From Troublemaker to Liberal Revolutionary?
Who is a liberal in India? And what does it mean to be a liberal in the biggest democracy on earth? To give answers to these questions, we chose to ask young Indians themselves. Thus was born the idea of an essay writing competition.
Our partners in this ambitious project were India’s top free market think tank Centre for Civil Society (CCS) and the Students for Liberty. The program reached a climax with the much awaited announcement of the winners and the formal launch of the book in New Delhi.
Many steps preceded that celebration: At the center of the process stood a group of eminent Indian Jury members who – assisted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s (FNF) Regional Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus - sighted the nearly 400 entries and in a transparent, multi staged procedure selected the 19 essays they deemed worthy of distinction.
While the judges asked not to be mentioned in the book as not to divert attention away from the young authors, they deserve a mention here: They are Dr Parth Shah. President of CCS, Pramit Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor of The Hindustan Times, Prof. Anup Surendranath of the National Law University New Delhi and last but not least Chaksu Roy, who heads the Outreach Team at PRS Legislative Research.
Of our 19 winners, 15 from all across India attended the launching ceremony and shared their joy and excitement with well over one hundred well-wishers. Adding to the festive atmosphere were the tunes of the folklore music band from Rajastan.
In his introduction, FNF’s Dr. Meinardus, the editor of the book, writes the essays mirror “the intellectual ingenuity and power of young Indians who aspire for more freedom for themselves, and importantly also their community and their nation”.
While the Jury members agreed that all authors are winners, they also gave a first prize. This special distinction went to 19 years old Kalyaani Subbiah from Chennai with her essay titled “Sexual Illiberalism in the Indian Society”.
Subbiah’s impressive piece of political commentary ends with a note of optimism, when she opines that in India, “a strong rising liberal community may shape public opinion until the liberal figure may transform from troublemaker to revolutionary”.
The Foundation and her partners are discussing additional book launches in other cities. Meanwhile, find out how to get hold of the copy here.