KS Litfest 2022

Save the Date for Khushwant Singh Literary Festival 2022

For more than 20 years, Tirthankar Poddar aka 2Blue has been paying his respect to his roots
while fronting a bi-lingual ‘Hindi-English’ rock band that takes no prisoners. From Agartala where he was born to Mumbai where he now lives, 2Blue’s journey tells an inspiring story: that with passion and dedication, no dream is impossible. Inch by inch, he earned his way into the list of
the top 10 male singers in India for classic rock. Also a writer, motivational speaker, and an actor, 2Blue doesn’t have one true calling but many. It’s a gift he exploits to synthesize ideas from different 2Blue doesn’t have one true calling but many. It’s a gift he exploits to synthesize ideas from different fields to create something magical at their intersection. After more than a thousand live performances and multiple awards, 2Blue has established himself as not just a great singer.

For countless people from Guwahati to Rajkot and Varanasi to Manipal, he is someone who is celebrated for the benchmarks he sets.

2Blue is best experienced live.

From fronting the iconic rock band Vayu to going solo very successfully, 2Blue’s career is defined by live performances. The most unforgettable ones among them are those with Bumblefoot of Guns N’ Roses, Paul Di’Anno of Iron Maiden, George Lynch of Dokken, and Jonas Hellborg from Mahavishnu Orchestra. Other milestones in his career include ‘Best Band’ at ArtistAloud Awards, Mumbai and ‘Asian Anthem of the Year’ at AVIMA, Kuala Lumpur.

But 2Blue never paused to celebrate. Restless and hungry to break new ground, he turned a new leaf by blending the music of Indian cinema with his brand of rock n’ roll. And that has been a decided asset in his inexorable rise.

Up until 2014, 2Blue served as Vice President of Marketing at an IT company. So for a long time,
his tinted glasses, silver jewelry, and tattoo sleeve had to remain hidden.
Even his now-famous ‘Jon Bon Jovi Hair’ had to hide. Then of course he gave it all up to be
his true self. And soon he made his acting debut playing Judas in the highly acclaimed
rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar. As part of his preparation, he was trained by
Alyque Padamsee, Shiamak Davar, Sabira Merchant, Deirdre D’Cunha, and Karla Klossher.

2Blue continues to perform actively all over India. His performances always create an experience that can be best described as transcendental. In his own words, “I have a shirt on my back, a roof above my head, and food on my table because someone
paid to hear me. The debt I owe, I may never be able to repay. I will still keep trying one
song at a time.”

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique LandDancing in CambodiaThe Calcutta ChromosomeThe Glass PalaceThe Hungry Tide, and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of PoppiesRiver of Smoke and Flood of Fire. His most recent book, The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016. The Circle of Reason was awarded France’s Prix Médicis in 1990, and The Shadow Lines won two prestigious Indian prizes the same year, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the International e-Book Award at the Frankfurt book fair in 2001In January 2005 The Hungry Tide was awarded the Crossword Book Prize, a major Indian award. His novel, Sea of Poppies (2008) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2008 and was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award.  Amitav Ghosh’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages and he has served on the juries of the Locarno and Venice film festivals. His essays have appeared in The New YorkerThe New Republic and The New York Times. They have been anthologized under the titles The Imam and the Indian (Penguin Random House India) and Incendiary Circumstances (Houghton Mifflin, USA). The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016 and was given the inaugural Utah Award for the Environmental Humanities in 2018.  Amitav Ghosh holds two Lifetime Achievement awards and four honorary doctorates. In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honors, by the President of India. In 2010, he was a joint winner, along with Margaret Atwood of a Dan David prize, and 2011 he was awarded the Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis festival in Montreal. In 2018, the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor, was conferred on Amitav Ghosh. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award. In 2019, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade. 

Anirudh Kanisetti is the author of Lords of the Deccan, a new history of medieval South India. He is currently Editor at the Museum of Art and Photography. He has received grants from the Princeton Center for Digital Humanities and the India Foundation for the Arts, and his writings and work have been featured in The Hindu, The New Indian Express, and LiveMint, among others. He writes the fortnightly Thinking Medieval column for ThePrint, and the History, Southside column for The Hindustan Times. He hosts two critically acclaimed podcasts – Echoes of India and Yuddha.

Bachi Karkaria is a game changer in India’s journalism, having
helped elevate local issues to Page 1 and creating path-breaking brands for the Times of India Group. She is also a popular columnist, best-selling author, litfest curator and international media trainer. She was the first Indian board member of the Paris-based World Editor’s Forum, a Jefferson Fellow from Hawaii’s East West Center, and recipient of the Mary Morgan Hewitt Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Karkaria’s books include the critically acclaimed In Hot Blood: The Nanavati Case That Shook India; the bestseller biography of M.S. Oberoi, Dare To Dream; Mills, Molls And Moola; Behind The Times; Mumbai Masti; The Cake That Walked; and collections of her columns. Her biography of Capt CP Krishnan Nair will be published in February 2022.

An engineering graduate from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, Balaji Vittal has spent 30 years in the corporate world. 

He co-authored the National Film Award-winning R.D. Burman: The Man, The Music (2011), the MAMI Award-winning Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – 50 Classic Hindi Film Songs (2015), and the highly acclaimed S.D. Burman: The Prince-Musician (2018).

