No. 35, September 2003

NO. 35 (Sept. 2003):


Appendix I: Ford Foundation -- A Case Study of the Aims of Foreign Funding

Appendix II: Funds for the World Social Forum

The World Social Forum and the Struggle against 'Globalisation'
II. WSF Mumbai 2004 and the NGO phenomenon in India

Buoyed by the success of the Porto Alegre meets, the WSF organisers have been trying systematically to expand the Forum's influence even further. In the course of the last year they have organised an Argentina Social Forum meet in Buenos Aires, a European Social Forum in Florence, a Palestine Thematic Forum in Ramallah (on "negotiated solutions for conflicts"), an Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad, and an African Social Forum in Addis Ababa. It is as part of this "internationalisation" process that the WSF bodies (the Brazilian Organising Committee and the International Council) decided to hold the next WSF gathering not in Brazil, but in India.

The holding of the "Asian Social Forum" at Hyderabad on January 2-7, 2003, confirmed that such an event could be successfully held in India. Large funds were mobilised from foreign funding agencies for this event too, including from Ford Foundation, which is, as we have seen, one of the major funders of the WSF.

Just as in Brazil the WSF was initiated by ATTAC and PT, in India the WSF meet is being organised by an alliance of non-governmental organisations and leading cadre from certain political parties — in the main, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, along with their mass organisations of workers, students, peasants, and women. Certain mass organisations with close ties to NGOs are also involved. While these are the forces taking the initiative to organise the meet, and which are able to provide the full-time manpower to do so, a large number of other forces and individuals are likely to join the proceedings in one way or another, either as organisers of discussions or simply as participants.

Large requirement of funds
The foreign funding here, as in Porto Alegre, is of two types: first, the infrastructural funding which comes to the WSF central bodies; secondly, the funding for various participating organisations, which is much larger, but which is near-impossible to trace.

As for the first, the "Part Funding Policy" as adopted by the India General Council of the WSF at its April 7-8 2003 meeting at BTR Bhawan in Delhi, "Maximum international funds [are] to be raised and managed by IC/BOC (International Council/Brazilian Organising Council) as per their policy". No principle is laid down here for what type of sources may be tapped, just as the WSF Charter is silent on this score. Apart from this, the Part Funding Policy says that "NRI's [and] organisations other than funding organisations and individuals may be approached for contribution to solidarity fund." The document "Project World Social Forum 2004" (World Social Forum Secretariat -- Brazilian Organising Committee and Indian Organising Committee) estimates that $2.5 million will have to be raised.

However, as mentioned above, this does not capture the full role of funding agencies. In fact "Project World Social Forum 2004" estimates total expenditure for the event at $29.7 million (about Rs 135 crore), the bulk of which, $26.2 million, is the cost of the delegates' participation (transportation, accommodation and food). Funding agencies would bear much of this cost, since an army of NGO functionaries and employees would be attending — nearly all of the country's foreign-funded NGOs would be present, as well as many from abroad. The visits of many important personages too would be sponsored by NGOs. However, these sums would be disbursed directly to delegates without entering the WSF Secretariat accounts. The amount provided by foundations/funding agencies directly to the WSF Secretariat is a small fraction of such funds actually involved in the WSF meet (see Appendix II for some examples of this).

The NGO sector in India
Let us turn, then, to the activities of the NGOs — one of the two main forces organising the WSF in India. In Appendix I, we have discussed Ford Foundation's activities at length because of its role as funder of the WSF, and also as a case study of foreign funding. The broad pattern displayed by the Ford Foundation holds for the entire NGO sector in India.

There are a number of sincere individuals working in NGOs or associated with NGOs. Many such persons are moved by a desire to reach some immediate assistance to needy people. Seen in specific contexts, they do in fact reach some relief to sections of people. Without questioning the commitment and genuineness of such individuals, our concern here is to point to the broader political significance of the NGO institutional phenomenon.

