The Role of Art, Literature and the Media

By : Justice Markandey Katju, Judge, Supreme Court of India
“Gulon mein rang bhare baade naubahar chale
chale bhi aao ki gulshan ka karobar chale”


Today India is facing gigantic problems.  In Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, etc. farmers and weavers are committing suicide regularly.  Prices of essential commodities are sky rocketing.  Unemployment has become massive and chronic, the educated youth can see only darkness in their lives.    Water and electricity shortage is widespread.  Corruption and fraud are seen everywhere, even in the highest places.  Medicines and medical treatment have become prohibitively expensive for the masses.  Housing is scarce.  The educational system has gone haywire.  Law and order has collapsed in many parts of the country where criminals and mafia are calling the shots.
*  The above sher (couplet) of Faiz really means that the objective situation is ripe for thinkers, artists, writers and other genuinely patriotic people to come forward to help the country.
In this situation the role of art, literature and the media in India has become of great importance. An attempt has therefore been made to analyze them.

The Role of Art and Literature:

There are broadly two theories about art and literature.  The first is called ‘art for art’s sake’ and the second is called ‘art for social purpose’.
According to the first theory, art and literature are only meant to create beautiful or entertaining works to please and entertain people and artists themselves, and they are not meant to propagate social ideas.  If art and literature is used for propagating social ideas it ceases to be art and becomes propaganda.  Proponents of this view are Keats, Tennyson, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot in English literature, Edgar Allan Poe in American literature, Agyeya and the ‘Reetikal’ and ‘Chayavadi’ Poets in Hindi literature, Jigar Moradabadi in Urdu literature and Tagore in Bengali literature. Read more

Categories: Art, Asia, India

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