Statement spoken by Prachi Patankar of South Asia Solidarity Initiative at the rally against Modi at Madison Square Garden, New York, Sept. 28, 2014

South Asia Solidarity Initiative joins hundreds of millions throughout India and millions in the diaspora that refuse to go along with Modi and his hateful agenda. Modi came to power with support of only 30% of the popular vote. We stand with the other 70% that voted against Modi and his fundamentalist, anti-people ideology.IMG_3961

Modi’s propaganda machine and some sections of the Indian media will have the world believe that the vast majority of Indians and Indian American community support Modi. Some have even asked us why we are dampening the euphoric welcome that some sections of the Indian American community have planned for Modi.  “Why are you digging up the decade old issues,” they have asked us.  How does one forget the heinous slaughter, rapes and murders of over 1000 minorities in Gujarat in 2002?  Authoritative sources agree that Modi clearly had state intelligence about the ensuing violence, and also conspired with extremist vigilantes to plot and allow for the mass murder of minorities. He has played a role in actively derailing the justice and rehabilitation process for victims of the Gujarat pogrom. What are the consequences of letting a man get away with genocide?  The denial of truth and justice for the 2002 Gujarat victims and survivors, allowed for the anti-Christian mass violence in Orissa in 2008, and the anti-minority terror in Uttar Pradesh last year. Violence against Dalits and women have also continued, stoked by the political culture of cruelty and disregard.

As South Asians concerned for advancing basic standards of democracy and human rights in India and universally, we believe that it is our moral responsibility to refuse to go along with the Modi euphoria and continue to voice our concerns and criticisms of bigotry and violence. Not doing so not only justifies this bigotry, but normalizes the acceptance of hateful ideologies and future repressive policies. We also condemn the ready forgiveness and apologism handed down to Modi by some Indians in the diaspora. His victory of Prime Minister-ship with a paltry less than one third of the vote, does not wash away his complicity in the killings, rape and displacement of thousands. The rise of Narendra Modi is the result of the anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, casteist, and hateful ideology that propaganda has tried to sanitize with the false rhetoric of development and economic progress, which advances the super-rich while betraying the poor and toiling billion. In fact, under Modi’s authoritarian leadership of the country, his extremist ideology is being infused deeper throughout the government machinery. During Modi’s first hundred days, he has already begun suppressing democracy, and the rights of the media and public to know the workings of government. Widely supported employment and livelihood programs have been gutted; while corrupt deals with the mega-rich have been unleashed. Modi makes casual anti-science comments denying the grave nature of climate change, while expanding fossil-fuel exploitation that destroys livelihoods, and doing nothing as floods and rising sea levels threaten many more. Prices for basic needs are rising all across India; with the promise of new jobs nowhere in sight. These are the consequences of letting a man get away with genocide.

As progressive South Asians, we join in solidarity with other progressive voices to interrupt the emboldened Hindutva extremists and fight fundamentalism everywhere. We will never forget. We will never give up. We celebrate and continue our rich traditions of working towards democracy and social justice for all.

We must be prepared, that Modi may be in power for some time. Some BJP voters are already disillusioned and disappointed. More and more will regret their vote. It is our responsibility — as social activists, journalists, people of conscience — to be vigilant, and shed a bright light on any policies, incidents, or even veiled threats to Christians, Muslims, Dalits, ordinary Bahujan farmers, workers, the poor, critical journalism, human rights and democracy itself. And it is our responsibility to shed a light on journalists, social movements, and ordinary people from the majority who voted against Modi — who speak out and mobilize for better policies, better culture, better India and world for all.

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Hundreds of millions and hundreds of movements still say no to Modi! Statement from the South Asia Solidarity Initiative May, 2014

Stay Strong. Fight On.

Hundreds of millions and hundreds of movements still say no to Modi!

