APPEAL TO CULTURAL ACTIVISTS: IF YOU ARE NOT OUTRAGED, YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION

03 May 2019

Elitist ‘high culture’ of political Hindutva is attempting to make significant inroads in the mass culture of the Indian society. Cultural practices promoted by the right wing Hindutva forces are gaining popular support among the Indian middle and upper classes. We have reached a point of crisis in our cultural history which demands intervention by the forces concerned with the growing trend of vicious Hindu nationalist culture in our society. Divisive communal ideologies are brazenly propagated in defiance of our constitutional principles. If you have not noticed this you are not paying attention.

Hegemonic mono-cultural drive unleashed by the corporate sponsored right wing forces has placed religion at the centre of cultural and social practices. The Brahminical version of Hinduism is made popular among the Indian masses in the name of Indian Nationalism. This in turn creates ground for the rise of Muslim radicalism too. The communal divide thus formed is a breeding ground for ideas of religious sectarianism. Ideas of post-modernism are reflected in the new mass culture through revival of the traditional in the banal contemporary forms. TV soaps, films based on hyper nationalist themes, hate clips on social media, etc., are examples of manifestation of these post modernist trends. Neglect of fine art institutions, interference and interventions in the regional literary festivals by the saffron brigade, using censorship to muffle expression of dissent through media, saffronisiation of the cultural events are the examples of project of de-secularisation of our culture.

Authoritarian regime at the centre is set to wipe out liberal democratic values in our culture. Rise of communalism in India has posed a challenge before the advancement of progressive cultural movement. Mass culture is developing in a direction of serving the interests of imperialism and ruling classes of our country. Peoples interests are being ignored, artistic freedom is being impinged and real cultural progress is facing opposition from the pretentious Hindutva Cultural brigade.

All concerned artists and cultural activists should therefore actively resist this communal onslaught on our culture. We should also do all we can to promote secular popular culture. We should form action networks on issues concerning the project of opposition to the communalisation of Indian culture. It is also necessary to support the civil society institutions struggling to protect their independence from authoritarian forces. All our efforts to save democratic space for art and culture should be combined with struggle against neoliberalism which is the real prop for Neo conservatives of Hindu National variety.

Even liberal democratic values cannot be realised without addressing the real issues of social and economic inequalities in our society. We should therefore also strive to give form to the aspirations of the victims of these inequalities through our works of art and literature with a renewed vigour. This appeal is meant to address the cultural activists and the artists to defend our composite culture and strengthen the movement for cultural advancement of our country.

  • Reject the ‘high culture’ of political Hindutva!
  • Let us join the struggle to preserve and promote the syncretic traditions of our culture! 
  • Protest against the onslaught on the basic cultural rights and freedoms of Indian people!
  • Get active, rise up!

[Tuhin, Pravin Nadkar, Aseem Giri, Ravi Paloor, Samar Sengupta and Rajendra Prasad Singh on behalf of All India Coordination Council of Revolutionary Cultural Forum] n

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Kabeer Katlat

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.