SPEAKERS
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Arjun Vajpai, Mountaineer
Arjun Vajpai, Mountaineer

Arjun Vajpai is India's youngest mountaineer with many firsts to his credit in summiting Mt Everest in 2010, Lhotse in 2011, and Manaslu in 2016 - as the youngest climber at his time. He is a motivator, entrepreneur and a real life Inspiration for all age groups, demographics, languages and professions. His quest for the mountains is a real life story of successes, failures, strength and endurances that the mountains put to test time and again.

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Ani Choying Drolma, Musician
Ani Choying Drolma, Musician

Ani Choying Drolma is the founder of the Nuns Welfare Foundation of Nepal. She is an internationally reputed singer of Buddhist hymns and chants and has toured extensively in North America, Asia and Europe. She founded the Arya Tara School in the year 2000 for nuns which runs with the help of proceeds from her concerts, tours, CD sales and donation. She is the author of ‘My Voice for Freedom’. She has been recently appointed as the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to Nepal.

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Anjal Prakash, Writer
Anjal Prakash, Writer

Dr Prakash was the coordinating lead author for the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC). He has also been a lead author for the chapter on cities, settlements and key infrastructure and cross chapter paper on mountains in the Working Group II of IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report. Recently he was nominated as a member of the Gender Task Group of IPCC to develop a framework of goals and actions to improve gender balance and address gender-related issues.

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Asiya Zahoor, Poet
Asiya Zahoor, Poet

Asiya Zahoor has written books and articles on the literature of exile, Kashmiri literature, and psycholinguistics. Her film, The Stitch, has won the Critics Award for Best Film at the Second South Asian Film Festival. Her latest collection of poems is Serpents Under My Veil. She has recently won the Sanford Taylor Fellow at Cornell. She is currently working at a college in Baramulla, Kashmir.

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The Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck
The Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck

The Queen Mother is the patron of Bhutan Echoes, and an accomplished author. Her Majesty, in order to broaden the horizon of Bhutanese writers and literature lovers, co-founded the Mountain Echoes Literature Festival, now Bhutan Echoes: Drukyul's Literature Festival, a year long celebration of literature and the arts in the kingdom of Bhutan. Her Majesty is the author of "Of Rainbows and Clouds", "Treasures of the Thunder Dragon" A Portrait of Bhutan" and "Dochula: A Spiritual Abode in Bhutan."

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Askhay Shah
Askhay Shah

Akshay joined Hanifl Centre in the summer of 2015 to provide operational & programming support. With more than two decades of experience in the outdoors including trekking across high passes in the Kumaon Himalaya, Akshay is an experienced and passionate trek leader, fond of simple mountain life and its rewards. He founded and managed Kumaon based social development NGO Lok Chetna Manch for more than a decade. He has worked for NOLS India as a consultant on their natural history projects.

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Bhushita Vasistha, Publishing Editor
Bhushita Vasistha, Publishing Editor

Bhushita Vasistha is the Publishing Editor at Nepalaya Publications, one of the leading publication houses in Nepal. Her interest, while always guided by the passion for writing, meandered along the paths that sometimes appear mutually exclusive. She spent ten years in a meditation centre as an initiate while continuing her professional career as a journalist and creative writer.

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Bhutan Echoes
Bhutan Echoes

Drukyul's Literature Festival: Bhutan Echoes is an annual celebration of literature and arts in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. The life-changing experience in the world's only carbon-negative country is blessed with the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. The festival is an independently organized not-for-profit event that is free and open to all. Bhutan Echoes vision is to cultivate the creation of an enlightened society through books & storytelling.

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Dolma Roder, Bhutan Echoes, Director
Dolma Roder, Bhutan Echoes, Director

She is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Royal Thimphu College where she teaches undergraduate students. She earned her PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from Arizona State University. She is also involved in Riyang Books, a family run publishing house based in Thimphu. In this role she has edited a collection of Bhutanese poetry and a book documenting her ancestral home in Ogyen Choling, Bumthang.

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Janhavi Prasada, Festival Founder & Director
Janhavi Prasada, Festival Founder & Director

Janhavi Prasada is the founder of Himalayan Echoes of which she has directed 6 editions so far. She is also keen on doing more micro-festivals in Kumaon. Her multifaceted interests include conservation and propagation of local culture, cuisine, heritage and all aspects of the environment. Her graphic novel for young adults on Mahatma Gandhi, Tales of Young Gandhi has also been translated in Hindi. She has also launched a spice beverage brand, White Mountain Collectives, from Kumaon.

