The Symposium that LALIT held on 30 and 31 July at Grand River in the Mother Earth Hall on the thorny subject of NGOs was a resounding success. The success was in terms of the outstanding papers presented by 13 speakers, on a wide range of topics, after having submitted abstracts beforehand, and also in terms of the passionate debate the papers produced. What was fascinating was that there was a genuine putting into question of what the Symposium began to call the “phenomenon of NGOs”, and a second calling into question of the “conceptual frameworks” we have perhaps been more hampered by rather than helped by. On Saturday, there were 42 people present, and on Sunday there were 17. As well as people active in LALIT politics, there were academics, people who are in what they consider NGOs, and also salt-of-the-earth social activists who, without glory, money or medals, take care of their neighbourhoods. Clearly many present had come because they were concerned about the phenomenon of NGOs and about the troubling nature of CSR (that 2% of profits made by capitalist exploitation that the State forces the capitalist class to allot to “Corporate Social Responsibility”).
Each day began by watching a short clip by Arundhati Roy on the issue of the NGO phenomenon, a concise exposition of the issues, called The ONG-ization of Resistance. Speakers and participants alike often referred to her speech, during their contributions to debate. Here is the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgYaZAUzwuY
In all there were six panels at the LALIT Symposium and 13 papers. After each Panel there was 45 minutes’ debate. We will list the topics covered, so that readers can get an idea of the wide and wonderful scope of the Symposium, and of how complementary the different papers were.
Panel One: Presided by Rajni Lallah
- The Nature and History of NGOs by Lindsey Collen
- The History of NGOs in Mauritius and some of our Assumptions on NGOs by Vijay Naraidoo
Panel Two: Presided by Rajni Lallah
- International NGOs and their sustainable submission to the Imperialist Agenda by Yves Pitchen
- The Development of NGOs in the Republic of Mauritius by Ram Seegobin
Panel Three: Presided by Lindsey Collen
- How Greenpeace supports Marine Park While Staying Blind to the Worst danger facing the Environment by Rada Kistnasamy
- Love Bridge and Eco-Bridge: Bridges to where? by Rajni Lallah
Panel Four: Presided by Lindey Collen
- The Idea behind CSR? What CSR has done in Mauritius? To what extent can the State, NGOs and the Private Sector change peoples lives through CSR? By Daniella Bastien & Daden Venkatasamy
- How can the NGO Sector Engage more effectively with the Mauritian State? by Tania Diolle
- The Dangers of CSR for the Working Class by Alain Ah-Vee
Panel Five: Presided by Alain Ah-Vee
- NGOs: THE USA’s Aim Right Now by Anne-Marie Joly
- Erroneous Diagnosis means Wrong Treatment: Hands-on Experience by Jean-Yves Dick
Panel Six : Presided by Alain Ah-Vee
- The Phenomenon of the ONG-ization of Women’s Associations in Mauritius presented by Marlene Joseph & Sadna Jumnoodoo.
- The Need for Working Class Organizations by Kisna Kistnasamy