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Vijay Singh

Trendy youngsters wearing their attitude and branded clothes dominate the Goregaon venue of the World Social Forum. And they are everywhere, handling security, getting people registered and generally spreading the excitement around.

The cynical me was reminded of my days in college when idealism and fire coursed through my veins. In fact, so efficient were the college kids that they helped me get through the registration process in a jiffy.

And where there are youngsters, can food be far behind? The food stalls set up for the volunteers were filled to the brim. After all, young bodies need good food too.

Shiv Sena and globalisation?

An ultra-rightist political party at a left leaning, apolitical gathering? What is Shiv Sena legislator Neelam Gore doing at the WSF?

Gore works for 'Stri Aadhar Kendra' and will be manning a stall selling books on women's rights.  

"I hope the WSF passes off peacefully. There is no problem actually, unless or until somebody crosses the limits and gets personal," she says.

Her views on globalisation?

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World Social Forum 2004

"Globalisation has its disadvantages and advantages. It's only because of globalisation that receiving and sending information across continents has become so easy. But at the same time, globalisation has led to poor mill workers in Mumbai losing their jobs."

When reminded that the Shiv Sena is part of the National Democratic Alliance government, which is a big votary of globalisation, Gore said: "The Vajpayee government is not against the depressed classes or the poor. My party too has always worked for the poor and the dispossessed."

Heavy police deployment

The Mumbai police have made strict security arrangements in Goregaon. A temporary monitoring room has been established for the WSF.

Several high-profile delegates are expected  at the six-day meet -- Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi and Joseph Stiglitz, renowned political theorist Samir Amin, Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jehangir and homegrown environmentalists Medha Patkar and Vandana Shiva.

Although the WSF organisers have not made any special security arrangements for important delegates nor will there be any presence of cops at the venue, 100,000 people gathering at one place is still a security concern for the police.

Special newsletter

Nikhil Wagale, a known social activist and editor of Mahanagar, a bilingual newspaper, will bring out special newsletters all six days of the WSF. The newsletter will be in Hindi and Marathi and will be brought out by journalism students from various colleges in Mumbai.

"The cost of this paper will be borne by some activist groups, including Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Aandolan," Wagale said.

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