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Writer and politician Shashi Tharoor speaks about his new book Why I Am a Hindu, presenting his own convictions and understanding of one of the world’s oldest religions. From the ‘Hinduism of habit’ practised by ordinary believers to manifestations of political Hinduism, to the teachings to ancient seers, and the abiding lessons of the Gita, he speaks of the essence of the religion and its vital contribution to a plural and secular democracy. In conversation with Namita Gokhale. 

Scholar, artiste, and danseuse Sonal Mansingh’s passion for her art is matched by her passion for life. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, she speaks of the legacy of three dance forms—Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Chhau—as well as the evolution of classical arts in post-independence India and a tumultuous life full of intensity and unparalleled creativity.

Dreams and dystopias, polarities and binaries are constants of the modern world. Journalist and writer Omar El Akkad, who has reported on the Arab Spring, from Guantanamo Bay, and on the Black Lives matter movement is also author of the perturbing dystopian novel, American War. In conversation with Milan Vaishnav, he speaks of his journalist encounters and takes us down the disquieting potential reality of an America ravaged by civil war, the subject of his novel. 

Creator of the popular series Bones, Kathy Reichs is also a senior academic and forensic anthropologist. “Fastidiously conscientious about getting the science right”, she balances her passion for forensic anthropology with her dedication to writing, bringing deep layers of understanding and real life science to the investigation and exhumation of criminal mysteries. In an insightful session, she speaks of her writing, popular science and communication, crime and punishment, gender and equity. 

The complex social, political, and religious attitudes of ‘modern’ India cannot be understood without an understanding of its myths and their impact on the collective faith of the people. Examining contemporary Indian women through the lens and perspectives of Indian goddesses, the session revisits myth, memory, and culture to interpret current Indian feminisms. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has written The Palace of Illusions. Namita Gokhale has co-edited the landmark anthology, In Search of Sita. 

For the past seven decades, India has defied the predictions of skeptics who predicted its democracy would not withstand the pressures imposed by poverty, illiteracy, and ethnic diversity. Celebrated author and current Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor will provide an insider perspective on democracy’s growing pains in India, while Milan Vaishnav offers his take as a scholar of Indian political life. In conversation with public policy consultant and attorney Jay Aiyer, Tharoor and Vaishnav will bring to life the complexities of governing the world’s largest democracy—and the implications for the world. 

“I build half the bridge, the other half is the reader”. If art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, fiction opens our eyes to living reality. Four writers, Anis Shivani, Daniel Peña, Rajesh Parameswaran, and Shobha Rao, discuss the craft of fiction and talk about their books, and the context in which they were written. 

In a session of readings and conversations, poets read from their works and speak of the sources, inspirations, contexts, and philosophy of the poetic imagination.

Medical narratives take us to the core of our being. In this compelling session, Mimi Swartz talks of her bestselling book Ticker, an account of the quest to create an artificial heart. Dr. Sharad Paul, acclaimed author of several books on the human body and the journey towards understanding it, speaks of how we decode our genes for better health. 

Two writers across continents and cultures speak of personal and political awakenings, and the stories of the lands they have left behind. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is the author of House of Stone. Anis Shivani is the author of Karachi Raj. In conversation with Omar El Akkad, author of American War. 

The ‘Wall’ has become a metaphor for the closure of cultural and human interaction. Three writers that tell their stories across the continuities of Mexican and American experience speak of their narratives, of the violence of cross-border realities and of pluralism and diversity. A riveting session with readings and conversation with Daniel Peña, Roberto Tejada, Rubén Martínez, and Marina Tristán 

A crucial session on water, climate change, and social issues. Marcus Moench and Lacy M. Johnson speak of the social and ecological issues that govern one of the most essential prerequisite for our life on this planet. A session that looks at our collective relationship with water, land, and one another.