Indian experience with Democracy

I took Organisational Learning and Development as one of my electives in MBA. The decision was more out of curiosity rather than interest at that point of time. The course kindled my interest in learning in organisations. Over a period of time, with my practical experience and after reading many books, I realised building a democratic organisation was key to building a learning organisation.

With that realisation, I started searching for democratic organisations when I came across blog from Rahul at Srijan. He was trying to build a democratic organization. The first thing when I started talking with people was they do not want decision making by voting. Then I realised that most people associate democracy with decision making by casting of votes and hence as a corollary decision of majority. This definitely was not the intent of Greeks when they talked about democracy. Voting was just a tool to hear people’s decision and one of the stages in decision making process.

I researched on democracy and had to go back to Greeks, who invented Democracy. The motivation for Greeks to reform their political process was to provide more political power to middle and working class or basically empower them so that the power distribution in decision making is not loaded in favour of landlord or rich. That’s how they came up with concept of Demokratia, or democracy. Every member of ekkelesia had equal right to address political assemblies (isonomia). This provided a right to everyone who was affected to speak and influence decision making process. Basically it was a right to be heard. This was strengthened even more by Britishers by introducing “privilege”. Privilege is immunity granted to a member of parliament so that the person can speak his mind without fear of prosecution. Ofcourse this was before Indian MPs decided that it extended to watching porn and Indian Supreme Court decided that privilege extended to voting in exchange of money in parliament.

Is Indian Parliament a democratic institution? No, it is not. The MPs do not have right to dissent from their party’s view point. The members cannot vote against party position or party whip. This goes against the basic grain of democracy.
The main objective of democracy was decision making by merit. The assumption was that democracy would bring together diverse set of people and provide them with a platform where they can discuss issues, challenge each other’s mindsets and take good decisions. The parliament would the place where they would be able to challenge the assumptions and hypothesis, which in turn would lead to decision making by consensus and hence better decisions or laws. Unfortunately, our democracy is characterised by more of personal attacks rather then discussions.

Source: Indian experience with Democracy