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Jaipur LitFest to provide voice to prominent women

As India’s popular literary event matures into its 12th year, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is aiming to provide a platform for the issues of successful women in conversation.

Beginning 24 January, the cold lawns of Dinghi Palance in Jaipur will witness this five-day carnival of discussions and debates featuring successful Indian women who have overcome cultural and financial barriers, have fought the stereotypes and transformed the popular views in the mainstream psyche.

In a session titled ‘Mithali Raj: The Warrior Skipper of Indian Cricket’, the most popular woman cricketer in the cricket-crazy country will speak her heart out about her journey and more importantly the challenges she faced as recounted in her recently-released autobiography. The all-time leading run-scorer for India and Padma Shri awardee will expose gender stereotypes and skewed opportunities for women players and discusses the way forward for an environment that actually rewards grit and talent.

Similarly, Usha Uthup – with her unusual voice that has won millions of heats through her songs in 15 Indian and eight foreign languages will share her experiences in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy in ‘I Believe in Music’, talking of what music means to her and her all-encompassing belief in its power.

In ‘Healed: Life Learnings from Manisha Koirala’, the cancer-survivor actor will share the highlights and lowlights of her career, relationships and her battle to overcome ovarian cancer. A candid session about the physical and emotional turbulence of her life post-diagnosis, the power of prayer, positive thinking and the long and intricate process of healing, this session will give the bare bones story of a dauntless journey and hard-won survival.

But the conversations are not just limited to sport and entertainment.

The stark and unadorned ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape’ will have Sohaila Abdulali share her heart-rending story of being gang-raped as a teenager more than 30 years later.

Similarly, journalist Abdulali will discuss her latest book, written from the point of view of a writer, counsellor and activist and a personal and professional testament that reaches out to victims and survivors. Abdulali throws light on the tortured silences around rape.

Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor at Yale and acclaimed author of Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos, will open the curtains through “map the heavens” across the cosmological discoveries of the past century. Her gift for making scientific theory accessible to audiences and her commitment to developing strategies to enhance numerical and scientific literacy make for easy learning.

Silicon Valley-based classics scholar Donna Zuckerberg re-appropriates the legacy of the ancient Greeks and Romans and repositions it in a larger context. In conversation with biographer Patrick French and writer Sharmila Sen in ‘Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age’, she dismisses the myopic and sexist vision which colours the study of the classics and the unparalleled wisdom found in Ovid, Euripides, Marcus Aurelius. Her book is a grim account of misogyny, toxic white supremacy and some very flawed history proliferated online by the Alt-Right to muscle its way into the venerable study of antiquity.

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