Progressive Writers' Movement

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The Anjuman Tarraqi Pasand Mussanafin-e-Hind or Progressive Writers' Movement (Urdu: ترقی پسند مصنفین تحریک‎, Hindi: अखिल भारतीय प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ) was a progressive literary movement in the pre-partition British India, consisting of a few different writers groups around the world.

The groups were anti-imperialistic and left-oriented, and sought to inspire people through their writings advocating equality and attacking social injustice and backwardness.

According to The Dawn, "Progressive Writers Movement in Urdu literature was the strongest movement after Sir Syed's education movement. The progressives contributed to Urdu literature some of the finest pieces of fiction and poetry. Undoubtedly, they were the trend-setters for the coming generation of writers."[1]


  • The Indian Progressive Writers' Movement and Association first began after the publication of Angare (Burning Coals), a collection of short stories by Ahmed Ali, Sajjad Zaheer, Rashid Jehan and Mahmuduz Zafar in 1932 and its proscription by the British U. P. Government in 1933. A League of Progressive Authors was first announced by Ahmed Ali and Mamuduz Zafar in The Leader of Allahabad dated April 5, 1933, which later expanded and became Indian Progressive Writers' Association.
  • The Indian Progressive Writers' Association was set up in London in 1935.
  • The Progressive Writers' Association was set up in Kolkata in July 1936.
  • The All India Writers' Association was set up in Lucknow on 10 April 1936 under the leadership of Syed Sajjad Zahir and Ahmed Ali, Both of them invited Syed Fakhruddin Balley (known as Balley Alig)to join. Syed Fakhruddin Balley then took start work to promote the Association. Many writers and poets like Hameed Akhtar, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Saadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chughtai joined the Association.
  • The All Pakistan Progressive Writers Association was set up in Pakistan in December 1947.


Progressive Writers Association (PWA) has had a chequered career. Formed in 1936 in Lucknow just one year after the London meeting of Indian writers, the motivating figure behind this organisation, whose Urdu name was 'Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannifin', headed by Sajjad Zaheer. The other writers in the forefront were Dr Mulk Raj Anand, Dr Joshy Parshad, Permud Sen Gupta and Dr Deen Mohammed Taseer. Sajjad Zaheer had traced the account of its formation in his celebrated book 'Roshni'. It could be said that the Urdu writers were in the forefront of 'Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musannifin', but later on almost all the writers of Indian languages had their own organisations with the same aims and objectives: struggle against British imperialism for the liberalisation of India from the foreign yoke; struggle against the henchmen of imperialism, land for the tillers of the soil. The organisation regarded socialism as an economic system, which could end exploitation. Munshi Prem Chand, the great Urdu and later on Hindi writer inaugurated it. Rabindranath Tagore, Molvi Abdul Haq, Chiragh Hasan Hasrat, Abdul Majeed Salik, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Josh Malihabadi, Professor Ahmed Ali, Dr Akhtar Hussian Raipur, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Professor Majnooh Gorakhpuri, Dr Rasheed Jahan, Sahibzada Mahmood ur Zafar, Professor Manzoor Hussain and Dr Abdul Aleem were some of the stalwarts whose active or lukewarm support was not with the Anjuman.

The word "progress and progressive" attached with it has a history of its own. In 19th century England the word progressive was the battle cry of all those who wanted a better deal for the underprivileged and wanted science and technology to spearhead the movement for social development. The word "progressive" became an anathema for ones who were status quo and opposed to the transformation of the British society on egalitarian basis. The movement for progressive touched all spheres of human development. It is stood for liberalisation and democracy. Munshi Prem Chand, doyen of Urdu writers, had delivered the Presidential Address of the PWA meeting. It was a movement for the freedom loving writers who were opposed to the status quo in the feudal-dominated Indian society. They thought that unless the Indian society was not transformed and the common masses were in the driving seat nothing could change. Writers like Krishan Chander, Ismat Chugtai, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Sibte Hassan, Ehtesham Hussain, Mumtaz Hussain, Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Ali Abbas Hussaini, Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Farigh Bukhari, Khatir Ghaznavi, Raza Hamdani, M.Ibrahim Joyo, Sobho Gianchandani, Shaikh Ayaz, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Amrita Pritam, Ali Sikandar, Wajid, Zoe Ansari, Majaz Lakhnavi and many others whose names can fill many pages, made it the strongest literary movement.

The partition of the sub-continent also portioned the movement and with the sway of the Macarthyism in the USA, the movement was declared illegal in 1954 in Pakistan is the martial law of 1958 saw its rank and file working under different banners 'Awam Adbi Anjuman' was revised during the PPP Government in 1971. Rafiq Chaudry, Shaukat Siddiqui, Hassan Abdi, Ateeq Ahmad, and Hameed Kashmiri had their support however, in 2007 it was organised on a countrywide basis under an interim constitution. During this period Hameed Akhter and Rahat Saeed, worked very hard and organised general body meeting in Lahore in 2012 to elect another team of office-bearers with a mandate to get its new constitution passed in a few months time on March 4, 2012. Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui was elected its new President unopposed, Salim Raz was elected its Secretary General, Rasheed Misbah, its Deputy Secretary General, Dr Qazi Abid its joint secretary and Maqsood Khaliq its deputy secretary co-ordinator. Soon after the election South African Free Media Association (SAFMA) invited the new office-bearers at the dinner presided over by Munno Bhai, Dr Siddiqui, newly elected president of PWA, Rahat Saeed, the outgoing Acting Secretary General were the guest of honour. Replying to Imtiaz Alam of SAFMA's question as to what challenges the PWA of today considered relevant, as the previous contention of the PWA the battle of ideas had become irrelevant, the newly elected president PWA contended that the battle of ideas are still going on. And how could it be considered a closed chapter when a few hundred multinationals in the world had their coffers 50 percent of the world's GDP. He thought that in Pakistan the rate of poverty was rising alarmingly and even if the rate of illiteracy as a yardstick of poverty is taken into account more than 50 percent people were literate. Another fact to be taken into account is that the postmodern approach which rejected, foundationalism, realism and humanism as the determinants of knowledge is the consequential rejection of knowledge. How could the Progressive be thrown out as a view point when the plurality point of view was being preached? Had the post-modernist not cancelled[clarification needed]


Prominent members of the movement have included:


  1. Progressive writers, Dawn, 1 October 2004

Sanaullah Shamim Gandapur Waheed Qureshi Abid Hussain Abid Dr Saadat Saeed Maqsood Khaliq Faridoon Khan

See also

Further reading

  • Mir, Ali Husain; Mir, Raza (2006). Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry. RST IndiaInk. ISBN 81-86939-26-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ali, Ahmed (1974). "The Progressive Writers Movement and Creative Writers in Urdu". In Carlo Coppola (ed.). Marxist Influences and South Asian Literature. East Lansing: Michigan State University. p. 36. ISBN 81-7001-011-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ali, Orooj Ahmed, Sajjad Zaheer, Dawn-Letters, January 15, 2006.
  • ahsaas 1,2,3 a journal of progressive literary writings June 2013 peshawar.kpk province,Pakistan
  • Alvi, Dr. Khalid. Angare Ka Tarikhi Pusmanzar aur Tarraqi Pasand Tahrik, (Historical Perspective of Angare and The Progressive Writers' Movement), Educational Publishing House, Kucha Pandit, Delhi 1995.