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed an extraordinary proliferation of foreign-funded NGOs in India: according to the Home Ministry, by the year 2000 nearly 20,000 organisations were registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, though only 13,800 of them submitted their accounts to the government as required.1 Total foreign funds received by these organisations rose from Rs 3,403 crore in 1998-99 to Rs 3,925 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 4,535 crore (about $993 million) in 2000-01.2

Not a spontaneous social phenomenon
NGOs make out that they have spontaneously emerged from society, hence the earlier term 'voluntary agency' and the now-favoured term 'civil society organisation'. In fact, however, international funding agencies (from which smaller NGOs in various countries in the third world receive their funds) depend heavily on funds from government, corporate and institutional sources. For example, according to the World Bank document "Report on Development: 2000-2001", more than 70 per cent of projects approved by the World Bank in 1999 included the participation of NGOs and representatives of "civil society" — a single project aimed at bolstering NGOs over seven countries cost $900 million. The Bank assigned two of its functionaries to relations with NGOs and representatives of "civil society"; that figure has grown to 80 today. As for governmental support, another report puts funds to NGOs from advanced industrial countries other than the US at $2.3 billion in 1995; including the US, the figure would be much larger.3 As one writer puts it, "These gigantic sums reveal the hoax of presenting the rapid growth of NGOs as a 'social phenomenon'."4

Why do multinational corporations, the imperialist governments, and institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations channel such funds to NGOs?

Indeed the extraordinary proliferation of NGOs serves imperialism in a variety of ways.

1. NGOs, especially those working to provide various services — health, education, nutrition, rural development — act as a buffer between the State and people. Many States find it useful to maintain the trappings of democracy even as they slash people's most basic survival requirements from their budgets. NGOs come to the rescue by acting as the private contractors of the State, with the benefit that the State is absolved of all responsibilities. People cannot demand anything as a right from the NGOs: what they get from them is 'charity'.

Till the 1980s, NGO activity in India was limited to 'developmental' activities -- rural uplift, literacy, nutrition for women and children, small loans for self-employment, public health, and so on. This continues to be a major sphere of NGO activity — in 2000-01, Rs 970 crore, or 21 per cent of the total foreign funds, was designated for rural development, health and family welfare; other 'developmental' heads would have added to this figure.

But in what context are these 'developmental' activities taking place? In the basic context of enormous, conscious suppression of development. Under the guidance of the IMF and World Bank, successive Indian governments slashed their expenditure on rural development (including expenditure on agriculture, rural development, special areas programme, irrigation and flood control, village industry, energy and transport; the figures are for Centre and states combined) from 14.5 per cent of GDP in 1985-90 to 5.9 per cent in 2000-01.5 Rural employment growth is now flat; per capita foodgrains consumption has fallen dramatically to levels lower than the 1939-44 famine; the situation is calamitous. Were expenditure by Centre and states on rural development to have remained at the same percentage of GDP as in 1985-90, it would not have been Rs 124,000 crore in 2000-01, but Rs 305,000 crore, or more than two and a half times the actual amount.

In comparison with this giant spending gap, the sums being spent by NGOs in India are trivial. But, by their presence, the notion is conveyed all round that private organisations are stepping in to fill the gap left by the State. This is doubly useful to the rulers. The political propaganda of 'privatisation' is bolstered; and, as said before, people are unable to demand anything as their right. In effect, NGO activities help the State to whittle down even the existing meagre social claims that people have on the social product.

Thus NGOs are multiplied fastest where State policies — usually as part of an IMF/World Bank-directed policy — are withdrawing basic services such as food, health care, and education. The greater the devastation wreaked by the policy, the greater the proliferation of NGOs sponsored to help the victims. (Indeed, before the US prepares to invade a country, it funds and prepares leading NGOs to provide 'relief' after it has rained destruction.6 Thus in the second half of 2002 NGOs began cutting their spending on, and manpower deployed in, still-devastated Afghanistan -- as part of their preparation to join the US caravan to Iraq.)

2. In the course of recruiting their manpower, the NGOs give employment and a small share of the cream to certain local persons. These persons might be locally influential persons, whose influence and operations then benefit the NGO. Or they might be vocal and restive persons, potential opponents of the authorities, who are in effect bought over. In either case, NGO employment, although tiny in comparison with the levels of unemployment in third world countries, serves as a network of local political influence, stabilising the existing order.

3. In the field of people's movements, 'activist' or 'advocacy' NGOs help to redirect struggles of the people for basic change from the path of confrontation to that of negotiation, preserving the existing political frame. The World Bank explains in its "Report on Development" (cited above) its political reasons for promoting NGOs. It says: "Social tensions and divisions can be eased by bringing political opponents together within the framework of formal and informal forums and by channeling their energies through political processes, rather than leaving confrontation as the only form of release."7 Thus ever since the early seventies Andhra Pradesh, a state with a strong tradition of revolutionary movements, has witnessed a massive proliferation of NGOs, and is indeed among the states receiving the maximum foreign NGO funds today.

