Mahasweta Devi gave the inaugural speech at the Franfurt Book Fair. You can read excerpts on Tehelka’s website. Like everything about her, the speech is fearless, eloquent and fierce:

I have said over and over, our Independence was false; there has been no Independence for these dispossessed peoples, still deprived of their most basic rights.

How to save and protect one’s culture in these circumstances? Which culture do we protect? And what do we mean when we speak of Indian culture in the 21st century? What culture? Which India? Sixty years after our hard-won Independence, the khadi sari is India just as the mini skirt and the backless choli is. A bullock cart is India just as much as is the latest Toyota or Mercedes car. Illiteracy haunts us, yet the same India produces men and women at the forefront of medicine, science and technology. Eight-year-old children toil mercilessly, facing unimaginable working conditions and abuse as child labourers. That is India. On the other hand, there is another lot of eight-year-olds who spend their time in air-conditioned classrooms and call their mothers at lunch break using their personal mobile phones. That too is India. Satyam Shivam Sundaram is India. Choli ke peechchey kya hai is also India. The multiplex and the mega mall are India. The snake charmer and the maharishi — they too are India.

I feel luck to have spent a week in her company filming her. It was a privilege.