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The Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom was founded in 1951 as a non-party organisation of scholars, writers, artists and scientists to defend intellectual liberty, to cultivate a spirit of free enquiry and an appreciation of the arts.

Among its founding members were Nissim Ezekiel, A.D.Gorwala Tarkateerth Laxmanshastri Joshi, V.B.Karnik, Minoo Masani, Asoka Mehta, Jayaprakash Narayan, Khushwant Singh, J.B.H.Wadia. and Sophia Wadia.

In the last 61 years the ICCF has organized numerous meetings, workshops, seminars and published numerous books and booklets and two periodicals. The first, the monthly Freedom First has been in continuous publications since June 1952.

The other, Quest, a Literary bi-monthly founded in 1956 which was published for 20 years, decided to shut down in 1976 rather than submit to Mrs.Indira Gandhi’s Censors during the infamous ‘Emergency’.

 

DECLARATION OF CULTURAL FREEDOM

 
The following Declaration of Cultural Freedom was adopted by the ICCF in 1953
1.

Culture has both an individual; and a social content. Individual culture is an attitude of life on the part of a human being who seeks awareness of himself and of the world. Social culture results from the integration of the culture of the members of a community and of the social relationships emerging in a geographical environment and historical tradition which define the community. Neither individual nor social culture can be complete unless it rests on the underlying unity of mankind.

2.

Culture can only flourish, find its best expression and be secure in a free society. A society is free in which the integrity of the individual is recognized and respected as a primary ethical value, with all the guarantees of social justice, including equality of opportunity, which this principle implies. All spiritual pursuits and attainments arising from culture are rooted in this fundamental principle.

3.

While culture has a universal basis, its expression is as particular and varied as the communities themselves. This variety is inherent in the creative genius of peoples and enriches the content of human experience on which universal; cultural is based.

4.

Each concrete social unit which has a geographical environment and a historical tradition must enjoy independence and be able to evolve its own culture and afford and maintain the necessary freedom for its members and for their individual cultural progress.

5.

It is the duty of the individual to protect and develop the conditions, mentioned above, necessary for the freedom of culture.
Freedom of cultural pursuits is of intrinsic significance not only for the individual but for the community as a whole.

6.

The best expression of a free culture presupposes an attempt to widen, deepen and perfect the individual’s awareness of himself and the world. In modern times civilization has been mostly governed by an undue emphasis on externalities and a tendency towards standardization of human life. Totalitarianism, an expression of this evil, has carried it into the social and political fields.

7.

At no period of time and in no region has perfection of cultural freedom been attained. But the recognition of the integrity of the individual as a primary ethical value provides the basic condition for the march towards perfection. While social tyranny has existed in the past and continues to exist in greater or less measure today, it is obvious that in a society where the basic political, economic and social conditions of individual freedom are accepted and respected, culture may develop, while in societies where these basic conditions have been denied or destroyed, even the possibility of a contemporary culture ceases to exist. The effect of modern tyranny is more insidious and destructive than any tyranny in the past, in as much as the modern tyranny of totalitarianism seeks to dictate not only the form in which truth, both aesthetic and scientific, may be expressed but truth itself. In such a tyranny truth itself ceases to exist and have meaning; it is made subservient to political belief, economic advantage and expediency.

8.

The new tyranny founded on the theory and practice of totalitarianism is the gravest challenge man has faced in civilized history.

 

The defense of cultural freedom is in the main, the defense of free society against this challenge.

Indifference or neutrality towards this totalitarian tyranny amounts to a renunciation of the Indian tradition and our human heritage and a betrayal of all spiritual values.

 
 
 
 

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