India has lately witnessed the rise of a people’s movement unlike any in recent memory. People across the country have come out in protest against what they perceive as a variety of systemic evils, expressing strong views and opinions on issues like corruption and probity in public life. This movement has also created many armchair critics who freely voice their views but may not necessarily have made an effort to understand the nuances of how a democracy functions. Against this backdrop, Arun Maira’s “Discordant Democrats” aptly describes the times we live in and has special relevance in light of events that have recently transpired.
“Discordant Democrats” gives the reader practical tools and principles to make democracy work. It is a self-help book of sorts, only its goal is to help us make our democracy function better. Structured in two parts, the book follows a very simple narrative format that lends itself to easy reading, and Maira effectively dots the book with examples to illustrate his ideas. Using the backdrop of his Gurgaon residence, he analyses the working of the Residence Welfare Association to explain how a democracy functions (or does not function) at the grassroots level.