Statement from the South Asia Solidarity Initiative
May, 2014  

NaMoMay 16, 2014 marks the day that the Indian bourgeois democratic process elected one of the most divisive, hard right and fascist candidates in recent memory to be the Prime Minister of India. By evoking a manipulated “rags to riches” story that neatly appealed to American capitalist mythology — Narendra Modi’s past and ideology was repackaged and sanitized. Among the ideological and financial supporters that brought Modi to power, are not only the Indian corporate elite but also those Indian Americans in the diaspora that have been funding the hindutva ideology for decades from abroad. At no time in recent memory has the rift between progressives and secularists and the larger, conservative South Asian diaspora been deeper or more significant.  As South Asians living in the United States, we pledge to work hard to ensure that Modi is held accountable for his crimes and the hindutva ideology that he espouses does not go unchallenged.

We join in solidarity with other progressive voices and spaces to interrupt the emboldened Hindu right and fight fundamentalism everywhere. Narendra Modi has yet to answer to evidence that he willfully ignored state intelligence that warned of the ensuing violence and conspired with Hindutva murderers to plot and allow for revenge killings of minorities all over Gujarat. His victory of Prime Minister-ship does not slow down the fight to bring him to justice. It does not wash away his compliance in the killings, rape and displacement of thousands.

Organizations like the Hindu American Foundation and the American Sangh Parivar have been able to reach a silent Indian American community untroubled by the overwhelming evidence of targeted, ethnic cleansing of Muslims in India. The election of Narendra Modi is the result of the Islamophobic, casteist, and hateful ideology that has been allowed to be sanitized in the false rhetoric of development, economic progress and capitalism. As progressive South Asians, we condemn the ready forgiveness and apologism handed down to Narendra Modi by some Indian communities in the diaspora.

 Narendra Modi’s campaign rhetoric has already pulled the Indian state relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh towards reactionary Islamophobia. The most recent example is Narendra Modi’s hate speech against Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants after the massacre of dozens of Muslims in Assam. We stand in solidarity with all people in South Asia who may inadvertently be affected by this hateful ideology that now has the reins to preside over the Indian state.

We also must remember that there are still hundreds of millions throughout India and millions in the diaspora that refuse to go along with the Modi and BJP agenda. There are still hundreds of movements in India who continue to fight for justice, liberty and equity, that need our utmost support. Progressives, human rights activists, and civil society in India and all over the world – are louder and more committed than ever before to hold Narendra Modi accountable for his crimes against humanity. We will never give up. We will never forget.

Save the Date: October 25-27, NYC

ECHOES OF GHADAR

Convergence of activists, organizers, artists from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in transnational conversations from activists from NYC and U.S
.

OCTOBER 25-27, NYC
LOCATION:  Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza, New York, NY

Join the conversation with dreamers re-­‐imagining a different world…
 

Kalpona Akter
Alia Amirali
Omar Freilla
Herman Kumara
Siddharth Narrain
Bharat Patankar
Hashim bin Rashid
Kavita Srivastava
Rafael Samanez and more…

Reclaiming democratic rights, Gender/Racial justice, Caste annihilation, the right to water, land, resources & livelihoods & more..

Registration Opens: September 15

Questions: contact@southasiainitiative.org

Donate to ‘Echoes of Ghadar’

Thank you so much for all of your generous donations. Thanks to your contributions, our May benefit and other support outside of the online campaign, we are almost at $15,000 out of our $20,000 budget. This is amazing!

The SASI Organizing Collective and the Ghadar Convergence Organizing team thanks you from the bottom our hearts for your support and faith in our work. Onward now to focusing on building with our speakers on South Asia and here and getting to the fun and creative shaping of the program!!!

If you would like to still donate to us, you may do so through the Singh Foundation.

Pay to the order of “Singh Foundation

(Memo lineSASI Ghadar Convergence)

Mail to: c/o Sekhar Ramakrishnan
Singh Foundation
              50 W 97 ST.  #15T
             New York, NY 10025
 

You can also make a donation using our Paypal account at the Singh Foundation.

