Twenty-two official languages, many races and almost all the major religions of the world—could a diverse country like India have survived without democracy and consensus? Yet there are many who believe India’s economic development is hampered by its noisy democracy; like China, democracy should follow development, not precede it.
Indeed, the belief that democracy automatically reduces discord has recently been under question, since it has been seen that democratic constitutions and systems for free and fair elections cannot by themselves eliminate disagreements.
In fact, democracy brings to the surface latent differences and makes discord more visible, as is evident from the way it has functioned within India and the USA, and from more recent experiences in some countries in the Middle East as well as Afghanistan, where democracy has supposedly been ‘restored’. What then is the best way forward? All we require, Arun Maira argues in this book, is for democracy to be made to work more effectively.
In healthy democracies, politics cannot be left merely to politicians: people at all levels must take responsibility for shaping the world. Therefore democracies require widespread processes for dialogue, consensus building and collaborative action amongst people with different perspectives. Weapons of Mass Destruction need to be replaced with Ways for Mass Dialogue.
Discordant Democrats is a roadmap to collaborative governance by one of the finest thinkers on transformational change. With insights from research, his experience in consensus building and collaborative action, and a variety of examples from India and elsewhere, the author sets out five steps to build consensus and describes the principles and tools with which this can be achieved and applied by people in any walk of life.
Author : Arun Maira
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