www.sacw.net | January 29, 2005

A Report on the Fourth Meeting of All India Secular Forum
at Mumbai 22-23 January

This is an effort to form an All India platform to assist and promote the
activities which enhance secular and democratic values. The earlier
meetings in this direction took place at Pachmadhi, Hydrabad and Mumbai.
This meeting was hosted by CSSS and around fifty activists from different
parts of the country participated in the same. Most of the participants
have been associated with different endeavors to promote the secular
values and to combat the threat of communalism.

The defeat of BJP has given us some breathing space to gear up our
activities, it is an important repreive, which can be used to make our
network stronger, to streamline and broaden our activities. One major
point which emerged was that diverse groups which are working on this
issue and the mass organizations of progressive parties need to be
involved in this effort for this platform to be more effective. At the
moment we can think of a federation with a fine balance between the
central and local initiatives and responsibilities.

Different groups presented the type of activities in which they are
engaged and also pointed out the other activities which are under planning
process or are needed to supplement this cause. Experiences of training
workshops, resource centers, theater workshops, mohalla committees, youth
groups, music concerts, experiments in inter community living and
interaction through programs were narrated. The threat of Hindutvisation
of Adivasis came out as the stark reality and the ways to combat this were
discussed. The experiences of activists in the RSS attempts to communalize
the places of worship and the efforts of local groups to stall that came
as a rich experience for the forum participants. Multilayered efforts of
activists from Ayodhya, to halt the march of communal forces were

Various tasks to further the cause of secularism were delineated- pooling
of resources-manpower, legal assistance and awareness (handbook on
Communalism and Law for activists),the curricula and structure of the
workshops being conducted by different organizations needs to be reviewed
and enriched by drawing from each other to draw up the probable structure
of different types (targeted for social workers, teachers, students) and
durations of these( 1 day , 5 day , 7 days, 10 days), and follow up of
workshops has to get the top priority. We need to network the groups with
the aim to help the local activities through providing manpower, books,
poster and CDs for workshops. We also have to think in the direction of
linking the secular groups through a newsletter and by starting a web
site, the need for working towards a curriculum for children and to
promote EKTA clubs in colleges was also underlined.

Various activists have taken responsibility for coordinating work in
different states and they will be in touch with the secretariat for
assistance. The points for discussion, the understanding around which we
work has emerged from the three earlier meeting. These points were
circulated and it was requested that activists will respond to those
points so that a provisional draft can be prepared.

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