(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 16, 2012
Cultural Movement: Historicising
the Past, Exploring the Future
literary and art movement in Kerala, known as the Purogamana
Sangham (PUKASA), is celebrating these days the platinum
jubilee of its
formation (in 1937) by organising various cultural
programmes, debates and seminars.
The dominant Left cultural movement has been actively
intervening in the field
of culture as well as organising activities to establish and
strengthen the democratic
and secular cultural values in the public sphere of Kerala.
Now the task that
is now to be undertaken is to organise a national platform
of various cultural
movements active in other parts of
NEED OF INTERVENING IN
CULTURAL SCENARIO TODAY
progressive literary and art movement in Kerala started to
function when in the
field of culture, a part of superstructure of the society,
struggle was quite intense, and it played a crucial part in
transforming the society.
Literature and art played a significant role in establishing
the democratic and
egalitarian socialist values in the public sphere. However,
culture has now become
something controlled by the finance capital. Today,
entertainment or culture has
become an industry in
the other parts of the world; it is a field of business where huge profits are secured. A decadent pro-imperialist American culture is increasingly pervading the urban as well as rural areas of Kerala day by day. At the same time as these post-modern phenomena, religious revivalism and fanatic activism are also getting strengthened in our society.
In this situation, the PUKASA realises the importance of intervening in the present cultural scenario and of organising our people to resist the degenerative tendencies. Today, the values and ethos of the renaissance movement are getting jeopardised by the cultural invasions through the visual media. Fascist and terrorist tendencies are evident among the majority and minority religious groups, and among with the various NGOs promoted and financed from abroad. Thus the field of culture has become a terrain of ideological struggle where various forms of politics, ethics and aesthetics are playing crucial roles. The PUKASA has initiated new researches to develop new forms of communication and relationship to reinforce secular and democratic values in the public sphere that includes the cyberspace. It goes without saying that a large platform of all progressive forces and individuals is very much needed in order to forge the struggle for democracy and peaceful coexistence of various religions and non-religious attitudes and views.
P GOVINDA PILLAI
It was in
this situation that the PUKASA organised a three-day
national seminar as part
of its Platinum Jubilee celebrations in Thiruvananthapuram
from November 30 to
December 2, with the aim of taking note of the new
challenges and issues in the
cultural terrain. The inaugural function was held in the
the recent demise of P Govinda Pillai, popularly known as
PG, came as a shock
to the progressive community in the state as he was one of
the founding leaders
of the progressive literary and cultural movement in Kerala.
As a communist
leader, scholar, cultural critic and thinker, PG was
respected and admired by
people in the Left political parties as well as in other
democratic groups. The
inaugural function at
The function was inaugurated by Professor Aijaz Ahmed, an eminent scholar, writer and Marxist thinker, and was presided over by well known Malayalam poet O N V Kurup. The condolence resolutions were read by Professor V N Murali who is general secretary of the PUKASA and by Dr Ninan Koshi, a social thinker and Left co-worker.
On this occasion, well known Left thinker and economist Prabhat Patnaik released PG’s last book written in English and titled The Bhakti Movement: Renaissance or Revivalism?
M A Baby, member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau honoured O N V Kurup, Puthussery Ramachandran and Sugathakumari, eminent poets who have made remarkable contributions to the growth of progressive Malayalam poetry, by presenting them mementos and golden shawls. CPI(M) state committee member Pirappankode Murali, its Trivandrum district secretary and state committee member Kadakampalli Surendran, the PUKASA’s state vice president and seminar committee convenor Dr S Rajesekharan, PUKASA district president and Malayalam poet Neelamperoor Madhusoodhanan Nair, and PUKASA district secretary and poet Vinod Vaisaki were also present at the inaugural function.
The inaugural function was followed by the Kathaprasamgam ‘Prema Silpi’ by Professor Vasanthakumar Sambasivan, and it was inaugurated by Professor V N Murali.
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inauguration, the seminar sessions began on December 1 in K
Damodaran Nagar (
Aijaz Ahmed stressed the fact that progressive politics and
had developed together in the country. It is evident that
the Left oriented
progressive cultural movement in
Bhattacharya, a leading cultural activist and writer from
third session of the seminar, papers were presented on the
topic “Progressive Art
and Literary Movement: Regional Reflections.” In his paper
literary and cultural movements in
Naresh ‘Nadeem’ (Urdu) pointed out the mistakes committed by the Progressive Writers Association in spite of its seminal progressive role. Due to the mistake of dogmatism, a section of its leadership derided a writer like Sa’adat Hasan Manto (Urdu) and ignored one like Muktibodh (Hindi) who both made a resurgence in the 1970s. The paper by Nadeem clearly showed how Manto was one of the finest products of the progressive cultural movement of our country and how he upheld its values and tradition despite all his idiosyncrasies.
