Vaiju Naravane in today's Hindu:
Should companies like Shell or Rio Tinto, with a bad reputation for environmental pollution, the violation of workers' rights and collusion with brutal dictatorships such as that of Augusto Pinochet in Chile or Sani Abacha in Nigeria, be considered acceptable as sponsors by those who run the Jaipur Literature Festival?
The question takes on great poignancy since the conclusion of the festival coincides, almost to the day, with hearings in the Dutch parliament on the alleged involvement of the Royal Dutch Shell company in the execution of Nigerian playwright, human rights activist and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa who was put to death with eight others after a hurried military trial in November 1995.[...]Sanjoy Roy, the head of TeamWork, the company that is in charge of the logistical and financial side of operations said: “We are not here as the guardians or gatekeepers of morality and we have not looked at the colour of money. Yes, we shall take this into consideration for the future, but at the end of the day whose money are we looking at and whose money is untainted? If organisations are prepared to support festivals such as these where issues such as these can be openly discussed then why not accept their help?”
'Not looked at the colour of money'. Right.
But why ask only if the JLF organisers have asked themselves this question? What about the writers? If writers are expected to not accept awards given by organisations/institutions in order to make a political statement, can we also demand that they consider festivals as more than celebrations of the writing life?
Oh, and the JLF's list of sponsors here, on their website.