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SPEAKERS

From the storytellers of Northern Ireland to the literary luminaries of Kumaon, our speakers will nurture your mind and soul.

Ajoy Sodani, Writer
Ajoy's insatiable hunger for travel often leads him to explore the Himalayas for last nineteen years, mostly on foot.His inspiration from mother-nature finds its way to the world through stories, books, poems and talks. He writes in Hindi and has authored travelogues like Darra Darra Himalaya, Darakate Himalaya Par Dar-b-Dar. A neurology student from AIIMS, New Delhi he is at present with Sri Aurobindo Medical College, Indore as a Neurology professor.
Aditi Maheshwari Goyal, Publisher
Aditi heads the Department of Copyrights and Translation at Vani Prakashan and is the Managing Trustee at Vani Foundation. She teaches Publishing and Editing at the University of Delhi. She is on the advisory panel of Jaipur BookMark. She is the ​Festival Director ​of Hindi Mahotsav and Secretariat Manager of Vani Foundation Distinguished Translator Award.
Aparna Rajgopal, Founder Beejom
A lawyer turned farmer Aparna Rajagopal 's passion for animals and bringing back heirloom crops with her 20 acre organic farm in Noida has created a chain of sustainable lifestyle giving occupation and sustenance to her human resource as well as the environment. She is a change maker.
Anish Dayal, Festival Advisor
3. Anish Dayal is an advocate at the Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court, a keen photographer and writer. He has contributed a regular column ‘Inside Law’ for the Wall Street Journal and Livemint, and now writes occasional op-ed pieces for national dailies. Dayal runs an educational initiative at Navchetna, a village near Bhimtal, and is involved in various policy initiatives in art, culture, architecture and conservation.
Amitabh Baghel, Outreach Head
3. Amitabh Baghel, has a keen interest in academics and social research, and writes on varied subjects like ecological conservation, tourism, gender issues and cinema. An avid photographer with a passion for Urdu poetry, Baghel is an active member of the Nainital Book Club.
Cathy McCullough, Founder, JOCWS
Cathy leads the John O Connor Writing School & Literary Arts Festival. She worked as a Drama teacher and a family psychotherapist. She has worked for ACNI as a Community Arts Facilitator, and founded Fringe Benefits Theatre Company which provided professionally led theatre trainings.She produced and directed plays with Fringe Benefits, including the Irish premiere of Arthur Miller's ' 'Incident at Vichy' and 'Nicholas Nickleby’ with Sam and Joan McCready.
Charmaine O' Brien, Food Historian
Charmaine has been writing on Indian food culture and history since twenty years. She is Australian with a Indian penchant that led her to travel extensively across India which to document regional food-ways for The Penguin Food Guide to India. Her interest in India extends well beyond national food habits. She also researches and writes on Australian and colonial food history. The upcoming book talks about how food connects India to to the rest of the world through trade in goods and ideas.
Aneel Bisht, Writer
Retired Professor of English from the Kumaon University lives in Nainital and has recently started writing children's stories. Her current work as syllabus designer and volunteer teacher for ECHO, an educational programme that is running in a remote area of Kumaon, brings together her desire to reach out to hill communities, interest in nature and trekking, and her passion for teaching.
Daleep Akoi, Hotelier
A former writer, editor at Reuters in New York City Daleep is involved in developing his experiential boutique hotels, Jim’s Jungle Retreat at Corbett Tiger Reserve and a unique B&B The Shumshere, in Dehradun. A mountain retreat near Dalhousie is getting ready to welcome guests soon. Daleep also devotes his time to writing about wildlife acts with a traveling theatre company in Delhi. Loves dogs and reading.
Kate Newmann, Writer
An English degree from Cambridge University and a years work in the Cretan Ethnological Museum,Kate has published two books of non-fiction and five collections of poetry. Her sixth collection will be published before the end of the year. She has had her poems translated into Mexican, Colombian and Cuban Spanish; Belgian; Hungarian; Irish; Greek; Italian; Turkish and Malayalam. She facilitates creative writing with children, teachers and adults.
Deepa Agarwal, Writer
Author, poet and translator, Deepa has over 50 works for both children and adults to her credit. A recipient of N.C.E.R.T. National Award for Children’s Literature for her picture book Ashok’s New Friends, Deepa’s works have featured on IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Honour List 2008 as well as included in the White Raven catalogue of the International Youth Library Munich.
A consultant with Scholastic India and NBT, Deepa also conducts creative writing workshops for kids.
Manisha Koirala, Actress
Manisha Koirala, born into the prominent Koirala family in Nepal, made her Bollywood debut in 1991, and went on to establish herself as one of the leading actresses of the industry. A Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Population Fund, she was involved in relief work after the Nepal earthquake, and promotes causes such as women's rights and cancer awareness. Koirala was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 and has been cancer-free since 2015.
Marryam Reshii, Food Critic
India’s foremost food critic, working on the Times Food Guide in Delhi since the last 7 years apart from churning out books for the Times Group Books imprint, text for books on Kashmir and discovering lost recepes of the valley. Food history interests her as do spices which is the subject of her bestselling book, The Flavour of Spice. Her dream is to set up a museum of kitchens of India complete with vessles, recipes and ingredients. A culinary traveller she writes for Whats Hot in the TOI.
Nuala Mckeever, Humorist
25 years of entertaining, Nuala first came to public attention in the award winning BBC sitcom Give My Head Peace.This was followed by three seasons of her own, character-based comedy show, McKeever. Since then Nuala has written and performed in five plays, a sketch show, a puppet show - The
Ulster Kama Sutra - and a radio sitcom pilot. Her one woman dark comedy, In the Window, played for a week in Mumbai in the Going Solo Festival 2015
Namita Gokhale, Writer
Fourteen books under her belt & more to come, she is the literary genius of Kumaon and the world. Her acclaimed debut novel, Paro: Dreams of Passion, was published in 1984. The recent Things to Leave Behind has been described as her most ambitious novel yet. Gokhale is a founder and co-director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival and Mountain Echoes, the Bhutan Literature Festival, and also The Noir Literature Festival. She is the director of Yatra Books, a publishing house for translations.
Rosemary Jenkinson, Poet
A playwright and short story writer from Belfast Rosemay was Artist-in-Residence at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in 2017 and received a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to write a memoir. Her plays have been performed in Dublin, London, Edinburgh, New York. Her play,The Bonefire, was winner of the Stewart Parker BBC Radio Award 2006. Essays on the nature of writing, Northern Irish identity and women’s writing have appeared in Female Lines, The Irish Times.
Pushpesh Pant, Food Historian
Padam Shree Dr Pushpesh Pant is a noted Indian academic, food critic and historian from Uttarakhand. He retired as a Professor of International relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. He is deeply involved in bringing back regional cuisines into mainstream tables.
Sachin Pilot, Politician
Sachin Pilot is an Indian politician who is currently serving as the Deputy Chief Minister of the state of Rajasthan and as the President of the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee. Pilot is an Alumin of St Stepehen College, Delhi and Wharton Business School.
Saif Mahmood, Lawyer, Writer
Author, Urdu literature critic, commentator, translator and rights activist, Saif is a Supreme Court lawyer and holds a doctorate in Constitutional Law. A leading South Asian name in the literary world, Saif speaks and writes on diverse issues, ranging from law to literature. His recent book, Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and her Greatest Poets, presents the literary arc of the Indian capital through the lens of the Urdu poets of Mughal India and takes readers to the heart of Delhi’s romance.
Shekhar Pathak, Historian
Dr. Shekhar Pathak, Padma Shri awardee, is an academic, historian and co-author of Asia ki Peeth Par. 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). His latest book Hari Bhari Umeed will be launched at Himalayan Echoes.
Stephen Alter, Writer
Stephen Alter is the author of around 20 works of fiction and non-fiction. His non-fictional work received the Kekoo Naoroji Award for Himalayan Literature, while his novel, In The Jungles of the Night: A Novel about Jim Corbett was shortlisted for the DSC South Asian Literature Award.

