Mulk Raj Anand
A writer, philosopher and activist, Mulk Raj Anand was considered a pioneer of Indian writing in English. He was also the founder of the magazine Marg. Anand was born in Peshawar in pre-partition India (now, in Pakistan). He graduated from Khalsa College, Amritsar in 1924 after which he moved to England where he studied at University College London. He obtained a PhD in Philosophy at Cambridge University in 1929. While in England, he was associated with the Bloomsbury Group and was a founding member of Indian Progressive Writers’ Association (IPWA, 1935).
Anand’s fiction – Untouchable (1925), Coolie (1936) and Two Leaves and a Bud (1937) – reflected caste- and class-based social strife, impoverishment and exploitation in India. Besides fiction, he wrote on Indian culture in books such as Persian Painting (1930), Curries and Other Indian Dishes (1932), The Hindu View of Art (1933) and The Indian Theatre (1950).
In 1946, he established Marg, which was dedicated to research, writing and documentation of India’s heritage of architectural, visual and performing arts while also creating a platform for meditation on new modes of cultural forms. During his term as the chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi (1965–70), Anand laid the foundation of India’s First Triennale of Contemporary Art in 1968. The Triennale was moulded out of Anand’s belief in internationalism as well as the period of Non-Alignment when cultural institutions of previously colonised countries of Asia and Africa were grappling with their postcolonial structures and attempting to build solidarity with each other. At this moment, Anand brought together over 600 works of art from thirty-one countries which were exhibited in Lalit Kala Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi. This was accompanied by a parallel exhibition essay in Marg. Anand also founded the Lokayata Trust in New Delhi in 1970 and Sarvodaya Sabha Trust, Khandala to promote art and literature.
He was the recipient of the International Peace Prize from the World Peace Council (1952), Padma Bhushan from the government of India (1968) and the Leverhulme Fellowship (1940–42), UK. Anand passed away in Pune in September 2004 due to pneumonia.
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