It is possible to do democracy very differently and to make sure everyone is involved.

Author: Joseph Rathinam

Joseph Rathinam is an inspiring leader from Southern India whose work to grow a system of neighbourhood democracy, where all citizens are involved in decisions and actions, has helped create one of the most inspiring models of real democracy in the world today. Here Jospeh outlines some of the key ideas and practices of neighborocracy.  

Neighborocracy is a system of inclusive governance that starts with neighbourhoods. The current model of democracy, which is claimed to be the best system of governance, has largely failed and is increasingly becoming a form of kleptocracy - rule by the power of money. This is especially true in the large countries. 

The current model of democracy is inadequate. People at the bottom do not have any effective say, apart for voting once every four or five years. This voting process is only symbolic and does not reflect the true power of the people; instead money seems to play the most important role. Democracy has become a mockery. The will of the people does not seem to have any space in this kind of democracy.

So, we proposed that the so-called seat of power in a democracy, the parliament, should not be in a place which is inaccessible to the people, but should exist in every neighbourhood; so that everyone, even the last person in the society, has access to the parliament and will be able to effectively participate in day to day governance. We call this model the Inclusive Neighbourhood Parliament.

In this neighbourhood parliament everyone, even those with the smallest voice, can participate effectively and have their say. Groups of 30 families living close together form a neighbourhood parliament. Everyone is elected as a minister which ensures that everyone is responsible for something or other. There will be ministries for whichever roles they decide they need, especially for important problems like poverty eradication, education, health, employment, environment protection, gender equality, corruption eradication, eradication of terrorism, value inculcation, peace building etc. It is even possible to use the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These neighbourhood parliaments meet once in a week to discuss and to effectively engage in their own problems solving processes. This system of inclusive governance is called Neighborocracy.

Neighborocracy includes all the age groups. Children between the age of 6 to 15 form Children Parliaments. Young people between the ages of 16 to 25 form Youth Parliaments. Adults from the age of 26 form People Parliaments. These three Neighbourhood units for a connected system of neighbourhood governance and they are interlinked among themselves by double linking. In Neighborocracy, even a child of six years plays an active role in day to day governance. Election for the ministers are conducted Sociocratically and not based on numbers or majority and minority. Sociocratical decision-making process is followed in all parts of a Neighborocracy.

Neighbourhood parliaments are networked at various higher levels starting from the neighbourhood level through various upper levels up to the national and global levels. When there are 30 parliaments they each send a representative to the networking group for those 30 neighbourhoods. So, at every level there will be approximately 30 members only, all being ministers responsible for that level. In Neighborocracy everyone has direct power to effectively participate in day to day governance of the level in which he or she is a member and minister. This system of governance has been well tested and has proved to be the best alternative to the failed democractic system. Neighborocracy functions on an operating system (OS) of compassion and caring for each other.

This concept began in Tamil Nadu in 1970s, inspired by Edwin Maria John and I've been promoting it as the Master Trainer and Director for International Coordinations and Networking.

Now we have established about 300,000 neighbourhood parliaments spread out all over India and about 90,000 Children Parliaments in various parts of the country. The State Children Parliament of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry has received the UN San Marino award in 2009 for the best child-led practice in the world.

Neighborocracy has eradicated poverty by promoting community production and community economy. It has played an important role in climate actions and in eradicating hatred and violence. It has stopped corruption completely. Gender equality is significantly improved and there are innumerable other benefits to Neighborocracy.

You can contact Joseph Rathinam directly by email.

The publisher is Citizen Network Research. Neighborocracy © Joseph Rathinam 2024.

Article | 14.06.24

community, Constitutional Reform, Neighbourhood Care, Neighbourhood Democracy, politics, India, Article

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