In the grand tapestry of India’s democracy, active citizenship stands as a cornerstone for progress and change. As we navigate the complex landscape of our nation, it’s essential to understand that every voice and every contribution matters. Democracy thrives when citizens are actively engaged and participating in the decision-making process.
A Debating Culture
One of the key pillars for building a better discourse, an open society, and leading the political and economic revolution that India needs is the fostering of a debating culture. The art of open debate and discussion is integral to the health of any democracy. Constructive dialogue provides a platform for diverse perspectives, enabling us to shape our society and economy more effectively. Schools nurture citizens of the future. Hence, they can play a pivotal role in cultivating a debating culture.
In a world where the media has sometimes failed us, there is a pressing need for alternate platforms fostering healthy discussions without raised voices. Imagine an Indian equivalent to Intelligence Squared (IQ2), a platform which “has established itself as the leading forum for live, agenda-setting debates, talks and discussions around the world.” Its aim “is to promote a global conversation that enables people to make informed decisions about the issues that matter, in the company of the world’s greatest minds and orators.”
Could the world of mobile phones coalesce with the world of debates to create new formats to engage and educate us? And in so doing, can they help us understand the multiple dimensions to an issue and help us make informed decisions? In the digital age, technology has become a catalyst for political transformation.
Our smartphones and laptops can serve as powerful tools to mobilise and engage citizens, thus initiating a political revolution. To bring about political change, we need to leverage technology effectively.
‘Circles’ as a Focal Point for Community Activities
Communities are the backbone of our nation, and engaging them actively in the democratic process is essential. The concept of the ‘Circle’ as a focal point for community activities is a powerful approach and can become the foundation for building India’s social infrastructure. When citizens are engaged in their local communities, they become more invested in the democratic system as a whole. The ‘Circle’ needs to become central to the community, with activities such as micro-libraries, debating clubs, education classes, and working on solutions for neighbourhood problems.
In a diverse and pluralistic society like India, building coalitions is a fundamental strategy. Collaborative efforts bring together various groups with different interests to work towards common goals. These coalitions become the driving force behind change and progress, fostering a more inclusive and responsive democracy. The approach to take is to build coalitions.
Empowering citizens to hold their leaders accountable is central to a healthy democracy. Shifting the balance of power from politicians to the people ensures that the government remains responsive to the needs and aspirations of the nation.
We need citizens who believe in a new vision for India and are willing to devote a few hours a week to make it happen.
This may seem like a daunting mission, but as the Chinese say, “cross the river by feeling the stones” and “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Mr. Rajesh Jain is a serial tech entrepreneur based in Mumbai. He is the founder of Netcore Cloud, a $100 million global B2B SaaS marketing technology company (and the largest in Asia). He was a pioneer in Asia’s dotcom revolution, creating India’s first Internet portals in the late 1990s, which were acquired by Satyam Infoway in November 1999 for US$ 115 million in one of Asia’s largest Internet deals. Mr. Jain has recently published a book, “Startup to Proficorn”, with advice for entrepreneurs on how to bootstrap and scale startups.