Uses of Culture in Political Struggles: A Reading of Jana Natya Mandali

The central theme of this paper is to examine the use of culture as an effective alternative medium to achieve political and economic transformation of the society. It seeks to do so by studying it in the backdrop of the steady rise of the Naxal movement in post-independent India, at a time when severe agrarian crisis pervaded the country. Revolution, that was considered indispensable to fight a comprador economy aimed at “development”, took different turns under the leadership of various Left parties in India, whose ideologies were highly influenced by the political conditions prevailing at the global level at the time. In this context it studies the distinguishing attribute of the People’s War Group, a militant group spreading revolution in the regions of Andhra Pradesh which paid keen attention to the cultures of the communities that they sought to mobilize. It inquires into the unique manner in which this group, through its cultural front channels radical ideals to the masses through diverse cultural forms that are indigenous to them. This is done through an analysis of the work of Gaddar, the co-founder of the cultural group, Jana Natya Mandali, who went on to become a legendary phenomenon through his contributions to the cause of the Naxal movement. Such an inquiry is carried out with a view to draw one’s attention to the intimate relation that the cultures of these marginalized sections of people share with their lives and struggles, thereby pointing out the possibility of an alternate approach to understanding the problems of these classes.

Author(s): Anvita Dulluri | Posted on: 18 Jun 2014

Address: National Law School of India University, Nagarbhavi, Post Box no. 7201, Bangalore, 560072.

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