NGOs bureaucratise people's movements. Traditionally, people's movements are self-reliant: they have to raise their own resources, and are led by representatives from among the people. These representatives, to one extent or another, thus have to be accountable to the people. By contrast, NGO-led movements, while claiming to represent the people, are led by officers of the NGOs, who are paid by funding agencies to carry on activity. Naturally, they are not accountable to the people, nor can they be removed by them; so they are also free to act without regard for people's opinions. On the other hand, NGOs are accountable to their funders, and cannot afford to stray beyond certain bounds. Minus foreign and government funding, the entire NGO sector in India would collapse in a day.

Indeed, as NGOs proliferate and spread their wings, setting up funded adivasi organisations, dalit organisations, women's organisations, 'human rights' organisations, cultural organisations, and organisations of unorganised labour, it is often NGOs that are the first to respond to any political or social issue — including 'globalisation' and its harmful effects. Political life itself is increasingly NGOised, that is, bureaucratised and alienated from popular presence and representation.

Ideological underpinnings
The foreign-funded NGO sector has, with remarkable uniformity, propagated certain political concepts. The first such, as we have mentioned in the case of Ford Foundation's projects (see Appendix I), is the primacy of 'identity' — gender, ethnicity, caste, nationality — over class.

The ideological underpinnings, such as they are, of this trend are provided by what has come to be known as 'post-modernism.' This is an international intellectual current — now powerful, if not dominant, in social science academic institutions worldwide. Not its own strength as a school of thought, but the rich stream of funds and academic positions flowing to it, has ensured post-modernists institutional dominance — an echo of what Ford Foundation did in the 1950s.

Although 'post-modernism' is not really systematic thought, and so is difficult to pin down and refute, the following is an important strand of it, and the one that is relevant for the topic we are discussing here. This strand argues against any worldview which attempts (however approximately or tentatively) to comprehend all of reality in an integrated fashion. The post-modernists argue that such a worldview imposes its project on other realities. Instead, this strand posits that there are any number of realities, equally valid, and that the very tools of analysis for these realities differ.

Class analysis and post-modernism produce sharply contrasting analyses of social phenomena, which have sharply differing implications for the practice of social movements. Class analysis argues that, for example, the vast majority of women have an objective, material basis to join their movement with those of other sections (including dalits, adivasis, workers, and so on) in a struggle against the existing social order; that women's liberation is tied up with (though a distinct sphere of) such a broader struggle; that male chauvinist attitudes of, say, male workers are against all workers' own long-term interest; and that such attitudes have to be fought by making ruling class influences the target, not ordinary workers as such.

Post-modernism, however, considers such a view "reductionist" (the term used in the World Social Forum Charter). Rather, post-modernism places all struggles on par, with class as just another social category jostling with gender, ethnicity, nationality, and so on for attention. Post-modernism thus rules out the possibility of united action by various social sections on the basis of common objective interests; rather, it talks of varying coalitions/alliances of forces, joining hands to one extent or another for specific aims.

The post-modernist approach implies that members of the same coalition might be pitted against each other in some other respect — for example, male workers and women might join hands in a particular cause, but remain antagonists on gender issues. This in turn implies that no clear line can be drawn between the "camp of the people" and the camp of those who are responsible for exploitation and oppression of people. Both camps are open to all.

When male workers, who (in post-modernist eyes) are the target of struggle by women, can be part of the World Social Forum in which women's organisations too participate, nothing need prevent industrialists from joining the Forum along with workers. Nothing, for that matter, prevents a UN delegation attending the Forum, or a prominent member of the Forum dashing off to attend the World Economic Forum as well. All of them — the workers and the capitalists, the protester and the World Bank functionary — are part of what the post-modernists call 'civil society'. (Thus the April 2002 Bhopal declaration of WSF India clarifies that the WSF "must make space" not only "for workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, dalits, women, hawkers, minorities, immigrants, students, academicians, artisans, artists and other members of the creative world, professionals", but also for "the media, and for local businessmen and industrialists, as well as for parliamentarians, sympathetic bureaucrats and other concerned sections from within and outside the state". — emphasis added. The word "state" is used here in the sense of the organ of established political authority.)

The aim of class analysis is to strive for a social system worldwide which eliminates all exploitation and oppression. Whatever the specific and tortuous path the different contingents of humanity may have to traverse in different countries to get there, it is a common project of the people of the world.

