NINETEENTH SAARC WRITERS CONFERENCE

WORDS, CULTURES, IDENTITIES : SOUTH ASIAN DIALOGUES

The 19th SAARC Writers Conference, the Cultural Extension of the 14th SAARC Summit, was held in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations on April 3-4, 2007, in New Delhi. This Conference assumed special significance, being held when India assumed the CHAIR of SAARC and :
Afghanistan was included as a Member country of SAARC.
The European Union and China participated as Observer countries.

Mr. M.T. Vasudevan Nair, eminent Malayalam fiction writer and culture activist, Mr. Syed Shamsul Haq,

 the eminent writer from Bangladesh, and Prof. Indira Goswami, eminent Assamese writer and peace activist,

floating rose petals in the ceremonial urn : Inaugurating the Conference

On behalf of FOSWAL Mr. M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Additional Chairperson of FOSWAL, and Dr. Abid Hussain,

Executive Chairman of FOSWAL, present the statue of Budha to H.E. Mr. Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, Hon’ble

Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs, Bhutan. Looking on : from left: Prof. K. Satchidanandan, eminent poet,

H.E. Prof. Mushirul Hasan, Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Mr. Praveen Mahajan, and Syed Shamsul Haq,

 eminent writer from Bangladesh

Other countries – USA, Japan and South Korea too were allowed to participate as Observers. The Literary component, an adjunct of the SAARC Summit, witnessed significant people-to-people initiatives through discussions, intellectual deliberations and readings of poetry and fiction.

SAARC’s Soft Power

SAARC represents eight sovereign countries which share, shape and participate in a common civilisational enterprise. They also share languages, folklore, life styles, visual and performing arts, religions, cuisines, costumes and customs, arts and crafts, worldviews and a core of values which governs social structures, intellectual pursuits and art practices.

Welcome Address by the President of Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, Ms. Ajeet Cour, eminent Punjabi writer.

 Seated from left: Prof. Mushirul Hasan, Prof. Syed Shahid Mahdi, Dr. Abid Hussain, H.E.

 the Minister of Bhutan : Mr. Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prof. Abhi Subedi, Mr. M.T. Vasudevan Nair,

Mr. Syed Shamsul Haq, Prof. Indira Goswamy, Mr. Asad Mohammed Khan, Dr. Namwar Singh

In brief, with all their different profiles, predilections and concerns, they are eight members of a family – a family which accommodates them, allows them to grow on their chosen paths, nurtures their individual characters, promotes their distinctiveness and yet ensures a vibrant and luminous cultural space in which they are in dialogue, interaction, mutual search with each other. Both the family and the members know fully well that their survival, cultural sustenance and flowering are critically dependent on the dialogue, the interaction, the sharing of the plurality.

Languages and literatures are, in the SAARC region, the most obvious evidence of the rich plurality and diversity and, indeed are the storehouses of memory, imagination and creative courage. They embody the aspirations and struggles, the dreams and anxieties, the values and accretions, the sensitivities and nightmares of the people and the societies which inhabit the region. They constitute the creative might, the intellectual spectrum and the spiritual ethos of the land and the people of the area.

This is FOSWAL’s raison d’etre.

The themes were :

The Future of Our Past: Culture, Memory, Identity