As a child, I loved my first exposure to the Swiss Alps – chocolate!

Then, DDLJ happened!

And I keep returning to

I travel with my son.

Him, a certified skier.

I, a certified trier.

We always stay in the same place.
A village called Zermatt.

So we are regulars
at the local taverna.

And in the evenings,
talk happens.

And India and Switzerland
have a common link.

Switzerland is the world’s only
direct democracy.

And India,
the world’s largest
representative democracy.

And as the beer flows,
the arguments start!

Direct democracy
Representative democracy.

Athens was the first to
practice direct
democracy, under

In direct democracy every citizen has an opinion and a vote.

The populace is the governing body. This truly the original Greek term ‘demokratia’, means – rule by people.

But as democracy evolved, it became representative. In India, we elect representatives who go on to form the governing body, not us.

Which is better?

Thus the argument goes.
And thus the beer flows.

(I must admit that India is
a blind democracy.
Once we elect our representatives,
we have no say in what the legislature does.)

The Swiss hold forth
on their little democracy.

Modern-era ideas of citizenry and law-making begin with the Federal Charter of 1291 when 3 cantons came together to form a confederation. In 1891, the Swiss added the term ‘constitutional amendment initiative’ which gives them the right to propose changes to their Constitution.

Over the years, a couple of hundred amendments have been put to public referendum, with every citizen voting. Of these, only 10% have actually been approved by the people.

So we know more than chocolate
and vaults, they say.
We, are the true fathers of democracy.
And ours, is better.

As an
argumentative Indian,
I counter.

I argue that
Direct Democracy
cannot work in a country of
1.3 billion.

I argue that
Switzerland is more literate.
Complex political issues are tough
for our average citizen to grasp.

I argue that
representative democracy
has the good of society
at heart while direct democracy thinks
with the mind of the
selfish individual.

I lie awake in bed,
Are they right?

For surely,
people in representative democracy
like India and the USA
are tired and disgusted.

Direct democracy
surely gives every citizen
more power.

With technology,
some degree of direct
democracy is possible.
Like in Taiwan.

In 2012, in Taiwan a group of 4 ethical hackers built a citizen audit engine for Taiwan’s central government budget.

Accounting and Statistics Office data was made accessible, comprehensible and interactive for the citizen. Citizens could now rate and comment on the budget.

This became the foundation of the gov-zero movement (gØv) now an active civic-tech community.

The gØv movement and vTaiwan use technology to scale direct democracy.

As one of the pioneers of the movement, Andrew Lang puts it, “Before, democracy was a showdown between two opposing values. Now, democracy is a conversation between many diverse values.”

Many nations
are trying this model.
It makes so much sense.

As I lie awake,
I wonder, will we?
Will India see
change as well?

I wonder and I hope.
then it is morning
the peaks call again.

Time for me to
slip and
slide again.