Butalia, the co-founder of the publishing house, Kali for Women, inaugurated the event and said that 40 years ago Delhi only had a single bookshop which only stocked Hindi books.
Butalia went on to elaborate that today’s literary world is besieged with two major problems — globalisation and intolerance. “Who would dare write a book like the Satanic Verses today and then dare publish it?” she said.
Globalisation was creating ‘sameness’. Several foreign writers have written about poverty in their own languages. But such a topic attracts attention only when it is written in English.
Meanwhile, at the same event, Canada-based author Dr Harsha Dehejia’s compilation of photographs and articles based on the Mumbai footpaths was also released.
Dehejia, the writer of several books on art and culture, said he was attracted to footpaths because people selling their wares on the streets represent so many stories. Footpaths, he felt, have their own vibrancy, colour, art and aroma.
Sharda Dwivedi, the noted writer on Mumbai city, however, said that the book failed to cover the gory side of footpaths — the fact that they are badly designed, ill-constructed and are unfriendly for children, the physically challenged and the ailing.
Paulami Abhyankar and Vikram Doctor narrated their personal experiences on the human aspect of footpaths.