Balaji’s latest book (and his first as a solo author), Pure Evil – The Bad Men of Bollywood, is a delightful walk through the rogues’ gallery of Bollywood villains from 1929 to 2021 featuring villainy in dazzling shades of black and gray. The book’s haul of anecdotes come from interviews with nearly 50 leading actors, film-makers and script writers.

Chetna Keer is a journalist and author who teaches creative writing at the Mukand Lal National College, Yamunanagar, and for the Chandigarh Literary Society. Giddha on my Gulmohar is her latest book, and she has previously authored Veggies Go On A Beauty Parade (2005) and Trollitically Incorrect (2018). 

As a journalist for over two decades, she wrote features for the lifestyle section of The Tribune, Simply Punjabi of the India Today stable, the Hindustan Times, the Deccan Herald and Femina. She has also done shows such as ‘Destination India’ and ‘Tasveer’ on AIR FM Gold. 

Cyrus Broacha is a TV anchor, theatre personality, comedian, political satirist, columnist, podcaster and author. He is a prankster who is best known for his show, The Week That Wasn’t. He has been part of shows such as 40 Shades of Grey Hair, How I Met Your Father, I Love Mumbai and most recently, Unmasked! He also hosts podcasts on life in urban India, politics, sports, civic sense and current affairs. He has completed 1,000 episodes of Cyrus Says, the podcast that “says it all”!

Devdip Ganguli teaches undergraduate students at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry, where he offers courses on the social and political philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, as well as on ancient Indian history, art and culture. He is frequently invited to speak in universities in India and abroad on topics related to Sri Aurobindo’s writings. He also works in one of the administrative departments of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Divya Dutta is an actor, author and now a poet too. The talented actor won a National Award for best actor in a supporting role (female) in 2018.

She has acted in more than 100 feature films in Hindi and Punjabi language, few notable films being Veer- Zara, Bhaag Milkha Bhag, Delhi-6, Badlapur, Stanley ka Dabba to name a few.

Her first poem that she wrote titled ‘Jab Sab Theek Hoga Na’, was about the lockdown in the country has been much appreciated.

Her memoir, Me and Ma, published in 2017 was one of the most talked about books that year. She launched her second book on 10th November, 2021 titled, ‘The Stars In My Sky’.

Dutta recently had two releases back to back – Dhaakad and Punjabi film Maa.

She was also seen in Faraz Ansari’s short film drama Sheer Quorma.

The actress has an interesting line up of feature films, web shows and short films including films like Sharmaji ki Beti and Nazarandaaz.

Gautam Chikermane is a Vice President at Observer Research Foundation and Co-Editor of Reading Sri Aurobindo

Geetanjali Shree is the author of the novel Ret Samadhi which has been translated into French ( Ret Samadhi: Au-dela de la frontier) and English (Tomb of Sand). It was shortlisted for the Emile Guimet Prize and has won the International Booker award. 

Her other acclaimed novels are MaiHamara Shahar us BarasTirohit and Khali Jagah. She has also published five short story collections. She is known for her innovative use of language and structure. 

Her novels and stories have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages, including French, English and German, and her writings are part of course work in several universities abroad.

Geetanjali is also a founding member of a Delhi based theatre group, Vivadi, and works on plays for them that are performed in India and abroad.

She writes non-fiction in English and Hindi.

Gul Panag is an actor and an entrepreneur who is one of India’s most powerful opinion makers and thought leaders. She is a frontline advocate and activist who regularly engages and facilitates dialogue and debate on critical issues of gender equality and justice, environment issues, fundamental rights, secularism, corruption and political accountability. Gul holds a Masters degree in Political Science and is a affiliated with the Aam Aadmi Party .Her social and political activism has had her being recognized as one of the most influential voices on social media and a youth icon.

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, the internationally renowned exponent of the bansuri or bamboo flute, surprisingly does not come from a long lineage of flautists. His father was a famous wrestler who had aspirations of his son following in his footsteps. 

The younger Chaurasia had an early love of music, however, and by the age of 15 was taking his first steps toward a lifetime as a performer by studying classical vocal with Pandit Raja Ram of Benares.

Soon after, he heard a flute recital by Pandit Bholanath and was so impressed he changed his focus to studying the flute. When he was just 19, he got a job playing for All India Radio, Cuttack, Orissa, and within five years he was transferred to their headquarters in Bombay. There he got the additional exposure of performing in one of India’s cultural centers and also studied with Shrimati Annapurna Devi, daughter of Ustaad Allauddin Khan of the Maihar School of Music.

There he established the creative peak of his career, developing a style that was respectful of tradition, yet full of innovation. Over a lifetime of performances, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia has become one of India’s most-respected classical musicians, earning several awards, including the National Award of the Sangeet Natak Academy, which he won in 1984.

In 1992, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and the Konarak Samman. In 1994, he was bestowed the Yash Bharati Sanman and in 2000, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan. In the year 2000, he also received the Hafiz Ali Khan Award and the Dinanath Mangeshkar Award. He has collaborated with several western musicians, including John McLaughlin and Jan Gabarek, and has also composed music for a number of Indian films. He has performed throughout the world winning acclaim from varied audiences and fellow musicians including Yehudi Menuhin and Jean Pierre Rampal.

