Sanhati at Left Forum 2013 – a brief report

July 3, 2013

The Left Forum is an annual conference of a broad spectrum of Left and progressive activists, intellectuals and academics in the U.S. Organized every year in New York City, it provides a forum for sharing ideas and experiences about on-going struggles and broader theoretical issues that emerge from them. The aim has been “to engage a wide range of critical perspectives on the world, to discuss differences, commonalities, and alternatives to current predicaments, and to share ideas for understanding and transforming the world.”

To offer Left Forum participants a unique view from and about India, Sanhati has organized panels at the Left Forum for the past 5 years. Topic have ranged from the development terrorism of the State, the anti-displacement struggles, rights of forest people, the Maoist movement, and political economy of agrarian change. This year Sanhati’s panel topic was “Political Ecologies of Developmental Terrorism: Neoliberalism and People’s Resistance in India”. The session was chaired by Ramaa Vasudevan and included the following speakers: Partho Sarathi Ray, Siddhartha Mitra, Rajeev Ravisankar, and Samantha Agarwal.

The choice of this topic was motivated by the recognition that since the early 1980s, India has not only experienced economic and ecological destruction wrought by global capital but has also been the site of intense people’s resistance. This year’s Sanhati panel discussed recent developments in this neoliberal and state-sponsored aggression on peoples’ livelihoods and its ecological impact, which often appear in the guise of “economic development” and “attracting foreign investment.”

In particular, the Sanhati panel discussed large scale development projects by the Indian state, in conjunction with multinational and Indian corporations, such as construction of nuclear power plants and the people’s resistance in places such as Koodankulam; expropriation of precious land and forests for the benefit of mining corporations and the resistance by indigenous peoples in places such as Niyamgiri and the anti_POSCO movement in Jagatsinhpur; and the US-sponsored plan to transform Indian agriculture in the name of the “second green revolution”, which would facilitate profiteering by multinationals such as Monsanto and Walmart.

As before, the Sanhati panel this year was very well received by Left activists in the U.S. It was reviewed favourably by well known Marxist commentator, Louis Proyect, in his influential blog, and by Javier Sethness Castro for the popular Left magazine Counterpunch.

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Videos of earlier panels :

2012 : Capitalism in India: Glitter, Commodities, and Blood
2010 : Developmental Terrorism in India Today