Progressive Writers' Movement

The Akhil Bhartiya Pragatishil Lekhak Sangh or Anjuman Tarraqi Pasand Mussanafin-e-Hind or Progressive Writers' Movement of India or Progressive Writers' Association (Urdu: انجمن ترقی پسند مصنفینِ ہند‎, Hindi: अखिल भारतीय प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ) was a progressive literary movement in pre-partition British India. Some branches of this writers' group existed around the world besides in India and Pakistan.[1]

These groups were anti-imperialistic and left-oriented, and sought to inspire people through their writings advocating equality among all humans and attacking social injustice and backwardness in the society.[2]

According to The Dawn newspaper, "Progressive Writers Movement in Urdu literature was the strongest movement after Sir Syed's education movement. The progressives contributed to Urdu literature some of the finest pieces of fiction and poetry. Undoubtedly, they were the trend-setters for the coming generation of writers."[3]

OrganizationsEdit

ManifestoEdit

The Manifesto of the Progressive Writers’ Association was drafted in 1935 in London by Sajjad Zaheer, Muhammad Din Taseer, Mulk Raj Anand, Pramod Ranjan Sengupta, and Jyoti Ghosh.[5] It was first published in Hindi in October 1935 in Premchand’s Hans. The English version of the manifesto was published in the February 1936 issue of the Left Review and adopted by the association in its first conference in Lucknow.[6]

HistoryEdit

OriginEdit

The origin of the Progressive Writers' Movement can be traced to the publication of Angarey (Embers or Burning Coals),[7] a collection of nine short stories and a one-act play by Ahmed Ali, Sajjad Zaheer, Rashid Jahan and Mahmud-uz-Zafar in 1932. The publication was met with outrage from civil and religious authorities and was banned by the government of United Provinces.[8] On 5 April 1933, Mahmud-uz-Zafar published a statement titled In Defence of Angare: Shall We Submit to Gagging? in The Leader:

The authors of this book do not wish to make any apology for it. They leave it to float or sink of itself. They are not afraid of the consequences of having launched it. They only wish to defend 'the right of launching it and all other vessels like it' ... they stand for the right of free criticism and free expression in all matters of the highest importance to the human race in general and the Indian people in particular... Whatever happen to the book or to the authors, we hope that others will not be discouraged. Our practical proposal is the formation immediately of a League of Progressive Authors, which should bring forth similar collections from time to time both in English and the various vernaculars of our country. We appeal to all those who are interested in this idea to get in touch with us.[9]

The idea of forming a League of Progressive Authors was presented for the first time in this statement which later expanded itself and became 'Indian Progressive Writers' Association'.[10][2]

Pre-independence periodEdit

The first All-India Progressive Writers' Conference whose Urdu name was Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannifin was held in Lucknow on April 10, 1936 under the leadership of Sajjad Zaheer and was presided by Premchand.[6] The other writers in the forefront were Mulk Raj Anand, Joshi Parshad, Pramod Ranjan Sengupta and M. D. Taseer. The conference was also attended by leftist leaders including Jai Prakash Narayan, Yusuf Meherally, Indulal Yagnik, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Mian Iftakhar-ud-Din and was supported by Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Sarojini Naidu. The Constitution of the Association, which was drafted by Mahmud-uz-Zafar, Sajjad Zaheer, and Abdul Aleem was adopted by the conference. Zaheer was elected as the Secretary General of the All-India Progressive Writers Association (AIPWA).[5] Zaheer had traced the account of its formation in his book Roshnai.[11]

The second conference of the association was held in Calcutta in 1938. The inaugural address of the conference was sent by Rabindranath Tagore who could not attend it due to ill health.[12]

It could be said that the Urdu writers were in the forefront of 'Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannifin', but later on almost all the writers of Indian languages had their own organisations with the same aims and objectives: struggle against British imperialism for the liberation of India from the foreign yoke; struggle against the henchmen of imperialism, land for the tillers of the soil. The organisation regarded socialism as the proper economic system, which could end exploitation.[2] Rabindranath Tagore, Maulvi Abdul Haq, Chiragh Hasan Hasrat, Abdul Majeed Salik, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Josh Malihabadi, Professor Ahmed Ali, Dr Akhtar Hussain Raipuri, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Professor Majnun Gorakhpuri, Rashid Jahan, Sahibzada Mahmood uz Zafar, Professor Manzoor Hussain and Abdul Aleem were some of the stalwarts whose active or lukewarm support was with the Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannifin.

