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All Set For World Social Forum Meet

sexta-feira 16 de janeiro de 2004, por ,

Only a city the size of Mumbai could absorb an additional 75,000 people and not fall apart. That is precisely the process that has already begun here as delegates from 130 countries - social activists, trade unionists, feminists, environmentalists, peaceniks, human rights campaigners and anti-globalisation activists - arrive to participate in one of the largest gatherings the city has seen, the World Social Forum (WSF), which opens on January 16.

This is the first time the WSF is being held outside Porto Allegre in Brazil, where for three years equally large numbers from around the world gathered and articulated their vision of an alternative to neo-liberal globalisation under the over-arching slogan "Another World is Possible."

The six-day forum has lined up a galaxy of speakers for its opening and closing plenaries and panel discussions. They include the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Iran, Shirin Ebadi, the former United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, Algeria’s first President, Ahmed Ben Bella, the French farmer and anti-globalisation activist, Jose Bove, the Pakistan human rights activist, Asma Jehangir, the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Juan Somavia, and the Nobel laureate and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz.

From India, the speakers at the 20 conferences and 800 seminars and round-tables include the former President, K.R. Narayanan, Captain Laxmi Sehgal, Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar and the Marxist thinker, Prabhat Patnaik. Also, some 190 mass and social organisations will participate in the hundreds of parallel events that have been planned over the six days.

All these will be held at the massive NESCO grounds in Goregaon, a northern suburb. An area accustomed to trade exhibitions is being rapidly transformed into an arena where panel discussions, conferences, cultural programmes, art exhibitions and film shows will take place simultaneously. Huge meeting halls that can accommodate over 10,000 people are being assembled, simultaneous translation facilities are being rigged up, a media centre to cater to over 2,000 Indian and foreign journalists is being put together and two stages and an amphitheatre are being erected. An extraordinary array of over 100 theatre groups from India and 30 from overseas and well-known performing artists and groups such as the rock band Junoon from Pakistan, the Brazilian singer and currently Culture Minister, Gilberto Gil, the classical singer, Shubha Mudgal, and the rock group, Indian Ocean, will perform.

Literally across the road, a parallel and separate meet, `Mumbai Resistance 2004 Against Imperialist Globalisation and War,’ has been organised by 300 organisations from India and abroad. The organisers were once a part of the WSF process but are now critical of it. They have chosen to hold a separate meeting on similar themes with many participants that are expected to attend both events.

Ver online : By Kalpana Sharma, By Kalpana Sharma, The Hindu, 16 January, 2004