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Some proposed changes to rules



Mr Chairperson,

Well, I could not even start my hibernation by digging my hole in the
ground.  Too many messages criss-crossing the globe. As a result of the
out-of-indiapolicy debates that we had on this incident, a few changes to
the rules of debate are going to be worked out. These will be in the
following general pattern:

General Principle: The IndiaPolicy list is now converted into a Virtual
Parliament, rather than a Dhaba/ Udipi Restaurant. People come to Dhabas
for a cup of tea and leave. 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. 

a) People will be addressed as either Mr. or Mrs. or Prof. or whatever
(that will prevent any appearance of disrespect). No more informal thing. 
People will now not only be respected, but it will be shown very clearly,
through the mode of address, that they are respected. Out goes the Dhaba.
This is now no longer a group of virtual friends, out on a fun-mission,
but serious individuals who represent various viewpoints and are seeking
to find the best ideas. 

b) All e-mail and all debates will be addressed to an imaginary
Chairperson, i.e., we will try to persuade Mr. Chairperson rather than
address each other directly. In other words, we imagine that this is a
REAL debating platform. The ideas is the same: to prevent any
**appearance** of disrespect to anyone, and thus to avoid the kind of
misunderstanding we had yesterday. 

c) Personal attacks can only be through very subtle humor, and focus will
be on issues. I will seek out some examples of such 'permitted debate'
from various parliamentary debates across the world. All members of this
list are requested to suggest such illustrations which can then be put up
as "model debates."

d) 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. If the contestants disagree on who has
won, then there will be a vote on the debate, which will be by each of us,
except the contestants, by voting through sending a e-mail. The vote will
remain open for a week. 

e) About umpiring about transgressions of these rules: Everyone has the
right to umpire (i.e., be the Chairman). The only thing is that umpiring
has to be done at the precise moment (or within a day) of the particular
style/ content of debate which is objected to. 

In other words, if anyone had an objection to some of the fighting
equipment that I used (my pungent-sword, humor-laden sword, or whatever) 
and felt that a particular member has been insulted, then the complaint
has to be lodged at once. And the debate about whether an insult actually
took place should take place then, not later. In other words, what Utkarsh
and Srini did this time will henceforth not be "legal" since their
objections would be time-barred. The manifesto is open for debate in
perpetuity, not the individual debates.

Well, suggestions are invited, and of course, the rules of debate are open
in perpetuity for improvement, as is everything else, except the search
for the truth. 

SS
(note: Big Letters!)