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Shining light on the grey areas

  • Published at 01:44 am November 8th, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:52 am November 10th, 2017
Shining light on the grey areas
It may come as a surprise to many that world-renowned journalists should mingle with fiction writers and artistes from around the world in Bangladesh’s biggest literary festival. But to those whose reading habits have led them to push the boundaries of genre, this is not surprising at all; to them the thin line between journalism and literature is blurred ever so often that they know Joseph Mitchell was a fine writer of prose and so was Monazatuddin, both of whom were basically journalists. In a world ravaged by war, displacement and poverty, journalists are the ones who shine light on the grey areas of our perceptions and help us understand the real politics behind issues that otherwise remain incomprehensible to us. Bachi Karkaria, Sudeep Chakravarti, Samrat Chowdhury, Jyoti Malhotra, Garga Chatterjee and Justin Rowlatt, among others, will speak at the Dhaka Lit Fest this year about issues relating to civil liberties in South Asia. This is an opportunity for festival-goers to hear from them firsthand and add to the conversation. Indian-Parsi journalist and columnist Bachi Karkaria writes on issues relating to HIV/AIDS, gender and population. The first Indian on the board of the World Editor’s Forum, Karkaria is also well known for her satirical column, Erratica, in The Times of India, where she has served as an editor, and Giving Gyan, the equivalent of “Agony Aunt” in the Mumbai Mirror. In her tenure at The Statesman, she brought women’s issues to the fore and contributed significantly to changing the newspaper’s editorial policy and practice from the traditional patriarchal outlook on women. Goa-based journalist and author Sudeep Chakravarty has penned several nonfiction works and is a sought-after commentator on socio-political and business issues in South Asia. Chakravarty’s “The Bengalis: A Portrait of a Community” is his most recent work, and came out at the tail end of October. It’s a light-hearted examination of the world’s third-largest ethno-linguistic people and explores the quirks and essence of being Bengali.  Chakravarty’s career as a journalist began at the Asian Wall Street Journal. Chakravarty’s first narrative, Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country, (2008) a critically acclaimed bestseller, takes the reader deep into India’s ongoing Maoist (or Naxalite) rebellion. In Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured Land (2012), he uncovers the violence that has ripped through the history of Nagaland and Manipur, and continues into an uncertain but hopeful future. Editor of The Asian Age’s Mumbai edition Samrat Chowdhury has written for The Times of India, Hindustan Times, India Today, Deccan Chronicle, Dhaka Tribune and The New York Times, to mention just a few. Also a fiction writer, he has published numerous essays and articles on Indian and South Asian political, cultural, and environmental affairs. His most remarkable work is a set of essays in The Hindu on the Brahmaputra, especially on the river’s value to the poor who depend on it for their livelihoods, and the dredging works that threaten their lives. Senior journalist Jyoti Malhotra has contributed news articles to BBC World’s “Business Matters,” Al Jazeera, Newsweek Middle East and Television Corporation. A Consulting Editor for the Indian Express, her writing focuses on domestic Indian politics and India’s foreign policy. Malhotra is also president of the India chapter of South Asia Women in Media, a pan-South Asian organisation for women journalists. Garga Chatterjee is a well-known journalist on South Asian politics and culture. His articles -- penned in Bangla, English, and Hindi -- have appeared widely in various Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani and Nepali newspapers. A professor at Kolkata’s Indian Statistical Institute, he has written on illegal Bangladeshis in West Bengal, press freedom in South Asia, and the perception of “Marwaris” as outsiders in Kolkata. BBC South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt has made documentaries that were nominated for the Royal Television Society and BAFTA awards. The senior BBC reporter and presenter has covered the rise of IS in Afghanistan, the Nepal earthquake, and exposed the terrible working conditions at tea estates in India in his career. He has also written on South Asian politics and environmental issues, namely his widely read interactive article on the Ganges River.