Nawazuddin Siddiqui (r) and director Nandita Das at a session during Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Jan. 26. (Press Trust of India)

The five-day Jaipur Literature Festival, Jan. 25-30, came to a close with a hard-hitting session on the popular #MeToo campaign, spearheaded to highlight the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment against women.

The literary festival this year saw a 23 percent increase in the footfall, the event’s producer Sanjoy Roy said, Jan. 29.

“We saw 4,50,000 people last year and with the 23 percent increase, we believe the number has crossed half a million. We will have a definite number soon. We expect it to go beyond 6,00,000 next year,” he said.

Author-historian and festival co-director William Dalrymple announced the names of a few dignitaries who have confirmed their participation for next year.

“We are going to get bigger next year, and we have already received confirmation from Neil Gaiman, Yuval Harari, Mohsin Hamid, Hari Kunzru, Tilda Swinton, Zadie Smith, Richard Ford and Ian McKellen among others,” he said.

Thanking the participants, Roy said it was a “successful JLF this year, without any controversy.”

“We are also thankful to the police who ensured there were no untoward incidents during the five-day festival. We apologize to media for a controversy-free event. The speakers are the rockstars of our festival and volunteers are the face of the festival.

“The best thing about the event is the incredible energy that the audience brings along. Thanks to the media for taking the message of the authors out to the public,” he added.

The closing debate of the festival on ‘#MeToo: Do Men Still Have It Too Easy?’ featured senior lawyer Pinky Anand, journalist-activist Ruchira Gupta, author Bee Rowlatt, journalists Vinod Dua, Manu Joseph and Sandip Roy.

“Abuse of power is done dominantly by men, then they ask what do we do? My advice to all men is just sit back, keep quiet and listen to what we have to say. If you really want us to believe that men actually do not have it easy, then just sit, listen and lose this debate,” Bee Rowlatt said.

Touted as the “greatest literary show on earth,” this year’s literature festival saw a dazzling array of heavyweights from literary, musical and cultural spheres.

Poetry was a dominant theme this year as were the sessions on women-centric writings.

The festival which has become synonymous with showcasing a range of voices from India and abroad represented over 15 Indian and 20 international languages this year.

The festival also went beyond the four walls of the Diggi Palace and held special events at Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal to celebrate the rich cultural and architectural heritage of the Pink City.