Post-modernism rejects such an approach. Edward Herrman describes it succinctly as follows:

"An important element of the intellectual trend called 'postmodernism' is the repudiation of global models of social analysis and global solutions, and their replacement with a focus on local and group differences and the ways in which ordinary individuals adapt to and help reshape their environments. Its proponents often present themselves as populists, hostile to the elitism of modernists, who, on the basis of 'essentialist' and 'totalizing' theories, suggest that ordinary people are being manipulated and victimized on an unlevel playing field."8

Emerging as a political 'alternative'
Naturally, this school of post-modernism implies that no single political force can represent the common long-term interests of all sections of the people in a country. Along the same lines, NGOs and various funded intellectuals in India have since the early 1980s advanced the notion of a "non-party political process". It is this understanding that lies behind the World Social Forum's hypocritical bar on the participation of political parties.

If the bar on political parties were in order to allow mass organisations and mass movements to occupy centre stage, one could understand the rationale. In fact it is to the contrary. Political parties actually do take part in the WSF, appearing as 'individuals' — as can be seen by the leading role of PT in the Brazil WSF meets, and the droves of parliamentarians who attended those gatherings. The point here is the ideological concept that post-modernists/NGO theorists strain hard to propagate: Namely, that any single political force aiming to represent all sections of the people amounts to an imposition on the tapestry of different groups or ways of being.

Indeed, for those who run the existing order, it is vital to ensure the absence of any coherent political force which can integrate the myriad sections in opposition against that order.

While NGOs thus oppose the concept of a single political party leading various sections of the people, they themselves are emerging as a single political force in their own right. They have unanimity on most issues. Their explicitly political activities span a wide range of social sections: they run organisations of women, adivasis, dalits, unorganised workers, fishermen, and slumdwellers; they also run organisations for the protection of the environment, cultural organisations, and human rights organisations (indeed, much admirable work in providing relief to the victims of the Gujarat massacres, and documentation of the crimes there, has been done by NGOs).

Till now, however, NGOs by and large have not been treated as a legitimate political force by the traditional mass organisations — the trade unions, peasant unions, student organisations, women's organisations. And it continues to be the case that the mass organisations command much greater capacity to mobilise masses of people. Through platforms such as the World Social Forum now, NGOs are being provided an opportunity to legitimise themselves as a political force and expand their influence among sections to which they earlier had little access.

CPI(M)'s earlier stand
One of the early critiques of NGO politics and practice in India was written in 1988 by an important CPI(M) activist, now a politburo member, Prakash Karat; it first appeared in the CPI(M)'s theoretical journal, The Marxist. Titled Foreign Funding and the Philosophy of Voluntary Organisations, the publication describes in some detail this phenomenon, and gathers various data and anecdotal information on the topic, and points to what it considers to be its dangers.

Karat stated his thesis in brief as follows:

"There is a sophisticated and comprehensive strategy worked out in imperialist quarters to harness the forces of voluntary agencies/action groups to their strategic design to penetrate Indian society and influence its course of development. It is the imperialist ruling circles which have provided through their academic outfits the political and ideological basis for the outlook of a substantial number of these proliferating groups in India. By providing liberal funds to these groups, imperialism has created avenues to penetrate directly vital sections of Indian society and simultaneously use this movement as a vehicle to counter and disrupt the potential of the Left movement.... The CPI(M) and the Left forces have to take serious note of this arm of imperialist penetration while focussing on the instruments and tactics of imperialism. An ideological offensive to rebut the philosophy propagated by these groups is urgently necessary as it tends to attract petty bourgeois youth imbued with idealism." (pp 2-3)

Karat argued that the new seemingly 'activist' stance adopted by the NGOs was a sophisticated imperialist strategy: "...along with the funding for the second phase [ie of `activism' by NGOs] came the ideological package also. For how else can one explain the strange spectacle of imperialist agencies and governments funding organisations to organise the rural and urban poor to fight for their rights and against exploitation?" (p. 8)

In the course of the critique Karat mentioned several of the same foundations which have been funding the World Social Forum and affiliated activities — ICCO-Netherlands; Friedrich Ebert Foundation; NOVIB; Ford Foundation; Canadian International Development Agency; and Oxfam. "It would be no exaggeration to say that the whole voluntary agencies/action groups network is maintained and nurtured by funds from western capitalist countries. The scale of funding and the vast amounts involved are so striking that it is surprising that this has not become a matter of urgent public debate in this country.... This open access to foreign funds allowed by the Government of India has become one of the major sources of imperialist penetration financially in the country." (p. 34)

He ended with a call for political struggle:

