Feroz Mehdi – Canada & Pakistan

Linked with Fisherfolk rights and water management in Pakistan, with Supporting good governance and water management in the Indus Delta, with Un quartier à livrer – un film de Feroz MEHDI (Neughbourhood Delivery), and with Alternatives in Pakistan.

India Social Forum 2006: The ruling classes and social movements, Monday 19 June 2006 by Feroz MEHDI – As far as organizing the event such as the proposed India Social Forum goes, the Indian organizations involved in the process have already demonstrated their capabilities with the Asian Social Forum 2003 held in Hyderabad and the World Social Forum 2004 held in Mumbai. Logistics were well managed and orchestration of the program well done, with remarkable improvement from the Asian to the World Forum. Attendance was more than expected with over 130 000 participants in Mumbai 2004. Financially too the India Working Committee managed to collect more funds than were spent in the Mumbai Forum.On these two counts there seem to be no worries for the upcoming India Social Forum to be held in Delhi from 9 to 13 November 2006. As far as the WSF process is concerned, the timing is good as it intends to mobilize the participants for the next World Social Forum to be held in Nairobi in January 2007. As a consequence, the ISF is also being announced as the Afro-Asian Solidarity Process. There is though a different political environment than what existed in January 2004 when the WSF was held in the financial capital of India, Mumbai. (Read on Alternatives International).

Feroz Mehdi - Canada and Pakistan.jpg
Feroz Mehdi – Canada & Pakistan

Feroz Mehdi se considère d’abord comme un militant qui utilise le cinéma afin de faire avancer les causes qui lui tiennent à coeur. Alors qu’il fréquente l’Université d’Aligar, près de Delhi, il s’implique activement et lutte pour une meilleure justice sociale. S’installant à Montréal en 1986, Feroz Mehdi entreprend des études de doctorat en physique nucléaire, avant de suivre une formation en technologie éducative. De 1989 à 1991, de retour en Inde, il réalise deux films documentaires, le premier traitant du Parti communiste indien, le second dénonçant l’intégrisme religieux tant chez les musulmans que chez les hindous. De retour au Québec, l’activiste réalise un document vidéo éducatif portant sur les mères adolescentes dans les communautés cries du Québec.

À partir de 1994, Feroz Mehdi participe à la création d’Alternatives, un organisme qui encourage de nouveaux modèles de développement pour une multitude de communautés de par le monde. Partageant son temps entre cet organisme et ses projets de films, Feroz souhaite continuer à raconter des histoires qui éveilleront les consciences. (Read on ONF du Canada)..

Pour ce cinéaste-militant, l’Inde est tout près de Montréal. Enfourchant son vélo, il devient livreur pour un dépanneur de Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, l’un des quartiers les plus pauvres de la métropole. Commence alors un fascinant voyage cinématographique qui nous fait découvrir un autre visage de la misère, à cheval entre le Québec et le continent indien. FEROZ MEHDI se considère d’abord comme un militant qui utilise le cinéma afin de faire avancer les causes qui lui tiennent à cœur. S’installant à Montréal en 1986, il entreprend des études de doctorat en physique nucléaire, avant de suivre une formation en technologie éducative. De 1989 à 1991, de retour en Inde, il réalise deux documentaires, le premier traitant du Parti communiste indien, le second dénonçant l’intégrisme religieux tant chez les musulmans que chez les hindous. De retour au Québec, l’activiste réalise un document vidéo éducatif portant sur les mères adolescentes dans les communautés cries du Québec. À partir de 1994, il participe à la création d’Alternatives, un organisme qui encourage de nouveaux modèles de développement pour une multitude de communautés à travers le monde. (Read on Cinéma Québécois).

