Weaver's Dialogue: MASSA and Vikalp Sangam India - 11/01/2023

Table of Contents

Weaver's Dialogue: MASSA and Vikalp Sangam India - 11/01/2023

Video and audio

Plennary session

Break Out Group 1

Break Out Group 2


REPORT: Linking People-to-People Exchange: Weaving between Alternative Development Practitioners from Southeast Asia and India

These are the proceedings of the People-to-People (P2P) Exchange 2023, entitled “Linking People-to-People Exchange: Weaving between Alternative Development Practitioners from Southeast Asia and India.” It was held on January 11, 2023 online and in the hubs of Philippines, Indonesia, and Timor Leste. The event was spearheaded by the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies Program on Alternative Development (UP CIDS AltDev), co-hosted by the Movement for AlternativesAre activities and initiatives, concepts, worldviews, or action proposals by collectives, groups, organizations, communities, or social movements challenging and replacing the dominant system that perpetuates inequality, exploitation, and unsustainabiity. In the GTA we focus primarily on what we call "radical or transformative alternatives", which we define as initiatives that are attempting to break with the dominant system and take paths towards direct and radical forms of political and economic democracy, localised self-reliance, social justice and equity, cultural and knowledge diversity, and ecological resilience. Their locus is neither the State nor the capitalist economy. They are advancing in the process of dismantling most forms of hierarchies, assuming the principles of sufficiency, autonomy, non-violence, justice and equality, solidarity, and the caring of life and the Earth. They do this in an integral way, not limited to a single aspect of life. Although such initiatives may have some kind of link with capitalist markets and the State, they prioritize their autonomy to avoid significant dependency on them and tend to reduce, as much as possible, any relationship with them. and Solidarity in Southeast Asia (MASSAMovement for Alternatives and Solidarity in Southeast Asia (South East Asia)).



Linking Alternatives: People-to-People Exchange/Weaving between Alternative Development Practitioners from Southeast Asia and India- 11 January 2023

The 2nd People-to-People Exchange, in a hybrid format, was organized on 11 January 2023. This activity was organized by the Movement for Alternatives and Solidarity in Southeast Asia (MASSA) and Vikalp Sangam (VSVikalp Sangam (India)) in partnership with the Global TapestryThe weaving of networks of Alternatives of Alternatives (GTAGlobal Tapestry of Alternatives) and 11.11.11 Coalition of the Flemish North South Movement. The objective was to expand the networks of alternatives that can lead to future solidarity building and cross-regional collaboration. The activity was facilitated by the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies Program on Alternatives.

Plenary Session of the P2P Exchange

This P2P established the connection between MASSA and VS of India. Also called a “weaving” between alternative practitioners, the P2P Exchange served as a learning platform where participants exchanged their stories, campaigns, and sustainable practices. This form of a dialogue and exchange intently exposes alternative practitioners with those outside their region to learn about common themes of struggle.

The Southeast Asian participants of the program are member organizations of the Movement for Alternatives and Solidarity in Southeast Asia (MASSA), a convergence of peoples and grassroots organizations working together to forge an alternative regional model of integration from below that challenges the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) paradigm. MASSA organizations are also active research partners of the UP CIDS AltDev. Participants from India form the core group of Vikalp Sangam, an India-based network committed to linking a multitude of grassroots and policy initiatives on community mobilization, knowledge, and collective rights. For this P2P Exchange 2023, physical hubs were organized to especially provide an opportunity for grassroots organizations to actively participate online. Hubs of diverse grassroots movements were set-up in Indonesia, Philippines, and Timor Leste.

Face-to-face Hub Participants from the Konfederasi Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia

MASSA member organizations that joined the P2P Exchange were the following:

  • Uniaun Agrikultores de Ermera (Timor Leste)
  • Bobonaro Peasant Union (Timor Leste)
  • Manufahi Peasant Union (Timor Leste)
  • Forum Organizasaun Naun Govermentál Timor Leste (Timor Leste)
  • Serikat Petani Pasundan (Indonesia)
  • Konfederasi Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia (Indonesia)
  • HomeNet Philippines (Philippines)
  • ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (Philippines)
  • Gender and Development for Cambodia (Cambodia)
  • Asian Music for Peoples’ Peace and Progress (Regional)
    * Asian Solidarity Economy Council (Regional)

Vikalp Sangam core group members that joined the event were the following:

  • People’s Resource Centre
  • Nirangal
  • Jan Sarokar / People’s Agenda
  • Inner Climate Academy
  • Kalpavriksh
    Other participants as observers were:
  • Global Tapestry of Alternatives
  • Migrant Forum Asia (Regional)
  • 11.11.11
  • Komite Esperanza (Timor Leste)
  • AIDS Health Care Foundation (Regional)

The P2P Exchange began with introductory remarks by UP CIDS AltDev Project Leader Jose Monfred Sy. This was followed by a brief sharing of Agustiana, the secretary-general of Serikat Petani Pasundan (SPP). He shortly discussed the history of SPP, and its links and learnings about their solidarity with peasant movements in the Philippines. He underscored the importance of the first P2P Exchange in 2019 that was co-hosted by SPP in West Java, Indonesia, and the continuity and expansion of this effort. Year 2023 highlights the expansion of the exchanges, with the participation of friends and networks from India. Shrishtee Bajpai briefly explained their “weaving” process in India called “Vikalp Sangam” in Hindi or “alternatives confluence”. She proceeded to talk about the different activities of Vikalp Sangam. Participants of the P2P Exchange noted that much of their work is closely related to one another.

To facilitate the P2P Exchange, representatives of participating organizations were divided into five clusters. Each one was moderated by a researcher from the UP CIDS AltDev. Three questions were asked per breakout session:

  1. What is the name of your organization? (Composition and Mission-Vision)
    2. What are the main struggles and campaigns of your organization?(Programs and Activities)
    3. What are your strategies or practices to achieve your campaigns? What are the challenges you encountered? (Challenges and Strategies)

The conversations surfaced the similarities on alternative practices among participating organizations. Other formations have already begun to take note of activities where they can converge. Questions about sustainable organizing practices of communities and launching campaigns were also asked among the groups.

After the 90-minute exchange, the rapporteur of each breakout session shared their learnings with the plenary. Some of the highlights of these conversations include the shared belief that each respective country can be changed, shaped, and led by grassroots organizations; solidarity economy is practiced across the Southeast Asian and South Asian regions; the importance of environmental conversation and the role of women in strengthening ecological movements and societies stand out; and that the pandemic and consequent restrictions in movement made organizing and mobilizing communities more difficult.
Besides these learnings, organizations also pledged to continue these interactions, concluding that the P2P Exchange is indeed the first of many other spaces and opportunities that MASSA and Vikalp Sangam can create to facilitate knowledge and capacity exchange. In particular, VS is looking forward to another session that will be organized thematically to strengthen the exchange between these alternative practitioners.

The activity was summed up and closed by Ed Tadem of UP CIDS AltDev and Ashish Kothari of Vikalp Sangam.