On 1 July, 2008 on the occasion of his 70th Birthday, his official biography “Woodwinds of Change” by Shri Surjit Singh was released by none other than Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Soon after, Panditji was honoured by the Dutch Royal family at a glittering ceremony at Amsterdam. He was conferred the title OFFICER IN THE ORDER OF ORANGE-NASSAU( “officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau”) and was honored by Princess Maxima herself.  Pt. Chaurasia has been teaching Indian music at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory for the past 15 years. He is the Artistic Director of the Indian Music department. 

Shortly after his 71st Birthday he was honored by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of France.  He has been appointed as KNIGHT IN THE ORDER OF ARTS AND LETTER (“Ordres des Arts et Lettres”) in appreciation for the significant contribution he has made to spread culture in France and the rest of the World. 

Pt. Chaurasia has been bestowed the Honorary Doctorate by the North Orissa University, University of Mumbai and IIT Kharagpur for his unparalleled role and contribution to the world of Indian Classical Music. 

He heads the World Music Department at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory in The Netherlands.

He is one of the busiest and most sought-after contemporary musicians in the world today.

He is also a dedicated teacher with several devoted art music students world-wide, many of whom are beginning to make their mark on the concert stage. He is the founder trustee of Vrindaban Gurukul, a unique Music Institutuion where he teaches Hindustani Classical Music, in the age old traditional style of Guru-Shishya Parampara. He has currently 2 gurukuls in Mumbai and Bhubaneshwar.

For his outstanding contributions to Indian music, Pt. Chaurasia has been recognized and conferred upon with many national and International honours.  A list of some of his most prestigious honours is: –


 The Sangeet Natak Academy Award   (1984)

The Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (1990)

Padma Bhushan (1992)

Konark Samman  (1992)

Yash Bharti Samman (1994)

Kalidas Samman (1999)

Padma Vibhushan (2000)

Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award (2000)

Master Dinanath Mangeshkar Award   (2004)



(“officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau”) 

By Govt. of The Netherlands



(“Ordres des Arts et Lettres”)

By Govt. of France

Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship ( 2012)


Dr Indira Chandrasekhar, who worked in Science for many years, is a fiction writer, literary curator and founder and principal editor of Out of Print magazine. An acclaimed anthology marking ten years of the magazine was co-published with Context Books in 2020. She is co-editor of the anthology Pangea, and a collection of her short stories, many of which are informed by science, titled Polymorphism was brought out by HarperCollins.

Indira serves on the Programming Committee of the Bangalore International Centre, is member of the Advisory Council of the International Music and Arts Society Bangalore and is the lead author in a volume commemorating forty years of its activity, and is on the Development Council of the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Arts Culture in Mumbai in whose conceptualisation she was involved.

Kanwar Sandhu has been a journalist for 40 plus years. He has been the Editor of the North Indian Editions of three newspapers, besides having been the Managing Editor of a TV channel. His seminal work on the internal strife and developments in 1984 led to a nine-part video documentary in English and Punjabi titled. “Operation Blue Star, the Untold Story”. He has been an MLA in Punjab and is now a freelance journalist and a TV-host.

Hailing from the hill town of Dalhousie, Dr. Kiran Chadha is a retired government civil servant. With two Ph.D’s in the subjects of petroleum and iron ore, her quest for knowledge continues in her current role of an author and motivational speaker. After a very successful career in the Indian government spanning 36 years with the ministries of Petroleum, Commerce, Defence and Women & Child Development. With prominent postings including as leader of various delegations within India and abroad, she has travelled extensively to more than 40 countries. She made a mark in Geneva as an excellent orator who spoke on the future of iron ore exports from India. Further, she was associated with UN agencies specially on Women Empowerment. She has written many papers and her exposition on the Second World War was published in 2001.
Dr. Chadha is featured in Asia –Pacific Who’s Who and in the International Directory of Distinguished leadership. She was awarded the Shresht Putri Award by the Governor of Himachal Pradesh in 2002 as she was the first girl from the district to qualify the competitive exam.
Her love for the Himalayas stems from her childhood as an avid trekker with a group ‘Himtrek’ who have undertaken challenging treks all over the Himalayan range including Mansarovar, Mount Kailash as well as in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, J &K , Nepal, Sikkim & Bhutan.
She imbibes her values from her alma mater Sacred Heart Convent, Dalhousie. Her interests include reading, music, knitting, dancing and trekking.
Post retirement, Dr. Chadha is engaged in social and welfare activities and has started the NGO ‘Swachh Dalhousie’ since 2014. Now in its 5th year it is actively engaged in the ‘Hilldaari’ programme sponsored by Nestle and Godwills Executor and is focussing on an integrated plastic and solid waste management in the town. She has been a motivational speaker in many institutions to highlight issues like water conservation, forestation and welfare and education of the girl child in Himachal Pradesh.
She realised that while there are many books on Chamba, there is little to read about Dalhousie and its development since it was founded in 1859. Connected to this was the urge to delve deeper into the history of her own family who moved to Dalhousie in 1880. Her first book ‘Dalhousie through my eyes’ was published in 2017 to raving reviews both in the electronic and print media. The book covers the historical growth of the town with its important sights and schools and how it inspired eminent personalities like Tagore, Bose, Nanak Singh and Manjit Bawa. It is a collector’s delight with its spectacular photography and is available for sale at the festival book store. She is currently working on her second book on Indian weddings

Madhur Singh is a writer and editor with the World Economic Forum, India Editor at Eco-Business, and a fact-checking trainer with the Google News Initiative’s training network. 

