Vikalp Sangam asks a vital question: are there other ways of living that do not involve causing ecological devastation and widespread human suffering? Vikalp Sangam maintains that the answer is already to be found in the myriad grassroots initiatives active across India (and the world). However, many of these initiatives are poorly documented, and so the majority of the population are often unaware that they exist. It is the mission of Vikalp Sangam to help raise the profile of these collectives and to forge a network of these alternative ways of living and being in the world. By coming together in the alternatives confluence, they can foster solidarity, exchange knowledge, and together mount a stronger challenge to the dominant system.
Vikalp Sangam gathers many initiatives on its website, including those working on political and economic decentralisation, equity, and sovereignty; on ecological lifeways; on re-imagining the urban or rural environment; on producer-consumer movements. More information can be found on the website, as well as its offshoot initiatives such as the Global Tapestry of Alternatives (which is essentially what it says on the tin).
If you are wondering what features an initiative should exhibit to be considered truly an alternative initiative, Vikalp Sangam lists several overlapping spheres, including:
Ecological wisdom, integrity and resilience
Social well-being and justice
Direct and delegated democracy
Cultural diversity and knowledge democracy
They note that collectives do not necessarily have to exhibit all of these features, even just one will suffice – as long as it does not threaten the other spheres. The example they cite is a green technology which may be futuristic and highly desirable, but because of that is so expensive it can only be used by rich communities. This is in line with the dominant ideologies of capitalism and so cannot be considered an alternative.
Ultimately, this is a vital and powerful resource, and we would encourage our readers to take a look. It is projects like Vikalp Sangam which can remind us of the true scope of human solidarity, resistance, and ingenuity during times when we may begin to doubt it. The alternatives confluence is proof that different ways of living are constantly being imagined and enacted by people in India and all over the world, and it is vital to remember this in the face of the seemingly insurmountable challenges of the 21st century.
Find out more: www.vikalpsangam.org