November 18, 2006

ISF, 2006

The India Social Forum (ISF) 2006 was held at New Delhi from 9th to 13th November. The forum saw a confluence of activists supporting various causes, along with performers from different regions showcasing their art.

The theme for the ISF – “Building Another World: Visions for the Future” – is one that focuses on stimulating dialogue, optimism and hope, by creating a space that will enable a greater mobilisation of resources for an alternative future.

There were activists from ALL kindsa backgrounds out there. From the NBA to feminist organisations to tribal issues… alternative sexualites….u name it…and they were there!

I had loadsa fun at the event… was busy roaming, sloganeering, giving sound bytes, observing, getting clicked, collecting freebies, celeb-spotting, shopping, watching movies….. PHEW!!!!!!!

There were seminars and workshops being held simultaneously across the venue, along with folk performances and street plays. Across the three main days of the Forum, I attended seminars/workshops on issues ranging from “Children’s Sectoral progress with respect to the UN’s Millennium Development Goal”, “Child Marriage and its impact on children”, “Displacement and Children”, “AIDS- Anti Retro Viral for HIV+ve”, “Faces and Vision of Children”, “Environment, Development Displacement”, “Women as Decision-Makers” and “Threats to Higher Education”.

In case u did sense it, these are the causes that I support… namely, Children’s rights, women’s rights and HIV awareness.

It was a common sight for artists (from the traditional Indian ones to African... et al!) to break into jigs at any spot!!!!!!! though, there were also many small stages put up at various corners.....where ALL through the day there were street plays, rendition of folk songs and other such rusticity was on display!

urs truly also sat thru a 70 min play in Gujarati in a musical (kathaageet) format.. outlining 600 yrs of the history of Ahmedabad.

Amongst the docu.s that i saw were....

"Kitte mil ve mahi" - a window onto Dalit aspirations to carve out their own cultural and religious space, filmed in Punjab.

"Bullshit"- on Vandana Shiva... India activist and physicist, campaigns against globalisation, bio-piracy and patenting.

"Delhi - Mumbai - Delhi" - an intimate look into the lives of dance-bar girls, shot against the backdrop of Maharashtra govt.s controversial move to ban them from dancing.

"Seven islands and a Metro" - a tale of my city structured around imaginary debates between Ismat Chughtai and Sadat Hasan Mano, the two legendary writers who lived in this metropolis, etc.!!!

as for the numeorus celebs present out there... i spotted Sunderlal Bahuguna (v. cute!!!), Medha Patkar and many others........whom i have seen and read about.

To conclude, I’d like to say that it was a great learning experience. With stalwarts from various fields all around us, it was an exposure worth it!

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