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HOW ARE WE DIFFERENT?
The ThinkFest focuses primarily on academics and those who have written academic books. Literature is covered well by other festival and so the ThinkFest does not contest their space but provides for a complimentary festival of thinkers and opinion-makers. Our speakers hail from the top universities and think tanks of the world, and are among the non-fiction bestsellers on numerous lists.
The attendees of the ThinkFest come from all walks of life, not just the elite English speaking population. At the last event students from most universities, colleges, and schools, and even some madaris, were seen mingled together and interacting with the speakers. The ThinkFest is therefore a great meeting place for all types of people and ideas.
The ThinkFest did not declare an official working language — speakers were encouraged to be multi lingual. Hence, there were talks which were completely in Punjabi — and they were not just on Punjabi itself, while in others Urdu was the medium, and a vast majority were bilingual in English and Urdu. Breaking down language barriers was a central endeavour of the ThinkFest.
All literary festivals in Pakistan have a ‘Speakers Lounge’ where speakers go and hide from the public gaze. Some even have paid ‘Delegate’ packages for special access. The ThinkFest democratised all of this! There was no Speakers Lounge, no special delegates—everyone sat, ate, and mingled together. Providing unprecedented access was one of the great successes of the ThinkFest.
The ThinkFest also pioneered the ‘Speakers Corner.’ Modelled after its namesake in Hyde Park in London, this safe space allowed the attendees to come and speak on topics of their choice and attract their own audience. These spontaneous talks ranged from feminism to a discussion on smart cities, and even an interactive session with a visiting Chevening scholarship advisor. The establishment of such a space for respectful, open and yet critical discussion, allowed people to create new avenues for dialogue, discussion and learning.
Lahore, Punjab Pakistan