Writers focus on climate change at SAARC literature fest


New Delhi : Writers from South Asian countries have joined hands to discuss climate change issues and ways in which they can contribute in creating more awareness at the 33rd SAARC Festival of Literature that began here Friday.

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Hundreds of writers, students and academicians from diverse backgrounds are participating in the three-day festival at the India International Centre here. The event is being jointly organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Foundation of SAARC Writers’ and Literature (FOSWAL).

“The focus of the festival this time is environment and the impacts of climate change. The topics of discussion will include nature and literature, art and environment, ecology and health, reconnecting with myths globalisation and environment, tribal perspective on the ecological question, and many more,” said Ajeet Cour, noted litterateur and FOSWAL chairperson.

She was speaking at the inaugural session of the festival where eminent writers were also felicitated.

The SAARC lifetime achievement award was given to Hamid Mir, bureau head of Pakistan’s Geo TV news network.

Writers Mark Tully and Nepal’s Abhi Subedi were presented SAARC literary awards while Bangladesh’s Rubana Huq was honoured with the SAARC young poet award.

“Climate change is a dreadful threat. Sea levels are rising and glaciers are melting. Copenhagen gave us a direction and we must follow. This subject needs the attention of all writers and the issue will bring our countries closer. This is a common problem,” said economist and former Indian ambassador to the United States, Abid Hussain.

“The SAARC festival of literature is bringing together more than 20 members of the intelligentsia, environmentalists and peace activists from eight South Asian nations which face common challenges. It is an attempt to forge new linkages in literature and culture,” said Director General of ICCR Virendra Gupta.

The ICCR’s South Asian initiatives began with the SAARC Bands Festival in December followed by a SAARC Artists’ Camp and the South Asian Women’s Festival.

“Next month the ICCR will also be hosting a SAARC student exchange programme,” Gupta added.

Elaborating on the common social problems faced by the SAARC nations, Gupta Thursday said that “poverty, women’s empowerment, health, capacity building and social development topped the list”.

Gupta termed the festival’s discussions “an example of track three diplomacy”.