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Sanjeev Chopra

Sanjeev Chopra

Sanjeev Chopra

The first edition of Valley of Words was a huge success. What were your favourite moments from the festival?

First of all, thank you for saying that VoW was a success! For me, each moment was great. From the conception to the grand finale with the VoW Book Awards and post event party with the volunteers, advisers and authors! There were tense moments too, because raising funds and sponsorships was, and continues to be a challenge! But we are confident that our 2017 sponsors : ONGC, GAIL, Blue Star and Titan will extend positive support.

The Valley of Words Book Awards is receiving great response from Publishers. Our readers would like to know the process that goes ‘behind the scene ’for the VoW Book Awards.

Last year, publishers wanted to know about VoW. Now both the publishers and the authors know about us, and therefore the response has been overwhelming! Each of our jury members gets to read three to five books in-depth, and we will compile the published reviews in the better known newspapers and journals. This year, we also hope to publish a long list and have a second round with another set of distinguished critics/readers.

What are the improvements over the last edition?

Last year, the feedback from the audience and the participants was that there were too many sessions and not enough time for discussions and interactions. We would like to increase the ‘informal time’ so that the writers and readers can engage with each other outside the formal sessions. We will also be encouraging a lot of new and young participants.

The keynote at a festival sets the tone and the pace of the festival. What has VoW planned for this year?

The Keynote address at VoW 2018 is by Bibek Debroy, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council on the theme: The universality of the Sanskrit epics. We will also have short skits in Sanskrit, and the evening musical concert is dedicated to the Sanskrit Shloka. I think the mother of all Indo Aryan languages has not got its due share in the Lit Fests, so we will try to address this issue as well.

You had said last year that VoW is an international festival set in Dehradun. Why Doon, especially as it already has a number of festivals on similar themes?

Every city evolves to develop a character of its own. Dehradun, because it has a culture of book reading, writing, debate, dissent, democracy and discussion.

Some of the most popular sessions from VoW 2017 were Military and Strategic Affairs and RST forum. What can we look forward to from these verticals this year?

This year the theme of the RST forum will be ‘Migration and Skill Development’. Migration is a big concern not only for Uttarakhand but for all the Himalayan states. The theme for Military History and Strategic Affairs will be ‘100 years of the World War’ and the ‘Tradition of Valour’ which is being curated by Maj Gen Ian Cardozo with support from Arvindar Singh.

The Photography, Philately and Iti-Kriti exhibitions from last year were major crowd pullers. Are they going to be back this year?

All the exhibitions shall be back. In fact, our advisor Priyanka Tolia has already started working on Iti-Kriti and I am sure all the exhibitions will be bigger and better this year. We might also add an Art Exhibition cum sale this year.


About the Interviewee:

Sanjeev Chopra, Honorary Adviser and Curator, Valley of Words is a senior civil servant with a wide range of administrative experience in the Union and state governments of WB and Uttarakhand. A recipient of the Hubert H Humphrey and the Robert S McNamara Fellowships , he has several books , papers and columns to his credit.