awards, privileges and enticements, the people’s cultural movement and especially its platform in the Hindi-Urdu belt, the Jan Sanskriti Manch, have been forthright in launching creative initiatives and building protests against imperialist wars, state repression, draconian laws like the sedition law and AFSPA, sexual violence and moral policing, and cases like arrests of Binayak Sen, Seema Azad, Sheetal Sathe and Jiten Marandi, and the hanging of Afzal Guru.

6. Communitarian and identity-based solidarities of pre-capitalist origins are systematically invoked by the ruling classes to obfuscate class consciousness and fracture protest-based solidarities of the victims of feudal-capitalist exploitation. Commercialisation of culture has restricted the cultural choices of the masses to films, videos, TV serials, music albums and so on, which mostly promote the values of market economy, individualism, as well as violence, casteism and sexism. This tendency has made deep inroads into traditional religious and folk festivals too. Of late, corporate-sponsored literary festivals are being held with great fanfare. The autonomous and semi-autonomous government-aided cultural institutions that came up in the era of freedom struggle and those created during the early post-independence years are facing manifold crises and many of them have developed close links with corporate houses.

7. Crucial to the resurgence of people’s progressive culture are cultural performance teams and forms that can integrate with and establish close dialogue with the masses of people. Developing such teams is the key to making cultural work in the countryside and in urban areas a continuous practice, and to organise cultural resistance from the grassroots as bulwark against all forces of reaction. While we have a number of teams in states like Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the full potential for more such teams is yet to be tapped. Possibilities of building functional cultural teams exist in several other states like Assam, Punjab, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Party organisations in these states must pay necessary attention in this regard.

8. Apart from songs – especially new songs reflecting the new agenda of today’s struggles such as the song ‘Gaon Chhodab Nahi’ written by cultural activists of Jharkhand which has virtually become the anthem of struggles against land acquisition and corporate plunder – street plays remain the other most powerful means of cultural communication. In the course of recent movements, such as the one against sexual violence, young students were seen performing street plays with great enthusiasm. This is a form we must make efforts to tap even more effectively, both as a means of involving new forces and reaching out to mass audiences. In the past few years, we have seen progressive theatre artists perform powerful solo theatre performances based on themes like Irom Sharmila’s life and struggle against AFSPA; and sexual violence and women’s autonomy, to reach out to very large sections of people very effectively. Along with closer interaction with such artists, revolutionary cultural organisers can also explore such forms.

9. It is important for left cultural activists to develop closer
solidarity with the peoples’ struggles in their rich diversity. In this regard, the experience of the film group of Jan Sanskriti Manch (JSM) called ‘The Group’ has been quite encouraging. It acted as a platform for creating awareness and support for all such movements through a series of film festivals (a total of 30 till date), attracting many pro-people filmmakers, artists and poets, social activists, left intellectuals and social scientists to its initiatives. ‘The Group’ has also embarked upon documentary film-making and publications. Significantly enough, all the initiatives of The Group are running successfully without corporate or government sponsorship, entirely depending on people’s support, a feature which has distinguished all fields of activity of JSM. The revolutionary cultural movement should not only give moral support to mass movements, but must harness the mobilising potentials of art and culture to integrate with them.