The ’National Alliance of People’s Movements’ is a network made up of a number of diverse groups in India. The network was formed to deal with the many problems faced by people in India that individual groups could not deal with. The network has mobilised its supporters a number of times to support struggles, as well as protest against institutions such as the World Trade Organisation. The key to the Movements success is that it ensure that those who are most marginalized are heard first.
12 / 2001
Sanjay Mangala Gopal is the National Coordinator with a national network in India the ’National Alliance of People’s Movements’. The Alliance began in 1992 following two important events. The first was that economic globalisation was introduced officially into the country by the government of India. The second was that Hindu fanatics attacked a major Mosque. This introduced strong feelings that there was a need for a more unified approach to dealing with the many challenges facing India. It was recognised that many small local groups were offering resistance with moderate success, but there must be unity and solidarity for larger issues.
By 1993, the Alliance assisted in organising a rally to protests against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that over 10,000 people attended. It was the first tangible event organised by the Alliance, and those that were involved recognised that strength could be achieved by mobilisation.
In 1996, the Alliance made a greater effort to form stronger links with different organisations, and promote the concept of the network. There was recognition that the concept of forming an official Alliance may be threatening for some groups. As a result, the Alliance made a conscious effort not to be aggressive, but rather work quietly to achieve its aims. As it turned out, this has proved very important for the long-term success of the network.
The efforts to expand the Alliance in 1996 saw the network organise a national tour, covering 60 cities in 45 days, culminating with the first national assembly of people’s movements. Over 500 people from 90 organisations attended the assembly. Here the basic principles, ethos and ideology of the Alliance were drafted. In essence, these are:
i. Complete opposition to economic globalisation there is to be no negotiation with institutions like the World Bank;
ii. There is to be complete equality. The Alliance does not recognise any class structures;
iii. The Alliance must develop an alternative development paradigm.
These are to be achieved by the following means: i. Disparate groups will work hand in hand together; ii. Non-violent direct action (NVDA); and iii. Locally funded groups can only be members, with internationally funded groups being associate members.
There are now 150 groups that form part of the network. There is a type of management committee of 15 representing different sectors. The aim of the group is to build solidarity, and support each other in struggles, even if all will not be affected. Network has experienced both success and failure. Sanjay believes that the network continues to work together for a number of reasons.
Problems caused by globalisation and international financial institutions cannot be dealt in isolation or by any single group. This is what drives the many groups to unite. It is only after groups recognise this do they become part of the Alliance. However, all groups do not welcome the Alliance. Sanjay believes that there is a fear of joining the Alliance for the following reasons: i. Identity of the group will be lost to the Alliance; ii. The group will be used by the Alliance; and iii. People are comfortable in smaller groups, but become weary when larger numbers come together.
Sanjay had very powerful feelings about the network, being very proud of his association. The Alliance continues to gain in popularity because there is continued recognition that there is a need for people to make a stand when they are threatened. Often people act only out of necessity, and those who are yet to face adversity are yet to recognise the need for networks. The ad truth is, that people do not plan well enough ahead.
Recently, the network planned to stage a number of protests in parallel with the WTO meeting in Doha. Such protests were organised during the Seattle meeting in 1999. The meeting in Doha was a symbolic victory for people’s movements everywhere, and it was only held in Doha because protests are illegal. The network had organised about 50 people to sail from India to the Middle East, with no papers, as a form of protest against the undemocratic nature of the meetings. This was cancelled due to the events of September 11, but a number of rallies were still organised.
To further mobilise against the forces of economic globalisation, Sanjay believes the following needs to happen: There needs to be more effort to involve the middle class, and prove that they too will be impacted by inappropriate globalisation; To ensure that those that are most marginalized are heard first; There is a need to establish a real sense of solidarity. For example, when farmers are mobilising, it is important that the fishermen recognise that their support is important. This culture of solidarity is very important.
There is a need to promote the struggle to a political level. For 50 years, activists have managed the struggle, but now it is time to form political parties and ensure that the need for alternatives is recognised by governments. Sanjay finished by stating that there are many examples of successful solidarity struggles. In Seattle, the Zapatistas and so on, many struggles are bringing people together. We need to promote these successes and ensure that internationalism and solidarity are seen as positive.
This file was made in an interview at the World Assembly, Lille, France.
Sanjay Mangala Gopal, National Coordinator
This file was made in an interview at the World Assembly, Lille, France, dec.2001.
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