a bimonthly publication of
progressive south asian politics

Volume 7: Number 1                      October 2, 1996
In this Issue...
IMF, Capital and Us: The Economics of Imperialism by Radhika Lal
"Other" wise?: The Selling of Global Cultural Difference by Sangeeta Rao
Global Technoscapes and Unborn Voices: Gendering Globalization by Mir Ali Raza
The Structural Adjustment of Grassroots Politics by Sangeeta Kamat
Foil Briefs


It was no mere accident of history that the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas happened when it did. January 1st 1994 was the day the globalization accord called NAFTA was going into effect in Mexico, and the Zapatista uprising and take over of San Cristobal was more than a symbolic act against the globalization consensus formed between governments and elites of the world. To those of us not willing to join in the celebration of capitalism's eternal life, the Zapatista uprising was tremendously inspiring and fearful. Inspiring because it gave us new hope and assurance that the oppressed were not passively submitting to the globalization process, and were correctly grasping its implications for their lives; at the same time fearful in the anticipation that this enormous display of courage would be quickly squashed by the powerful consensus on globalization, and the uprising would be footnoted into the textbooks of history.

Two years later inspiration appears to have won over fear as people in many different countries organize and participate in the International Encounters Against Neoliberalism and For Humanity. Activists across Western Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia are singularly unified in their definition of the problem -- global capital and bourgeois democracy; consensus on the problem being the first step towards building a counter-hegemonic project. The more or less uniform and consistent manner in which global capital ravages the working classes in every country including the erstwhile First World has made it easier to agree on who the enemy is and has unwittingly prepared the ground for new alliances and partnerships between people and issues.

Before we get disheartened with having moved so little as to only having defined the problem, let us put forth two other vital issues on which there is consensus: Against Neoliberalism and Against Free Market does not mean a desire for Soviet style Communism or for that matter a return to the State-as-we-know-it. Let us banish that specter once and for all, one that is often raised by many Marxists turned champions of liberalization, Gail Omvedt being a case in point.

Consensus notwithstanding, confusion still reigns. Is liberalization evil to its very core, or can it be reformed, and if we have a strong State as in the case of India, can we not turn it to our advantage? The reference to a mythical "our" is problematic in itself. Regardless we have to answer the hard economic questions on reform of the reform process.' This issue of Sanskriti is devoted to unpacking liberalization from several angles. Undoubtedly, there are many more facets that we must be informed on, and this is only a beginning to what we hope will be FOIL's "encounter against neoliberalism and for humanity."

Radhika Lal's article in this issue of Sanskriti is a look at liberalization stripped of its grand language getting to the heart of its logic. It serves as a primer of sorts tackling both the insides of the new economic regime as well as the oft asked trick questions on liberalization. It thus has good reasons for being the most lengthy article ever published in Sanskriti. Sangeeta Rao, Mir Ali Raza and Sangeeta Kamat's articles each dwell on specific aspects of the larger problematic - the culture industry, reproductive technology and the NGO sector.

This issue of Sanskriti is also an announcement of its demise and its rebirth. Six months ago, FOIL, the Forum of Indian Leftists was launched partially through an announcement in Sanskriti with an aim of gathering our dispersed selves to collectively work on some concrete projects. The idea is an important one we feel, (Sanskriti's editorial collective are also FOIL members), and the results are already visible (see this page). As we worked on FOIL projects we felt the need for a medium where we could formulate our ideas and argue out our positions consistently and gradually outside the immediacy of project related talk that happens on email, and without the constraints of having to consider a larger non-left audience. Sanskriti, we felt, has been doing just that for the past four years at least - producing issues that are aimed at the left but done by a small rag tag collective. An experiment was obvious - why not turn Sanskriti (or whatever it may be called in the future) into a magazine that is run by a FOIL editorial collective and which attempts to create a long term dialogue amongst the diasporic left. The idea was suggested and FOIL members have responded with enthusiasm. So here's to the FOIL avatar of Sanskriti!

This issue was put together by Richard Baxstrom, Rahul De', Sangeeta Kamat, Biju Mathew, and Gautam Premnath. Address all correspondence to: Sanskriti, c/o Biju Mathew, Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ 08548. Or by email to or This publication is partially funded by readers like you.

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