Echoes of Ghadar Convergence of grassroots activists from South Asia to the U.S.

ImageWhat is the convergence?

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Ghadar Party, a transnational grassroots solidarity movement found in 1913, the Ghadar convergence will bring together grassroots activists from South Asia to converge and dialogue with US activists. South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) is organizing this two and a half day convergence in October 2013, in New York. In keeping with the Ghadar Party’s founding principles of dissent against oppression, the convergence hopes to engage discussions, on issues related to labor struggles, gender and caste violence, state repression of civil rights as well as issues related to migration and nationalism.

The convergence aims to revive the often forgotten history of the Ghadar movement, through: a celebration of music, films, and conversations among grassroots activists from South Asia and the U.S.. These activities will provide grassroots activists with a unique opportunity to learn from the history of the Ghadar movement, and envision new ways to build transnational solidarity.

Events and activities will include the following:

  • Dialogue sessions will build important linkages between movements in South Asia with the US-based left movements. Speakers will include around 6-7 speakers from South Asia who will share their work with each other as well as other U.S.-based activists working on similar issues;

  • Poetry, visual art exhibitions and musical events with an aim to revive the rich cultural legacy of the Ghadar Party;

  • Film screenings, curated using the prism of borders, migration and nationalism;

  • Launch of the annual Kateesh-Balagopal Memorial Panel – an event that we plan to conduct every year in New York City to commemorate the lives of two civil rights activists;

  • The Convergence will also mark the beginning of the Ghadar Internship, a movement-experience internship for youth from North America who wish to go to South Asia and spend anywhere from 3 to 6 months working with a grass roots movement organization in the subcontinent.  

    Invited and confirmed speakers from South Asia:                                                                                                                                                                                               

    ImageKalpona Akter (Bangladesh): Executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), one of Bangladesh’s most prominent labor rights advocacy organizations, and is herself a former child garment worker. BCWS is regarded by the international labor rights movement and by multinational apparel companies as among the most effective grassroots labor organizations in the country. Confirmed         

    ImageKavita Srivastava (India, Rajasthan):Kavita is the national secretary People’s Union for Civil Liberties  and the convenor of the steering committee of the Right to Food campaign. She is very active in women’s movement and civil rights movement over the last 20 years in Rajasthan and other parts of Northern India.  Kavita has played a very active role in Bhanvari Devi rape case mobilization and recently been involved with building resistance to state repression in different parts of India.  She is a very  important voice in progressive movement in India. Confirmed

    ImageAlia Amirali (Pakistan): A leading left activist and general secretary of the National Student Federation (NSF). She is also a researcher on the Baloch National Movement and a lecturer at QuaideAzam University and an organizer for Awami Workers Party (AWP) (a newly formed party since merger incorporating Labor Party of Pakistan)  Invited /To be Confirmed http://www.radioopensource.org/alia-amirali-change-agent-in-a-stuck-society/

    ImageHerman Kumara (Sri Lanka): President of National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) in Sri Lanka.  He is also the Special Representative of the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP). He has organized some major protests in the South. He has come under attack by the Government and after the major fisher protests last year. He has been facing imminent personal risks of abduction by unidentifed group of people, was almost abducted and had to go into hiding. Confirmed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mXb86MQZpo

    ImageBharat Patankar (India, Maharashtra): is a leading activist of the left wing Shramik Mukti Dal and of the peasant movement (especially the dam-oustees and drought affected) in Maharashtra. He has worked for almost 30 years in movements of workers, farmers, agricultural laborers, and radical anti-caste cultural movements. He has been instrumental in establishing a Shramik Sanghatana (agricultural workers organization) working among adivasis in northern Maharashtra (Shahada, 1970s) as well as alternative irrigation and dam movements: Bali Raja Memorial Dam, 1973-76 Trade Union activities, Activist with Kapad Kamgar Sanghatana, Mumbai, 1976-83; work with engineering and chemical workers etc. He is also one of the architects of equitable water distribution movement in Maharashtra. Confirmed. 

Why is this event important?

The convergence aims to bring together activists working at the very grassroots level across South Asia whose voices are often not heard or marginalized in the global conversations. These activists and the movements they represent are engaged in local struggles and alternative practices around land issues, caste politics, gender and sexuality rights, economics, safety, media, arts, politics and much more. Through the convergence, SASI is bringing together many of these voices who are creating change and imagining a different world for and with people in their own local communities.  These activists will have a unique space to dialogue with other activists across the borders from different countries in South Asia as well as exchange experiences and form solidarities among U.S. based organizers who are working on similar issues within this country.  The convergence is a truly unique opportunity to build important linkages and solidarity efforts between movements in South Asia and with the US-based movements.

What was the Ghadar Party?

Ghadar Party was a transnational solidarity organization, a coalition of South Asian immigrant workers and students founded in 1913 in California. They spread throughout the United States and Canada in the coming decades, challenging imperialism, organizing uprisings, and fighting in South Asia’s anti-colonial movement.

Although formally dissolved in 1948, their legacy continues to this day. The Ghadar Party’s unique contribution lies in the links between their own anti-imperialist struggle, and global oppression. They spoke out against religious hatred, caste and capitalism; embraced large scale community organizing, social work; and produced significant literature, art, poetry and commentary on the resistance. The Ghadar party offers global movements with a model for building transnational solidarity.

What is South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI)?

SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE (SASI) is an organization based the United States that is in solidarity with progressive social movements and democratic politics in South Asia. SASI engages in the US public sphere to challenge the US establishment wherever it reinforces repressive politics in South Asia.  We aim to both engender a progressive dialogue and confront reactionary forces within our diasporic communities.  SASI builds on decades of South Asian progressive politics of solidarity within the United States for peace and reconciliation, inter-ethnic and inter-religious co-existence as well as social and economic justice in South Asia. http://www.southasiainitiative.org/

For any other comments, questions, or concerns, please feel free to e-mail us at contact@southasiainitiative.org

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