Friends of South Asia (FOSA) FOSA works through people-to-people contacts and dialogue for a demilitarized and nuclear-free South Asia. 408-480-5805
FOSA was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area at the turn of 2001–2002, at a time when tensions between the two largest countries in South Asia threatened to escalate into nuclear war.
A number of people, most of whom trace their origins to India and Pakistan, came together to provide a popular counterpoint to bellicose posturing by the two Governments. Some of us had long histories of activism in various progressive causes, and some had never been involved in a cause beyond our jobs and families.FOSA began by organizing peace vigils on the last Saturday of every month at Lytton Plaza in Palo Alto during, and for some months after the period of war-like tensions between India and Pakistan.
Over the next few months, as we met and worked together, it became clear that there was a need for a progressive political space within the South Asian Community, one that is defined not by religion, language, culture or nationality, but by a shared set of values and ideals, such as peace between nations and justice for all oppressed communities.
FOSA aspires to work through people-to-people contacts, dialog, and other non-violent, non-exclusionary means. Our mission statement defines our goals: To achieve a peaceful, prosperous, and hate-free South Asia. FOSA promotes respect for and celebrates the diversity and plurality of South Asia, promoting amity between countries and communities, and working towards a South Asia where the rights of all minorities are respected and protected; regardless of religious, ethnic, sexual or other differences.
As part of our commitment to promote de-nuclearization of South Asia, (whether the nuclearization is overtly for military purposes, or conducted for purportedly civilian purposes), FOSA has organized a series of seminars and public meetings, including screenings of documentaries and films and has also provided a platform for indigenous anti-nuclear activists from India.
FOSA has also been a part of groups and coalitions opposing the rise of religious nationalism in South Asia and among the South Asian Diaspora.
Most recently, we have been actively engaged in successfully opposing attempts by Hindu nationalists to distort the content of middle-school history-social science textbooks in California public schools.
Our commitment to an anti-imperial politics translates into support for grassroots groups and activists in South Asia that are struggling for justice, including those working to resist corporate globalization in the areas of public healthcare, media ownership, just and equitable development, etc.
It is hoped that such attention to people’s movements in South Asia, coupled with our knowledge of the ongoing struggles for justice elsewhere, be it that of taxi drivers organizing in New York and San Jose, or that of Iraqi labor fighting to establish Iraqi ownership of Iraqi oil, will allow us to better strategize and challenge the global neo-liberal agenda.
FOSA has taken a strong stand against the militarism of the Bush administration, and has joined the global anti-war movement in demanding an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and an end to its illegal occupation.
FOSA is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization. For more about FOSA, visit our site or write us at mail (at) friendsofsouthasia.org.
By Girish Agrawal & Anu Mandavilli
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