A former writer-in-residence at MIT and a recipient of Guggenheim Foundation and Fulbright fellowships, Stephen is the founding director of the Mussoorie Mountain Festival.
Tarana Khan, Food Historian
Tarana writes extensively on Rampur cuisine, culture and oral history for Scroll, The Wire and and a monthly column on Rampur cuisine, ‘Food Fables’ for DailyO. Her historical fiction, ‘Fabled City: A Dastan of Rampur’ is being published by Traquebar press. Her novel, I’m Not a Bimbette’ was published by Juggernaut Books; a sequel ‘Cyber Bullied’ is currently under publication. Founder of the ‘Rampur Book Club’, her current research is on AHRC funded project, ‘Forgotten Food: Culinary
Memory'
Vani Tripathi Tikko, Actor, Producer
Vani is one of the youngest ever member of the Central Board of Film certification popularly known as "censor board".
She has been a socio political acrivist and her campaigns and outreach programmes have focused on encouraging women's participation in politics and bringing the youth to a universal platform that addresses issues including education, empowerment and employment.
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Rosemary Jenkinson, Poet

A playwright and short story writer from Belfast Rosemay was Artist-in-Residence at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in 2017 and received a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to write a memoir. Her plays have been performed in Dublin, London, Edinburgh, New York. Her play,The Bonefire, was winner of the Stewart Parker BBC Radio Award 2006. Essays on the nature of writing, Northern Irish identity and women’s writing have appeared in Female Lines, The Irish Times.

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