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Vijay Singh | January 19, 2004 18:01 IST

Every dog has its day. So goes the cliché. And the cliché, for once, actually fitted a dog to a T.

The 'Freedom' spirit unleashed by the World Social Forum saw two young girls take up the cause of a mangy, tied up canine in Goregaon station.

The two started scolding a paanwala, who had tied up the dog to his shack shop, quickly attracting a small crowd.

Berating the shopkeeper for tying up the dog so tightly, one of the girls called up someone at the WSF. "This man is going to kill this dog," she said, even as her partner in shining armour kept up the pressure on the paanwala.

The grumpy paanwala finally got down from his perch and very reluctantly freed the dog. The girls, with a satisfied look, made way to let the dog go.

But then every dog too has a mind. It hardly moved and no amount of coaxing would make it budge. That left the girls redfaced and the paanwala triumphant.

Is there a connection between transport links with Pakistan and empowerment of women?

Yes there is, if you listen to the women delegates from Pakistani.

"The resumption of bus, train and flight links has allowed us to see the freedom, power and strength of the Indian women. We see women here doing work about which we can't even think of. We will try to follow their example," Gulbadan Azam told rediff.com

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"There are restrictions on the mobility on women in Pakistan. People oppose us the moment we want to be part of the power structure. But we have to fight a long battle and to some extent we have achieved success. We know that economic and political empowerment of women is very important. Our foundation has ensured that there is 33 per cent participation of women in local government bodies," Mumtaz Begam said.

"But we have a long way to go. In many parts of Pakistan, women are still not allowed to speak loudly, not allowed eat eggs or drink milk," she said.

The duo are members of Aurat Publication Information Foundation Service, which believes the status and position of Pakistani women will improve only if they are made part of the power structurehas and has been working for their empowerment since 1986.

Naxalites have come a long way since the days they were seen as emancipators. Now, many consider them to be oppressors.

Bihar Social Forum is one outfit that believes the original do-gooders have become a carbon copy of the people they were opposing -- land mafia, selfish government and contractors.

Naresh Kumar, a member of the Bihar Social Forum and a tribal from Gaya district of Bihar, told rediff.com: "In the beginning, Naxalites had done many good thing for us, like making land available to us for harvesting. But now they are becoming a big problem for us."

"Now we have realised that nothing can be obtained through the gun and want to participate in the democratic process but the Naxalites are not allowing us to do that. They are forcing us to join them underground."

And while on the subject of oppression, the tribals of Dindori district in Madhya Pradesh are up in arms against the state government for stop them from using forest land for agricultural purposes.

The tribals say the government cannot stop them as the land has belonged to the community for generations. The community culture is intrinsically linked to nature with many people deriving their surnames from mountains and rivers.

Budh Singh Bhurkhadiya (Bhurkhadiya is mountain) told rediff com: "The forest department officials came to my village, beat me and 30 other members of my family with the butts of their guns. I still have the injury marks. They also took away all our agricultural tools."

After this incident, the people founded the Baiga Panchayat with the help of a non-governmental organisation to fight against the government policy.

If you thought Japan was a capitalist heaven, think again. Solidarity Network of Japan, a non-governmental organisation, is fighting its government's 'policy of imperialism'.

The outfit slams the Japanese government's decision to allow privatisation of postal services and its support to the US-led war on Iraq.

Sadharu Oya, one of its members, said, "The government is also planning to allow the private sector into the national university and road projects. Privatisation of such things would be bad for the country."

The SNJ has vowed to bring down the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizami.


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