She was previously managing editor at IndiaSpend.com and FactChecker.in, India’s foremost public interest evidence-based journalism websites. She has been the India correspondent for Bloomberg Law and Time magazine, as well as a reporter, sub-editor and leader writer with leading Indian newspapers, the Hindustan Times and The Indian Express

A 2020 Chevening South Asia Journalism Fellow, she has a Master’s in International Relations from the University of Warwick, UK, and a Master’s in English Literature with Post-Colonial Studies from Panjab University, Chandigarh.  

Makarand R. Paranjape is a long-standing Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He also served as the Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study. The author/editor of over 50 books, hundreds of academic papers, and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, he is considered one of India’s leading public intellectuals. His latest books include JNU: Nationalism and India’s Uncivil War (2022) and Swami Vivekananda: Hinduism and India’s Road to Modernity

Malavika Sangghvi is one of India’s most respected and credible journalists with over three decades of experience at its very pinnacle and has pioneered many trends and genres in the field of lifestyle, luxury and celebrity journalism. The New York Times once described her as ‘a chronicler of social mores’. She was editor of the Bombay Times at its start and was responsible for making it one of The Times of India Group’s biggest successes and was also part of the founding teams of India Today’s Bombay Magazine, Mid-day Newspaper and DNA newspaper. She has also edited the Sunday Review the largest circulated English broadsheet in India and over the span of her career has written extensively for the International publications including The New York Times, Harpers and Queen, Conde Nast Traveler (UK) and The Sunday Times (UK). In the past she has held prestigious positions such as Consulting Editor at The Business Standard and India Editor at Harpers and Queen and India correspondent CNN.com. She has also done television and radio shows for The Star TV and The BBC Networks. She was appointed as Head of India Bureau at the Edipresse Group, Switzerland where her mandate was to focus on the luxury world in India for nine of the Asia Tatler titles across Asia.

Mallika Sarabhai is an activist, Indian classical dancer and actress. Daughter of classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai and space scientist Vikram Sarabhai, Mallika has used art for social change, especially for women’s empowerment and environmental consciousness.

Her memoir, In Free Fall, is about coming to terms with oneself and one’s body. Writing candidly about her extraordinary life, Mallika talks about her “30-year obsession with being thin”; her addictions like smoking; her fascination with alternative therapies such as hypnosis, pranik healing, Ayurveda and colour therapy; and beauty treatments for “future-proofing” her body. She speaks with equal candour about her battles with grief and depression; a painful break-up; and the ups and downs with her children, due, in part, to her own relationships. 

Monika Halan is a personal finance writer, speaker and author. She is the founder of Dhan Chakra Financial Education and the best-selling author of Let’s Talk Money

An Adjunct Professor at the National Institute of Securities Markets and at Banasthali Vidyapeeth, she is a regular speaker on financial literacy, regulation, inclusion and consumer issues in retail finance. She has a Master’s in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics and a second Master’s in Journalism Studies from the University of Wales, UK. She has worked across media in India, including Mint, The Economic Times and The Indian Express, and was editor at Outlook Money. She has run four successful TV series around personal finance on NDTV, Zee and Bloomberg India.

Muzaffar Ali is an Indian film-maker, fashion designer, poet, artist, music lover, revivalist and social worker. He belongs to the royal familyof Kotwara. Beginning his career in advertising, he played a role in the incipient days of Air India before moving on to a successful career as a film-maker in Bollywood. His works include movies such as Umrao Jaan and Gaman, and several documentaries and short films. He has launched his own couture line, ‘Kotwara’, and is involved in several initiatives that celebrate art, foster the traditional handicrafts of Awadh and promote Sufism. He received the Padma Shri in 2005 and the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award in 2014.



Internationally renowned, Muzaffar Ali has donned many hats in his lifetime. The scion of the princely house of Kotwara, the boy Muzaffar was shaped by the changing post-Partition India. Having studied science at Aligarh University, he started his career in an advertisement agency in Calcutta, worked with the nascent Air India and then ventured on a journey that produced cinematic masterpieces like Umrao Jaan. Along the way, his path collided with many-from Satyajit Ray to Faiz Ahmad Faiz-and he has cultivated many a passion, whether for cars or couture. His autobiography is a peek into this wealth of experience-a close look at Ali, prince, poet, philosopher, film-maker, automobile aficionado and artist. Zikr is also a rich interior portrait of an artist, as Ali takes us behind the scenes of films like Anjuman and Gaman, speaking of the sensibilities that shaped them and the influences on his work. Above all, this is a book that resounds with a deep love for life. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, seeking to venture off the beaten track of Bollywood or wishing to bite into a slice of erstwhile Awadhi culture, Zikr has something to offer all.

Historian, writer, and storyteller, Nonica Datta teaches History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She received her Ph.D. from Cambridge University, UK. Previously, she taught at Miranda House in the University of Delhi. She has been a Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in Delhi and a Visiting Professor at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland), Toronto (Canada), and Humboldt (Berlin). Her publications include Forming an Identity: A Social History of the Jats (Oxford University Press, 1999); and Violence, Martyrdom and Partition: A Daughter’s Testimony (Oxford University Press, 2009), which was shortlisted for the Crossword Award. Recently she has brought out a new edition of VN Datta’s 1967 classic Jalliannwala Bagh (published by Penguin, Random House, 2021), with a detailed Introduction by her.

