New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,
the government`s pointsman to thrash out solutions to
vexatious issues be it on administrative or coalition
matters, on Tuesday highlighted the importance of consensus
building in a democratic set-up.
"Consensus is the soul of a democratic system. You can
only sustain and strengthen democratic process (through
consensus)," Mukherjee said at a forum organised by a media
"I believe in the philosophy and try to build up
consensus as consensus building is essential in the
consultative course...to arrive at a particular idea," he
"Organisations should try to build a myriad of agreements
keeping aside areas of divergence. That is the most important
aspect of consensus building," he said.
He cited the examples of Finance Commission, National
Development Council and the recently reconstituted National
Integration Council as institutions that strike consensus
between the Centre and the states on a number of issues.
On NIC, he expressed the hope that it will be useful in
building up consensus on various national matters, even as it
is not as effective currently.
"...NIC has not been effective. Recently, it has been
reconstituted. I do hope it will also contribute its own power
and authority in building up consensus on very crucial
issues," he said.
The government has recently reconstituted the NIC,
chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The NIC has 147 members, including Union ministers,
Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya
Sabha, the chief ministers of all states and Union Territories
It also includes leaders of the national and regional
political parties, chairpersons of national commissions,
eminent journalists, public figures, and representatives of
business and women’s organisations.
Set up in the early 1960s by Prime Minister Jawaharlal
Nehru, the NIC held its first meeting in 1962. The council
reviews matters relating to national integration and makes
recommendations on such issues.
The finance minister heads a number of ministerial groups
formed to build a consensus on vexatious issues such as
food security and freeing fuel prices.