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Vajpayee dons the role of a poet

Tanmaya Kumar Nanda in New York | September 26, 2003 08:37 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee put a week of hectic political parleying behind him as he slipped into the robe of a poet-scholar at the New York inauguration of a conference on Indian literature.

Speaking to a sparse audience of about 200 people at the Manhattan Centre, Vajpayee expanded on the theme of tradition and its ramifications, since the three-day conference is themed 'Tradition, Modernity and Beyond'.

Complete coverage of Vajpayee's visit

The conference, which is organised by the USA chapter of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, has assorted poets, writers and scholars writing in different Indian languages coming under a single roof to discuss Indian literature and its future, and is probably the first of its kind.

Vajpayee addressed the gathering in chaste Hindi through he seemed to race through it, unlike his earlier engagements where he spoke at a far more measured speed.

"I am very honoured to be invited to this gathering, across seven seas and thousands of miles at this conference in Indian literature," he said.

"And it is Indian literature that is responsible for holding Indian culture together through its diversity in unity."

"Culture is social, and literature strings it together through words and emotions," Vajpayee said. "Literature is the replica of our soul and it reflects the rainbow of our culture. Today it is in New York, and hopefully it will soon be global."

He also pointed out that modernity and tradition are not antithetical to each other. "Tradition has been with us for ages, but it is with the brick of modernity that we must build the future and litterateurs have a role to play in that."

Saying that writers were not bound by time or space, he exhorted the gathering to play a role in bettering humanity. "This conference will be seen as a milestone in that effort."

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