Parvati Sharma’s books include a collection of short stories called The Dead Camel and Other Stories of Love, the novel Close to Home, the historical biography Jahangir: An Intimate Portrait of a Great Mughal, and two books for children, The Story of Babur and Rattu & Poorie’s Adventures in History: 1857.

Her latest book, Akbar of Hindustan, tells the story of Akbar the Great – the brilliant warrior and administrator who ruled for nearly 50 years, and whose ideas of pluralism and tolerance sought to unify India with all its diversity of peoples and religions. The biography delves into Akbar’s complex and magnetic personality, telling the story of the man, his ideas, his doubts and his yearning for justice.

Picture credits: Aradhana Seth

Paul Waters is an author, broadcaster, BBC radio producer and podcaster. He is the author of the historical crime thriller, Blackwatertown, set in 1950s Ireland, and is currently writing a series set in India. Paul is also an award-winning BBC producer and co-host of the celebrated We’d Like A Word books and authors podcast. 

Paul grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during ‘the Troubles’ and was a BBC TV/radio reporter there. He’s since produced many BBC programmes, including The Arts Hour

Paul has had an extensive international career, including producing the BBC World Service’s live coverage of the 9/11 attacks in America, creating a G8 Summit in a South African township, and cooking Pelé his dinner in a New York nightclub. 

Paul Waters is author of the thriller Blackwatertown & is writing a series set in Delhi, inspired by old & new family links with India. He’s an award-winning BBC producer, broadcaster & hosts the celebrated We’d Like A Word international books & authors podcast.


Picture credits: Aradhana Seth

Pavan K. Varma is a writer-diplomat and now in politics, where he was till recently an MP in the Rajya Sabha, and earlier Advisor to the Chief Minister of Bihar.  Author of over a dozen best-selling books, including Ghalib: The Man, The Times; The Great Indian Middle Class; The Book of Krishna; Being Indian; Becoming Indian; and Chanakya’s New Manifesto, he has been Ambassador in several countries including Bhutan, Director of The Nehru Centre in London, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Director General, ICCR, and Press Secretary to the President of India.  

Mr Varma was the National General Secretary of the JD(U) till 29th January, 2020.  He joined the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) on 23rd November 2021, and was appointed the National Vice-President of the party on 19th December, 2021.  He has resigned from AITC on 12th August, 2022.

Pavan K. Varma was conferred an Honorary Doctoral Degree for his contribution to the fields of diplomacy, literature, culture and aesthetics by the University of Indianapolis in 2005.  In 2018 he has also been conferred an Honorary Doctorate by Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management for his book ‘Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker’ (Westland-Amazon).  This book has also won the Atta Galatta-Bengaluru Literature Festival prize for the Best Book of Non-Fiction for the year 2018.  In 2012 Pavan K. Varma was conferred Bhutan’s highest civilian Award, the Druk Thuksey, by His Majesty the King of Bhutan.  Mr Varma has received the Kalinga International Literary Award 2019.

Mr Varma is a popular columnist and a well-known TV Commentator. 

Mr. Varma’s latest book is ‘The Great Hindu Civilisation: Achievement, Neglect, Bias and the Way Forward’ (Westland-Amazon).  His recent books include ‘Chanakya’s View: Understanding India in Transition’ (Westland-Amazon-2019) and ‘The Greatest Ode to LORD RAM: Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas’ (Westland-Amazon-2020).

Pavan K. Varma lives in Delhi and can be contacted at pavank.pa@outlook.com and on Twitter @PavanK_Varma

Pragya Tiwari is a journalist who has written extensively on politics, identity, policy, and culture, and edited publications such as Tehelka, The Big Indian Picture, and Vice. She currently works as a policy and culture consultant. She is the Creative Director of Oijo Media and co-founder of the Indian History Collective. 

Picture credits: Aradhana Seth

Pranay Lal is a biochemist by training and works for a non-profit organisation on public health. He has been a caricaturist for newspapers, an animator for an advertising agency and an environmental campaigner. His first book, Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent, was published in December 2016. It won the best non-fiction debut award at the Tata Lit Fest in Mumbai in 2017, best book award at the Delhi Book Fair 2017 and was named among the top 10 memorable books of the year by Amazon.

Rajeshwari Sachdev is an actor dancer and singer. Her work spanning 3 decades has seen her strive for excellence in all spheres.

A bharatnatyam dancer with 14 years training under the tutelege of Rajarajeshwari Bharatnatya kala mandir.

Started her acting journey with the Indian peoples theatre association, doing plays with her father Inderjeet Sachdev who was an active member. Having starred in popular plays like ‘Bakri’, ‘Shatranj ke Mohre’ directed by M s Sathyu and Ramesh Talwar, ‘Jameela bai kalaali’ with KK Raina. She is currently on stage with 2 plays ‘Gauhar’ with lillette Dubey and Shaddleela which she costars with her husband Varun Bodala.

A national award winner with more than 30 films under directors like Shyam Benegal, Basu Chatterjee, Bernardo Bertolucci, Aruna Raje, Sachin Pilgaonkar. She has also been the recipient of the Maharashtra State Govt award for best actor, has won 2 Screen awards, 2 ITA awards, MATA awards.

She has cut 3 music albums as a singer. Been a part of many path breaking television shows. She is now also exploring the new genre of web shows. She is a keen learner who explores new areas that keep challenging her forward.

