Engaging Ourselves

One of the ideas I have been thinking over the past few days is what I call “Conversations and Networks.” It stems from the fact that we need to get over our apathy and have a deeper discussion about what’s happening in India. That is the Conversation part. And what if we had, simultaneously, an opportunity to expand our Network – meeting more and new people. How can we do this at a mass scale involving millions in India? This can create the foundation of an emergent democracy.

Here is a possible framework. I would love to get your feedback on whether this will work. If not, what can be done to make it work – and scale.

Imagine meetings that take place in every neighbourhood every week in people’s drawing rooms – at the same time (let’s say Fridays, 6-7 pm). There is a pre-decided topic for every meeting. The meeting begins with introductions from the people who have come. Each meeting probably has 10-20 people. If there are more than 25 at a single meeting, then the group splits into two for the next meeting to keep a manageable size.

A website would have a backgrounders on the topic (video / presentation from an expert) and lays out the themes for discussion. So, there would be a mix of learning and voicing one’s opinions on the topic of the week. Suggestions and comments would then be provided back on the website – thus enabling the collation of ideas from the groups (“wisdom of crowds”).

What this does is starts to get us in Middle India more engaged in the discussion about our own future, and over time, become a large and influential mass that can influence policy-making.

What kind of topics would the groups discuss? A starting point (if one were to begin in the next couple weeks) could be a series of 4-5 discussions about Elections 2009. It would be great to have an intelligent discussion about the various options and then make a well thought-out decision. After that, one could take up education, healthcare, energy (narrower themes of the bigger issues).

What do you think?

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