Who We Are
‘Vikalp Sangam’ (VS) is Hindi for ‘Alternatives Confluence’.
Vikalp Sangam is an evolving process that involves in its core functioning, over 80 movements and organisations in India.
The VS process started in 2014, emerging out of a search for grounded alternatives to the current model of ‘development’ that is built on ecological destruction and rising inequalities. Watch the Vikalp Sangam video.
‘Alternatives’ refers to ways of meeting human needs and aspirations, without trashing the earth and without leaving half of humanity behind. These refer to grassroot initiatives for basic needs, processes of direct political and economic democracy, struggles for justice and equality, policies, technologies and concepts/frameworks that challenge structures of oppression, inequality and unsustainability. They could be initiated and implemented by communities, government, civil society organisations and individuals amongst others.
Read more about what constitutes an alternative in The Search for Radical Alternatives: Key Elements and Principles.
The VS process includes documentation of alternative initiatives across India, outreach with various kinds of people including youth, physical and online gatherings, and other forms of networking. It is a confluence where people share, collaborate, and reflect on their experiences and knowledge. This enables shared peer learning and envisioning of a just and ecologically conscious society. Additionally, the Sangam groups engage in collective advocacy for policy and systemic transformations.
The motivation behind making the Alternatives Transformation Format is the quest to answer the questions: what is a systemic or transformative alternative, distinct from a change that is merely reformative within the existing system? what are the key elements of such an alternative, and how can one assess which elements are being transformed in an initiative? what about if one element is being transformed, but another remaining the same or regressing? how can those taking part in the change assess for themselves whether their process is holistic, and if not, how to make it so? And in all this, what kinds of worldviews, cosmologies, frameworks of values and ethics underpin such a transformation? This document is arranged according to (a) the key spheres of transformation: political democracy, economic democracy, social justice, cultural and knowledge diversity, and ecological wisdom; (b) the specific elements of which each of these sphere is comprised, and (c) the key indicators to enable assessment of whether positive transformation is taking place in each of these elements. Indicators are oriented more at outcomes than at processes, but the latter can also be built into the assessment as appropriate.
Vikalp Sangam Website
This website is a collection of stories, case studies, resources, opinion pieces, and videos on alternative initiatives.
If you want to share or submit an article or have other ideas for collaboration, email us at [email protected] with the subject line “Contribute a story”.
Sangams are physical gatherings of organizations, individuals, networks and movements who have worked on ground at practical or conceptual levels on alternatives. During these gatherings, there is a lot of sharing of experiences, perspectives, dialogues, and collective visioning.
These are organised either regionally (State, district or eco-regional level) or thematically (e.g. energy, food, health, democracy). As of late 2021, 22 Sangams have been held.
You can access all the Sangam reports here.
Vikalp Varta is a series of online dialogues created with the aim of being a co-learning space where different alternatives share their work, efforts, challenges and successes.
Click on the following links to watch the vartas.
Vikalp Sutra: Vikalp Sutra has emerged from Vikalp Sangam, and aims at linking other networks and collectives with a focus on the sustainable livelihoods’ landscape of India.
Alternative Economies Vikalp Sangam: A growing community of researchers and experimenters from across India exploring meaningful ways of weaning off from the modern economic paradigm while creating transformative, life-affirming ways of relating to our material world and resources.
Youth Vikalp Sangam: A process to engage diverse youth in developing a common understanding of the principles and values of true transformation and help them in co-dreaming of alternative ways of living.
Western Himalaya Vikalp Sangam: Bringing together people working on or interested in alternatives, ideologically and in practice in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir.
South Asia Bioregionalism Working Group: A voluntary network of members rei-magining an eco-regional and bioregional governance for South Asia.
Vikalp Sangam has also helped initiate a global platform with similar aims, of providing a bridge for radical alternative movements across the world, the Global Tapestry of Alternatives.