Jaipur, Jan 25: More than books, the Jaipur Literature Festival, the largest literary festival in Asia-Pacific, is known for the controversies. Although this time too controversy ensued even before the start of the Lit Fest, the event kick-started on a positive note with a message of peace on Thursday, Jan 24.
It was Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's presence which ensured that all is well with the festival and radicals/fanatics cannot hijack an event that engages in the promotion of literature, art and culture.
"India's greatness lies in the idea of Ahimsa. This country is a living example for the world to see how so many religions can exist together for centuries," Dalai Lama said.
Praising Indian democratic ideals, the 77-year-old spiritual leader said China has much to learn from India.
"China is the world's most populous country and India is one of the world's most populous democratic country. China could learn much from India," he said while emphasising on the importance of Sino-India relations.
"India is our guru," the Nobel Peace prize winner told the appreciative crowd, "and we are your chelas. All the knowledge that has come to us has come from India."
"I try to learn whatever I can," the Lama said, in conversation with British novelist Pico Iyer. "I still consider myself a student," he added.
However, government on Friday blocked two Pakistani diplomats from travelling to Jaipur for the ongoing Literature Festival in the city. Sources said that the decision was taken after consulting the Centre. The two officials had applied for permission to travel to Jaipur and Ajmer but will now have to miss it.
Unfortunately, the festival has been hijacked by fanatics belonging to both Hindu and Muslim communities. Last year, there was a "hue and cry" over Salman Rushdie's controversial book "The Satanic Verses".
The author was banned from addressing the visitors at the festival through a video conference from US. Even before Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 could begin this year, controversies have already started haunting it. The lit fiesta will end on Jan 28.
This time, several Islamist groups have threatened the organisers of the festival not to allow the participation of four authors who had last year read out passages from Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. The four authors are Amitava Kumar, Ruchir Sharma, Jeet Thayil and Hari Kunzru.
Leaders of BJP and RSS from Rajasthan too have threatened to disrupt the event. Police sources say they are opposing the participation of seven Pakistani authors.