Monday, March 28, 2005

I too had potential

I too had potential
Originally uploaded by powars.

motorcycle border

motorcycle border
Originally uploaded by powars.
This was taken on the last day of the World Social Forum in PortoAlegre. We were making our way to the final rally through the city streets and just happened to reach THE place to park a bike.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Porto Alegre Manifesto-English

World Social Forum last day march
Originally uploaded by powars.
Photo of the day

recalling the 2005 World Social Forum....

What s your take on the manifesto?

Porto Alegre Manifesto in English

Previous posts in this blog speak of the Porto Alegre Consensus Manifesto. Basically, this is a World Social Forum document that was drafted and signed by 19 high profile thinkers. The idea was for Forum participants to agree on clear set of goals for world economic reform. The result has been controversy about whether or not the Forum should have a manifesto, and whether it should have been drafted in this (some say) top-down way. Does it represent the views of the Forum? What should we think if it does?

Here's a list of the first 19 who signed. Recognise any of the names?

Aminata Traoré, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Eduardo Galeano, José Saramago, François Houtart, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Armand Mattelart, Roberto Savio, Riccardo Petrella, Ignacio Ramonet, Bernard Cassen, Samir Amin, Atilio Boron, Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Tariq Ali, Frei Betto, Emir Sader, Walden Bello, Immanuel Wallerstein.

Until now, there hasn't been an English version on the web. This is a rough translation from Spanish, courtesy of Daniel Bloch in New York (click below).

Another World is Possible, with new economic regulations that respect every person’s right to life. Therefore, it is necessary to:

1) Cancel the public debt of countries in the South; which has been paid on various occasions and is the best way for creditor States (international financial establishments and institutions) to force most of humanity to accept their protection and, in turn, prolong people’s misery.

2) Apply international taxes/rates to financial transactions (especially applying the Tobin tax/rate on speculative transactions on currency), to direct foreign investment, to consolidated profits of transnational corporations, to the sale of arms, and to activities that emit gases that contribute to global warming.

3) Progressively dismantle all kinds of fiscal, legal and banking havens, which are nothing more than refuges for organized crime, corruption and all kinds of trafficking, fraud and fiscal evasions, and opportunities for company and government complicity.

4) Ensure that each person has a right to work, to receive social security and to retire, respecting the equality between men and women, this being imperative for national and international public policy.

5) Promote all forms of commercial justice by rejecting the World Trade Organization free-trade regulations, and by implementing mechanisms that permit the processes of production that bring goods and services more progressively to a new level of social norms (as per the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)), totally exclude education and health, social services and culture from the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the WTO. The convention on cultural diversity that is being negotiated in UNESCO right now should explicitly claim the right of culture over the right of commerce.

6) Guarantee the right of each country to nutritional sovereignty and security by promoting rural agriculture. This assumes complete suppression of the subsidies on the exportation of farm products by the United States and the European Union, and the possibility of taxing imports in order to stop dumping practices. In the same way, each country or group of countries should be able to decide individually to prohibit the production and importation of genetically-altered foodstuffs.

7) Prohibit all “patents on the mind” and on living things (be they people, animals or plants), in the same way as with the privatization of people’s common goods, namely water.

(B) Anther World is Possible if we encourage a just and peaceful life for all humanity. Therefore, it is necessary to:

8) Above all, fight for different public policies against all kinds of discrimination, sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism; fully recognize the political, cultural and economic (including the regulation of natural resources) rights of indigenous communities.

9) Take urgent measures to put an end to the destruction of the environment and to the threat of serious climate change brought on by global warming, and exacerbated by the excessive use of individual transportation and non-renewable energy. We must begin to instate another model of development rooted in energy conservation and the democratic control of natural resources, especially drinking water.

10) Demand the dismantling of foreign military bases and the expulsion of their troops except those serving under an official United Nations mandate.

