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Story Of India's Homegrown COVID-19 Vaccine, Early Buddhist Art In Among Highlights Of Upcoming IAAC Literary Festival

The 2023 Literary Festival will be hosted by the leading cultural organisation the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) on November 18 and 19.

A literary festival (Representational Image)
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Over 60 award-winning, eminent authors and poets will gather here this month for a literary festival that will shine the spotlight on trailblazing artistic and scholarly work ranging from the story of India's homegrown COVID-19 vaccine to early Buddhist art.

The 2023 Literary Festival will be hosted by the leading cultural organisation the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) on November 18 and 19.

"We believe that the IAAC Literary Festival is not just a gathering of words, but a convergence of worlds. It's a celebration of the totality of voices and cultures that bridge continents, even as it reflects an authentic Indo-American experience,” IAAC Vice Chairman Rakesh Kaul said.

IAAC said in a statement Thursday that this year’s festival is set to be an “extraordinary Renaissance Weekend, a celebration of literature, culture, and intellectual discourse.”

The eminent lineup of authors and thought leaders at this year’s festival include Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri, National Book Award finalist Sarah Thankam Mathews and Grammy-nominated artist, humanitarian and entrepreneur Chandrika Tandon among others. Tandon’s latest work is her fifth full-length album, ‘Ammu's Treasures’, which includes 35 tracks and 21 chants, comprising renditions of folk staples, classics as well as traditional calming chants.

Among the highlights of the festival will be the book ‘Going Viral: Making of Covaxin - The Inside Story’ and its author eminent cardiologist Dr Balram Bhargava, who has previously served as Secretary in the Department of Health Research and as Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Bhargava, currently Chief of Cardiothoracic Centre at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), will discuss his book that chronicles the journey of India's homegrown COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin. The book also touches upon the intricacies of science and challenges faced by Indian scientists during the fight against COVID-19, from the development of a robust laboratory network, diagnosis, treatment and serosurveys to new technologies and vaccines.

The 2023 movie ‘The Vaccine War’ directed by Vivek Agnihotri and produced by Pallavi Joshi is based on Bhargava's book.

Literary Festival Director Preethi Urs said that through the festival, she aims to weave stories and conversations that not only inspire but also highlight the rich fabric of human experiences.

Business tycoon, educator and innovator Jose Thomas, recipient of IAAC’s 2023 Trail Blazer Award, will discuss his biography ‘By Choice’ while legendary Indian artist Usha Uthup will talk about her authorised biography ‘The Queen of Indian Pop’.

The festival will also feature Padma Shri awardee and author of ‘The Idea of India: Bharat as a Civilisation' Subhash Kak; curator of South and Southeast Asian Art for the Metropolitan Museum of Art John Guy who will discuss his book ‘Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India’; author of ‘Bhali Ladkiyan, Buri Ladkiyan’ Anu Singh Choudhary; ‘The Book Of Desire' author Meena Kandasamy and ‘How Prime Ministers Decide' author Neerja Chowdhury.

Currently, an exhibition ‘Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India, 200 BCE–400 CE’ is running at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Featuring more than 140 objects dating from 200 BCE to 400 CE, the exhibition “presents a series of evocative and interlocking themes to reveal both the pre-Buddhist origins of figurative sculpture in India and the early narrative traditions that were central to this formative moment in early Indian art.”

Of these 140 artifacts, about 62 pieces have come from India for the exhibition that celebrates 75 years of India’s Independence ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.’

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