NAPM’s 9th Biennial Convention Demands New Political Alternative
People’s Politics is the Alternative to Current Crisis
Thrissur, 17 November 2012 :The 9th biennial convention of the National Alliance of People’s Movements on Alternatives to the current hegemonic paradigms of development and politics opened today at the Salsabeel Green School in Thrissur. Several voices of criticism of anti-people development policies being pursued by the Indian government in collaboration with profit-seeking corporate entities were brought forward. The convention began with rousing songs of protest following which a commemorative silence was held in memory of recently deceased activists Dr. Banwari Lal Sharma and Matanhy Saldanha. The convention was attended by 800 delegates of people from twenty states.
In his introductory note to the convention, Prafulla Samantara said this convention is held in the context of the twenty years of the neol liberal reforms in the country and more than ever the time has come to challenges them much more vigorously, since everything we have is under threat today. The democracy itself is at threat. People’s power is the only hope in this time of crisis and this convention is to address that churning. Dr. Binayak Sen criticized the record of the post-independent Indian state; for never allowing a period when the state has not waged an armed war against a subset of its own citizens. He also emphasized the necessity of redefining nationalism to include criticism of the nation in the context of scores of false cases being fabricated against communities like dalit, adivasi and religious minorities struggling against the usurping of their jal, jangal, jameen, by the corporate-political nexus and struggling against the imposition of draconian laws derived from a colonial legacy of suppressing all legitimate dissent.
Noted feminist activist K. Ajitha linked the exploitation of women in Kerala to the flourishing tourism industry. Though the presence of women in struggles is strong there is more potential to mobilize women in alternative modes of struggle. Dr. B. D. Sharma spoke of the increasing inequality between the haves and have-nots in the country. He stressed the need for an understanding that this inequality is derived from the economic exploitation of the masses, and emphasized the need to struggle for just wages. The current situation of economic inequality perpetuates itself through the control of oligarchic political parties, who decide on important matters on the basis on their respective party’s whip.
Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisaan Shakti Sangathan spoke of the great power of the confluence of various sections of society; be it dalits, adivasis, women, minority and other marginalized communities. Each of whom might have their issue-specific struggles, but whose united opposition in itself can create an alternative holistic developmental form of politics to combat the current corrupt and foundationally unjust political and economic system. He spoke of the Right to Information Act and its role in demanding the government to be accountable to its people. He added that the success of even the ongoing anti corruption movement is that of the people’s movement and not of a political party. Ali Manik Fanfrom Lakshadweep, whose life itself is a message of alternative living and practices said the need for sangharsh and nirman is more as we evolve in humanity. The capitalist mode of development in name of modernity will destroy and hegemonise the knowledge, civilizations and imaginations of the people. We have to fight to be free !
Medha Patkar emphasized NAPM’s commitment to oppose all casteist, communal and corporate forces. From this convention of diverse marginalized communities emerges the assertion of their right to defend their land, water and natural resources for their livelihood and for the generations to come. This right to life is not only constitutionally guaranteed, but is an inalienable human right. The power of non-violent struggles firmly believes in a pro-people form of decentralized secular socialist self-governance. We need to learn a lot from the adivasi model of living, farming and health practices in the course of this struggle in order to develop an alternative strategy to the investor-driven model of privatization and monopolization of resources. This thrives on depriving thousands of people the resources on which they base their livelihood. She spoke of how corruption is not only monetary in nature, but includes the current mode of systemic siphoning away of natural resources and livelihoods from the masses. This convention provides an opportunity for each of us to learn from and engage with diverse movements across the country fighting different forms of exploitation such as industrial pollution, GM crops, forced land acquisition, etc., to forge new economic and political alternatives.
She added that the question of the political alternative, depends on who is raising that. We have never seen parliament or assemblies discussing the issues arising out of people’s movements, we are raising it in conventions, meetings and demonstrations like this. Everybody says, we should fight elections, since this will be best, but is that enough? Those who have chosen that have not yet proved its effectiveness, Congress could not do it after earning independence, Janta Dal could not do it after Emergency, so let us wait and watch. People’s politics is the alternative route to power to people.
The sessions in the three day conference are intended to open a space for dialogues on issues that various people’s movements in India are raising. The convention will witness parallel sessions on viable alternatives on various issues such as energy paradigm, community control over natural resources, democratic development planning, agrarian crisis, politics and governance, state repression, popular culture and media, education and health. Apart from day-long meetings, 50 groups and communities displayed their handicrafts, books and low cost pedal motors in stalls meant to further the discussion on alternative development through practice. Cultural performances, films screenings and photo exhibitions on struggles were also brought forth by various participating groups.
The Convention has also been joined by members and leaders of fraternal organsiations like National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, National Fishworkers Forum, National Campaign for People’s right to Information, National Hawkers federation, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture and others.
Geo Jose, Hussain PTM, Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316)