ISF meet: potpourri of political and social streams

Posted by admin on 2006/11/10 9:16:57

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New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) From impoverished fishermen of south India to transvestites from Puducherry to survivors of sectarian conflicts and information warriors - all of have decided to make the Indian Social Forum (ISF) being held here a showground for their voices.

It is a daunting melange of disparate political and social alliances including fringe groups embattled by the inexorable march of economic liberalisation that have come together to share their experiences and make sure they are heard.

"The aim of the ISF is to showcase the richly textured vision produced by the wide spectrum of social and political movements in India, Asia and Africa. In the final analysis these alliances will be able to forge linkages and network," said Ayeesha Kidwai, an ISF coordinator.

The five-day extravaganza kicked off Thursday with an all-women brigade holding fort at the inaugural plenary as Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar denounced neo-liberal policies and models of development and alternate Nobel Prize recipient Ruth Manorama making a strong pitch for the crusade to equality of Dalit women.

The workshops, panel discussions and seminars being held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium grounds are diverse as they are attention grabbing providing the average city-dweller a glimpse to the subterranean struggles being waged.

At the far end of the stadium's Bajri grounds, forest dwellers of the central state of Chhattisgarh are passionately debating how to resist attempts by the authorities to evict them even as eunuchs from the northeast and the southern states mingle, finding out if their lives have become better.

"Governments have realised our rights and in many states we contest elections. We are trying to build a common brotherhood across the country," says Gayatri, a eunuch from Tamil Nadu's temple city of Kumbakonam.

For the next four days, innumerable issues will be debated, government policies severely contested and strategies planned for building another world as disseminated in this year's ISF's slogan.

So from recognising the impact of globalisation on women empowerment or carrying out a public audit of human rights institutions and understanding the challenges faced by the politics of caste annihilation - these and much more are on offer at the ISF.

And some of the cultural programmes, ranging from vibrant Baul music of Bengal to the protest music of African bands will also be showcased to highlight the resonance of politics and art.