"The Left should treat all action groups (ie those directly involved in mobilisation and organisation of the people) as political entities. All those organisations receiving foreign funds are automatically suspect and must be screened to clear their bonafides." (p. 64)

"The widest campaign has to be built up to force the Government of India to abandon its present posture of allowing free flow of foreign funds on the grounds that it contributes to the foreign exchange fund. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act which allows such massive penetration of imperialist funds will have to be further amended to ensure: All voluntary organisations which claim to organise people for whatever form of political activity should be included in the list of organisations (just as political parties) which are prohibited for receiving foreign funds.... Most urgent is the necessity for a sustained ideological campaign against the eclectic and pseudo-radical postures of action groups." (pp 64-65)

Indeed, he proudly states that "it is well known that it is the CPI(M) cadres and activists who have been in the lead all over the country in exposing the designs of foreign-funded voluntary work as they are clear about its implications". (p. 60)

Sharp turnaround
Such was the official CPI(M) stand in 1988. Drastic changes appear to have taken place since the end of the eighties. In a number of forums, CPI(M) members and NGOs now cooperate and share costs — for example, at the People's Health Conference held in Kolkata in 2002, the Asian Social Forum held in Hyderabad in January 2003, or the World Social Forum to be held in Mumbai in January 2004. Further, CPI(M) ideologues appear to be developing theoretical justifications for their stand, as can be seen from the following excerpt from a Frontline9 interview with Dr Thomas Isaac, CPI(M) MLA, former member of the State Planning Board in charge of decentralisation:

"Interviewer: There is criticism against the role of NGOs too, like the one you have floated in your constituency, as being that of `agents of globalisation and economic imperialism' and the seemingly anti-globalisation struggles and programmes they are organising as being a clever strategy to promote essentially imperialist interests.

" Isaac: There is no doubt that there is a larger imperialist strategy to utilise the so-called voluntary sector to influence civil society in Third World countries. But you have also got to realise that there are also NGOs and a large number of similar civil society organisations and formations that are essential ingredients of any social structure. Therefore, while being vigilant about the imperialist designs, we have to distinguish between civil society organisations that are pro-imperialist and pro-globalisation and those that are not...."

Isaac went on to blur the distinction between the Seattle-stream of protests and the World Social Forum:

"And today the world reality, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the world revolutionary process is assuming new organisational forms of struggle. The best exhibition of this is the spontaneous mass protests against the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, their conferences and also the anti-war movements that sprung up recently. Only those who are unaware of these divergent trends in the world today would claim that the World Social Forum and the anti-war movement are part of an imperialist conspiracy. They do not understand the contemporary world revolutionary process."

In fact, quite to the contrary: the WSF is intended, among other things, precisely to co-opt the "new organisational forms of struggle" that arose around the Seattle protests. This is what we have tried to show at some length above.

CPI(M) — an opponent of globalisation?
While it is a turnaround from the stand of 1988, the new stand of CPI(M) on NGOs is not wholly surprising. Opposition to foreign-funded NGOs makes sense only as part of a broader opposition to imperialism. The CPI(M) is, no doubt, an opposition party nationwide, one which criticises the Central Government's submission to the dictates of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and the multinational corporations those institutions represent. But the CPI(M) is also a ruling party periodically in Kerala and continuously in West Bengal; one which actively invites foreign investment, negotiates large foreign loans with the Asian Development Bank, represses labour organisations, privatises public sector units, hikes electricity charges, and so on. In other words, it is carrying out the measures labelled 'globalisation'.

The new chief minister of West Bengal, back from his recent trip to Italy to solicit investment from Gucci and other Italian firms, is now busy conferring with multinationals and Indian corporates to participate in his planned Kolkata global festival "to change the perception of the city in the eyes of outsiders". Speaking to industrialists in Mumbai, he rushed to clarify, first, that the CPI(M) has not called for a boycott of American goods in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq, and that his government wanted not only Indian private companies but also foreign firms to invest in his state; and secondly, that labour militancy in Bengal was no longer a problem — indeed there "strikes and labour problems are much less than Maharashtra". The CPI(M)-affiliated trade union centre, CITU, he assured them, "is aware that there would be no jobs if there are no industries."10 The West Bengal government has issued advertisements for the privatisation of nine state public sector units: the pompous term used is "joint venture transformation through induction of strategic partners", involving "transfer of equity stake ranging from 51 per cent to 74 per cent with management control"; the government is "open to considering the requisite extent of manpower restructuring and waiver of outstanding financial liabilities as may be necessary for ensuring their sustainable viability". The financial adviser to the privatisation is the multinational Pricewaterhouse Coopers.11