(C) Anther World is Possible if we promote democracy of all kinds, from local to global. Therefore, it is necessary to:

11) Guarantee the right to information for all citizens by means of legislation that: a) puts an end to the concentration of resources among a few exclusive communication giants; b) guarantees autonomy for journalists before shareholders; c) favors non-for-profit press outlets, particularly alternative and community-based ones. The respect of these rights implies civil checks-and-balances, particularly in the form of national and international media watchdog groups.

12) Profoundly reform and democratize international organizations, among them the UN, insuring the upholding of human, economic, social and cultural rights in concordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This implies the incorporation of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and WTO [in the image] of the decision-making system of the UN. Should the US persist in violating international law, it would be necessary to transfer the UN headquarters from New York to another place, preferably in a country of the South.

Porto Alegre / January 29, 2005

Identity, Youth, Activism, History, Community

Just some notes from some presentations I've done recently:

“To my mind, no one has yet improved on Marx’s 1843 definition of critical theory as ‘the self-clarification of the struggles and wishes of the age.”—Nancy Fraser

A critical social theory frames its research program and its conceptual framework with an eye to the aims and activities of those oppositional social movements with which it has a partisan, though not uncritical, identification. The questions it asks and the models it designs are informed by that identification and interest.

Political theory and activism—building the bridge
“Do not use thought to ground a political practice in Truth; nor political action to discredit, as mere speculation, a line of thought. Instead, use political practice as an intensifier of thought, and analysis as a multiplier of the forms and domains for the intervention of political action”—Foucault

1. Although some of the questions I raise, some of the problems I shed light on may be part of a broader pattern dealt with by many other migrant communities, this does not mean that answers or responses are universal
2. Why should I speak about this?
a. Out of Place (home/family/ancestry & temporal: past & future) an identity with/out roots or journey with many routes— Edward Said: multiple selves (no singular, fixed identity)
b. History of discrimination, colonization, repression
i. Vancouver—Indo-Canadian Youth Violence, perceptions of…
c. Experience of racism: direct confrontation, the gaze, whispers
i. W.E.B. DuBois: Souls of Black Folk : Double Consciousness
1. A divided sense of self (that is attached with a racialized 2nd class citizenship—INDO???Canadian=real Canadian?)
2. A sense of seeing oneself CONTINUALLY through the eyes of the other (dominant/dominating)
3. State of the Community—if there is one…
a. Changing, shifting community/ies
i. Waves of migration and the communities that formed from them and their evolution or DEVOLUTION
ii. Pillars of community: family (home) & Sikh temple (gurdwara)
iii. Vertical vs. horizontal differences.
b. Climbing social hierarchies in larger, CLOSED communities
i. Materialism & status
1. Becoming white? Bourgeois?
2. How does this emphasis on materialist values (reinforced by our own cultural media as well as society at large) fit within the broad context of Sikh History?
c. Self-reflexivity and YOUTH:
i. Importance of history: If you don’t know where you came from, you sure as hell ain’t going to know where you’re going…
1. Howard Zinn—grassroots/people’s histories helpful?
ii. What are common issues/problems faced by Youth of the Sikh diaspora?
iii. What actions are being taken to confront these issues?
iv. How can we create spaces for critical (self-as community: I and I Rasta/Bob Marley) reflection?
v. Do they even feel a part of a broader community?
4. What is to be done?
a. Need for agency: authors, painters, thinkers, activists, workers to break free from identities forced on (and thus far accepted by) us
b. Special role of youth
c. Activism—community building
d. Roots of/for inspiration in History (not an idealized and “tokenized” one), looking forward, awake to present situations
5. Multiculturalism‡cultures are fluid, porous, and changing
a. Beyond tolerance, sensitivity towards recognition, understanding, and respect‡need communicative action, dialogue
b. As individuals, we are all in a sense multicultural
c. Constructive process: we need to be makers of our cultures and identities

Saturday, March 26, 2005


I am just trying to restart what I pathetically attempted a few years ago. Let s see how it goes

An ungrammatical multitude