Day 1: Gala opening for platforms engendering dialogue, optimism and hope Print E-mail

 |  Friday November 10, 2006

India Social Forum meet opens

Aarti Dhar

A common platform for people from Asia and Africa to express themselves

GALA OPENING:Tribals from Orissa performing at the inaugural of India Social Forum in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

NEW DELHI: From celebrating the setback to the Bush regime to the adverse impact of globalisation, a call to end human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir and an assertion by the indigenous groups for rights over natural resources, the India Social Forum -- India chapter of the World Social Forum -- gave a common platform for people from across Asia and Africa to express themselves.

GALA OPENING: At right, a foreign participant enjoys the cultural extravaganza. The five-day meet is being attended by social forums from all over the world. ­ Photos: Rajeev Bhatt and PTI

Whether it was the all-women's brigade holding the stage for the inaugural function or the folk dancers from the tribal belts of the country and Africa, the five-day extravaganza that began here on Thursday was fun and frolic with a bit of serious thought too.

"Building another world: visions for the future'' -- as the theme suggests -- focuses on engendering dialogue, optimism and hope, by creating a space that will enable a greater mobilisation of resources for an alternative future within India, Asia and Africa.

Tulsi Mai Munda, a tribal leader of Orissa spoke on the unfulfilled dreams of a better status of women in the Independent India. It was Eileen Kuttab, a feminist activist from Palestine, narrated her experiences while working with the women in her country. Ms Kuttab had been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle and women's movement during the days of the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in the 80s.

"However, after the second uprising, the women's movement has become an elite movement and lost contact with the grassroots women who are isolated, secluded and excluded.''

Social activist Medha Patkar said globalisation had reached every household and the far-flung regions of the country and affected the women worst. "It is a handful of people who are trying to take control of the world. It is a fight against destruction, displacement and injustice,'' she added,

NBA leader Medha Patkar at the inaugural. ­ Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Wahu Kara, a global social justice campaigner from Kenya, said globalisation amounted to plundering of natural resources. Ruth Manorama, a Dalit leader, spoke of the plight of Dalit women in the country and the struggle she had to face in her effort to break the upper-class, upper-caste image of women's movement in India.

The show began with a cultural presentation by a Ramdayal Munda and his troupe from Jharkhand followed by a poetry reading session by renowned Urdu poet Shahryar.

The forum showcases the vision produced by the wide spectrum of social and political movements in these regions with special focus on the role of children, youth and women in taking forward the aspirations of the people in these countries in struggles against poverty, superstition, racism and exclusion, conservatism and violence against women, huge debt burden, and other neo-colonialist policies, for better healthcare and medication.