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Rules for Posting Mail on the National Debate

[Preamble | Manifesto | Agenda]

Color code: Words in red are under dispute, those which are green are the suggested changes, and those in purple are new additions All points are open for debate, in perpetuity, including the Rules of Debate.


IPI is India's one and only public forum for writing a new "operating system" for the "computer" called India. Even assuming that the previous regimes/systems have done wonders for India, there is always scope for improvement keeping in mind the new findings, new experiences, and new technology. India_Policy is open to everyone in the entire world, for debate.

Established on the 8th of April, 1998, within 3 months, the popularity and relevance of IPI for India's future has been established beyond any iota of doubt. However, in order to not only further the task, but to prevent the general members' mailboxes from being flooded with mail, sometimes irrelevant to policy, the list has been converted into a moderated one on the 30th of June.

Goals of IPI's National Debate

To write the detailed blueprint for a new and powerful India. The blueprint, as worked out in the first three months of its existence, comprises six components:

    i) Definition of the origin and limits of power of one man over another.

    ii)Long term vision for India

    iii)Preamble, defining the basic principles of the relationship between the citizen, nation, and government.

    iv) Manifesto, outlining the basic procedures of governance

    v) Agenda, being the detailed outlines of the Manifesto items

    vi) Policy Framework, being the actual blueprint for each Ministry of government.

What can be posted

What-ever is posted must fall under the following categories. Please decide before posting about what the category your mail would fall under, and accordingly, please try to LABEL your mail at the vey top, as belonging to a particular category.

If you discuss things falling under more than one category in a single mail, please classify the portions accordingly.

  1. Administrative: This relates to the 'rules of the game,' i.e., institution building. As more and more people come together, we have to follow certain clear rules. Anything to do with the existence of this list, its expansion, its mode of functioning, etc., would be deemed to be Administrative. Queries from new members about any particular thing not covered in these rules, or even a clarification, would be termed as Administrative.

  2. Pre-Debate: This includes posting of articles of interest to people, papers, comments from various published and unpublished sources, comments by members on these papers/ comments, seeking of clarifications on these contents, etc. Material seeking the 'truth' without intending to change the Manifesto will be termed Pre-Debate.

  3. Debate: This is the most sructured part of the List. Please do not use initial examples of the debates as occured on this List as examples of what is the form of debate to be used. Instead, the rules given in detail, below, apply.


"... [N]o one has a right to coerce others to act according to his point of view." - Gandhiji, at


  1. All topics welcome: Debates can be raised on virtually any topic under the sun, though an attempt will be made to label a particular topic as the Topic of the Week, to keep the focus on that topic for a while.

  2. Levels of topics: While it is possible in a few cases to go straight to an Agenda level topic, it is best to start your debates with the Vision, Preamble and Manifesto. These represent the higher levels of policy and your views must be consistent with these if you wish to go into the Agenda level. In other words, as you go into greater levels of detail, it is assumed that you agree with the way the policies are framed at the broader levels.

  3. Please check the topic you want to raise: Those who have been following the debates from day 1 know about which issues have been discussed and which have not. Others, newer members, need to do the required homework to search the web archives for the topic and to see the general thrust of the debates on that topic before raising it on the list.

  4. A clear formulation needed: Virtually no topic should be raised without a structure. The goal is to get specific points meant for each level (Preamble/ Manifesto/ Agenda, etc.), and therefore the ideal way to submit a new point is to summarize it in a para and to indicate where that point should belong. New points will be introduced in purple color on the manifesto and converted into black after a couple of weeks if there is no objection received.

  5. How to challenge an existing paragraph: It is quite possible that the point under consideration has been discussed and debated earlier. If the debator wishes to challenge/ change an existing point then the method to do it would be as follows:

    1. Make sure that you look up the Definitions section and understand the meaning of the words used in the Manifesto.

    2. Determine which part or line of the Manifesto you differ from (that will be put in red in the manifesto)

    3. Specify the alternative line or para that you want (that will be put up in green). This is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. No objections will be entertained without this step, and nobody will be obliged to either record these objections, debate with them, or otherwise consider them.

    4. Give very specific reasons why your new formulation is better than the earlier one.

    5. Allow the debate to form on that issue and then, whoever wins that point, gets to write that part of the manifesto. (i.e., one of the two, red or green, is expunged and the winner is converted into black).

  6. Debates can only be closed temporarily; not permanently: All lines in the manifesto, etc., remain open to debate in perpetuity so that we do not exclude better ways of thinking about things in the future.

B. Method of Presenting a Debate and its Adjudication:

We want people to stay and debate, no matter what their views. Without a sustained and structured Opposition, the entire concept of competition and democracy will be diluted. Therefore the method of debate has to be converted into a formal one, superseding the initial informal methods.

a) People should be preferably addressed as either Mr. or Mrs. or Prof. or whatever (that will prevent any appearance of disrespect). People will now not only be respected, but it will be shown very clearly, through the mode of address, that they are respected.

b) Personal attacks should be avoided and humour can be used but chiefly the focus should be on issues.

c) As in tennis, it will be the responsibility of the contestants to declare whom they think has won the debate, so that the suitable 'line' or 'para' wins entry in the Manifesto. In due course a voting mechaism might be established.

(Last modified: 8th July)