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Priyanka Tolia

Priyanka Tolia

Priyanka Tolia

Valley of Words is not just about books and authors. What is your take on this?

VoW celebrates, honours and promotes creative excellence and diversity. In the literary realm, as you are aware, it is canvasing the languages of Hindi, English and Urdu and the several formats of writing styles contained within each. This year the audiences will experience a session in Sanskrit as well! The festival witnesses the congregation of an eclectic mix of thinkers, writers, activists, politicians, bureaucrats, legal and military professionals, development consultants, media personalities, academicians, and social entrepreneurs, all under one roof!

Concerted efforts are made to give prominence to young and upcoming talent, representing and engaging both the cosmopolitan and bucolic identities.

This year VoW is hosting 6 exhibitions, representing artists excelling in  varied visual mediums – photography, water and acrylic and charcoal – each narrating varied themes and worlds. Each of the three days will be wrapped up with cultural performances by artists from various parts of the country.

Besides the above we also have a Philately exhibition and an honour wall commemorating  a Military Hero and a Civil Servant. The Travelling Exhibition by The Partition Museum from Amritsar will bring forth the personal narratives from the experience of the Partition. While Iti Kriti celebrates the creative industries, Iti Lekh will bring the best of the books to the audiences.

VoW hopes to cater to all age groups and interests. Please do visit our website for updated schedule

Being from Uttarakhand, how do you feel about VoW, considering that it celebrates the region with full vigour?

The Festival is envisioned to be an Annual Event scheduled every November. By virtue of it being hosted in the city of Dehradun and the state of Uttarakhand, the Literary Event has thus incorporated 2 vertical formats that are of importance to the context of the city and the state. The first being the thematic sessions on Military issues and the second being on Mountain Issues and it’s people.

VoW aims to offer a world class literary event, which definitely helps to raise the profile of the state of Uttarakhand and its people. By forging close collaborative ties with local resource persons, organisations and institutes, from both private and public domain, VoW enables to get and give great exposure to the various young volunteers, who are drawn from diverse academic backgrounds,  who are our close collaborators – right from the time of event outreach programme to the actual event.

Hosting such festivals also emboldens and strengthens local stakeholders to think of larger ideas and events, as capacities and services are tested in full form in putting up and running a show such as this.

A Vertical in VoW, The RST Forum is named after your father. How do you feel?

The Vertical itself has been conceptualised by Mr Sanjeev Chopra, and SDFU (Sustainable Development Forum Uttarakhand) is curating the RST Forum this year, just like last year.

RST Forum began as an idea to celebrate and commemorate the vision of Dr. R S Tolia – a scholar-administrator, RTI activist and a lover of mountains and forests. Through continued discussions it developed into a forum of Development Literature and Sustainable development Dialogue, as they usually do not get front-page headlines or scale peaks of bestseller lists.

In a developing country like India, Development Literature needs to be mainstreamed and deserves to be brought to the common masses as it affects their fate. It is often read & discussed only in very limited circle of erudite & academic crowds and sometimes is not able to interest even the very practitioners for whom it is actually intended. RST Forum is an attempt to create that space for Development Literature in the mainstream discourse and initiate Development Dialogue among all the stakeholders.

Personally, I am humbled to witness that some of his ideas, both in thought and actions, are being sustained and furthered by collective action and convergence of people with whom he shared the common ideology, intent and passion towards the himalayan regions and its local inhabitants.

 Why Iti Kriti- the Craft Exhibition? The name is unique and we want to know the reason behind such a name.

Iti Kriti means all encompassing creations. It was conceived by Mrs Rashmi Chopra, Secretary of The Shivalik Hills Foundation Trust, who are the organisers.

Iti Kriti is thus intended to be a vibrant platform to celebrate, exhibit and promote the best of creative industries engaging with indigenous natural resources, traditional craft practices and innovative graphic design and illustrated books published for adults and children.

How is Iti Kriti an integral part of the RS Tolia forum? Could you elaborate?

Since Iti Kriti is curated by SDFU who are hosting the RST Forum, major focus and representation is given to groups from Himalayan Indian States. It is hoped to showcase the best of Himalayan Creative Industries and their role in pushing the regional economies and the potential it holds in generating livelihood opportunities.

Participants will thus be from diverse group of NGOs, Departments as well as Private entrepreneurs from across the state of Uttarakhand. Invitation has also been extended to participants from other Himalayan States like Sikkim and Nagaland as well as from Non-Himalayan regions working in the realm of livelihood and innovation through sustainable usage of indigenous resources.

The locus of our curation is to carve a dynamic space that sparks knowledge sharing and forges collaborations between creative entrepreneurs. It is our sincere hope that Iti Kriti becomes a preferred place for producers and customers to converge, share their feedback and transact directly, besides promoting the products and producers to a wider audience.


About the Interviewee: Priyanka Tolia is a Designer who is working  in the realm of Social Design. For the last 6 years her studio Chitku Design Studio has been working in the area where craft and design intersects. She is curating and coordinating RST Forum Sessions at Valley of Words 2017 in collaboration with SDFU (Sustainable Development Forum Uttarakhand) & IMI (Integrated Mountain Initiative)