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South Asia

Mohammad Anas Khan: shifting the Overton window in India

“I grew up in a small seashore town in West India, called Valsad. Much of my childhood was also spent in Saudi Arabia. Since a young age, I have witnessed diversity around me – from studying in a Catholic school, to pursuing Islamic education in a seminary, and having Hindu friends. All these experiences shaped me as a person and molded me to make friends for liberty – instead of being confrontational in my approach to those who disagree.”

“Liberty, to me, is the exercise of freedom without restricting the established liberty of another person. It is the most sacred aspect of an individual’s life which brings out the best in him.” 

“When I first discovered Students for Liberty, I was studying in a not-so-good law school, with not much of an intellectual and academic environment. I had very few networking opportunities and I was also pretty Marxist-leaning at the time. SFL changed that.”

“I bumped across the SFL Local Coordinator application through an online platform and filled out the form. Then I decided to join SFL only after the academic training that made me understand the arguments for liberty. I kept up my own study after that.”

“My very first involvement was the Local Coordinator Retreat in September 2017, in New Delhi. It was a unique experience for me to meet people across South Asia. My key-takeaway from that retreat was the session with Parth Shah, Centre for Civil Society (CCS) founder – it would go on to shape my future within the liberty movement.”

“SFL South Asia sponsored me to attend a public policy course conducted by the Centre for Civil Society in Mumbai after that. I networked with other participants and later organized the first SFL colloquium [in the region].”

“Besides my current job with CCS – where I help conduct the same type of policy workshop that I myself attended years ago – I’m also a final year law student at Amity Law School, Mumbai. I wish to enter academia and remain in the liberty movement.”

“To someone who is considering getting involved, I would tell them to not just see Students For Liberty as any other leadership platform but to make friends, learn about liberty and to find themselves as an individual wanting to stand up for the cause. We all have unique ways and talents that can help grow SFL.”

“At Students For Liberty, I continuously engaged with students and young professionals by organizing colloquia sessions and other events within college campuses. I am proud to say that I have been able to uphold SFL’s vision ‘to educate, empower and develop the next-gen leaders of liberty.’ I think my biggest accomplishment has been to see people who attended SFL events that I was moderating and to see them part of the Liberty movement now – some serving now as local Coordinators and even in the Advanced Leadership Team in South Asia.”

“For example, one of my colloquia participants is today an Advanced Leadership Team member. And around 10 of the 14 participants from the SFL Acton Socratic Camp in Mumbai – which I organized along with Mumbai team – are now active in the Local Coordinator Program and creating campus clubs at their universities and colleges. Over the course of the past two years, I have engaged with around 250 students on the ideas of liberty.”

“There are a myriad of ridiculous laws in my country. It’s filled with a fattening bureaucracy. To name a few, India has laws such as the APMC Act that hinders the contractual capacity of poor farmers in the name of protectionism. India’s sedition laws threaten free speech. India also does not recognize property rights as fundamental rights, hence the State can take away property citing ‘public interest.’ The worst affected people because of these laws are the poorest of the poor in my country.”

“I want to fight these laws by educating people, particularly the student community to see the absurd logic behind them. In my current job at the CCS Academy, I am doing the same by introducing public choice understanding to these issues and trying to shift the Overton window.” 

“Students For Liberty is perhaps is the one student organization that has an international reach and a strong commitment to the cause of liberty. They give many students a purpose in the liberty movement and create a global community. I am an example of that. I think these are pretty unique things and are reason enough to support them. Our vision makes it clear what we stand for.”

“Through Students For Liberty, I have made some of the best and closest friends. And I hope to continue to give back to SFL in the same manner as SFL trusted and invested in my career growth.”

Mohammad Anas Khan

Former-Academic Program Coordinator, South Asia Advanced Leadership Team

Mumbai, India