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Democracy & Group Decision – Never Works

By on Dec 29, 2011 | 3 comments

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The ongoing Lokpal mess has got me thinking – can democracy ever work? I mean, can a group of people really take a right decision? Through experience, I know the answer as ‘No’. A group may take a decision; but there’s no guarantee that a group can take a ‘wise’ decision. Ask a group of people to go and buy the best mangoes in the market and they’ll never be able to decide. The democratic system that we’ve adopted is flawed – because it relies on the decision that ‘majority’ of people believe is right. But you know what? What a large number of people believe is right; is not always right. For example, the world believed that the Earth is flat and then it required ‘one genius’ to prove everyone wrong.

Collective Intelligence < Individual Intelligence

Above heading summarizes what I’ve to say. For good decisions; you always need ‘ONE’ well informed & wise person who has access to all the facts necessary to arrive at a decision. Those who’ve read about Steve Job’s style of working know that he’d act as a dictator. He’d just know what people would like and what he’d make people like. That’s also the reason Apple never seeks feedback about their products from their customers. Steve Jobs rightly said, “People don’t know what they want, unless you show them what they want.”

Democracy is designed to fail

…because it relies on the opinion of the ‘majority’. Why does it assume that what ‘majority’ of the people representatives think is the right thing? In order to improve the chances of making a decision ‘right’, ‘vision’ is necessary. Decision is meant to result into the steps to be taken to arrive at a destination; and this destination must be decided by having a ‘vision’. It’s highly unlikely that a group of people will have a common vision and even if they do have a common vision; everyone’s interpretation of it will undoubtedly vary.

For those, let me sum it up with a famous saying –

“A Camel Is Horse Designed By A Committee”

Camel Is A Horse Designed By A Committee

Mind It!


  1. Vikrant

    January 11, 2012

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    The author is right in pointing out how endeavors of few maverick scientists have challenged the establishment. It is a different matter , that modern science has reached a stage where the scientific community is more likely to be in the right when challenged by an individual. This is the reason why most Nobel prizes these days are won by groups of scientists and not a single one. This isn’t to suggest that there won’t be any Einstein’s tomorrow , just that they will occur less frequently.

    Coming to democracy , it is an altogether different matter. A government’s job is quite different than that of the scientific community. It has far too many powers.
    For instance, one of the primary being maintenance of law and order. The people of a county give up their rights to deliver justice in most cases , so that the government can do so.

    The goal of government is not to do what is right( how to define what is ‘right’ ?) but to do what lies in the common interest of the people. And the best way to do so is in a democracy.

    If we go for dictatorship it is more likely that interests of certain groups will be hampered.The author of the blog perhaps is inspired by well-intentioned rulers of the past such as Shivaji. But what if we don’t get a Shivaji and instead get a Hitler ? There is just no way to determine what we would get.

    It is 100% true that our democracy is in shambles. That is simply because the a large chunk of population in our country is uneducated. (And the ones which are educated are educated in a system where free thinking is discouraged). But the only way forward is via a democracy whether we like it or not. Dictatorship is a double-edged sword.

  2. The Big K

    January 13, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Dictatorship isn’t the only solution. The right solution would be a well informed individual who’s a ‘leader’; takes inputs from other well informed followers and finally takes a decision.

    • Vikrant

      January 13, 2012

      Post a Reply

      Problem is how to select the leader.
      In case he/she is selected via elite section of society(a la the Jan Lokpal) or via something similar to an examination process , there will be widespread resentment in the public. As they will undoubtedly feel left off.

      In case he/she is selected by the people we are back to democracy.If this be the case,perhaps you are suggesting a Presidential style of government like the US. In that case, I agree. The PM doesn’t have as many powers as needed. And the people don’t have any direct choice in who will be the CEO of the nation.Hence we see remote controlled PMs these days.

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