Monday, May 4, 2009

Liberal Youth Fourm Launched

On 5 April 2008, Liberal Youth Forum of India was launched in Mumbai amidst a distinguished audience.Mr. Sharad Joshi, Honourable Member of the Rajya Sabha graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Dr. Rene Klaff, the Regional Director FNSt South Asia and Dr. Parth J Shah, President of Center for Civil Society. Both these organisations have been instrumental in this join up of youth.The launch began with Yavnika introducing Amit Varma, Iris Madiera, and Gurcharan Das as already confirmed members for the advisory board. This was followed by a presentation made by Dhanu about how LYF-India was founded –the journey with CCS and FNST the objectives, self image, activities and structure. Sharad Joshi, leader of the Swantantra Bharat Party, some important points from his speech: He first talked about the importance of defining a liberal since it was one of the tenets of membership of LYFIndia. Here, he also referred to the definition of ‘youth’ to be subjective but agreed that it was good to have an age bar since most ‘youth wings’ of political parties in India did not actually have youngsters in it. He also mentioned the problems a liberal party encounters owing to the fact that the Indian Constitution forbids any political party to be formed unless the affidavit is signed which declares that the party swears to the oath of socialism.Mr Joshi also talked about how the terms ‘Liberalism’ and ‘Libertarianism’ were used interchangeably in the US and also traced how the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr had led to a period of recession in liberal movement in the USA. In the Indian context, he traced the roots of liberalism to ‘Vedanta’ and talked about the doyens of Indian liberalism, mainly Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagoplachari.Then he talked about his political party and its origin as the Shetkari Sangathan which was a ‘Farmers’ movement of its kind in the world against farmer’s subsidies, and in favour of free markets and technology. This movement later lay foundation for the Swatantra Bharat Party which is a quasi-liberal party, believing in individual freedom and sceptical about the collective. Joshi even quoted Locke at this stage, about how the individual was the centre of the universe without any masters, and all individuals were unique. He also distributed some copies of his Party’s Manifesto and how it devoted most pages to issues concerning law and order. Mr Joshi finally mentioned that it was more important to find people who were willing to work with LYF-India than to select them/focus on whether they are liberals or not. Mr Rene Klaff congratulated LYF-India on its formation, and also mentioned how organized liberalism was weak in this region and needed to be strengthened. This was followed by the announcement of results by dr. Parth Shah.Dr. Parth emphasized on knowledge based activism in college campuses and ensuring that LYF India was structured in a liberal fashion itself. He also defined a liberal, in an attempt to try and answer the question raised by Mr Joshi in his speech earlier; he delineated three value systems that are the basis of a liberal. Personal values - rationality, honesty and integrity, Social values - tolerance, benevolence, free exchange and Political values – liberty, rule of law, principle of subsidiary. The results of the elections were announced after this and the new board members of LYF-India – Swati, Yavnika, Gautam, Roji and Rajan took oath. Mr. Joshi launched the vibrant logo of LYF India and wished the nascent organization the very best for its upcoming projects. (Yavnika Khanna and Renu Pokharna)


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