Another World Is Possible!
Another Asia is Possible!

Asia Gears Up Against Globalisation

– Observer

For those who don’t know, a movement was started a couple of years ago called the World Social Forum (WSF). Every year the rich movers and shakers of the Imperialist world wine and dine, week-long, in Davos (Switzerland) while deliberating on how to keep their control over the world economy, how to increase their influence, their hold and, most of all, how to increase their super-profits at the cost of the poor and weak. To challenge all this some organisations opposing globalisation decided to hold an alternative come-together in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

This alternative meeting was to see how the exploited people of the world could find ways of resisting imperialist globalisation, the adverse affects of the neo-economic reforms, privatisation, liberalization and all those policies designed by the wealthy to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. In the last WSF event, more than 50,000 people from over 150 countries and 700 organisations participated and the anti-Globalisation agenda was the common objective for all of them.

From the reactive stand in 2001 a more pro-active stand against imperialism was taken in the second year when the slogan “Another World is Possible” was given. A need was also felt to spread the WSF message to other parts of the globe and bring in more and more regions and countries to join in the struggle against Globalisation. Towards this end chapters have been formed in other continents and countries and a WSF-India was formed in April 2002 which decided to hold an Asian event in Hyderabad from 2 to 7 January 2003.

The event known as Asia Social Forum (ASF) assumed particular significance not only because Asia is the largest continent of the Third World but also because it has become the main theatre of imperialist war of subjugation. After Afghanistan, Iraq can be invaded any day by US-UK predators and North Korea is not very far off from a similar eventuality. In the Middle East, Palestinian people are facing US henchman Israel’s tyranny. With its second largest population in the world, India, the venue of the event, could certainly play an important role in the global struggle against imperialist globalisation.

This event has just concluded with a weeklong programme of 6 conferences, 160 seminars, 164 workshops, 115 film shows, countless plays, songs, dances, rallies in which 15,000 Indian delegates, 780 foreign delegates and over 800 organisations participated. Besides India, people from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia and Japan and from Europe and Latin America shared their experiences of woes of Globalisation and their many forms of resistance. The topics discussed were wide-ranging from Peace & Democracy, Debt, Development & Trade, Militarisation, War on Iraq, Imperialism, Nuclearisation, Colonialism to problems of the working class, agricultural labour, fisherfolk, dalits, tribals, women, youth, homosexuality, environment, health, governance, religions, human rights, children, trafficking of women, labour rights, communal fascism and self-governance. An Asian Youth Camp was held at a separate venue, where over 750 young delegates participated. The participants discussed the impact of globalisation on youth, and various aspects of the youth movement. While discussing globalisation, the particpants concurred with the ideas to resist the policies and undemocratic structures of neo-liberal globalization and towards this objective agreed to work jointly with the common agitational motive to derail the next WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun.

On the opening day, the conference began with a diya being lit by one of the survivors of the nuclear holocaust in Hiroshima, Miyoko Matsubara. Famous marching song “Maroprapamcham” (Another World) by the revolutionary Telugu poet Sri Sri was sung as the opening song for the event. Rather it was taken as the campaign anthem. Throughout the event, an overall spirit of a carnival, celebrating the colours and vibrancy of resistance, also hovered in the air, with stalls of books, handicrafts, garments, food, artifacts etc. and as hundreds of rural men and women, tribals and dalits danced, sang and shouted slogans to the rousing beat of drums. A film festival titled the ‘Another World Film Festival’ was held where several documentaries and feature films were screened, including several by young filmmakers. Ajay Bharadwaj’s film on Chandrashekhar was among those which generated an enthusiastic response.

However, the whole event could not draw much popular attention or create public awareness against the ongoing US war of aggression in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iraq and Palestine. Today the globalisation drive is increasingly being identified with US-led global “war against terrorism” fought primarily on the Asian soil. But unfortunately the participation from different Asian countries was not quite broad-based, reflecting inadequate groundwork. One hoped that the event would be an occasion to manifest Asian people’s assertion against US aggressors similar to the recently held Florence conference of European Social Forum, which turned into a major milestone in anti-war struggle. However, lacking a sharp political edge against imperialism and war has rendered the whole event a low-key affair. The defensive approach was also manifest in absence of agit-prop, a hallmark of the anti-globalisation movement these days. Concurrent to the ASF meet, Chandrababu Naidu, the most enthusiastic champion of globalisation among chief ministers in India, and Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani were holding some investment conference in same Hyderabad. Whereas some dalit groups organized a protest demonstration against the event, it was unfortunate that there was no attempt to organize a protest on the part of the ASF with its tens of thousands of participants. q