32 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
Contours of Our Composite Culture''
I feel honoured to have been invited to participate in this series of lectures dedicated to the memory of one who made pivotal contribution to both political and cultural spheres of our national life. Shri P.C. Joshi had become quite a legendary figure even in early forties. To me, besides his political contribution, he was the founding father of the IPTA, a cultural association, formed in those very days, which soon developed into a powerful countrywide movement. Cultural workers with a sense of social concern began to gravitate to it in large numbers. The first performance of an IPTA squad that I saw was during the dark days of the Bengal Famine, when a small group of five or six stage artists, hailing from Calcutta gave a performance in my home-town of Rawalpindi, depicting the grim, hair-raising reality of the Bengal Famine. The performance was very much in the nature of a street-play, but it was graphic, so heartrending in its presentation, that when, at the close of it, the players moved among the audience, to collect donations, a young lady, sitting in front of me, took off her gold ear-rings and gave over to them. Even to-day, I am moved to my depths whenever I remember that performance. Soon enough, the IPTA was functioning almost all over India, its music, dance and drama squads were performing in almost every province of India. My own brother (Balraj Sahni), immediately on his return from England in mid-forties, where he had been working as announcer in the BBC during war years, plunged heart and soul into the activities of the IPTA. A little later, I too found myself in the vortex of its activities.
It was in those hectic days that I met Shri P.C. Joshi for the first time. I was taken by surprise when my brother introduced me to
Eminent Hindi writer, New Delhi * P. C. Joshi Memorial Lecture, 1999
Social Scientist, Vol. 28, Nos. 1 - 2, Jan. - Feb. 2000