For a better world,

South Asia Solidarity Initiative (Organizing Collective)

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

Echoes of Ghadar – Indigogo Campaign!

ghadar for indigoGo

Please help us raise enough money to celebrate 100th anniversary of the Ghadar Party and to bring grassroots South Asian activists to New York City in October!

Echoes of Ghadar Indigogo Campaign – Donate here! 

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

What 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.

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 does your financial contribution support?

Your financial support will help towards the following:

  • We will be bringing grassroots organizers from South Asia to New York city, which is our biggest cost. Any contributions you make will go toward travel costs, housing, and food costs for these speakers.

  • The logistics of the convergences including the venue and productions costs

  • Honorarium to artists, musicians and filmmakers as well as production of the cultural events

  • Promotional materials such as posters, flyers and other print costs

    YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT IN ANY AMOUNT, NO MATTER HOW LARGE OR SMALL, IS WELCOME

Additional Ways You Can Help

In addition to supporting our efforts, we would really appreciate if you would spread the word!!!

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.

SASI’s Echoes of Ghadar Fundraising Party – May 17 (Friday) @ The Commons Brooklyn!

SASI Ghadar fundraiser flyer

Join SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE to usher in warm summer nights Friday, May 17th for an evening of music, poetry and dancing to kick-off the fundraising campaign “Echoes of Ghadar”!!!

What: A fundraising benefit party for a SASI organized Ghadar Convergence in October 2013

When: 8 to 11:30 pm, May 17th, 2013 (Friday).

Where: The Commons Brooklyn:  388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Cost$20

Please join us on the 17 of May, for a night of music and dancing, and help us kick start our fundraising campaign for “Echoes of Ghadar”, a convergence to be held in October 2013 in New York City.

The evening will feature musicians Arooj Aftab, Sonny Singh, Red Baraat, Golam Haroon Sarwar, poet Tanwi Nandini and DJ Cloak.

To RSVP, you can go to the Facebook Page or contact us here

The event will raise funds for “Echoes of Ghadar: A Convergence of grassroots activists from South Asia to the U.S.,” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Ghadar Party, a transnational grassroots solidarity movement founded in 1913.  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 will feature dialogue sessions bringing together South Asian and U.S. activists, and celebrate the spirit of Ghadar with music, poetry, and visual events. 

Featured Artist bios:

Arooj Aftab’s inspired songwriting fuses classical Pakistani and Sufi music traditions with contemporary jazz, folk and pop influences. Arooj Aftab innovates off classical Pakistani, Sufi & pre-partition South Asian music, creating original compositions honoring ancestral roots, for a sound that is fresh, graceful, and musically complex. Paying homage to classical Sufi legends such as Abida Parveen and Reshma; neo-soul and jazz icons such as Sade and Ella Fitzgerald; and contemporary world musicians such as Marisa Monte and Fat Freddy’s Drop, Arooj presents an original, interactive sound embraced by young and old, South Asian and beyond.

Sonny Singh is a trumpet player, dhol player and vocalist,  educator/activist, and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Sonny fires up thousands around the country and world playing trumpet and singing in the 9-piece bhangra funk band, Red Baraat, the first and only dhol n’ brass band in the US. In the short time since the band’s inception, they have delivered blistering performances at venues and festivals throughout the world  including Bonnaroo (TN), the Barbican (London, UK), Montreal Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival,  Beaches International Jazz Festival (Toronto, ON), Ottawa Blues Festival (Canada),  Pori Jazz Festival (Finland), and LinzFest (Linz, Austria).

Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer, youth educator, and performance artist, based in Brooklyn, NY.  Her writing has appeared in CURA: A Literary Magazine for Art and Action, Escape into LifeThought CatalogDash Literary Journal and Brooklyn Bodega; her play, Nayana’s Passing, debuted at Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival in 2005. She received her B.A. in Women’s Studies from Vassar College, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College. She currently works as the Brand Manager at 3rd Ward, a maker space in Brooklyn. Her debut novel is slated for publication in 2013 by Penguin.