The words "progress and progressive" have a history of their own. In 19th century England, the word "progressive" was the battle cry of all those who wanted a better deal for the underprivileged and wanted science and technology to spearhead the movement for social development. The 'movement for progress' touched all spheres of human development. It stood for liberation and democracy. It was a movement for the freedom-loving writers who were opposed to the status quo in the feudal-dominated Indian society. They thought that unless the Indian society was transformed and the common masses were in the driving seat, nothing could change. Writers like Krishan Chander, Ismat Chugtai, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Sibte Hassan, Ehtesham Hussain, Mumtaz Hussain, Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Ali Abbas Hussaini, Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Farigh Bukhari, Khatir Ghaznavi, Raza Hamdani, M.Ibrahim Joyo, Sobho Gianchandani, Shaikh Ayaz, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Amrita Pritam, Ali Sikandar, Zoe Ansari, Majaz Lucknawi made it the strongest literary movement.

Post-independence periodEdit

IndiaEdit

After the independence of India in 1947, the movement lost its momentum in India. It further declined in growth after the split of the Communist Party in 1964.[13] In 1975, the Association was renamed as the National Federation of Progressive Writers. Since then, the Federation has had four Conferences, at Gaya (1975), Jabalpur (1980), Jaipur (1982) and the Golden Jubilee Conference in Lucknow (1986). The Golden Jubilee Conference was inaugurated by Mulk Raj Anand. Sibte Hasan also attended the conference.[12][13]

PakistanEdit

The All Pakistan Progressive Writers' Association was set up formally in December 1949 although several branches of the Progressive Writers Movement already existed in cities like Lahore and Karachi. The Progressive Papers Limited, a company established by Mian Iftikharuddin served as the institutional platform of the association. The company published journals and newspapers like Pakistan Times, Daily Imroze and Lail-o-Nihar which were edited by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Sibte Hasan respectively.[6]

The partition of the sub-continent also portioned the movement and with the sway of the McCarthyism in the USA, the movement was declared illegal in 1954 in Pakistan. Then the martial law of 1958 saw its rank and file working under different banners. 'Awam Adbi Anjuman' was revived during the PPP Government in 1971. Rafiq Chaudhry, Shaukat Siddiqui, Hasan Abidi, Ateeq Ahmad, and Hamidi Kashmiri had supported it. However, in 2007, it was organised on a countrywide basis under an interim constitution. During this period Hameed Akhtar and Rahat Saeed worked very hard, and organised a general body meeting in Lahore in 2012 to elect another team of office-bearers with a mandate to get its new constitution passed by March 4, 2012. Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui was elected as its new President unopposed, Salim Raz was elected its Secretary General, Rasheed Misbah, its Deputy Secretary General, Dr Qazi Abid its joint secretary and Maqsood Khaliq, its deputy secretary co-ordinator. Soon after the election, South African Free Media Association (SAFMA) invited the new office-bearers at a dinner presided over by Munnu Bhai, Dr Muhammad Ali Siddiqui, newly elected president of PWA, and Rahat Saeed, the outgoing Acting Secretary General were the guests of honour. Replying to a question by the journalist Imtiaz Alam as to what challenges the PWA of today, considered relevant, as the previous contention of the PWA, 'the battle of ideas', had become irrelevant, the newly elected president PWA contended that the battle of ideas is still going on. And how could it be considered a closed chapter, when a few hundred multinationals in the world had in their coffers 50 percent of the world's GDP. He thought that, in Pakistan, the rate of poverty was rising alarmingly and even if the rate of illiteracy as a yardstick of poverty is taken into account, more than 50 percent of the people were not literate.