On the West Bengal chief minister's table lies the report of the American consultancy firm, McKinsey (which his government commissioned in October 2001) on the prospects of agriculture-based industries and information technology-based industries in the state. McKinsey proposes that 41 per cent of the state's arable land should be diverted from rice to vegetable and fruit cash crops; large agro-based corporations should be attracted to the state; laws should be altered to allow contract farming; and by the end of the decade the state should aim its agro-based products at the international market. "This initiative is aimed at attracting national and multinational investors to the state. McKinsey has already established contacts with several such investors. We have received a good response from them. Now our plans and efforts should be commensurate with their requirements and demands."12

World Social Forum — instrument of struggle?
In the preceding we have into some detail regarding the funding of the WSF and the nature of its participating organisations in order to present various specific aspects of this phenomenon. However, in the final analysis, the test of the World Social Forum is not merely how it is funded or the character of some of the leading/participating organisations or individuals, nor even its exclusion of various forces. After all, many forums in the world today have various limitations, and to abandon them all for their imperfections would cripple the forces struggling for change. The real test of any such forum is its actual political role, its relation to people's struggles against the current imperialist onslaught: has it advanced them? Or has it diverted fighting forces to a dead-end?

The advocates of the WSF say it has given an impetus to struggle. This is not so. As we have tried to show, the vibrant protest movement gave an impetus to struggle. The people's movements and upsurges of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador gave an impetus to struggle. The World Social Forum has simply given an impetus to the next World Social Forum, and the next.

The WSF's real relation to anti-imperialist struggle is starkly revealed by its organisers' conduct at the Asian Social Forum meet in Hyderabad in January 2003. Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh, which, apart from being one of the top recipients of NGO funds in India, is also marked by two other features.

First, the state government is perhaps the most active 'globaliser' in the country. In 1998, the state government directly negotiated a $500 million World Bank loan, which came tied with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Restructuring Programme (APERP). The APERP dictated the dismantling of the state electricity board, the inviting of private investment in power, and increasing electricity tariffs. It also dictated the hiking of water cesses for peasants; college fees; bus fares; and public hospital charges. It ordered all-round privatisation. The state government has been implementing this programme, undeterred by the massive suffering caused, the waves of starvation deaths, the thousands of suicides of peasants unable to repay their debts. When people's organisations protested the electricity tariff hike, the Hyderabad police responded by massacring the protesters.

Indeed, the second feature, a necessary accompaniment to the first, is that state terror in Andhra Pradesh is at its zenith. The A.P. police is given fat financial rewards for routinely and cold-bloodedly murdering hundreds of the government's political opponents in fake 'encounters'. The targets have not been restricted to the members of revolutionary groups, but have been systematically extended to all those who do not submit to the reign of terror; a special target has been civil liberties activists.

The Asian Social Forum gathering at Hyderabad, with its myriad panel discussions, press meets, and public procession, did not speak a word about this armed 'globalisation' being carried out by Chandrababu Naidu. Evidently the organisers had negotiated terms with the government. In fact, at the same time as the ASF meet, Naidu and the deputy prime minister of India (the chief architect of the demolition of the Babri Masjid) L.K. Advani, were holding an investment conference in Hyderabad itself. Some dalit groups organised a protest against Naidu's event, but the ASF, with its tens of thousands of participants at hand in the same city, maintained a studied silence.13

The contrast with the Seattle demonstrations could hardly be sharper. The real political role of the WSF could hardly be clearer.


1. Outlook 21/1/01; Hindu 24/2/02. (back)

2. Economic Times, 4/9/03. (back)

3. "The World Bank, Alternative Forums, NGOs and 'Civil Society'", Frederic Thuillier, (back)

4. ibid. (back)

5. Prabhat Patnaik, "Agrarian Crisis and Distress in Rural India", People's Democracy, 12/5/03. (back)

6. See "Raid then aid" and "The compassion con", Nick Cater, Guardian 24/1/03 and 28/2/03. (back)

7. Thuillier, ibid. (back)

8.Edward S. Herman, “Postmodernism Triumphs,” Z Magazine, January 1996, (back)

9. 15/8/03. (back)

10. Times of India, 3/6/03 (back)

11. Economic Times, 3/9/03. (back)

12. translated from Ganashakti, 23/10/02; cited in New Democracy, November 2002. (back)

13. Liberation, February 2003. (back)

Next: Appendix I: Ford Foundation - A Case Study of the Aims of Foreign Funding


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