Celebrating India Awakes

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Assembly Hall

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Assembly Hall

India is coming alive and flourishing economically. In fact, Citigroup estimates that by 2050, India will have the world’s largest economy, larger than China and the United States. For centuries, only the politically connected and elite prospered in the densely populated country, while the remaining residents lived in poverty. However, since 1991, more than 250 million people have been lifted out of poverty and are finding new ways to flex their personal and economic power.

In the 60-minute documentary India Awakes, noted Swedish author, commentator, and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explores an inherited British bureaucracy, which created layers of rules and regulations. Today’s globalization and economic liberalization have created fluidity between classes – and greater ambition. “Within two decades India will have the largest population in the world, and another two decades later, it will have the world’s largest economy,” said Norberg. “What happens in India will have an effect on the world and on the US, and its triumphs and challenges also sheds new light on the policies we are pursuing back home.” Norberg follows three individuals who are working to improve their lives, and in the process, breaking down the centuries-old caste system.

  • Banwari Lal Sharma, the president of a growing street vendor association, is helping vendors in his area feel more empowered to demand their legal rights, after years of intimidation and bribes to corrupt local officials.
  • Rama Bhai, a Sagai village leader and farmer, comes from a group called the “forest people,” who were once viewed as trespassers on the land where they have lived and farmed for generations. Using GPS technology and Google Earth they have now obtained deeds to their land.
  • Mannem Madhusudana Rao, who was born to what is considered the lowest rung of India’s caste system, the “Dalit,” was able to break free from the chains that have bound his societal position to a life of poverty. Through entrepreneurial perseverance, Rao formed a thriving, major construction firm and has secured a higher quality of life for himself and his extended family, along with a new status of “millionaire.”

India Awakes reveals the enormous power of unlocking human potential and ambition, and how doing so, could establish this country as a preeminent world leader.

About the Speakers:

Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, a career diplomat assumed charge as Consul General of India, Chicago on August 6, 2013. Earlier, he served as Ambassador of India in Sana’a, Yemen as Joint Secretary (West Africa) in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi and Consul General of India in Jeddah. Since joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1989, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed has held various diplomatic assignments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Denmark, besides serving as the Regional Passport Officer in Hyderabad.  During his long diplomatic career, he has handled different areas of work including political, ecomomic, consular and cultural work.  He has launched several business groupings in the Gulf countries for promoting trade and economic relations between India and these countries.  Dr. Ausaf Sayeed holds a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Geology from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India and an Advanced Diploma in Arabic from the American University in Cairo.  He is a competent Toastmaster and recipient of the Shri Y.G.K. Murthy Gold Metal from Osmania University.  Dr. Sayeed has published three books: Trends in Objective Geology for Civil Services and Other Competetive Examinations (1990); Trends in Indian Culture and Heritage: For Civil Services (2011); and Indian Art and Culture (2011). He also compiled and edited the Urdu book Kuliyaat-e-Awaz Sayeed (2009).  Dr. Sayeed is married to Farha Sayeed, an accomplished painter and egg artist. The couple has three sons, Faateh, Faaleh and Azhaan.

Read the Global Voices interview with Dr. Sayeed here.

Bob Chitester is chairman, president and CEO of Free To Choose Network, a 501-c-3 public foundation housing Free To Choose Media, an award-winning, global entertainment company which produces and distributes thought-provoking public television programs and series; izzit.org, an educational initiative that produces video-centric teaching units for a large network of K-College educators; and Free To Choose Press publishing company.
In 1977, Chitester and economist Milton Friedman undertook a film project which became Free To Choose, an award-winning PBS TV series and an international best-selling book based on the series, with sales in the millions. More than 30 years later, the series and book are still in wide use and have been profoundly influential.
Chitester has more than 50 years of experience in television management and program development.  Working with TCI in Denver, CO, Chitester created Issues USA, a nightly half-hour program, whose alumni includes: David Asman, Eric Burns and Douglas Kennedy, currently regulars on the Fox Cable News Channel, Jonathan Karl of ABC News, and Richard Lowry, editor of National Review.
More than 500 projects have been launched through Free To Choose Media under his orchestration, ranging from documentaries, cable series and home video programs, many of which can be viewed on www.FreeToChoose.TV. He is juggling a number of media projects in various stages of production, including productions based on Bret Stephens’ America in Retreat; The Real Adam Smith, a two-hour series that gives particular attention to Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments; Work & Happiness: The Human Cost of Welfare; Economic Revolution: New Zealand; The Power to be Free, a series on the role of the military in a free society; The Constitution and the Rule of Law with Justice Douglas Ginsburg; and Andrew Coulson’s series, School, Inc., in partnership with New York’s WNET, as the presenting television station.

Tom G. Palmer is executive vice president for international programs at the Atlas Network, and is responsible for establishing operating programs in 14 languages and managing programs for a worldwide network of think tanks. He is also a senior fellow at Cato Institute and director of Cato University. Before joining Cato he was an H. B. Earhart Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford University, and a vice president of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. He frequently lectures in North America, Europe, Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, India, China and throughout Asia, and the Middle East on political science, public choice, civil society, and the moral, legal, and historical foundations of individual rights. He has published reviews and articles on politics and morality in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Ethics, Critical Review, and Constitutional Political Economy, as well as in publications such as Slate, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Die Welt, Caixing, Al Hayat, the Washington Post, and The Spectator of London. He is the author of Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice (expanded edition 2014), and the editor of The Morality of Capitalism (2011), After the Welfare State (2012), Why Liberty (2013), and Peace, Love & Liberty (2014). Palmer received his B.A. in liberal arts from St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland, his M.A. in philosophy from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and his doctorate in politics from Oxford University.

James Tustey is half of a husband and wife filmmaking team which wrote and directed India Awakes. With his wife, Maureen, he founded, owned and operated a private filmmaking and communications firm called Mountain View Group, Ltd., which served some of the largest international corporations in the world, such as GE, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and IBM. The production of these high-profile branding films took them to more than forty countries around the world on behalf of their corporate clients.
In 2008, they sold MVG and opened Sky Films Incorporated (SFI), a production company dedicated to documentary films. Their first release, The Singing Revolution, played in 125 North American theatrical markets. The New York Times wrote of the film, “Imagine the scene in Casablanca in which the French patrons sing ‘La Marseillaise’ in defiance of the Germans, then multiply its power by a factor of thousands, and you’ve only begun to imagine the force of The Singing Revolution.” After its theatrical run, it was released on public television, and is also being distributed to American schools through izzit.org, an educational initiative of Free To Choose Network.
Following The Singing Revolution, they produced and distributed a documentary titled To Breathe As One, which tells the story of Laulupidu, the extraordinary song festival held in Estonia every five years. As many as 30,000 singers take the stage to sing, becoming the largest choir in the world for two days. UNESCO has proclaimed the Laulupidu Song Festival a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. To Breathe As One had a successful limited theatrical run in the fall of 2013, and aired on public television in 2014.
They produced Economic Freedom in Action: Changing Lives for Free To Choose Media in 2013, with India Awakes being their most recent film created for the FTCM team.  They are currently working with us in development of their next FTCM release.

Free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Global Voices Lecture Series and the Consulate General of India, Chicago.

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