Published On: Thu, Jan 21st, 2016

The Privacy Series @ ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival

12549113_1183926498306393_8345461367995818387_nReport by Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Jaipur: As governments and corporations mine more and more data on citizens and customers, issues surrounding privacy and data use become an increasingly hot debate. Forming one of the key themes at ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival this week, the Privacy Series will explore whether privacy is dead forever, and a person’s philosophical value and right to privacy versus the need for collective security.

The series, sponsored by IQ (The Indian Quarterly) is co-curated by Homi K. Bhabha Director of Harvard University’s Mahindra Humanities Centre and ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival co-director Namita Gokhale and looks at many aspects of privacy in the modern era.

In The Fiction of Privacy: Drawing the Line journalists and non-fiction writers discuss their daily battle with issues of privacy, both philosophical and legal with input from journalist turned author Avirook Sen, Delhi based award winning writer Samanth Subramanian, and Pragya Tiwari, facilitated by Homi K. Bhabha.

Hindi journalist, poet and novelist Uday Prakash, a leading figure in modern Indian literature joins bilingual historian Ravikant and editor, translator and film-maker Anu Singh Choudhary to examine ideas of social, intellectual and personal privacy and the cruel contours of a post-globalized world where class injustices continue through identity theft and betrayal of human hopes in The Poet and Privacy: Kavya aur Nijita.

Total Recall: The End of Privacy explores the concept of personal privacy as a collective philosophical value and right which sometimes overlaps and conflicts with issues of security and secrecy. Director of the Humanities Centre at Harvard Homi K. Bhabha gathers with President of Delhi think-tank Centre for Policy Research Pratap Bhanu Mehta, photographer Dayanita Singh, writer and businessman Raghu Raman and IT entrepreneur Abhimanyu Radhakrishnan to explore this issue.

The dangers of privacy are explored in a different way through the story of Kim Philby, the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War. A Spy Among Friends: Philby and the Great Betrayal is a story of intimate duplicity, of loyalty, trust and treachery. With access to newly released MI5 files, previously unseen family papers and with the cooperation of former MI6 and CIA officers, this definitive biography unlocks what is perhaps the last great secret of the Cold War. British author and historian Ben Macintyre is introduced by Raghu Karnad.

The final session in the series looks at human behaviour. Kwame Anthony Appiah, hailed by The New York Times Book Review as ‘one of the most relevant philosophers today’, has changed the way we understand human behaviour and how social reform is brought about. Brilliantly arguing that new democratic movements over the last century have not been driven by legislation from above, Appiah’s The Honour Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen explores key moments of change in cultures around the world. Intertwining philosophy and historical narrative, he demonstrates the critical role honour plays in the struggle against man’s inhumanity to man. Kwame Anthony Appiah discusses his ideas with Homi K. Bhabha.

Namita Gokhale, writer, publisher and co-Director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, said “The changing interpretations of what is in the public domain and what remains in the realm of the private are fluid and constantly changing. Viewing the self, and society, and the relationship between the two, includes the intervention of all-knowing technologies that are now a given in our world. This is an important and intriguing theme interpreted through multiple perspectives in JLF 2016, brought to us through the continuing support of the Mahindra Humanities Centre, IQ and Homi K. Bhabha.”

Homi K. Bhabha, Director of the Mahindra Humanities Centre at Harvard, said, “The MHC at Harvard is a crossroads of innovative academic exchange and intellectual debate across the university. Our warm collaboration with the JLF, the largest and most lively literature festival in the world, is crucial to our ambitions to build a bridge between the Arts and Humanities on a global scale. We are partners in an inclusive cosmopolitan conversation that brings together the rich diversity of literary and cultural expression that reverberates across countries and communities. A world of unbounded creativity that comes alive each year at The Diggi Palace in Jaipur and can be heard around the world.”

About the Author