The 2014 edition of Freedom Caravan travelled to 17 colleges, stationed in 10 cities spread across 6 states over a period of 25 days. Organised by the Centre for Civil Society, in partnership with Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation, the caravan reached out to over 2,000 students, including faculty members and principals across institutes. True to our vision of inspiring future leaders and change agents, the CCS Academy team travelled the western parts of India, helping Young India pursue the vision of a free society by discussing, debating and understanding critical arguments surrounding the liberal approach to public policy.
The fundamental questions we asked everywhere we went - Who Creates Wealth? Why is India Poor? Is Trade made up of win? - received a mixed bag of responses, those that paved the way for more intense discussions, stirred the imagination of the mind and provoked the audience to ask all such questions that usually remain unanswered. Each program created an uninhibited environment, where everyone could speak their mind, discuss their thoughts and contradict that which they felt didn't make sense. The Political Quiz along with the main sessions highlighted some of the major fallacies many of us still hold true. Myths regarding overpopulation, government spending, deep rooted corruption, to name a few, were revisited, discussed and debunked using data and evidence.
Opening Activity: World’s Smallest Political Quiz
The World’s Smallest Political Quiz (WSPQ) was conducted at every campus before the start of the main session. The quiz helped rank students’ attitudes toward freedom on two scales, personal and economic. Participants’ answers were used to segregate them into five categories: Authoritarian, Leftist, Conservative, Centrist, and Liberal.
Based on the “Nolan Chart” created in 1970 by David F. Nolan, Advocates Founder Marshall Fritz, in 1987, created the WSPQ by adding ten questions to Nolan’s Chart, along with other refinements. The Quiz originally appeared in card form, and is still available in that form today. The Quiz is renowned for its accuracy, insights and ease of use. It has been taken tens of millions of times, reprinted in newspapers, used in classrooms, and recommended by leading high school and college textbooks.
It proved to be a very useful tool in engaging students, sparking interesting conversations on the role of the state and civil society and leading to further discussion of why one agreed or disagreed on various different critical issues. The quiz not only served as an effective icebreaker but also induced the participants to face their own contradictions and see where they stood on the political map. The activity opened the floor for some tough but interesting questions and helped get the engine running for what was in store next.
Quick Analysis of the Political Quiz:
The quiz was conducted in all colleges we visited and the trend, as we saw with almost stunning accuracy was that overall individuals in general tend to rank very highly on personal freedom, but when it comes to economic freedom, it's the reverse. A majority of students were also uncomfortable choosing a certain extreme and stuck to being centrists as they felt a balanced opinion is better than a more extreme one.
We collected the quiz data for a total of 1,283 students and out of a total score of 100 on both the parameters, 81% of the respondents scored 50 or more on personal freedom and only 29% scored 50 or more on economic freedom. The case for economic freedom needs to be presented and discussed far and wide and as frequently as possible. The need of the hour is to strengthen understanding of certain basic concepts of trade, private property and rule of law for a well reasoned perspective on issues for not just young people but all stakeholders involved in influencing public policy.
Central Discussion: Why is India Poor?
CCS has been conducting this flagship session for the past 17 years and this year too the question- "Why is India Poor" successfully managed to invoke the hearts and minds of the curious and inspiring youth across the country. The lecture designed by Parth J Shah, founder of the Centre, debunks and brings to the forefront, common misconceptions people hold regarding the causes of poverty in India.
The goal was two-fold: 1. Bust perennial myths and offer participants the plausible solution - Economic Freedom speeds up wealth creation, not just in India but around the World. 2. Help participants develop a pattern of thinking to assess all kinds of issues from a logical and critical perspective, using data. The session was led by different people across the 10 cities. Luis Miranda, Prashant Narang, Amit Chandra and Daphne Vallado helped lead the discussions in this year's edition of Freedom Caravan.
From overpopulation to lack of resources, corrupt politicians to lack of implementation, there was no major issue that was not left unturned. The beauty of the discussion was that its very nature prompted each person participating to voice their opinion and discuss their disagreements regarding the reasons to India's state of poverty and solutions to its prosperity. The monograph of this lecture can be found online here.