World Social Forum Comes to Mumbai

"Another World Is Possible" is the motto of the World Social Forum (WSF), whose fourth gathering brought 100,000 people together in Mumbai (Bombay), India in January.

MiningWatch's Jamie Kneen attended, to support the program workshops undertaken by mines minerals and PEOPLE and to take part in a meeting of the Editorial Board of the Mines and Communities web site.

The workshops and meetings were very useful in connecting struggles in India with others around the world. As mentioned above, Canadian asbestos is marketed in India, and Alcan is among the Canadian companies seeking to take advantage of the Indian government's privatisation schemes and opening natural resources to foreign companies. Three people have already been killed protesting Alcan's investment. Uranium mining is also a problem in India; it is run by state corporations in terrifying conditions.

Founded as a creative response to the annual World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, the WSF brings together academics, grass-roots organizations, and non-governmental organizations to share stories and discuss strategies for resisting corporate globalization and creating sustainable alternatives.

For the first time, the WSF had a counter-conference as Mumbai Resistance 2004 tried to draw attention to the inefficacy of band-aid solutions and the dangers of dialogue and negotiation in unequal power relationships - as often happens between communities and mining companies - and the dishonesty of NGOs who advocate consultation and negotiation where the communities' interests cannot be properly defended.

We will be building on the connections that were made at and around the WSF.