Social Scientist. v 1, no. 11 (June 1973) p. 56.


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Progressive Hindi Writers5 Conference An Assessment

THE progressive trend in Hindi literature assumed a distinct shape in the thirties. All those writers who were concerned about the evil impact of British imperialism on Indian life and culture decided to work collectively against that impact. At the same time, they also found themselves pitched against orthodox values which sought to resist any radical change in the people's outlook. One discerned in their writings a critical treatment of the then existing'living conditions of the peasantry, Harijans, labour, and the middle class in general. There was enough evidence of a desire to contribute significantly towards the socio-political and cultural needs of our people as was reflected in magazines like Hans, Naya Sahitya and Naya Path.

This trend was a part of our broad political movement against the British. The political unity of different sections of people, including the bourgeoisie, for the overthrow of British rule created the necessary background for a fight on the literary front also, which meant that the literary movement got its perspective from the broad national political movement. This period also saw the emergence of progressive movements in many other Indian literatures.

This movement bore ample fruit and threw up many a writer wedded to democratic values and ending exploitation of the poor by the rich. But, it remained, by and large, vague with regard to the precise theoretical questions, such as strategy and tactics to be adopted for ending class exploitation in our concrete historical situation. This partly explains the subsequent confusion and petering out of the movement after the attainment of freedom from the British yoke in 1947.

There were also other factors which caused the weakening of the progressive movement after 1947. At the time of the assumption of state power, the Indian bourgeois class reached an understanding with the British imperialists, and thus planned to pursue policies against the interests of the toiling masses. They also worked out a class alliance with the landlords. This change in the pattern of class forces made its impact on the cultural front by creating confusion among the progressive writers regarding their role in the new situation. An illusion was sought to be created that having won freedom for the 'Indian people as a whole', it was no more necessary to wage a collective ideological and political battle against the ruling class within the country in order to safeguard and pursue the interests of the working masses. Instead, writers were expected to 'co-operate' with the regime so that a 'new nation could be built'. The limited expansion of industry, trade, education, and other



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