Though Chanchal Chauhan (Hindi) could not come to the seminar because of indisposition, his paper described the growth of progressive literary movement in the Hindi-Urdu region. He explained the factors behind the formation of Progressive Writers Association and its development and decline. After the decline of PWA, organisations like the Janwadi Lekhak Sangh, National Federation of Progressive Writers (renamed later as PWA some years back) and Jan Sankriti March were formed; they sometimes conduct joint activities on specific issues like communalism and fascism.
Professor K P Mohanan (Malayalam), editor of Desabhimani weekly and the state committee member of PUKASA, presented a paper on evolution of the progressive literary movement in Malayalam. He underlined the fact that PUKASA has become a dominant Left and democratic forum in the field of culture by actively intervening in the Kerala culture as well as by organising a myriad of cultural activities. He explained the various ideas and views formed in the postmodern era as a cultural logic of late capitalism. He also asserted the fact that cultural activists of the PUKASA have developed a criticism of the postmodern ideas and defended the Marxian tenets.
Writers from Telugu, Tamil, Kannad and Oriya also presented papers on the occasion.
TO ALL CRUCIAL EVENTS
fourth session of the seminar was on “Progressive Art
Scenario.” The first
paper was on painting and sculpture by Vijayakumar Menon who
is a renowned art
historian and critic. He started his paper by pointing out
the fact that
national movement in art was started in
In this paper on folk art, Dr A K Nambiar, a well known folklorist and Left activist, said the folk art is an expression of the downtrodden people. So it is not only the art of the past and the present but of the future as well. Folklore can play a significant role in the class struggle, he concluded.
In his paper on cinema, film critic and PUKASA secretary V K Joseph narrated the evolution of Indian cinema and the influence of progressive ideas on its evolution.
Shibu Muhammad, in his paper on music, explained the ideological nature of musical structure and expressions. Almost all the people absorb without any doubt the metaphysical leaning of music as if it is quite natural. The session underlined the necessity of critical evaluation of all art forms as they are the ideological expression of class interests.
NEEDS TO BE REVAMPED
The fifth session was on secular culture in which two papers were presented by Dr P Soman and C Asokan, literary critics and cultural activists of PUKASA. These papers analysed the historical formation of secular space in Kerala culture and its present status. The renaissance movement and freedom struggle played an important part in the formation of secular cultural space in which religious as well as non-religious views coexisted peacefully and dialogue and discussions were carried out in a friendly manner, in the belief that all the religions are only different paths to one end i.e. God. Gandhiji’s definition that truth is God also shows the influence of secularism. But now religions and castes treat each other as enemies. The progressive cultural movement is inevitable in defining and promoting secular values, the session concluded.
PUKASA state secretary V Seethammal and also the state vice president of Vanitha Sahithi (women’s movement) associated with PUKASA, presided over this session.
The sixth and final session of the seminar was on “The Future of the Progressive Literary and Art Movement: Scope and Challenges,” and was presided by S Ramesan, a vice president of the PUKASA and Malayalam poet. He emphasised the point that the only alternative to the present invasion of market culture and fanatic attitudes is the secular cultural praxis being developed by the Left and democratic movements in Kerala.
Dr S Rajasekharan, a Malayalam critic and poet, presented the outlines for future action of the progressive literary and cultural association; saying that the emerging cultural organisation should include all the literary and artistic forms and practices of the country. So the present progressive literary and art movement has to be revamped as a front of progressive cultural workers. This platform will have to democratically coordinate the activities of all the progressive movements and groups which have been active in other states of India.
Professor M M Narayanan (a cultural activist and literary critic), Asokan Charuvil (renowned Malayalam story writer and PUKASA leader) and Prabha Varma (famous Malayalam poet and senior editor of Desabhimani newspaper) also presented their views on the future of the progressive cultural movement in India, especially Kerala.
The seminar concluded with a renewed commitment to fight against the degenerative cultural trends, to defend the secular democratic cultural values of our society and to explore new forms of struggle and practices.