People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 25, 2011



Progressive Writers, Artists Hold Inspiring Conference


A Kumaresan


THE Tamilnadu Progressive Writers and Artists Assosiation (TPWAA), which has left an imprint in the sphere of art and literature in the state, organised its 12th conference in Virudhunagar, an important town of industry and commerce, from September 16 to 18, 2011,  with 520 delegates representing about 21,000 members from all over the state participating. One third of the delegates were creative writers engaged in writing poetry, stories, articles etc. Another one third were artists like drama actors, singers, film makers, short-film makers, painters and so on. The rest were readers, viewers and supporters of progressive art and literary works.


Before the inauguration of the conference, young artists and writers brought two torches to the conference venue. One of these was in memory of the great Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi from Ettayapuram, his birth place. The other torch was from Virudhunagar itself, in memory of Sankaralinganar, who sacrificed his life for nomenclature of the state as Tamilnadu. A  rathyatra of books was also there in memory of Jeganath Raja who made a tremendous contribution in translating important literary and historical books from other Indian languages into Tamil.


Veteran literary critic T K Sivasankaran, one of the founder writers of TPWAA, novelist Kashyapan, writer K Chinnappa Bharathi, Baskar Sakthi, poetess Thilagabama were among those who participated in the conference.


The inauguration function was chaired by Professor Arunan, a former president of the TPWAA. Novelist Naajil Naadan, who got Sahitya Acadamy award this year for his contribution, inaugurated the conference. He appealed to all writers and artists to awaken to the pains of our people and reflect these through their creative works. V N Murali (general secretary of Kerala Progressive Writers Association) felicitated the audience with his reference to the Malayalam and Tamil literatures. His Malyalam speech was translated into Tamil by CITU leader Vikraman.


Veteran freedom fighter, communist leader and one of those who created the TPWAA 36 years ago, N Sankariah felicitated the gathering with his bronze voice and truthful words. He made a call to the writers and artists to work for making the Left and progressive movement in Tamilnadu a powerful force as in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. He suggested joint efforts with like-minded cultural organisations. 


The delegates session started in the afternoon. S Tamilselvan, general secretary of the TPWAA, presented the report on art and literature. The report explained the present political and social situations in the world and the nation, and how the writers and artists of Tamilnadu are responding to the realities. It explained the role of the media, both print and electronic, in hiding the truth from the people for the sake of neo-liberal exploitation. Joint general secretary K Velaayudham presented a report on the organisation, explaining the achievements as well as goals yet to be achieved.


There were two open events in the first evening. M Sivakumar presented his paper on the appreciation of films. It was presided by Karuna, state coordinator of the TPWAA’s film wing. It is notable that this wing is now reaching villages with internationally acclaimed film classics. At this function, film director and editor B Lenin donated for this movement a new electronic projector with complete equipments.


After it, new books written by TPWAA seniors and youngsters were released, with the reception committee honouring 36 members who have written these books.


The second day began with homage paid to Thandhai Periayar, who had fought against casteism, varnashram principles, slavery of women and obscurantist traditions. All the delegates gathered around a small dais in front of the conference hall, where singers sang a song on Periyar’s contribution towards awakening the people. The song was written by poet Navakavi.


The day was devoted to debating the general secretary’s and deputy general secretary’s reports. It reflected the deep involvement, wider observations and maturity of the delegates about the cultural developments in Tamilnadu.  Andhra Pradesh Sahithi Sravanthi general secretary, K Anandachary, greeted the conference, and made a comparison between the poems of Telugu’s Gurajaadaa and Tamil’s Bharathi, and of other important literary works.


In the evening, there was an important seminar chaired by TPWAA vice president S Senthilnaathan, a senior advocate and literary critic. Sasikumar, director of Asia Media Development Institute, Chennai, gave a wonderful speech on “Understanding Media Politics.” He explained how the media are being dominated by corporate houses whose motive is maximising their profits. “Once we had to fight for the freedom of media. Now we have to fight for freedom from media. They had turned even the news into commodities. They are eager to project people like Anna Hazare as the Mahatma of today but darkening the struggles of working class,” he said. He also explained how Karl Marx stood for real freedom of press. His speech in English was translated by A Kumaresan, a journalist.


Madhukoor Raamalingam, joint general secretary, talked of the new tactics of communal forces to split the people. Joint general secretary S Venkatesan talked of the leftist and rightist traditions in the Tamil literary works.


The third day began with an excellent speech by veteran historian Professor K N Panikkar who talked about the need of progressive cultural activities. He said, “While cultural interventions in capitalist society are a must, intervention in the culture of capitalist society is very important today.” He explained the difference in the meaning of the word “progressive” during the period of freedom struggle and now. He said that progressive minded cultural activists are yet to make a big effort to mobilise the people with their literature and art, to fight against the present day’s neo-liberal exploitation and its impact. His English speech was translated by Professor A Vijayayakumar.


The conference elected a new state committee with 113 members which elected Arunan as honorary president, Tamilselvan as president, S Venkatesan as general secretary and S Ramachandran as treasurer, along with eight vice presidents, six deputy general secretaries and six joint secretaries. Along with them, a new state secretariat of 42 members was elected and 10 special invitees were also elected.


Particularly notable were the exhibitions put up near the conference venue. There were the portraits of leading writers, beautiful art works and political cartoons. There were also a number of bookstalls put up by various publishers. Lovers of art and literature thronged all these exhibitions and stalls.


The conference ended with a call to promote progressive cultural activities against all kinds of oppression and for building a society of unity and equality. A resolution adopted by the conference asked the central government to make effective intervention through diplomatic channels for the equal rights of Tamil people in Sri Lanka. It condemned the continuing atrocities against Tamil people in Sri Lanka by the military there. Another resolution asked the electronic media to broadcast programmes with social responsibility.


Other resolutions urged the Tamilnadu government to speed up the case in Supreme Court and implement the act to enable people from all castes to become temple priests, to fully implement equitable education, to celebrate the birth centenary of folk artist Kannappa Thambiraan and to take steps to make Tamil the official language in courts and government functioning.


From the conference venue stated a cultural rally in which folk artists of various hues participated with their traditional costumes with parai (drum) beats. Poets, story writers and the like followed them. The procession ended in the Deshabandhu ground, where Sankalinganar staged his fast unto death for getting the state named as Tamilnadu. Though he was not a member of the Communist Party, he asked during his last breaths that his body should be handed over to communists only who were real fighters for all right causes.


The ground was full with people from all walks of life to attend the cultural programmes. It was a Kalai Ilakkiya Iravu, meaning a ‘Night of Art and Literature.’ Virudhunagar district collector M Balaji inaugurated the mega event, outlining the life of the Tamil people. Parliament member Manik Tagore, Legislative Assembly member M Pandiarajan, former MLA N Nanmaran and others, including noted film directors and writers, spoke. The night went sleepless with various folk dances like Thappaattam, Jamaa, Karagam, Wooden leg dance and new songs --- all with powerful social messages and exciting music. There were dark clouds and a threat of heavy rain. But as if the rain changed its mind on seeing the enthusiasm of the thousands of people gathered there, and returned silently.


From the event, people too returned full of excitement and with a new understanding of art and literature.