‘When 70 people in every 100 are still poor – put your hands on your heart, and tell me, is the country really free?’
People poet Adam Gondvi, who penned the above words that can be heard in countless protest demonstrations in the country, passed away on December 18, 2011 at Lucknow. Gondvi, (pen name of Ramnath Singh), was born in Gonda in UP in 1947, the year of India’s independence. He made ghazals a medium for people’s protests. He demolished the myth that protest poetry cannot find inspiration except in times of rising people’s movements. Gondvi’s ghazals expressed the challenge of change even in the darkest times, when organised protest was at its weakest.
Gondvi was primarily a peasant by livelihood. His poetry got its revolutionary edge from his proximity to left movements. He took ghazals into the ‘Chamar’s Lane,’ bringing it face to face with feudal oppression.
His poetry was a powerful voice against communal frenzy, calling passionately for an end to war on religious lines, and calling instead for a united war on poverty and oppression. He lived and died in poverty.
His passing is a huge loss for the Left cultural movement of North India, and for activists who would be filled with a remarkable spirit when they began their protests with his songs.