Students for Liberty (SFL), a student-led initiative to promote libertarian ideas in the world, organised the first Students for Liberty South Asia Conference in Delhi on January 17 and 18.
SFL launched its India chapter, led by a six-member executive board comprising recent graduates from across the country, in 2014. These members spearhead local initiatives, such as campus awareness programmes about liberty and reading groups, in different cities.
Before a full-fledged executive board was formed, chartered teams were leading these projects. “As the central organisation, located in the US, saw potential among the members of these teams, we were upgraded to a formal executive board which could take these activities to the next level,” says Abhinav Singh, the Delhi-based executive board member of SFL, India, who graduated with an economics degree from Sri Venkateswara College last year.
Explaining the need for such an organisation, he says that most libertarian think tanks or organisations are led mostly by policy analysts, politicians or academics. “There is a need to bring these ideas closer to students and this is best done by involving students in running their organisation,” says Singh, working pro-bono to help SFL strengthen its presence in India.
Further, the network allows like-minded people to share ideas as well as resources, depending on the need. “The bigger the network, the easier it is to carry out activities like fundraising on a global scale which helps organise events like the Delhi conference,” he says. The organisation, which has several chapters globally, holds nearly 49 conferences in a year around the world.
About his journey, Singh recounts that he was first fascinated by libertarian ideas when he was part of a three-day public policy course organised by Delhi-based think tank Centre for Civil Society, in 2011. During the course, he met representatives of the European chapter of SFL. “I met several libertarians and we created an informal reading group which met weekly. I then searched SFL online but no India chapter existed at the time,” he says. In 2013, SFL opened applications for the India chapter and Singh was selected to be a part of the chartered team.
Having come so far, Singh says he chose working for SFL over well-paying placement offers because this is where his passion lies. He hopes the efforts will bear fruits when he undertakes a Master’s in economics or politics.
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