On the first Sunday of February JW Marriott, Pune witnessed the second edition of ‘Words Count- The Festival of Words’. This event brought the who’s who of the political spectrum of the country together on one platform to interact with people from different walks of life and discuss the current state of politics in the country. Curated by the talented Advaita Kala, a published novelist, award winning screenwriter and a social activist the event aimed at engaging in subjects that highlight the impact of the written and spoken word.

The event kick-started with Mr. Sunil Ambekar’s session on Youth and Nation building with Padmaja Joshi as the moderator. Sunil Ambekar talked about the role ABVP plays in nation building and its contribution to the policy of Skill India. Questions on the image on ABVP and its stance on issues regarding minorities and women were taken up where Mr. Ambekar affirmed that they believe in the contribution of women to be of high importance and do not regard them as inferior. The nationalist theme was highly debated and whether standing up for national anthem or not decides the nationalism of a person when Sunil ji explained that it is not the Sangh that that asks one to stand up for the anthem but it is the constitution.

Union Minister Smriti Irani was also present. At her turn to speak, she graced the audience and went down the memory lane and took the crowd to the child she was and the qualities that helped her achieve a position of power. She went on to discuss how the sangathan never differentiates its workers on the basis of gender, and how she is grateful for her organisation to have given her the opportunity to work in naxal affected areas, and the conducive environment that helps a worker grow on his/her ability and not on the family name they carry.

She made a very heavy remark and claimed that she is going to ‘hang her boots’ once the Prime Minister retires from the national politics. She also claimed that she would always want to work under an able leader and told that she didn’t have the dreams of becoming the Prime Minister and leading the party from the front. When asked if she would contest from the Amethi region in the 2019 general elections she replied saying only Amit Shah’s words count!  

Apart from this, Member of Parliament from Hyderabad, Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi who spoke for the freedom of speech and expression, the moderator for this session was Mr. Prafulla Ketkar, the editor for organiser. During the session Mr. Owaisi was quizzed on his definition of Secularism. He went on to claim that India is secular not because of its ancient practice of Hinduism, but because of the constitution. He also mentioned his respect for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and showed solidarity towards the struggle for upliftment of downtrodden and minority.

A panel discussion on Indic authors was also held where, authors like Shefali Vaidya and SaiSwaroopa Iyer talked about the ethos of the civilisation and how the growing Indic scene in the subcontinent helped them and motivated them towards writing and finding their voice. Panel included the likes of Mayuresh Didolkar, Dimple Kaul, SaiSwaroopa Iyer, kavita Kane and Shefali Vaidya. They talked about their journey into the publishing scene and the hurdles they had to encounter to get their books published.

Next, a panel with some eminent journalists including the like of Kanchan Gupta, padmaja Joshi, INC spokesperdon Shama Mohamed, Bhupendra Chaubey Anand Ranganathan and Professor Madhav a discussion of fake news is the big news.

Pavan Varma from JD(U) was conferred with the Wordsmith award for his extraordinary contribution in the field of literature and writing. Mr. Varma talked about topics ranging from Hinduism to tolerance and sensitivity. His choice to become an IFS officer and then to leave a government job to join a regional political party. He talked about his belief, that Ram Mandir should be built to secure the secularism of this country.

Prasoon Joshi took to the centre stage with Bhupendra Chaubey by his side to take on a variety of philosophical issues and the final destination of life. Mr joshi talked about how being rooted to one’s culture and tradition plays a key role in helping one understand themselves better. He also went on say that in the India of today we have too many critiques than the number of doers. He talked about the importance of humanity and beliefs.

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