CELEBRATING SAARC FESTIVAL OF LITERATURE

– AJEET COUR

Let me welcome all of you, my friends, writers and scholars, members of our Intellectual Think Tank, our Governing Council Members, to this annual SAARC FESTIVAL OF LITERATURE.

We are missing our Chairman Khushwant Singh because he is 95 years young and refuses to move out. Mahasveta Devi was determined to come and participate, but three days back, developed serious trouble in her eyes on her way back from Dhaka, and her doctor has forbidden her to step out. She has sent her apologies to all of you.

With the permission of Dr. Karan Singh, Dr. Abid Hussain, Bardhan jee, let me request the following, dignitaries to honour this SAARC FESTIVAL OF LITERATURE by Inaugurating it by floating the rose petals in water. Please come and oblige us to declare the Festival open

  1. Dr. Karan Singh jee
  2. Dr. Abid Hussain jee
  3. Mr. A.B. Bardhan jee
  4. Excellency Mr. V. Namgyel
  5. Gulzar jee
  6. Dr. Ashis Nandy
  7. Dr. Nihal Rodrigo
  8. Mr. Hamid Mir
  9. Prof. Mushirul Hasan
  10. Ms. Nosheen Saeed
  11. Mr. Sarmad Sehbai

Our intellectual Ambassador from Sri Lanka, Excellency Mr. Prasad Kariyawasam had to come and speak for 5 minutes. But there was a bereavement in his family and he had to rush to Colombo on Saturday night. His Minister Counsellor is of course here. All the High Commissioners of SAARC countries in Delhi are represented here.

Mohtrima Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh has sent a very affectionate letter of regret and has sent two of her representatives.

The Secretary General of SAARC Secretariat, Dr. Sheel Kant Sharma who was definitely coming to participate, had to rush to Bhutan for an urgent meeting about the forthcoming SAARC Summit in Bhutan.

Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, a brother to me, called to apologise, and so did the Chief Advisor to the King of Bhutan Mr. Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji. They are understandably extremely busy because of the forthcoming SAARC Summit.

Ambassador Madanjeet Singh was also scheduled to participate, but has been held up elsewhere.