(Take the message of mediation across India)
Mediation is not new to India, it dates back to Lord Krishna mediating the dispute between Kauravas and Pandavas in the Mahabharata. Followed by Panchayats providing communnity mediation as well as family elders resolving domestic issues. Mediation has been an integral part of Indian culture. In fact, traditionally going to courts was considered against one’s reputation and Indians followed a zero litigation policy. Disputes were resolved by people through mutual settlements. This trend saw a decline due to the introduction of the Anglo-Saxon system of courts. Consequently, modern day India became more adversarial and less collaborative. The backlog of 3.2 crore cases is not just a statistic we can cry about and blame the Indian justice system for, it is reflective of deeper issues such as the unfortunate adversarial mindset we have developed where justice is all about winning and losing the legal battle. The requirement for change is imminent and mediation is not a new method we need to embrace. Access to justice is the destination and the route simply involves us going back to our earlier ways. Across the world Mediation has proved to be a successful and cost-effective alternative to the Courtroom model. It saves time, money and relationships. Mediators do not make decisions or judgments, instead they expertly guide parties in reaching mutual understanding and a common agreement. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge mediation faces in India is that people are unaware of it as a dispute resolution process or they misunderstand the manner in which mediation works. According to an access to justice survey done by DAKSH, 54 percent of the Indian population is not aware of the existence of mediation services Although we have a backlog of more than 3.2 crore court cases, the number of mediations done across the ADR centers of the country is still in thousands. While the supply of mediators is not a problem, the demand for their services remain abysmally low. There exists an urgent need to promote mediation as an appropriate method of dispute resolution in our country. In this context it is important to note that countries across the world have used mediation weeks as a popular way of spreading awareness. The sole objective of Indian Mediation Week was to grow awareness, knowledge and use of mediation across different parts of India. It aimed bringing together all the major stakeholders of the mediation community on a common platform while highlighting the benefits of this process to the general public. It was not just a 7 day event, but the beginning of a journey of taking India back to its original method of dispute resolution: Suljhao, Magar Pyar Se.