In India, the rise of the first modern student movement for liberty followed the growth of a movement outside the walls of the university. Indian student activism started in 1928 under the Indian National Congress for the political Independence of India from the British Government. Students of the Indian freedom movement founded the All India Student federation (AISF) on August 12, 1936. The Federation had a nationalist and radical mission, focusing on independence for India from British rule. The political and cultural differences within Indian society fragmented the student organization with the formation of the All-India Muslim Students Federation (AIMSF) in 1937.
From 1947- 2013, many students formed student organizations in support of political parties and their respective ideologies. In today’s India, students have become key elements in the political development of parties. However, leaders of student organizations don’t have majority decision-making power even in their own organizational issues. The mother party usually determines the functioning and working style of the student wing. Moving into more autonomous spheres, student organizations have begun to focus on specific student-related issues such as tuition fees, admissions policies and academic freedom under the support of parties. They become the backbones to both political and nonpolitical movements for liberty. In some universities students formed independent groups to tackle causes like corruption, freedom, youth and women’s empowerment, and more.
Today, Indian students are playing a significant role in the social and economic development of their country. Even political parties struggle to run events without a student wing. Recently, two great protests happened in all major Indian cities against corruption and for women’s freedom and security (Nirbaya movement). Thousands of youth took to the streets to advocate for the rule of law.
It goes without saying that major liberalization reforms are needed in all parts of India. Partial economic liberalization in 1991 had very positive effects on the Indian economy, leading it to become one of the largest in the world. Many Indians have since realized the importance of liberalization and the principles of liberty.
Some liberal foundations, think tanks and youth organizations are working to spread the philosophy of liberty and reforms in several areas like education, health, judicial processes, economics and electoral politics. This is a start, but it isn’t enough to spread the philosophy of liberty in developing countries like India. We need more youth activism to spread effectively in the country; we must involve more students in this historical student movement to realize a golden future in India.
Indian students are waiting for many reforms: they wish to enhance their personal and intellectual development through better choice in education; they wish to increase employment opportunities through free markets; they wish to protect human rights with a strong rule of law. Young people are fed up with poverty, corruption and inequality in opportunities.
Indian students need an independent student platform to organize for the principles of liberty. This platform would present us with an opportunity to educate students about liberty and develop ever greater numbers of leaders in more regions across India. It should be a place to network, exchange organizing techniques and share experiences from all cultural backgrounds about a philosophy that touches all of our lives, across all globalized borders.
This is the reason why India needs a global movement for liberty like Students for Liberty (SFL). This is why we choose SFL.