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Kunzang Choden, Writer
Kunzang Choden, Writer

She is the first Bhutanese woman to write a novel in English. "The Circle of Karma," published in 2005 is her first novel. Kunzang has been writing on Bhutanese oral traditions, folklore, and women. Her latest books are "Monk Chasing Monkey" and "Ashi Tshomen: The Mermaid Princess."

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Kezand Dechen Choden, Poet
Kezand Dechen Choden, Poet

She first published her collection of poetry when she was only 16. Titled "Impressions," it is a collection of 25 poems with 25 different paintings that Kezang grew to love during her stay at VAST Bhutan.

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Kaveree Bamzai, Journalist
Kaveree Bamzai, Journalist

Kaveree Bamzai is an independent journalist. She was the first, and so far, only woman editor of India Today, where she was employed till January 2019. She is the author of The Three Khans and the Emergence of New India, No Regrets: The Guilt-Free Woman's Guide to a Good Life, Bollywood Today, and two monographs in the Zubaan series on Women in Indian Film. She is on several committees, among them the Women Exemplar Committee of CII, & is recognised as a change maker by Save The Children charity

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Lokesh Ohri, Anthropologist
Lokesh Ohri, Anthropologist

An author and activist, Lokesh Ohri lives and works in the Himalayas. He is wanderer-in-chief at the Dehra Dun based group, ‘Been There Doon That’or BTDT, that advocates slow travel and responsible tourism. His latest book, Till Kingdom Come, is based on the rituals of divine kingship in Jaunsar-Bawar and parts of Himachal Pradesh. Recently, he has also authored monographs on the Cosmology and Iconography around the Ganga. He has a doctorate from the University of Heidelberg.

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Lopen Karma Phuntso, Scholar
Lopen Karma Phuntso, Scholar

He is a Bhutanese scholar who specializes in Buddhism, Tibetan, and Himalayan Studies. His book, The History of Bhutan, has been called "the first book to offer a comprehensive history of Bhutan in English." He is also the President and founder of Loden Foundation, a leading educational, entrepreneurial, and cultural initiative in Bhutan.

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Mandakini Kaul,Regional Coordinator for South Asia, World Bank
Mandakini Kaul,Regional Coordinator for South Asia, World Bank

Mandakini works on issues of regional cooperation, economic connectivity, and engendered approaches in traditionally gender-blind sectors among countries in Asia. She leads high-level policy-influencing dialogue and knowledge platforms with government and non-government, and manages regional relationships with key counterparts in government, civil society, development agencies, private sector institutions and chambers of commerce, and think tanks.

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Mukul Pathak, Journalist
Mukul Pathak, Journalist

Mukul Pathak is a journalist with Channel DY365, Itanagar. He began writing for newspapers at an early age and later went on to join the Assamese Daily newspaper as a correspondent in 1997. He has worked for All India Radio in Nagaon, Guwahati and Itanagar and for Itanagar Radio(Casual) as News Editor . He is a literary activist and discharged his duty as AGS of Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society. He dabbles with writing poetry and short stories.

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Mamang Dai, Writer
Mamang Dai, Writer

Mamang Dai is a poet and novelist from Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh. A former journalist, Dai also worked with WWF in the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspots programme. Her first publication 'Arunachal Pradesh -The Hidden Land' received the State Verrier Elwin Prize. In 2011, Dai was awarded the Padma Shri (Literature &Education), and the Sahitya Akademi Award, 2017, for her book The Black Hill, in English. Dai lives in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, India.

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Mussoorie Mountain Festival
Mussoorie Mountain Festival

The Mussoorie Mountain Festival was founded in 2005 by Stephen Alter in conjunction with Mussoorie Writers. It was initially established with the aim of celebrating Mussoorie’s Literary Heritage. It has since redefined itself to become a broader Mountain Festival at the heart of which is a community celebration of Himalayan culture, natural history and exploration.

