Drawing Women’s Agenda for BRICS

The BRICS Summit is scheduled to be held in Goa on October 15-16, 2016. The stated theme for the Summit is Building Responsive Inclusive and Collective Solutions. Civil society activists and women’s collectives such as the 30 year old Bailancho Saad in Goa1, realised that women and women’s issues are conspicuous by their absence in the BRICS Summit  agenda. So how is it Inclusive and Collective?  Bailancho Saad decided to lead the effort to draw up a women’s agenda for BRICS. To celebrate 30 years of its formation the Collective organised a vibrant celebration on October 12th in Goa. The celebrations included a sharing of experiences by women activists from various national and international civil society groups as part of “Drawing Women’s Agenda for BRICS”.

Food Sovereignty Alliance, India was invited to join in the celebrations and participate in drawing up this agenda. Others who shared their experiences included activists from the Transnational Institute (TNI) (Dorothy-Grace M. Guerrero and Brid Brennan), Stop Wall Outreach, Palestine (Maran S K), Goa Foundation (Norma Alvares), Domestic Workers Forum, Goa (Sister Escaline) and Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (Albertina Almeida) participated in the discussion.

The various speakers pointed out that the BRICS does not provide any alternative to the hegemony of the dominant countries of the global north and the corporations that are increasingly shaping international treaties and agreements to gain greater control of our lives, livelihoods and food systems.

Drawing from its struggles for seed and food sovereignty, FSA drew attention to the fact  that one of the most profound impacts of climate change is on our food and farming and seeds are central to our food systems.  It emphasized the centrality of women’s role in seed sovereignty and pointed out that while the industrial seed business is being built on women’s knowledge and their labour it is alienating this very same knowledge, exploiting their labour and reinforcing patriarchy. FSA also expressed that any alternative strategy to the dominant system must reject the increasing privatisation of knowledge, resources and life. Unless the strategy rejects the status quo of corporate hegemony and is aimed at being transformative through a collective, commons approach it is impossible to ensure a more equitable and just world.

While sharing their experiences the various speakers reiterated that the alternative must resist corporate hegemony and demand policies and legal mechanisms to protect the land, water and biodiversity which is the basis of the lives and livelihoods of communities. They urged that social movements in the BRICS countries must fight against corporate impunity in their own countries since it is corporations from the BRICS countries that are grabbing land, polluting water resources, destroying biodiversity and the livelihoods of communities who have no recourse to this domination. The need for a collective effort in solidarity with each other was expressed strongly whether it is women domestic workers, farmers, fishworkers and others whose resources and knowledge are under threat by corporatiions and private interests.

1Bailancho Saad, a non-funded women’s collective in Goa celebrated its 30th anniversary on October 12th, 2016. The collective was started in 1986 by a small group of women to resist all forms and symbols of patriarchy. Bailancho Saad is a non-registered body and has a non-hierarchical structure since its founding members viewed hierarchical processes as contradictory to the organisation’s values of working “towards equality through collective functioning”. (Fore more on Bailancho Saad see: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/2722/15/15_chapter%206.pdf)

Bhutalli- Mother Earth

Bhuthalli – (Earth Mother) a play in Street Theatre Format, captures the relationship of adivasis, dalits, shepherds and peasants with Mother Earth, interrogates the forces that are systematically dispossessing people from their land, livelihoods and resources, and celebrates the diversity of people’s resistance. The play is performed by actors from adivasi, dalit , shepherd and peasant communities.

Bhutalli was first performed at Sompeta, Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, on March 8th 2013, in solidarity with the peoples struggle against a Thermal Power Project. It has been performed across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh between 2013 and 2015. This video captures the performance at the Food Sovereignty Summit-2013, Pellipadugu,  East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh.

The play continues to be as relevant today as it was in 2013, in view of the relentless attempts by the State to takeover people’s land in the name of dams, reservoirs, sanctuaries, plantations, forestry programs and other so called projects for public purpose. We stand in solidarity with people who continue to struggle and defend their rights to their land and resources. 

55 minutes. Telugu with English sub-titles . Please ensure that the CC/subtitle option is turned on to view subtitles (CC on the lower right part of your screen will be underlined in red when CC/subtitles are on) 

Directed by: Madhoo 

Madhoo– street-theatre playwright, works with adivasi people’s movements, part time agro-ecological farmer, on-time tea drinker, life-long learner and other significant things. He is also a member of the Food Sovereignty Alliance, India.

