As part of the ongoing series of Vikalp Sangams (Alternatives Confluences), a national Sangam was organised on 27-29 November, 2017, at the beautiful Prakriti Sadhana Kendra of Vidya Bhawan, co-hosted by Shikshantar and Kalpavriksh. A total of about 100 people from various backgrounds, ideologies, and interests came together to share their diverse initiatives, discuss broader issues of development and radical alternatives, and build further collaborations. Ideas for the future of the Sangam process, including holding confluences on Peace in conflict zones including Kashmir and central India, Alternative Media, Community and Alternative Health, Alternative Politics/Democracy and Swaraj, Inclusion and Disability, Alternative Economies, Western Himalaya, and others were planned.
While the discussions sometimes meandered and repeated things that civil society circles have debated for decades, the incredible mix of people made for exciting moments, some scintillating sharing of history of movements and current initiatives, and earthy planning for the future. Deeper questions on ethics within/between civil society organisations, the politics of alternatives, what we even mean by ‘alternatives’, were flagged, some discussed in detail during (or often between!) sessions, and some kept for later reflection. John D’Souza of CED showed a half-hour film combining the previous 12 Sangams.
Overall, it was an encouraging endorsement of the need and relevance of the Vikalp Sangam process … v. valuable for the core team at Kalpavriksh that is currently coordinating it. Separately I’ll post a note on the Vikalp Sangam Core Group meeting that followed the national Sangam, which was at times difficult but in all, uplifting. Some images:
The forested ambience was ideal for a Sangam on alternatives, with several bird species adding to the discussion
Anganwadi workers reading Vikalp Sangam posters on alternative initiatives
Udaipur-based Millets of Mewar had some tasty and healthy biscuits!
Bamboo grove at Prakriti Sadhana Kendra was ideal for the 3 days of discussions
Participants out on a nature walk
Prakriti Sadhana Kendra’s lovely location!
Udaipur-based Eco-hut displayed their upcycled and other products
Gunis (traditional healers) organised by Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, Udaipur, explaining their practice; some participants even availed of their massaging and other services!
Participants out on a birding and insecting walk
Shankar Singh of MKSS regaled participants with his songs and puppetry!
Kalpavriksh’s bookstall was a hit, especially the children’s books
Three days of incredible local food including my favourite, dal-baati!