Jaipur: The 2011 Egyptian revolution was sparked by a "Day of Revolt" on January 25 2011 when tens of thousands of people stormed public spaces across the country to protest the oppressive regime of President Hosni Mubarak and eight years down the line, an expert panel came together at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) to present dispatches from those tumultous days.
Max Rodenbeck, South Asia bureau chief of The Economist, moderated the panel that looked back at the events of Tahrir Square, discussing whether it's ever possible for a revolution to succeed, and looked ahead to what the events of the Arab Spring heralded for the global future.
Veteran Egyptian author and cultural commentator Ahdaf Soueif noted that the movement was "a true grassroots endeavour".
"For a year, people were prepared to be out there in the street, to be in harm's way," she said, highlighting how people from all over Egypt were "willing to risk grave consequences" in an attempt "to usher in a new dawn of freedom".
"What went wrong" asked Rodenbeck but it came across as a hot potato on the stage, as the panellists took their time to choose their next words carefully.
"So much of it was built on emotional and idealistic energy", author and award-winning film-maker Omar Robert Hamilton said after a long pause.
"Unless you're able to actually destroy the enemy, they work on a timescale that's not available to a volunteer-based public movement. They can move against you with calculated, mechanical precision," Hamilton added.
Egyptian author Yasmine El Rashidi's sense of regret for the opportunities lost seemed palpable and deeply personal.
"I emotionally carry the sense that we failed due to our inability to organise. We being the people on the streets," she said.
Soueif countered her claim that the people of Egypt failed their own revolution.
"People point a finger at the streets and the young, but they did what they had to do. A political leadership had to step forward and seize the moment to put in something more permanent," said Soueif.
The session concluded with the panel discussing what the world learned from the Arab Spring in general, and the January 25 Revolution in particular.