Ramesh Inder Singh, popularly known as R.I. Singh, is a distinguished civil servant of the Punjab cadre. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1986, at the age of thirty-six, for his notable contributions in the field of public administration. 

He was district magistrate, Amritsar, from 1984 to 1987, and dealt with the turbulence in Punjab from close quarters. The various army operations against militancy, including Operation Blue Star, Operation Woodrose and Operation Black Thunder I, were conducted during this period. 

During his long career of forty years in public life, he has held many crucial appointments. He was principal secretary to the chief minister of Punjab for five years; chief secretary of Punjab for over two years; and from that position, he took premature retirement from the IAS in 2009 to serve for five years as chief information commissioner, the transparency watchdog under the Right to Information Act. 

Before joining the IAS, he taught political science in a constituent college of Delhi University. He has an MA in Political Science and topped Panjab University, and is a law graduate (LLB) from Delhi University. He has also worked with the World Bank as a consultant. 

He is currently retired.  

An alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, Raza Murad is a veteran of Indian cinema – he has acted in over 300 films in various languages in the last 50 years. He has played key roles with top-notch filmmakers such as Raj Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rahul Rawail. Known for his distinctive baritone, Raza Murad has played a range of characters, from a disgruntled poet to a lawyer to a law enforcer to the quintessential intimidating Bollywood villain. Raza Murad will be attending the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival for the first time.

Revati Laul is an independent journalist and activist whose work has focused on violence and conflict. She started out as a television journalist with NDTV and then moved to print, working with Tehelka and then writing independently for various publications from The Wire to the Hindustan Times and The Quint. Her book, The Anatomy of Hate, was published in December 2018 and chronicles the lives of members of the anti-Muslim mobs of Gujarat 2002.

She currently lives and works in the Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh, where she has set up Sarfaroshi Foundation, an NGO that works against discrimination.

Samar Halarnkar is editor of Article 14 (www.article-14.com), which focuses on the rule of law in India. He is also cofounder of India Love Project (@indialoveproject), which curates stories of love beyond caste, faith, gender and ethnicity. His work has appeared in international and national publications including The New York Times, The Globe and Mail and Arab News. A journalist for 31 years and former Managing Editor of the Hindustan Times, Halarnkar was also an editor at The Indian Express and India Today. He has been a visiting lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley and a fellow at the Nieman Foundation, Harvard. His investigative and technology reporting has won national awards. He has authored two books.

Best known for her long association with Femina, which she edited for 12 years, Sathya Saran is currently Consulting Editor with Penguin Random House India.

Sathya Saran is also the author of a diverse variety of books. The Dark Side reflects her love of the short story, while the critically acclaimed biographies, Ten Years with Guru Dutt Abrar Alvi’s Journey; Sun Mere Bandhu Re The Musical World of SD Burman and Baat Niklegi toh Phir The Life and Music of Jagjit Singh bear testimony to her love of cinema and music.

Sathya has also written the hugely appreciated biography of Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia.

Sathya teaches fashion journalism at NIFT Mumbai, Kangra and Srinagar. She has been a stage actor with Veenapani Chawla.

Passionate about writing she conceptualised and curates the first of its kind Writers Conclave titled The Spaces between Words the unfestival sponsored by JSW , held at Kaladham, near Hampi, and at Ratnagiri.

Sathya has written a t v serial titled Kashmakash on marital problems.

Her column in Femina and Me magazine was reproduced as a guest column in Dainik Jagran. She also writes a column for the New Indian Express.


Being Ritu The Extraordinary Life of Ritu Nanda/ Harpercollins India

Breath of Gold: Hariprasad Chaurasia 

Baat Niklegi toh Phir: The Life and Music of Jagjit Singh 

Sun Mere Bandhu Re: The Musical World of SD Burman 

Ten Years with Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi’s Journey 

The Dark Side. Short stories for the brave!*

From Me to You Learnings from life

Angoor Insights into the film

How to Look Like Miss India

Shaili Chopra is the founder of India’s largest platform for women and girls, SheThePeople.TV, which
has over one billion in digital reach. She is a gamechanger shaping new initiatives vital for women to claim their rightful space and be present on decision making tables.

With learnings from SheThePeople, Shaili is building a new platform called Gytree that simplifies and prioritises women’s health.

Shaili is a Draper Hills Fellow from Stanford and a fellow of the Global Aspen Institute. She is a recipient of India’s biggest journalism award, the Ram Nath Goenka Award for Journalism along with the News Television Award for the best reporter.

She loves living in new cities, is learning the drums and this is her fifth book.

Shazia ilmi is National spokesperson of the BJP . She is a member of the national executive committee of the party .
She was a founder member of India’s Aam Aadmi Party and served in the party’s National Executive Committee from 2012-2014
She was the media strategist for the India Against Corruption movement led by social activist Anna Hazare during 2011-2012. The campaign was to institute an Ombudsman popularly known as Jan Lokpal Bill. The campaign caught the imagination of millions of Indians and became a widespread protest across the nation.
Shazia Ilmi is a relentless campaigner for gender justice! Her involvement in the Nirbhaya Movement and securing the historic legislation banning Triple Talaq is commendable.She led a high octane Media campaign of the historic Anna Hazare movement. She bravely fights for Muslim women’s rights and bears the brunt of fundamentalists.
She has led campaigns and spoken out on gender issues over the years. She led scores of protests at Jantar Mantar and other places across the city for women’s safety and empowerment following the gang rape of a young woman in a Delhi bus in 2012.

