Dec 14, Mahi Mandvi:
In wake of the10th WTO Ministerial Conference being conducted in Nairobi from 15th to 18th December, a public talk, followed by a movie screening, was held on Monday evening at the Mahi Mandavi mess in JNU. The talk was delivered by Professor Anil Sadgopal, a known public rights crusader and academician. After his speech, the 2007 movie Battle in Seattle, directed by Stuard Townsend, was shown to about 70 students who had gathered for the session.
Shweta Raj, President, AISA, JNU, in her introductory speech talked about how the #OccupyUGC movement, which has been continuing well over 55 days now, is a significant protest against the alleged trade of higher education due to be manifested at the present WTO talks. Professor Sadgopal, in his address, mentioned about several things ranging from the pitiable decline in the country’s educational status since the 1990s to the emergence of collaborations like Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and monitoring bodies like Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRA). He predicted an ‘epistemological attack on the value system’ if higher education is sold off to corporate giants and government did not take a firm stand to protect people’s rights.
He stressed that India must maintain and reflect sovereignty in its decision-making process at the WTO talks to prevent the future of the Indian students, especially those from the underprivilegedsections, from becoming a utility tool for the capitalists who wish to commodify education entirely. The session ended with Battle in Seattle – a film based on the 1999 protests which succeeded in collapsing the proceedings of the then conducted 3rd Round of WTO Trade Negotiations.
One of the students, Anamika Singh said, “It was good but I think it just showed one part of the picture. I got to know about a lot of things I was unaware of and I’ll definitely keep an eye on all the happenings ahead.”
The 10th WTO Ministerial at Nairobi begins today and a People’s Vigil has already started at Jantar Mantar as part of the ‘Bhumi Adhikar Andolan’s Chetavni Rally’. The vigil will go on till 18th December.