The Mumbai World Social Forum: Alternative Futures from the Grassroots

by Jose Maria Ramos


I recall an Indian proverb saying that, as all rivers find the same ocean, so too do all paths reach the same source. Perhaps this is a fitting analogy for the World Social Forum (WSF), the fourth of which was recently held in Mumbai India from the 16th – 21st of January. For as each of the over 130,000 droplets arrived by plane, train, rickshaw, bicycle and by foot, they began self-organising into streams, thousands of organisations emerged and merged into rivers of social movements, which finally came together at the WSF to form an ocean of humanity united under the banner “another world is possible.” While the WSF is a global event and deals with global scale problems, issues and challenges, it is driven from the grass roots. If the WSF is an ocean, every “droplet” comes from a grassroots network, organisation and the activism, involvement and education of individuals. Unlike other global events, UN meetings, WTO ministerials, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, where the halls of power are guarded by body guards, and where a PhD, $30,000 or a government position are the minimum “accessories” for a ticket into the debate, the WSF draws from the “wretched of the earth”, the rich soil from which humanity springs. (continue…)


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