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INDIA NEPAL BHUTAN
     
MOUNTAIN ECHOES – A LITERARY FESTIVAL
 

Mountain Echoes, the unique literary extravaganza, was concluded recently in the capital city of Bhutan- Thimphu. This Indo- Bhutanese literary festival was a unilateral parade of Indian thoughts and art.

It was a fair trade in ideas with each culture improving on its acquaintance with the other through readings and debate. A lot of interesting topics were discussed over, from the inchoate state of publishing in the mountain kingdom, to the collision of cultures of the youth and traditionalists, the effects of social media in an infant democracy, and predictably and routinely, the viability of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a viable paradigm.

"I worry about GNH being over-marketed and under practiced," said Dasho Kinley Dorji, secretary for information and communication and one of the architects of the concept, in conversation with Dr Chencho Dorji, Bhutan's only psychiatrist, on maiden day of the festival.

Another session, called The Eye of the Dragon, was interpreted by Dasho Kinley Dorji as the underbelly of the Dragon, a reference to the scaly midsection of cultural transition, where mass media, introduced only as late as 1999, has been steadily replacing traditional forms as a moral compass for the youth.

Citizen journalism in Bhutan was also a subject of brisk debate taken up by Gopilal Acharya, former editor of Bhutan Times and The Journalist, Shering Tobgay and the media secretary to the King, Dorji Wangchuck.

The Indian end brought mythology, wildlife conservation, architectural heritage, publishing and filmmaking to the table. Imtiaz Ali and Jaideep Sahni ran to a packed house, a sign of the deepening influence of cinema on the youth who want not only to be consumers but creators of popular cinema. Infact, the known bollywood actor R. Madhavan also attended the festival. The actor was joined by filmmaker Rohan Sippy and columnist Shobhaa De for this cinema session called ‘Screenplay to Screen’, which was co-sponsored by Om Books International. Overall, the festival was a treat for the literary buffs and the picturesque city of Thimphu was truly mesmerizing for its guests. The next festival will take place in Bhutan in 2012 (Venue and dates yet to be announced).

 
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