Condemn the State Sponsored Violence on #Justice for Rohith

The violence unleashed once again against the students of University of Hyderabad indicates that today people fighting for Justice and resisting the State, are being murdered, brutally attacked and arrested.

We, the Food Sovereignty Alliance, India condemn this ongoing State sponsored violence and onslaught on democracy.

The student movement across campuses in India and the world is self-evident: you cannot crush the truth. Whether it is students, largely from Black communities of City University of New York marching across Brooklyn Bridge, or the nation wide demonstration of the South African student movement, or the students across several universities in India: they are fighting institutional, structural discrimination, challenging the privatisation of university education, demanding increased state financial support and asserting for a space of democratic discourse on campuses.

The fight is of justice, of the historically excluded people to be shaping the future of universities, which have for long now been the preserve of the upper castes, upper class oppressors.

We stand with the students of the University of Hyderabad in their fight to restore democracy and against caste discrimination in educational institutions.

  • We demand the immediate release of and withdrawal of all cases against arrested students and faculty and the halt of any further targeted arrests.

  • We condemn the police brutality and demand the withdrawal of Police from campus.

  • We condemn the unlawful shut-down of university and the suspension of basic fundamental rights.

  • We demand the suspension and arrest of VC Dr. P.Appa Rao.

  • We demand immediate action to implement the demands of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, UoH.

We stand with the students movements in other universities around the country who continue to fight caste, class, patriarchial structures of discrimination, as also the Hindutva and capitalist attack on our sovereignty.

In solidarity we from FSA:

Protested the violence against students of UOH at Ambedkar Statue in Hyderabad and mobilized contributions for food, fruits and water for the UOH students, whose basic fundamental rights were denied on campus.

We condemn the brutal murder of Berta Cáceres

We condemn the brutal murder of Berta Cáceres an indigenous woman who led her people in the struggle against a dam coming up in their territory in Honduras.

Indigenous people across the world have been condemned to violence, in recent times the Lenca people of Honduras, the Koya adivasi people living along the banks of the Godavari fighting the Polavaram dam, the adivasis resisting state violence in Chhattisgarh or the adivasis fighting against the mining projects in Odhisa, Jharkhand, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Berta was killed, yet we assembled across the globe with one voice – demanding justice and re-iterating that the struggle will continue in defence of indigenous people’s territories and way of life.

FSA joined the rally to protest the murder of Bertha outside the Honduras Permanent Mission to the UN, in New York on 17th March, 2016.

Condemning the Assault on Justice and Democracy

We, the Food Sovereignty Alliance, condemn the violence on students, lawyers, journalists, writers, professors, adivasi leaders, dalit leaders and communities who stand for Justice and are the democratic voices of sovereignty.

We oppose and condemn the false charges against citizens, in terming them as ‘Anti-nationals’ and reiterate that Nation is a sovereign of people.  Citizens who voice the rights of dalits, adivasis, muslims, poor working class and other marginalized communities, who critically question the government and the state machinery, are in no measure anti-national, but are rather the upholders of a people’s democracy.

We demand that the colonial law of ‘sedition’ and related provisions be repealed and removed from the body of legislations. In history, there have been several occasions where political representatives objected sedition on valid grounds and termed it as unconstitutional.

We particularly oppose the arrest and sedition charges filed on the JNU Student Union President Kanhaiya Kumar. We demand the revocation of sedition charges and debarment of Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Ashutosh Kumar, Rama Naga, Anant Prakash, Aishwarya Adhikari and Shweta Raj.

We denounce the actions of Samajik Ekta Manch as unconstitutional and call for the halt in torture of the members of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group.

We strongly condemn the recent attack on Soni Sori and demand the halt of this onslaught on adivasis in Bastar and on all human right defenders.

Above all, we strongly oppose all attempts at suppressing the democratic act of dissent and affirm that we the member movements of the Food Sovereignty Alliance are in solidarity and will continue to resist and fight to keep freedom and people’s democracy alive.

We are all the people who continue to stand for Justice.

JNU condemnation telugu