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Namita Gokhale, Writer
Namita Gokhale, Writer

Writer, publisher and festival director, Namita is a literary genius from Kumaon and has authored over 20 books. Her acclaimed debut novel, Paro: Dreams of Passion, was published in 1984. The latest book, The Blind Matriarch, has been described as her most ambitious novel till date. Gokhale is also the founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

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Neerja Mattoo, Writer
Neerja Mattoo, Writer

Professor Neerja Mattoo is an eminent writer, teacher, translator who has taught in Kashmir for over three decades, and has published five books, including the critically acclaimed - most recent - The Mystic & the Lyric: Four Kashmiri Women Poets ( Zubaan, 2019). Her works have been published by Sahitya Akademi, and she has been awarded a Fellowship & Visitorship to Oxford, by the Ministry of Education and the British Council, respectively. She lives in Srinagar, Kashmir.

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Nepal Literature Festival
Nepal Literature Festival

A playground for authors, thinkers and literature connoisseurs, founded by Ajit Baral NLF was conceived as a forum for fostering pluralities of thoughts and ideas, advancing ideals of tolerance & inclusiveness. From its humble beginnings in 2011, the Festival has grown in stature and has brought together hundreds of national and international authors, activists, artists, intellectuals, economists and leaders to converse on issues both literary and non-literary.

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Pushpesh Pant, Food Critic
Pushpesh Pant, Food Critic

Dr. Pushpesh Pant is an Author, Columnist, Broadcaster, Anchor, and some time Teacher. He has taught and researched for over four decades at the JNU and has published over fifty books of which twenty deal with food. India: The Cookbook made it to the New York Times bestseller list in 2010 and has been translated into Dutch and German. His book The Indian Vegetarian Cookbook came out in 2018 and was published by Phaidon London.

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D.R. Purohit, Folklorist
D.R. Purohit, Folklorist

D R Purohit is a senior theatre activist, scholar, mentor, writer, actor, director and exponent of the Central Himalayan folk theatre tradition. He has written 36 plays in Garhwali, Hindi and English. He is a former professor of English and Theatre and founding director of the Centre for Folk Performing Arts and Culture at H.N.B. Garhwal University, Srinagar. He has been a visiting professor at Heidelberg Univ. Germany and a Baden Wurteimberg Fellow at the South Asia Institute, Germany.

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Stephen Alter, Author
Stephen Alter, Author

Stephen Alter has published more than 20 books of fiction and non-fiction. His 'Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth' received the 2020 Banff Book Award in the Mountain Environment and Natural History category and the Kekoo Naoroji Prize. He lives in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, where he was born, and is founding director of the Mussoorie Mountain Festival.

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Sonam Wangmo Dukpa, Bhutan Echoes, Director
Sonam Wangmo Dukpa, Bhutan Echoes, Director

She is a development worker and a writer. She is the Director of Yeewong Bhutan, a multi-media company, and one of the Directors of Bhutan Echoes: Drukyul’s Literature Festival. She earned her MA in economic development, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. She is the recipient of the Leslie Epstein Global Fellowship award. She is presently working on finishing a book of fictional stories set in South Asia.

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Shekhar Pathak, Historian
Shekhar Pathak, Historian

Padma Shri awardee, an academic, historian and co-author of Asia ki Peeth Par, Dr Pathak is a Himalayan traveler who has worked on several aspects of Himalayan history such as local movements, the freedom struggle and the culture of Uttarakhand, he is the founder of the People’s Association for Himalaya Area Research (PAHAR). A collection of his essays Dastan-i-Himalay (2 volumes) is being published by Vani and another work The Chipko Movement: A People's History by Permanent Black.

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Tshering Tashi, Bhutan Echoes Director
Tshering Tashi, Bhutan Echoes Director

He is a Director of Bhutan Echoes, and a prolific writer based in Thimphu and Paro. For the last 16 years, he has been researching and writing on culture, and providing insights into the history of Bhutan. Tshering Tashi has written several books on Bhutan, the latest being 15 Gun Salutes, Myth and Memory: Untold Stories of Bhutan, and Mysteries of the Raven Crown. He is also the author of Legacy of Gonzim Ugyen Dorji.

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Ziro Festival of Music, Arunachal Pradesh
Ziro Festival of Music, Arunachal Pradesh

Ziro is held in the Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh. It showcases the independent music scene in India. Founded in 2012 by Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty,its has featured artists like Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Damo Suzuki, Shye Ben Tzur, MONO, Divine, Louw Majaw, Shaa'ir n Func, Indus Creed, Peter Cat Recording Co, Menwhopause, Guru Rewben Mashangva, and Barmer Boys among others. A four day affair, it is hosted by members of Apatani people at Ziro.

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