ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Collective Dreaming

Democratic Visioning in the Vikalp Sangam Process

The process of Vikalp Sangam (Alternatives Confluence) involves visioning of an ideal built on grounded initiatives, spanning the full range of alternative approaches to justice, equity, and sustainability. The focus is on India, but the lessons and visions emerging are relevant globally. It attempts to document, network, and create collaborations amongst movements and groups involved in such alternatives.

With helpful inputs by Sujatha Padmanabhan and Shrishtee Bajpai of Kalpavriksh. Comments by the editors of this volume were instrumental in a number of improvements to the original draft. Insights from the ongoing project “Academic-Activist Co-generation of Knowledge on Environmental Justice” (ACKnowl-EJ,, which has taken the Vikalp Sangam methodology and approach as part of its learning process, have also been useful.

One of the tragedies of modern life is that we are scared to daydream. Put forth a utopian idea, and immediately it is shot down as unrealistic and impractical, especially in activist-academic-development circles. Of course, by definition utopias are unrealistic, but does that make them useless? From school onwards we are told that we have to be practical; that indulging in flights of fancy is a waste of time. And yet, the continuing hold of a Marx or a Gandhi or a Bob Dylan or a Rosa Luxemburg or a Kabir in the public mind and heart, suggests that something deep in us is still willing to indulge in idealistic visions of a better society. So, does being practical have to necessarily be in contradiction with having utopian ideas? Is there a way to integrate the exigencies of our daily existence with a conscious visioning of the future, whether we are a struggling worker or an activist trying to make sense of the disasters around us? A visioning that could even help to guide our practical actions?

This article briefly describes one such attempt, ongoing since 2014, called Vikalp Sangam (VS) or Alternatives Confluence.1 It describes the objectives and processes used in the initiative, some of its early outputs and achievements, and its key weaknesses. Of its various objectives and outputs, collective visioning has been perhaps most innovative and important; this is described and analysed further down in the article. In this connection, a brief comment is made on the possibilities of such an initiative as an alternative way to co-produce knowledge, perspectives, and visions.

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Updated On : 28th Aug, 2019
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