with a resounding demand from the residents of the islands to continue this initiative.

Three days of a packed house saw a varied mix of authors like the author Debeshi Gooptu, author and Ideas Editor SheThePeople.TV Kiran Manral, editor and author of A Cloud Called Bhura Bijal Vachcharajani, wildlife and environmental writer Sejal Mehta and environmental cartoonist and founder of Green Humour Rohan Chakravarty, as well as local Andamanese authors and poets, who participated in a slew of panel discussions. The audience comprised local residents, students and community leaders from the islands.

andaman lit fest
Speakers at Andaman Lit Fest

SheThePeople.TV were proud to be the digital partners to this first-ever event organised by the administration in the islands. The event was supported by Kala Kendra.

Andaman Literature Fest 2019, organised by the Arts and Culture Department of the Andaman Administration, Government of India was held at Megapode Resort in Port Blair.

The event was inaugurated by Shri Vikram Dev Dutt, Chief Secretary of the A&N Administration who spoke about how important it was to encourage the literary arts in the islands as well as present the beauty of the islands to authors and creative persons from the mainland. Given that the country has a number of litfests that have cropped up across the length and the breadth of it, Mr Dev Dutt stated that the islands were a writer’s paradise. The very dynamic Dr Pooja Joshi, Secretary (IP&T) stated that the Art & Culture department would be taking up literary activities as a regular function to showcase the rich cultural and literary traditions of the Andaman Islands. The vote of thanks at the inaugural event was proposed by the Director (Art & Culture), A&N Administration, Ms. Shimray Asaiwo Bellrose.

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The first day saw an introductory talk by Dr Francis Xavier, the principal of JNRM where he spoke about the rich tradition of literature and how the islands have had their share of history that needs telling and retelling. Debeshi Gooptu, author of the ribtickling Gurgaon Diaries and Dragon Aunty Returns spoke in the next session on her journey from a blogger to a published author. She took the audience through her memories of visiting the Andamans on a cruise ship as a child, discussed the nuances of writing with the young students present in the audience. She advised the students to use blogging as their starting point on the journey towards getting published. This was followed by an open discussion between the authors on publishing, writing and how they went about their journey. The authors took questions from the audience about the same. An impromptu discussion had local author Punam Tripathi speak about how she came about writing her book The Vulnerable Andaman and Nicobar Islands. On the second day, Kiran Manral spoke about popular fiction for young adults, taking the audience through the various genres that young adult fiction has, and how fiction can be an enabler and an educator.

andaman lit fest
Andaman Lit Fest

Post this session, Bijal Vachcharajani and Rohan Chakravarty took the audience on a state by state tour of the wildlife of India through a wonderful interactive workshop. This was followed by Bijal reading out from her book A Cloud Called Bhura, which deals with the toxic effects of pollution and climate change. Sejal Mehta took a session on travel writing and spoke about her own journey as a journalist to a freelance writer now specialising in travel and environment and wildlife as a niche focus. This was followed by a session by the local poets like DM Savitri and Jagdish Narayan, to name a couple, reciting their poetry to much applause from the involved audience. The third day saw a session on the history of the island by local authors and historians. Retired Principal, historian and author Ahmad Mujtaba spoke about how convicts were brought to the Andamans and the building of the Cellular Jail. Environmentalist Rohan Chakravarty took an interesting workshop on environmental cartooning, which saw a great response from the audience. The sessions ended with a vote of thanks, and the resolve to take the initiative to promote arts and literature with more focused efforts in the islands.

With inputs from Zeba Zahir

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