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Rallying around for issues

The three-day National Conference of Progressive Writers Association came out with a declaration calling upon writers irrespective of their political affiliations, to join the proposed `National Cultural Front'.



WORD ATTACK: The PWA came out strongly in favour of protecting what was good and beautiful in human culture.

WITH SLOGANS like Inquilab Zindabad!, `Down with Imperialism!' and `BJP Murdabad!', it could have passed off for another of those leftist meets and rallies the city is so familiar with.

But for once they were all clear cut buddhijeevis, writers from various corners of the country assembled here to consider and reassert what in their view was the most important thing today - combating fascism.

The 13th National Conference of Progressive Writers Association (PWA) was being held, as speaker after speaker reiterated, post-Afghanistan, post-Godhra and post-Gujarat elections, when bazaarvaad (market economy) and Hindutvavaad had taken over the body-politic of the nation; and in the background of American and British military might clamping their authority on the Iraqi nation. `April is the cruellest month', as Prof. Namwar Singh quoted T.S.Eliot with relish.

The speeches of Dr.Rajbahadur Gaur, eminent party and trade-union leader and an accomplished literary critic in Urdu, Kamleshwar, stalwart fiction writer in Hindi, and Dr. Namwar Singh at the inaugural session on April 11 at Sundarayya Bhavan set the agenda for the three-day conference.

The gravest threat the nation was facing today, they declared, was the `fascist menace': of Hindutva at the national level and the war-mongering American imperialism at the international level. And if you see closely, the cultural nationalism of the Hindutva brigade was hand in gloves with the forces of imperialism, they contended. Words have developed forked tongues, felt Dr.Singh, like the quibble in the Parliament over whether to use the Hindi word ``ninda' or the English word, `condemn' to criticise American invasion of Iraq.

A good number of writers and artistes from fraternal parties and cultural organisations participated in the conference and the poetry sessions.

After long deliberations on the second day, the conference came out with a declaration calling upon writers irrespective of their political affiliations, to join the proposed `National Cultural Front'.


The hope is to create a movement to spread awareness about the issues at stake among the common people.

Dr. Namwar Singh and Khagendra Thakur, a reputed Hindi writer and critic from Jharkhand and long time General Secretary of PWA, emphasised that more than political ideas or ideologies, it was now a question of protecting what was good and beautiful in human culture. In the absence of a strong, `progressive' political movement, it was for the writers to speak on behalf of human `conscience', for `democracy' and `values'.

A lot of good literature was being written in various Indian languages which needed to be made available to people and discussed.

Whether all this happens remains to be seen but meeting the writers and delegates from various parts of the country it was obvious that severe inequalities, oppression in various forms, the bondage of customs and superstitions, and corruption provide enough motivation and sufficient reason for the writer to continue his struggle using the `meek' weapons of words.

It's a fight against despair and the adversary's itch for violence as well. As Thoudam Netrajit Singh, a young poet from the strife-ridden north-east State of Manipur who attended the conference says in a touching poem,

I Don't Wield Weapons:
Mother
When I came out of your
womb no sword was gifted
nor gun
nor bomb;
you endowed me only a life.
Now
should I protest in regret
Condemning you
Pulling you out of the
grave!

SUMANASPATI

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