01/16/2004, 00.00
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World Social Forum in Bombay, doesn't raise interest

Bombay (AsiaNews) - The World Social Forum opens today in Bombay. It is the international summit which for four years has organized the meeting of NGOs, intellectuals, activists, pacifists and no-globals to discuss world economics, human rights and globalization.

After Porto Alegre, which has always hosted the gathering, the choice of Bombay is significant since it aims to have a greater majority of participants from the vast and vaired Asian continent, which until now had an ever more marginal "representation" compared to that of Europe and Latin America.

Nearly 80,000 persons and many VIP guests are expected, like Shirin Ebadi, Iranian lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace prize winner; Mary Robinson, UN high commissioner for refugees; Joseph Stiglitz, ex-president of the World Bank and Nobel prize winner in economics; and Ahmed Ben Bella, independent Algeria's first president.

Topics to be treated are: the American occupation of Iraq; GMOs, the Hindu caste system (particularly regarding the Dalits, or "untouchables" of India who constitute a sixth of the country's population and are objects of discrimination and oppression). The World Social Forum will end Wednesday, as work at the World Economic Forum gets underway in Davos, Switzerland. The World Economic Forum is the international summit at which influential political, cultural and economic experts and representatives meet to discuss international commerce and poverty in the world. 

Contrary to the attention the World Social Forum has received in the West, a PIME missionary said that in India the forum is quite low-key and in large part ignored by the media and public opinion. (MR)
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