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Convention planned at Bhilai to counter "ongoing" propaganda of cultural fascism

Counterview Desk
Several cultural and civil rights organizations from across India have come together to organize an all-India cultural convention on March 16-17, 2019, at Bhilai, Chattisgarh, to analyse the role of culture at a time when India is allegedly undergoing social, political and economic unrest on a massive scale.
Called "Pratirodh: Ek Jansanskritik Dakhal", the organizers say, such a meet is particularly important in the context of the current "cycle of oppression, political uncertainty, financial scams and social discord that refuses to let go of its grip on the people of the nation."
The organizers -- RELAA, Chattisgarh; IPTA, Nagpur; Morche Par Kavi, Mumbai; Yalgaal, Maharashtra; Arunoday Cultural Federation, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh; Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha; Delhi Solidarity Group; Ektaara, Madhya Pradesh; Theatre of the Oppressed; JSA, Odisha; Budhan Theatre, Gujarat, and Udaipur Film Society, Rajasthan -- add, "We feel that the need of the hour is to move towards creating a cultural resistance, collectively organized, to strengthen and re-imagine the democratic nature of the country."
They say, "A cultural resistance is something that might strengthen our political convictions and provide us with a united platform where we can plan appropriate campaigns to counter the ongoing propaganda of cultural fascism. The aim is to launch a national level discussion, a united space for collective action but also support cultural activists from diverse fields and add strength to their movements."
Putting forward a statement, the organizers underline, "As various social movements, civil society organizations, academicians, human rights activists and a handful of journalists try to break this cycle through diverse interventions and counter-campaigns; cultural activists have also strengthened this struggle through their performative and artistic interventions."
At the same rime, they seek to "synergize the progressive thoughts and bring forward a collective vision where all the groups that take part in the convention will be equal partners".
A concept note, issued on behalf of the organising committee consisting of Kaladas Deheriya, Shankar Mahanand, Vira Sathidar, Pushpa, Sanjay Ganguly, Sharath, Raghu, Gopal Naidu, Subhrat Sahu, Anil Tharayath, and Mohan Vairagi says:
India is currently undergoing social, political and economic unrest on a massive scale. There is a cycle of oppression, political uncertainty, financial scams and social discord that refuses to let go of its grip on the people of the nation. This cycle, albeit not a new phenomenon in the country, has been reworked and reinforced by the current government in power.
As various non-governmental organisations, civil societies, academicians, human rights activists and a handful of journalists try to break this cycle through diverse interventions and counter-campaigns, cultural activists have also strengthened this struggle through their performative and artistic interventions.
We feel that the need of the hour is moving towards creating a cultural resistance, which is collectively organized, to strengthen and re-imagine the democratic nature of the country. Together, we have to counter the fascist, autocratic, dogmatic, conservative, communal and discriminatory narratives.
This will be possible only through building an alliance of cultural activists, bringing them together in a common space, exchanging experiences, ideas and perspectives and then joining hands for a larger political resistance. The term ‘Cultural Activist’ would include any and all individuals and groups who engage in building resistance through their art, be it films, songs, artwork, poetry, literature, theatre, dance, and such.
It would include artists who are nationally known for their progressive work and it will also include people from various social movements, from various sections of the society, whose battle cries are songs of resistance, born from their experiences of struggle against an unfair system.
With the rise of the hard right in the country, we have identified a growing attack on the cultural diversity of the country. From controlling what we hear, to what we see, to what we wear and much more, a strain of cultural fascism has been deployed to make us more obedient, docile and unresponsive to the current divisive nature of governance.
Laced with the propaganda of the current ruling party, a horde of popular culture items (films, songs, shows etc) are being unleashed on an unsuspecting but thoroughly pliable audience. This keeps the populace distracted, engaged in larger than life illusions and away from the reality of the country. Ideas about freedom, equality, democracy, unity and progress are being appropriated to fit a corporate riddled agenda of profit and “development”.
Despite the geographical limitations, it is time for us to know of each other, to engage in each other’s struggles, and build a political front that addresses all that plagues us. A cultural resistance is something that might strengthen our political convictions and provide us with a united platform where we can plan appropriate campaigns to counter the ongoing propaganda of cultural fascism.
The aim is to launch a national level discussion, a united space for collective action, but also support cultural activists from diverse fields and add strength to their movements. Like every progressive society, it is our dream too, to create a world where women, children and the elderly are treated equally.
A world where there is no discrimination on the basis of caste, race, religion and gender. A world where the freedom of expression is guaranteed, diverse languages flourish through mutual appreciation and participation, folk cultures, art, music and dance, stories and lore and things both modern and of the past are allowed to co-exist openly. It is now, that we should awake to egalitarian values, cultural consciousness and march ahead, side by side.
We reiterate that this convention will synergize the progressive thoughts and bring forward a collective vision where all the groups that take part in the convention will be equal partners in taking this forward.

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