By Shuvopriyo Roy:
As an ideology, democracy has been no less than a rebellion in today’s age. As I rewind to the last episode of Game of Thrones, wherein Samuel Tarly proposes the fate of the seven kingdoms to be rested on the people’s voice, I remember how the gathering of prospective kings and queens gagged at that very thought. Not many things were democratically resolved if we look back at history, hues of democracy might be found but largely, it was autocratic, be it our Hindu rulers, or the Mughals etc. And we are talking about proceedings which go back only 200 years. Today, democracy is about the right to have a voice, at times it seems to be somewhere on the higher path of morality, something popular and in terms of the nation-state, an ideology that is trending even though it seems largely to be under attack all across the globe. I, as an individual, always took pride in the fact that India is a democracy without ever realising what it means to practice it.
The past month has been reflective in the sense of learning how to breathe that idea. Democracy not in the form of majority, but probably in its purest, where every individual has a voice, and a minority stance matters as much as the majoritarian. Practising or being in an environment which actively propagates and tries to instil this in every individual has tested my resolve, made me question my understanding, and in the process has been a reality check. Being in an environment where each individual matter and every voice has equal weight, I have been truly exposed to what it means to practice democracy.
Lately, on a regular basis, I have been in brainstorming sessions with over 10 individuals; basically, consensus-building exercises between 80 odd individuals. While indulging and engaging in the same, I came to terms with the inherent irritation, annoyance, and other concomitant negative feelings within me when the consensus or common understanding was two nods away or vehemently opposed by a certain individual while we are that one step away from arriving at the decision. Those moments helped me come to terms with the intolerance within me, which is probably fuelled by a lack of patience, and one can’t ignore such conscientious conflicts on a daily basis since eventually, one has to acknowledge their existence. It is very easy to use the momentum of a majoritarian belief and shove it down the minority’s throat; the struggle is to learn how to be, comfortable and appreciative of dissent.
In this space that I am fortunate to be a part of, I am in a group which is being guided to live democracy as a principle every day, in almost every decision. Democracy doesn’t stand to be just a morally righteous path for me right now; it is more than that. As I live it, and while I choose and learn what I want to stand for, I face the parts of me which are not aligned with that idea. It provides me with a mirror to help enquire within the self, to shape myself as an individual who breathes this idea truly.
The practice arena is set, I have worn the pads, and I am at the crease, while my demons take to ball and take their run-up. My stance is to hit it out of the park, whether or not I will do so, well, the next 7-8 months would reveal!
The author is a student of 2019-20 batch of PGP in Development Leadership at ISDM.