DECLERATION OF THE BRADFORD CONFERNCE TO COMMERATE THE SEVENTY FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF PROGRESSIVE WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION
It is precisely seventy five years ago in London, in 1935, a number of leading Indian writers and political activists founded the Progressive Writers’ Association. The Association was launched in India in 1936 and eventually became known as All India Progressive Writers’ Association.
The PWA, since its inception, became a major vehicle for national liberation, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggle in India. It also provided an important cultural platform for social transformation and against backward reactionary and feudal values. The PWA reflected the aspiration of Indian masses through the medium of culture. The movement attracted numerous artists across India and the PWA became one of the most powerful cultural movements in the world.
This powerful movement confronted communalism, caste exploitation and sexism, racial and religious antagonism. It openly espoused the cause of equality, social justice and socialism. It maintained that anti-imperialist struggle cannot succeed without supporting the establishment of a democratic and socialist system in India.
The movement attracted the support of giants of Indian literature, such as, Rabandra Nath Tagore, Munshi Prem Chand and Moulana Hasart Mohani. The PWA dominated the literary and cultural landscape for almost four decades. The literature produced in this period is unparallel in terms of its impact on Indian masses and became an integral part of the arsenal of our struggle against imperialism and colonialism.
Most of the major jewels of Indian literature in all the Indian languages belong to this movement. Cultural workers such as Syed Sajjad Zaheer, Mulk Raj Anand, Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Josh Malhiabadi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ali Ahmed, RK Narayan,Rashid Jehan, Mahmuduz Zafar, Dr M. D. Taseer, Vijaydan Detha, Khagendra Thakur, Bhisham Sahni, Prof Ahmed Ali, Dr Nusrat Jehan, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Ahmed Faraz, Habib Jalib, Gul Khan Nasir, Kaifi Azmi, Krishan Chander, Durga khote, Khawaja Ahmad Abbas, Mohit Sen, Kaifi Azmi, Assandas Jethanand Uttaramchandani, Miral Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Sampooran Singh Gulzar, Kodavatiganti Kutumbarao, Ismat Chughtai, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Jan Nisar Akhtar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Ghulam Rabbani Tabban, Majnun Gorakhpuri, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Amrita Pritam, Majaz Lucknawi, Sahir Ludhianvi and hundreds of others played an active role in ensuring the issues focused by the movement to become central to the political agenda for the transformation of India into a modern egalitarian democratic country. These writers still invoke the spirit of resistance and rebellion in all the lands which were once part of the united India.
In addition to endemic poverty of our people, ever increasing economic gulf between rich and poor, basic lack of access to education, health and justice – hallmarks of neo-colonialism – the South Asian countries are faced with heightening fundamentalism and foreign intervention. The 1935 Manifesto of the PWA stated that: ‘The spirit of reaction, however, though moribund and doomed to ultimate decay, is still operative and is making desperate efforts to prolong it’. Our present-day cultural activists have similar challenges to overcome.
The Bradford Conference declares that the participants will continue to:
1. Support the struggle against Imperialist cultural domination and fight against neo-colonialism and for social justice and democracy in South Asian countries;
2. Support the struggles against economic and political subjugation of our people;
3. Mobilise people to oppose religious and fascist tendencies among the perpetrators of injustice, inequality and exploitation.
4. Strive hard to eradicate the prevailing social and religious discrimination in India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh.
5. Building pressure to reduce the power and influence of feudal lords in South Asia, specifically in Pakistan, leading to the legislation and implementation of landslide land reforms so that the landless tillers may own subsistent landholdings.
The Bradford Conference believes that all the cultural activists in Britain should unite and work together in achieving these aims and objectives.
The Bradford Declaration is produced by the South Asian Peoples Forum UK to commemorate the 75th. Anniversary of the foundation of the Progressive Writers’ Association, 31st July 2010.
Conference was held on Saturday, the 31st July 2010 in Bradford UK and attended over 100 delegates from. The chief guest of the meeting was Mr Tony Benn, a Vattern socialist leader; lifelong campaigner and president Stop-the-War Collation UK.