world social forum, Mumbai: Mumbai against Bush

Banners, posters and slogans against Bush and his war on Iraq were prominent in Mumbai (India) on 21st January.

On this day the 4th World Social Forum finished with a demonstration through the centre of Mumbai. Although over 100,000 had participated in the WSF, the demonstration was smaller, because some of the delegations had already left for their homes. Unlike the demonstrations that took place during the whole of the WSF, on the campus itself this one was more “western” and dominated by delegations from abroad – like those from Italy, Greece and South Korea. The CWI spoke to some of the participants.

Kim Io Jim from South Korea explained that they where on the demonstration to protest against Bush’s war on Iraq. Like many others, for her the threat that the aggressive imperialist policy of the USA brings was the main motivation for being part of the WSF demonstration. When the demonstration marched through the city thousands of people stood at the side and watched. The CWI delegation was the only one giving out material in Indian languages – we distributed twelve thousand leaflets in Hindi and Tamil, as well as in English. The lack of material in the different languages spoken by people in India was a problem at the whole WSF. Although English is widely known, there are a large number of people who can’t read or speak it, and most prefer written material in their own language. Therefore, especially the Hindi leaflet of the CWI was warmly welcomed by the people of Mumbai.

Girisch from Mumbai explained to us, that he and other fishermen came to the demonstration to march for more justice because, as he explained, “Globalization means in fact global exploitation”. Delegations of workers took part in the march, like railway workers and domestic workers. A group of six women from a domestic workers union wanted to stress their demands for basic social security, as they do not even get sickness pay from their employer. For the railway workers, as Mohammed Ali from Mumbai explained, the main topic of protest was against the government’s policy of privatization, which also affects the railways.

Ritty Das, a young girl from Mumbai who came with her friends on the demonstration, wanted to be part of the movement against globalization. Justice and equal rights for all, that’s what she wants to see. An open question for her is how to convince the rich of this “other world”?

When asked what he thought about the WSF itself, Jila, a young student from Delhi, said that for him a number of questions were not answered. He would be in favour of a socialist perspective, but was afraid that this would make the movement too small. The demonstration itself showed that boldness itself is no guarantee of strength. The hunger for our leaflets proved our point, that the WSF itself had a lack of political answers and lack of opportunity to participate fully. The large number of people that signed to get active with the CWI for a socialist world made that very clear.

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January 2004