India’s right step up fight, Hindu nationalists try to drown out local critics, By CRAIG SEGAL – Academic operatives from India’s Hindu nationalist government flew to Montreal to obstruct an international conference on the modern state of India on August 28, but had little success. The four-man group, led by the head of the Indian Council of Historical Research–a pro-government body that has caused a major controversy in India by censoring books and art critical of Hindu nationalism–thought they could stop the conference with a letter of protest. But local conference organizers scoffed at the inky initiative and the discussion–held as part of the 36th International Congress of Asian and North African Studies–went forward. According to witnesses, the interlopers wreaked havoc at the packed discussion, interrupted, attacked and screamed like banshees. “When they failed to get the event cancelled, a whole bunch of government supporters showed up,” says conference organizer Delores Chew, a professor at Marianopolis. “They kept jumping out of their seats and screaming. A significant number of them vociferously attacked us.” “They interrupted people while they were speaking. They heckled,” adds Keith Meadowcroft, conference arbitrator. “It was difficult to maintain order.” But it wasn’t mission impossible. Meadowcroft says he didn’t feel the need to throw anyone out or reschedule the conference because “the delegates didn’t come and throw chairs.” Critics say the Hindu nationalist BJP government of India is trying to repress non-Hindu religions, intellectual freedom, and academic history both at home and abroad. For example, in a report titled “Fascist Attack on History and Secular Historians in India,” one critic accuses the government of “resorting to every method in the guidebook of Nazi Germany to shift political debate to the Right and away from the questions of people’s livelihood and survival.” The brass who disrupted the conference have managed to disrupt other Indian-themed events held in Canada, and the Indian High Commissioner himself recently used his bulk to cancel an art exhibit in Toronto. The Commissioner did not respond to Mirror phone calls by deadline, but had earlier justified such disruptions in the Toronto Star: “Certainly, artists in India or Canada can have any kind of exhibit they want but when you fund an exhibit abroad that criticizes your government, that’s not freedom of speech, that’s stupidity,” said High Commissioner Rajanikanta Verma. Verma has also been accused of interfering in the funding of a human rights conference at the University of Waterloo. “The Indian High Commissioner is taking orders from somewhere, so this is direct interference from the Indian government in Canadian affairs,” explains Feroz Mehdi, coordinator of the South Asia Research and Resource Centre on Parc. “They have a huge network all over the world and their goal is to get recruits from among Indians abroad and they gather a lot of money. It’s a very dangerous trend. It’s taking us back many thousands of years,” says Mehdi. “This thrust toward Hindu nationalism is destroying the multicultural character of India.” Feroz thinks Canada could be doing more to stop the Indian government from interfering in the intellectual freedom of Canadians. “I would like to see the Canadian government check that interference. This interference should not be allowed in Canada”. (See all this on The Montreal Mirror, Sept. 2000).

See: World Social Forum India 2006.

In the compelling Un Quartier À Livre director Feroz Mehdi leaves his native India to become a deliveryman in one of Montreal’s most poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Hassan Legzouli’s Tenja follows a man’s quest to reconnect himself with his father’s homeland of Algeria. October 17, 1961 by legendary French filmmaker Alain Tasma recounts a moment in French history that for a long time was kept secret. The Spotlight also includes the Short Program “Paris La Metise” for which fifteen Paris-based filmmakers of African, Caribbean, Asian and Latin America origins were commissioned by EKLA Productions to shoot fifteen single shot sequences reflecting their diverse lives, histories and experiences living in Paris. The result is a colourful myriad of world cinema. (Read all on Reelworld).

CERAS newsletter online;

About: The South Asian community in Canada is largely organized into national, regional and religious organizations. These tend to reinforce national traditions and habits and function as institutions which make its members feel as if they are living in the countries and communities of their origin. Rarely do they help introduce to Canadian people at large the social structure, the political formations and the economic realities of South Asia in a historical and changing framework.

There are very few organizations in Quebec which operate on altogether different principles. Their activities do not reflect national boundaries. They introduce South Asia to Canada and Canada to South Asians living in Canada. They work within the framework of Canadian society and as an integral part of it. CERAS belongs to this category. It differs from them not in spirit but in its mandate.

First and foremost CERAS believes that national conflicts among the countries of South Asia are detrimental to the progress of the entire region. These conflicts are promoted by sectarian political interests within the countries of South Asia and by the Western powers which dread the emergence of an economic and political equal in a region comprising of former colonies. The fear is real because South Asia does have the resources to do so. However, this requires friendship among South Asian countries, a drastic decrease in military spending and willingness to solve outstanding problems through mutual discussion and cooperation. This possibility exists because there is a historical, social and cultural commonalty among peoples of South Asia; the differences are secondary.

Second, CERAS is a secular formation. Obviously these objectives require absolute rejection of all practices which perpetuate subordination of women whether in the name of culture or religion.

These objectives determine the nature of CERAS programs, which aim at introducing the true and emerging life in South Asia to people of Canada. These principles underlie all programs and activities of CERAS. CERAS believes that these are realistic objectives. The fulfilment of these objectives promises a bright future.

Centre d’études et de recherche sur l’asie du sud CERAS, 3720, avenue du Parc, Montreal, Qc, H2X 1J1, Phone 514-982-6606, Fax 514-982-6612, Email. Contact Person: Feroz Mehdi (see on asiapeace.org).

link: India’s Social Forum 2006.

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