Asia Centre for Enterprise (ACE), in collaboration with Centre for Civil Society, and in partnership with Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Friedrich Naumann Stiftung organised the Asia Liberty Forum on 2 & 3 February 2013 at the Claridges, Surajkund, Delhi-NCR. This public celebration of liberty, aimed at Advancing Liberty & Markets in Asia, brought together 200 change makers from across 30 countries, including some of the best liberal minds from Asia and around the world. Asia Liberty Forum provided a much needed platform to identify critical issues plaguing Asia, explore strategies to face the challenges ahead, and generate ways to strengthen the liberal movement in this part of the world.
The opening address was delivered by Mr Baijayant “Jay” Panda, Member of Parliament in India, who spoke of the historical phobia of Indians towards foreign investments and free trade, following the experience of the East India Company and the ensuing colonisation of the country by the British, and emphasised that these fears must be allayed for India’s economy to continue growing. Freedom Champions from five countries across Asia then shared their optimism for the success of the liberty movement in the continent during the session, Reasons for Hope. The highlight of the first day was undoubtedly the Liberty Entrepreneur of the Year competition, which aimed to discover and support intellectual entrepreneurs driven by the idea of a free society. Zoltan Kesz of the Free Market Foundation, Hungary won the $5,000 prize money for research, awareness-raising and education in combating Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories as Tools for Extremist Political Mobilization.
Parallel sessions on the first day revolved around themes of Welfare State Vs Welfare Society, Strengthening Religious Freedom and Free Trade and Economic Integration in Asia where domain experts presented their views and opinions.
The second day featured a discussion on Innovative think-tank models from around the world, where panelists discussed ideas and techniques that have inspired their growth and success. The Open space session gave participants an opportunity to connect, discuss, and network with others at the forum about issues and challenges of interest to them; a group of students, inspired by the ideas from the conference, resolved to start an Indian Chapter of Students for Liberty, to promote liberal ideas in college campuses across the country. During his moving talk on the "Economic Reforms and Caste in India", renowned Dalit thinker and political commentator Chandra Bhan Prasad said, “The reservation system can be useful for the upliftment of a mere 10% of Dalits while the free market can improve the lives of 90 %. It is the market which has bridged the gap between Dalits and Non-Dalits.”
Parallel session on the second day of the conference revolved around themes of Challenges to Liberty: Global Perspectives and Financial Crisis. A special session on Economic Theory Meets Popular Culture featured individuals and organisations that used innovative communication tools like documentaries, plays, videos, social media to spread our ideas to the general masses.
The closing Freedom Dinner featured a special address and soulful performance from Ani Choying Drolma of the Nuns Welfare Foundation of Nepal, who spoke of her personal experience in defying convention on her journey to becoming a nun, and her experience starting a foundation built on the principles of individual liberty. Three promising young liberals from across the continent then Toasted to Freedom: Ding Mingshui of China, Rozinul Aqli of Indonesia, and Jerry Johnson of India.
Over the two days, intellectuals, think tank leaders, policy makers, business leaders, and change makers presented their work and views on various facets of modern Asia. The forum provided participants with a unique opportunity to interact closely with distinguished experts across various fields; some who are tackling Asia's unique development challenges, and others who bring international experience and perspectives towards charting our future course. ACE aspires to make the Forum, planned as an annual event, a crucial catalyst for connecting and supporting intellectual entrepreneurs in Asia.
For further information contact Baishali Bomjan at ACE@ccs.in.
Asia Liberty Forum in Media