"This is because I want to support the festival, and the wider principle of freedom of expression," he said

Ram Guha calls Bangalore Lit Fest boycott by writers ill-judged promises to attendFile photo: Wikipedia Commons/Pushkarv
news Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 08:30

Author and historian Ramachandra Guha on Monday said that he would present a lecture at the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) on December 5, even though he is not among the original list of speakers at the two-day event.

According to reports, he said he decided to accept the organizers' invitation as a gesture of support to the independent, home-grown festival and is expected to talk on 'Eight Threats to Freedom of Expression'

This comes two days after Vikram Sampath, one of the festival directors, chose to step away from his responsibilities at the festival.

"I now find this distressing scenario where my personal freedom of expression is coming in the way of the festival. Without getting into the finer details of nuance or metaphorical descriptions, my articles have been torn out of context and conclusions reached hastily...I am not apologetic about them in any manner and will continue to cherish the freedom that my country gives me to air my opinion fearlessly," Vikram Sampath said in a statement on Saturday.

Last week, two Kannada writers withdrew their participation over various reasons connected with numerous public personalities returning their awards. Kannada writers Dayananda TK and National Award winner Arif Raza separately wrote to the organizers on Thursday evening stating that they were withdrawing their participation.

Speaking to the Times of India, Ramachandra Guha said: "I have spoken at the BLF in the past and enjoyed the experience. I was invited this year too, but declined as I was finishing a book.However, the organizers have now renewed the invitation, and I have accepted. This is because I want to support the festival, and the wider principle of freedom of expression, in light of the ill-judged boycott by writers who had previously agreed to speak." 

He also went on to add "I can understand not accepting an invitation in the first place. To agree to speak and then pull out because one does not agree with the views of the organizer is to close off debate altogether. It displays, to use a word in vogue lately, intolerance, a trait much in display in the actions of politicians and ideologues, but one which expects writers not to fall prey to."


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