Television Journalism:

Prior to her days of activism Shazia Ilmi was a a renowned journalist and tv news anchor, where she was a debut anchor for Star network for the prime news Tv show. A career she relinquished for activism and public life .

She has 16 years of experience in electronic journalism, of which seven years were in India’s prime Hindi news channel Star News. She has have regularly anchored daily news bulletins and specials, covering a large spectrum from international politics to local elections.


She made several films and documentaries and have been part of many film festivals. (London Film festival’ 1996; Thiruvananthapuram Documentary Film Festival, 2011; & IAWRT Film Festival Delhi, 2010).
Directed and produced Post Box# 418 on the decline of Urdu language in India, 2009.
Directed Daughter of the Earth – a portrait of Vandana Shiva’s work in aquaculture in coastal
Tamil Nadu, commissioned by UNESCO France. It was nominated for the International Film Festival, London, and was chosen for telecast by the Discovery Channel for World Environment Day, 2007.
Directed and scripted The Stolen Harvest – a documentary based on Dr Vandana Shiva’s book on Food Security and Seed Patenting under World Trade Organization

Srishti Jha is a writer, editor and translator. She has worked in the media for the past ten years, with publications like Hindustan Times, India Today among others. She has extensively covered culture, art, fashion, travel, heritage, languages, books and human narratives in her work. She currently works as an independent writer. She lives in Bombay. 

Tara Gandhi was guided by Sálim Ali for her MSc in Field Ornithology. She worked for several national and international organisations for their biodiversity conservation programmes and conducted status surveys of wildlife protected areas in many parts of India including in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshdweep.

Currently a vice-chair of the Delhi-based Wildlife Trust of India, she serves on committees of the Bombay Natural History Society, Madras Naturalists’ Society and the Institutional Ethics Committee of Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.

The author of books, scientific and popular articles on ecology and wildlife, Tara is the editor of A Bird’s Eye View, an anthology of Sálim Ali’s writings and Words for Birds a collection of his radio broadcasts.

Tarun J Tejpal is the founder of Tehelka, IndiaInk and Think; and the author of three novels, which have been published worldwide to critical acclaim. He is married and has two daughters who work in cinema and in conservation.

Known for films such as the Golmaal series, Shootout at Wadala and The Dirty Picture, actor-producer Tusshar Kapoor became a father to son Laksshya Kapoor through surrogacy in June 2016. Bachelor Dad is his debut book about his journey to fatherhood and single parenthood. 

As one of the first in the Indian film industry to take this unusual but significant step, he says he was beset with doubt: Would there be a backlash in the media? Would people react with shock and opposition? The book is an honest recounting of his quest to overcome these doubts, and discovering the joy of parenthood.

Usha Uthup is India’s original pop music icon. Her voice transcends genres, whether in hits such as Darling and Hari Om Hari or Jeete Hain Shaan Se, and when she takes the stage, her energy and connection with the audience are unparalleled in the realm of Indian music.

The Queen of Indian Pop is a vivid biography, originally written in Hindi by Vikas Kumar Jha. It charts Uthup’s life and career – from her childhood in Mumbai, her first gigs singing with jazz bands in Chennai’s nightclubs, to her meteoric rise to stardom and her philanthropic work. Jha brings alive Uthup’s sense of freedom, her struggles, and her never-say-die attitude. The book has been translated into English by Srishti Jha.

Vandana Saxena Poria is a storyteller and curator, who works with people and corporations across the world to alter their perspectives and thoughts. Along with the late Alyque Padamsee, she is co-author of Let Me Hijack Your Mind: Restart Your Life With Freedom

Vandana is known as the “human alarm clock”, due to her disruptive thinking which spurs people into action. She has extensive experience in translating academic and industry texts into digestible stories and training exercises for corporations globally. Her clients include Tata Sons and PhonePe. She is a recipient of the Order of the British Empire. 

