Votes of Opinion: Former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi Talks About Being Productive at JLF


We write about some interesting sessions that took place over the past week at JLF 2022.

The 2022 Jaipur Literature Festival is in a hybrid avatar and with a renewed enthusiasm as the literature festival marks a comeback to the ground after the pandemic. As speakers sit down to discuss various issues and share their travels, we write about some notable personalities and issues raised over the course of the week.

A CEO remembers

Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was in conversation with Aparna Piramal Raje before the session My life as a whole: work, family and our future on March 7. She thought back to her childhood when her grandfather taught her that you should never stop learning and waste time. “So when I sit still, I feel like I’ve wasted five minutes of my time. I’m constantly thinking about what I can do to help someone change the world. I am constantly reading, studying or doing something. That’s why meditation has never been a part of my life,” she said, contrasting sharply with today’s young ideology that is moving away from crowd culture, especially after the pandemic.

When Raje asked Nooyi to share the story of the time she felt she didn’t deserve, to inspire the young, the former CEO said dealing with people involves many levels of complexity. “Sometimes you hit a dead end or you feel like you’ve done a great job, but people don’t accept it. Nothing in life is easy. Just because you’ve done your homework doesn’t mean people will accept it. Whenever those kinds of obstacles come your way, you have to rethink your situation,” she said. Nooyi suggested to the young people that they should understand timing and if the time is not right, they should stop and come back after a while with another contents.

The silent pandemic

On the sixth day of the festival, during the session entitled The sex-linked infection with speakers such as Sohaila Abdulali, Pragya Tiwari and Chinmay Tumbe in conversation with Amita Nigam Sahaya, the silent pandemic was discussed. Social entrepreneur working in the gender space Amita Nigam Sahaya spoke about the silent pandemic as she spoke about women locked up with their perpetrators. She talked about how prolonged lockdowns meant prolonged periods of suffering and silence for victims of sexual and domestic violence. “Extended lockdowns allowed victims to stay within closed borders with perpetrators,” she said. Talking about it, she says, is halfway through addressing.

The frustration caused by unemployment during the pandemic was another contributing factor to domestic violence, according to journalist and policy and culture adviser Pragya Tiwari.

Chinmay Tumbe, an economics faculty member at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, spoke about what the pandemic had done to women in terms of migration, questioning how welcoming cities are and how displacement became a problem during the pandemic.

Publish without borders

On the sixth day of the festival, Pragya Tiwari spoke with Naveen Kishore about one of the most prominent Indian publishing house, Seagull Books, which completed four decades of publishing, during a session Publishing Without Limits: Seagull at 40† The publishing house has more than 500 titles, including those by Nobel laureates and Man Booker International laureate Laszlo Krasznahorkai. Kishore spoke of his humble beginnings as he discussed why he named his publishing house Seagull. “I started out as a theater lighting designer. I was working on stage for a local band called Great Bear and Seagull Empire was one of their hit songs. Seagull is also the American slang for cocaine. When I ventured to publish, I chose the name Seagull,” he recalls. Tiwari talked about how Kishore removed the clauses that tie authors together and said his value system was reflected in his work ethic. Further, she asked the publishing house what has made them stand the test of time in which leading publishing houses are closing. To this, Kishore said that when they decided to open Seagull Books London in 2005, they made sure their backlist was their forte. “You also have to constantly reinvent your authors. As with Mahasweta Devi’s works, there are reprints, audio format launches and so on, so you can keep bringing back canonical names,” he added.

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