Indian Public Issues & the Janeček Method of Voting

By Ankitha Cheerakathil

For the past 2 years, the Foundation for Community Consensus (FCC) has been conducting awareness workshops on citizen engagement and participatory democracy. These have been targeted primarily at graduates and young professionals in the hope that young citizens will pave the way for a brighter, more participative Indian democracy. One of the outcomes of these workshops have been the innovative ideas that have been developed by participants on how to implement the JM in India to solve public issues.

In the Policy Fellows Forum 2.1 workshop organized by FCC and conducted during the weekends of October 2020, 8 among a total of 48 participants were selected for a month-long internship opportunity, which involved brainstorming the practical implications of the JM in the context of resolving governance issues in India. This was done in consultation with the Institute H21 team in Prague. The interns discussed their preliminary ideas with the Prague team and received the latter’s inputs before working on their final presentations. Two presentations in particular stood out due to their uniqueness and feasibility.

Vritti Gulati identified the fact that inIndian elections (both at the state and the central level), election manifestoes are not prepared in the seriousness that they merit by political parties. They have dwindling relevance in the overall election process inIndia, especially in the era of alliance politics. She argues that in particular, youth in India should be taught the importance of prioritizing the content of election manifestos when it comes to voting. She proposes to remedy this issue by introducing the JM in high school and college cabinet elections. The use of multiple positive votes and the option of a negative vote can help voters to distinguish the nuances between the election manifestos of all candidates, rather than focusing on understanding only a single candidate.

Saransh Gupta put forth the notion that good governance in healthcare (especially during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic) is of outmost importance. He argued for delivering improved patient outcomes and building better consensus for acquisitions in Indian hospitals through the JM. Since the data suggests that more than 30% of patients are not satisfied with healthcare outcomes, it would be wise to study the complexity of a standard hospital’s stakeholders which usually span its varying departments. Particularly in the case of private hospitals, skewed representation of stakeholders and affinity towards certain departments often create suboptimal outcomes for both the patients as well as the hospital as a whole. Furthermore, currently acquisition decisions especially in private healthcare establishments are built to the patient out of the loop, even though patients are usually the final and most important beneficiary of such institutions. Saransh proposes to rectify this issue by introducing proportional representation in the decision-making processes of healthcare establishments, implemented through the medium of the JanečekMethod of Voting. Since patients at most private hospitals in India already submit Net Promoter Score (NPS) feedback forms, Saransh recommends adding a department-specific section on the patient wish list that would be evaluated using the JM. To ensure fairness in the final results of the voting process, the number of positive votes and negative votes would be proportionally scaled to account for varying department sizes.

The JM has been used in the private sector in some instances (such as with Skoda in the Czech Republic). The time has arrived for this innovative voting method to be deployed in India in improving governance not just in the public but in the private sector. Wherever the context is of public problems, it should not matter whether the collaborating institution is public or private in nature. The Prague team agrees that Saransh in particular may have introduced a notion that can pave the way for large-scale private sector collaborations to effectively implement the JM inIndia.