In their Karachi meeting in 2007, some of Pakistan's progressive writers planned to reactivate the Progressive Writers Association as a body again after a lapse of 53 years, and elected the veteran Hameed Akhtar as the secretary-general of the association.[14]

WritersEdit

Prominent members of the movement have included:

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Ali, Ahmed, The Prison House: Collection of Short Stories, Akrash Publishing, Karachi, 1985, see Afterword
  • Ali Husain Mir & Raza Mir, Anthems Of Resistance. Roli Books, 2011. ISBN 81-86939-26-1.
  • Progressive Movement and Urdu Poetry, by Ali Sardar Jafri
  • Sajjad Zaheer and Progressive Writers’ Movement
  • Zeno (1994). "Professor Ahmed Ali and the Progressive Writers' Movement" (PDF). Annual of Urdu Studies. University of Wisconsin—Madison. 9: 39–43. ISSN 0734-5348.
  • Mir, Ali Husain; Mir, Raza (2006). Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry. RST IndiaInk. ISBN 81-86939-26-1.
  • Ali, Ahmed (1974). "The Progressive Writers Movement and Creative Writers in Urdu". In Carlo Coppola (ed.). Marxist Influences and South Asian Literature. East Lansing: Michigan State University. p. 36. ISBN 81-7001-011-X.
  • 'The Journal of Indian Writing in English', A Tribute to Ahmed Ali, Editor, G.S. Balarama Gupta, Vol. 23, January–July 1995, Nos. 1-2.
  • Ali, Orooj Ahmed, Sajjad Zaheer, Dawn-Letters, January 15, 2006.
  • ahsaas 1,2,3 a journal of progressive literary writings June 2013 peshawar.kpk province,Pakistan
  • Alvi, Dr. Khalid. Angare Ka Tarikhi Pusmanzar aur Tarraqi Pasand Tahrik, (Historical Perspective of Angare and The Progressive Writers' Movement), Educational Publishing House, Kucha Pandit, Delhi 1995.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Historical facts about the Progressive Writers Association listed on The Open University (UK) website Retrieved 9 May 2018
  2. ^ a b c d e History of Progressive Writers' Movement on The Indian Express newspaper Published 26 April 2014, Retrieved 9 May 2018
  3. ^ a b c The last of the Mohicans (Progressive writers) Dawn newspaper, Published 1 October 2004, Retrieved 9 May 2018
  4. ^ "Progressive Writing, Regressive Caretaking". Lucknow Observer. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Malik, Hafeez (1967). "The Marxist Literary Movement in India and Pakistan". The Journal of Asian Studies. 26 (4): 649–664. doi:10.2307/2051241. ISSN 0021-9118.
  6. ^ a b c Mir, Ali Husain; Mir, Raza (2006-01-01). Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry. Roli Books Private Limited. ISBN 978-93-5194-065-4.
  7. ^ Also transliterated as Angaaray, Angarey, Angaarey, or Anghare. See "Angaarey". Sangat Review of South Asian Literature. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2018. and "Progressive Writers' Association". Making Britain. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  8. ^ Ravi, S. (2014-05-09). "Still simmering". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  9. ^ Mahmud, Shabana (1996). "Angāre and the Founding of the Progressive Writers' Association". Modern Asian Studies. 30 (2): 447–467. ISSN 0026-749X.
  10. ^ a b Writer 'Ahmed Ali' on Encyclopædia Britannica Retrieved 9 May 2018
  11. ^ "Sajjad Zaheer's Progressive Ideas Live on in Writers' Dissent". The Wire. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  12. ^ a b Sahni, Bhisham (1986). "The Progressive Writers' Movement". Indian Literature. 29 (6 (116)): 178–183. ISSN 0019-5804.
  13. ^ a b Aslam, Mohammed (May 15, 1986). "Lucknow plays host to commemorate 1936 Progressive Writers Association conference". India Today. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  14. ^ a b Progressive Writers Association meeting in 2007 plans to reactivate body Pakistan Press Foundation website, Published 3 May 2007, Retrieved 9 May 2018

External linksEdit