Raje pitches for Rajasthan as JLF kick starts

Jaipur, Jan 21: The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started began today with its keynote speaker Margaret Atwood saying festivals such as JLF provides service to not only readers but writers as well.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was present at the inauguration marketed her state well, asking the JLF organisers not to take away the festival from Jaipur as it gone ahead and started organising festivals in Southall, UK and Boulder, US. She called the JLF as celebration of words.

So looking elegant in a yellow saree with ruby danglers, Raje : “Please stay with us. People often ask me why don’t you come to UK and US. But if you start doing this, people, who would have come to us, would say ‘it is so much easier for us to come to US or UK.’ So please stay with us.”
She added she has vested interests. She said she not in a position to have free lunches. She admitted she has vested interest in keeping the festival in Jaipur.

Raje said : “My vested interest is about Jaipur, about Rajasthan. My vested interest is to get all the wonderful people to Jaipur and after you, I want more people trailing in long after you have left. I want Rajasthan to showcase itself.”

Clearly miffed over the PIL filed against the Diggi Palace as a venue for being too cramped and small for 30,000 to 35,000 people each day and that it should be shifted, Raje said: “Every year they tell me , it cannot be but every year there it is. Every year we manage to spread out and squeeze ourselves in.” Addressing the owner Jyotika Kumari Diggi and Ram Pratap Singh, she said : “Jyotika, I don’t how you manage to spread out every year.”
She added : “Diggi Palace may be bursting at its seams. But I want all of you to be excited about JLF. And I want Jaipur to be excited too about hosting you all.”

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Raje also talked about the launch of the new tourism logo of Rajasthan with the tag line “Jaane Kya Dikh Jaaye.” She said the videos were interesting, fun and quirky.

The state government has launched over Rs 100 crore multi-year, multi-modal and multi-narrative domestic and international tourism campaign on 15 January this year.

Despite attractions like forts, palaces, temples, holy places, deserts, Rajasthan’s lack of tourism marketing over the last 25 years has resulted in the state falling considerably in international tourism. Its share has fallen from 33 per cent to 20 per cent in case of international travellers. Domestic tourist arrivals has also fallen. The state gets half of Madhya Pradesh’s 63 million internal tourists because of aggressive efforts from other states.

As tourism is not only employment intensive but capital efficient for Rajasthan. It generates 78 jobs per million rupees of investment compared to 45 jobs per million rupees in the manufacturing sector. It not only provides jobs to a wide spectrum of job seekers but many opportunities accrue to women (internationally women account for 70 per cent of the workforce of tourism).

While delivering the keynote address, Canadian poet, novelist and critic Margaret Atwood, the guest of honour at the JLF, while delivering her keynote address, said the last time she came to India was 27 years ago when there was no concept of literary festivals in the country.

The Man Booker award winning author said, “They asked me to give the keynote. So either I am someone very important or someone very old. I think it is the latter,” as the crowd erupted in laughter. Calling writers ‘cheap dates’, Atwood mentioned that how a literature festival like JLF ‘doesn’t only provide service to readers but also to writers.’

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