Writers must stay alert to stop India becoming Nazi Germany, says MT Vasudevan Nair at MBIFL 2023

MT Vasudevan Nair delivers keynote address | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Thiruvananthapuram: The fourth edition of the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL), themed “Shadows of history, lights of the future,” kicked off at Kanakakunnu Palace in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. Delivering the keynote address, Jnanpith winner and writer MT Vasudevan Nair said that writers and intellectuals should stay alert so that the state of Nazi Germany does not happen in the country.

He added that the elimination of opposing voices with the power and support of the regime is reminiscent of the Nazi era. Several people left Germany for other countries during that time. This should not happen in India, he said.

India has people who are strong enough to defend this. People who know the seriousness of this will come forward. So, I do not think what happened in Nazi Germany will be repeated here, the veteran writer said. But there are some indications of this in our country. This should be taken seriously. These small indications will lead to great disasters. People should be alert, he added.

MT expressed that he felt "great pleasure" to become a part of such an event.

He expressed pleasure with festive fever in the venue and remarked that it showed that literature is "not dying." He asked everyone to defend the Malayalam language and thereby sow seeds for a new culture to rise in the state.

"We should examine what is happening to our language. I was thinking about the future of Malayalam for some time. Malayalam is slowly disappearing from our school syllabus. Though the text books still have literary works, both modern and old, we could feel that something is missing from the syllabus. There is a general convention that there is no need for students to study poems by heart. This is a matter of concern," he said.

He added there is a general tendency that everyone should pass school exams. "If there is no healthy competition, then what is the point of living?"

He also warned that the country is facing a difficult period due to the ideologies set forward by ruling governments. He added that writers are facing backlash citing the example of Perumal Murugan. He added that religion should not be used for violence and that everyone should stand against those who try to do so.

The festival will be officially inaugurated at 6 pm by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah and Man Booker International winners Shehan Karunatilaka and Jokha Alharthi will also attend the event.

The literature festival, which returns after a two-year hiatus owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, features numerous sessions on the topics like literature, art and culture, politics, technology, science, gender across 11 venues at Kanakakunnu Palace. There will also be various cultural events and special sessions for children.

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