I was honoured to launch the “Dialogue on Democracy” with Fondazione Einaudi and Indian Council of Cultural Relations.
Democracy has grown from Abraham Lincoln’s description of a government “of the people, for the people and by the people” at Gettysburg. Over time this has evolved from selective suffrage to universal suffrage. Today in the digital age, democracy has become a constant rapport between governments and their constituents with flash plebiscites or referendums or polls conducted by political parties to measure the reaction of their proposals and actions within their electoral pool. While digital democracy has in one way, made governance more accountable, more transparent, and more inclusive, it has handicapped modern political decision making. While digital platforms today allow more information flow from the government bodies to the constituents and allow governments to measure the perception of the electorate, similarly fake news and “trial by social media” amputates the ability of the decision makers to take strategic decisions which may be unpopular in the short term however may be of great benefit to the country in the long term. Above all this also calls into the question the role of the platform and messenger which is usually a US based multinational which responds to US sensitivities and shareholders. Much like governance was corporatized in the 1600’s to private companies like the East India company, is democracy now being corporatized in the name of free speech and expression? European countries have had their challenges with social media and democracy and India, the world’s largest democracy is always in election mode, given the vastness of positions, governments to be elected. India conducts elections every year, to state legislatures or local governments. The panel “The future of democracy: Politics of the future”, aims to reinforce the motto of the Indian republic “Satya Meva Jayate (Truth always conquers)” celebrating the anniversary of the architect of the Indian constitution Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, to discuss key issues facing India’s democracy and democracy in general. Speakers included Ambassador Dore Gold (President of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs & former Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Israel), H.E Rajiv Chandrasekhar (Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Govt. of India), His Excellency Arif Mohamed Khan (Governor of Kerala, Republic of India), Sasmit Patra (Member of the Rajya Sabha, Parliament of India), Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agatha (former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Italy), Nirj Deva (former Member of the European Parliament).