Welcome Letter

Dear New Member,

Welcome to this Discussion List which has been evolving rapidly since it first began on the 8th of April, 1998.

The list essentially began with a few private debates between a few individuals (who are now the 'organizers' of this list). We felt that having a mailing list for all of us would be easier than repeatedly typing each person's e-mail address each time. Once that was done, we wanted archives, to prevent our having to store previous debates on our computers. Once that began, it became feasible to invite our friends into this list, and once that happened we realized that we could invite everyone in the world to debate with us.

Clearly, the method of debate has to change from the very informal toward the formal, if more and more people are to come in and offer their points of view without total chaos setting in. The initial debates were often kept at a very humorous and fiesty level, but it appears that some people misunderstood this style, and hence a more formal style has been adopted. We Indians love to be serious, and so be it. Let us get serious.

An attempt is being made to cover a few important issues below. If you have any question not covered here, please post your question on the main list and hopefully someone will be able to answer it.

  1. How were the conclusions so far posted on the web page, arrived at?

    First, most points arose by simply being put up by some member of the list or the other. How did they think of those points is beyond anyone to speculate. They were gifted, perhaps? A hotline to Heaven?

    Well, the moment the fresh points were poured into the soup, all the others had a choice: to let those points go, or to battle them out. Since the points are open to battle in perpetuity, this does not put stress on anyone's time. In other words, anyone can open up a point, even if it was otherwise 'closed' after debate, any time when he or she pleases.

    The previous debates can be accessed through The Web Archives

    In the meanwhile volunteers have come in to start the process of summarizing the debates on various issues, and some of these summaries are being built up in stages. These summaries will ultimately be the most useful method of discovering the reasons for a particular outcome.

  2. Request to participate in disussions and debates:

    There was a time when there were no web archives, and you had no choice but to subscribe, in order to know what was going on. However, now there is the option to keep a tab of the discussions over the web. You are encouraged to use that option if you are not interested in directly participating in the debates. That will also keep your mailbox clean and tidy.

    On the other hand, your signing up means that you are interested in debate. Clearly a good manifesto cannot be built without participation and debate. The idea here is to tap into each other's brain during the spare time that we have, and to learn from each other as well as frame a document which can stand on its own two feet. You are requested therefore to actively participate in the debates. Please follow the Rules of Posting Mail on India_Policy carefully. Of course, these rules themselves are constantly being revised, and you can propose modifications as and when you like.

    A brief technical note: (1) Please post to debate@indiapolicy.org. (2) If your post contains the word 'subscribe' or 'unsubscribe' the Majordomo program considers the mail to be an administrative one and bounces it out. In other words, if you need to use these words, please put some hyphen or some other character such as # somewhere in the word, to prevent your mail from bouncing. (3) All mail is being 'moderated' from the 30th of June. In other words, it does not go to the list directly, but is 'processed' by the moderator given that task before being sent out to everyone. Therefore a lapse of time, upto a couple of days, could take place. Howevever, if you don't receive a copy of your own mail within a couple of days, sent to you from India_Policy, please contact info@indiapolicy.org for questions. In rare cases, it is possible that the message might not get posted because it was considered irrelevant, or of a commercial nature or otherwise not appropriate. You should receive a little note from the moderator if your message will not be posted. [This practice has since been stopped due to the volume of postings]

  3. Anonymous postings:

    If you wish to remain anonymous, you could send mail personally to either the President, Vice Presidents, or any other member of IPI whom you trust, with a request to post the mail anonymously. Members of the Board of IPI will ensure confidentiality to such posts to the best of their ability. If you like, you could also use the services of any other member whom you trust in.

  4. Wide generalizations are not quite welcome:

    Please realize at the outset that the work of getting this list off the ground and the work of updating the web pages, writing letters to people, and carrying out appropriate research, has been highly time consuming. People have put in huge amounts of completely voluntary time and energy into this project with the hope of involving the People of India. It is a labor of love at the end of which wide generalizations of a negative nature about the quality of work can be seen as very unwelcome by most of the organizers.

    Don't complain that you were not warned if, for example, X or Y attacks you very ferociously for calling this work 'amateurish' or 'superficial,' for example (even if it is actually so!). There is no point served with such wide generalizations which are neither here nor there. Instead, all of us would be much better advised to stick to the Rules of Posting Mail On India_Policy and to offer specific critiques and alternatives. No one on the list is claiming perfection and as human beings we do get very tired and deserve some consideration for lapses.

  5. Volunteerism encouraged:

    If you are willing to put in effort to expand these debates, you will be even more welcome than you can possibly imagine. We are looking for Indians with two rather rare qualities:

    1. Indians who do not simply criticize but analyze.

    2. Indians who are willing to put in some work for a cause like this.

Welcome again!

The Organizers
Last updated:9th of July, 1998.