Deshabhimani Study Circles:
Literary Movement in Kerala
THE DESHABHIMANI study circles forma network of the most vigorous and widespread literary movement in Kerala today. Upholding the militant traditions of the erstwhile Progressive Writers* Association, it has a far more extensive coverage and a wider variety of activities. Our experience of this movement may have something of interest to comrades and friends elsewhere in India just as we would like to learn from their experience of revolutionary and progressive art and writing.
The study circle movement originated at a writers9 meeting in Calicut in 1969, which was convened to formulate the policies for a literary cultural weekly journal to be launched as an associate publication of the Desabhimani newspapers. Editors and young writers of the weekly were joined by some of the leading lights of contemporary Malayalam literature like Thayat Sankaran, M R Ghandrasekharan and N N Kakkad. It was considered desirable to hold regular meetings of writers and readers of the Desabhimani Weekly to criticize its contents and suggest improvements. Such meetings, it was felt, should not be confined to the headquarters of the weekly: new writers should be encouraged in these gatherings to submit their work for scrutiny of the members. After careful criticism and improvement, it would come up for publication in"the Deshabhimani Weekly or other journals willing to encourage new authors.
Another important suggestion made by this conference was to open the forum of the newly-formed discussion groups to writers and critics^ irrespective of ideological and political persuasion. There was no motive of conversion in this move towards a dialogue but it was hoped to make a healthy impact, all the same. We want our movement and its young writers to constantly cross swords with other ideologies in order to sharpen their own ideological weapons. Such a confrontation not only helps them guard against the general tendency to facile generalization and paralyzing jargon, it inspires them to deepen understanding and to brighten styles of expression. If we shy away from the challenge of alien ideologies and confine ourselves to mutual admiration societies we run the risk of cutting ourselves adrift from the mainstream of the cultural movement. How then can we ever think of turning it in the direction of class struggle, freedom