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Sakal Marathi
The XIth was the best edition of the KSLITFEST ! Greetings and warm thanx to the Royal Loyal Fantabulous Team. The candle throws a bright beam but it is the candle stand that holds the candle!! I was with you all the way thanx to the live streaming. Love and hugs to all. Kishie. (Chandigarh)
I am from Pakistan, and a big fan of Khushwant Singh, I have hardly left any of his books unread, so very kind of you to make it live-streaming.
Nasir Soomro
What a fantastic festival this is. Intimate, insightful, warm, happy and all of you have been absolutely incredible! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, have come away with so much soul food and camaraderie and most of all, new bonds and rekindled some old ones. Cannot thank all of you enough. Tons of love.-
Revati Laul
Wanted to also say that the KLF was excellent content /speakers/ arrangements …learnt a lot Arti sends her love to both of you as do I
It is place on record my deep appreciation to you and your entire team for precision conduct and management of the KSLF. For a Faujji like me the event successfully planted a seed to explore the literary portion of my brain. Looking forward to more interactions on Environment. Warm regards.
Col Anupam Sharma
I saw this interview on U tube. It was very nice. Both Rajmohan and Mahua were simply brilliant. Hats off to her for reading the book so thoroughly and asking all relevant questions.
Sunil Mehta
Hi Niloufer Thank you for the wonderful Litefest event we had in Kasauli. Really had a great experience and met some amazing people. Thank you for your great hospitality. Best regards
Tejal Gandhi
CEO, Money Matters, Mumbai
Terrific show Kudos to you, and a big hug!
Tarun Tejpal
Thank you for the buzz created over this weekend . It was so invigorating ! The work that goes on behind the scenes , I know only too well -kudos to you ! Love
Payal Ahuja
Thank you for another incredible KSLF. Each time you manage to outdo the last one even when that itself is a fantastic event. Leaving with some incredible memories.
Kim Lali
Well done ! Such lovey reports of the fest. Inshallah will be there next year
Deepa Sethi
Dagshai, Kasauli Hills
Thank you for a wonderful evening, a celebration for the very successful, enjoyable and educative Fest. Your efforts and passion create this result.
Sheila and Bunty
Congratulations for putting together such an amazing show & what a lovely tribute by the army band....your untiring effort has brought these 3 days together with such an awesome collection of brilliant authors..... I only wished Muzaffar Ali had more time.......fond love and Regards...
#khushwantsinghlitfest ,Thank you so much for having me at this grand fest. Got to meet and interact with some wonderful people , Booker Prize 2022 winner Geetanjali shree, #Mallikasarabhai #sathyasaran It was so much fun to host a session at this lit fest with dear friend Divya Dutta and meeting another friend Rajeshwari. Looking forward to be there again next year
Anup Soni
Thank you for a most scintillating Lit Fest. Enjoyed every session. For me this was one of the best. Three cheers to and carry on.
Gugu Chopra
We were privileged and honoured to be a part of the prestigious festival and receiving a warm welcome from both of you into your beautiful heritage home . We definitely would not miss it for ever to come . Our warm regards and love to you both
Parminder and Arvinder
Heartiest congratulations on a wonderful festival . The participants were famous people and the contents were informative and more than that thought provoking !!
Wishing you the very best in your continuing efforts in this regard . Couldn't make it this year, will certainly be there next year , along with my friends, as in previous occasions. Will also do my 'bit' . Warm regards and best wishes
Col Ramesh Dadlani
We have listened to some of the speakers on our I phone who you have invited to the latest lit fest in Kasauli. We both enjoyed the speeches and have been reminded of the impact that Khushwant had on an immense range of writers and intellectuals . Gautam remembers when he worked for your father as he took over the editorship of the Ilustrated Weekly in 1970. Gautam was a beginner and he remembers how encouraging and generous of spirit your father was. He encouraged him to write his first two cover stories even as a trainee. He has nothing but admiration for Khushwant , as an editor and a human being . As do I. Love ,
I was wondering how can I adequately express my Thanks for inviting me to this event. Flawlessly organized,outstanding hospitality care and consideration to each of us. And the brilliant selection of speakers team and I could go on applauding. At my end too I will be sharing with our groups this excellence. Honored to be a part of this. Thank you again.
Dr Punam Jain
What an amazing festival and precious moments at Kasauli. Thanks a lot. More power to you. Warmest regards
Nonica Datta
It was truly an honour to be there with you in Kasauli and share such a wonderful, unforgettable experience. Thank you so much for creative such a pure and beautiful narrative in this day and age where most are surrendering to commercial hacks. Sending you lots of love and warmth. Hoping to see you soon. Thank you.
Srishti Jha
Dear Niloufer, My heartiest congratulations on such a successful and fantastic lit fest organised by you n your team at Kasauli. It was truly an exceptional experience to be led through at each event!! I can imagine the meticulous planning and hard work which must have gone in with you n your team . My apologies for not showing up for the evening break up party!! Had soaked in so much was just a bit low on energy 🤗 Hope to catch you at Delhi sometime, will be a pleasure to host you , do stay in touch , my warmest love n regards to you n Rahul.
Anu Kler
New Delhi
Thank you dear Niloufer and Rahul for these invigorating and relaxing days. Your grace, commitment and generosity are inspiring. Looking so forward to spending time with you in the legendary KS home this evening. Much warmth and many good wishes- always,
Malavika Sangghvi
Dear Niloufer and Rahul Thank you ever so much for making me a part of the wonderful and prestigious Khushwant Singh Literary Festival. It was particularly special for me since it was a green festival with emphasis on ecology and an honour to be in the midst of a star-studded gathering. Your warm and generous hospitality was most welcoming. Thank you both for your care and attention. With my warmest regards
Tara Gandhi
Dear Niloufer, Rahul, Madhur, Ashima and everyone at the Khushwant Singh Lit Fest, Thank you for having me, thank you for creating such an intimate ecosystem for ideas and books and personal experiences full of warmth and a genuine camaraderie. I absolutely loved the three days I was there and they will stay in my head like timeless vignettes.
Revati Laul
Dear Niloufer and Rahul, Thank you for having me at your lovely festival and for your warm hospitality. I had a wonderful time, both at the event and at the party in your beautiful house. With my best regards to you and all the festival organisers, I hope to meet again soon,
Parvati Sharma
Now that Aneysha and I have settled back into life in the UK, I wanted to write to you to thank you and Rahul and all the other KSLF organisers for a wonderful experience in Kasauli. The festival was a fantastic combination of topics and speakers - and entertainment too. I was very impressed by how smoothly everything ran - technicals, crowd movement and timings. And on top of that, the very warm welcome and hospitality throughout. We are both interested in becoming involved in the organisation of KSLF London. If that would be useful and welcome, who said we speak to or meet with over at this end?
Paul Waters