The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Amendments to the Society's Rules and Regulations

Letter to the International Secretary by Edi Bilimoria
11. 10. 2008

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Dear International Secretary,

Response to Proposed Amendment to Rule 10

In democratic countries such as England, India and America, the entire population is given the chance to have its say in electing its national leader - not just the Members of Parliament, or Senators, or Congressmen.

However in totalitarian regimes such as the former USSR (where all men were supposed to be comrades/brothers, but others were deemed more 'comradely' than others) the National President was elected by the Politburo - the policy-making committee of the former Communist party.

The equivalent situation now is the recent proposed amendment to Rule 10 which consitutes an attempt by a ruling elite to dis-empower and disenfranchise the entire membership in an organization – the Theosophical Society - founded on the pillars of freedom of thought and speech, liberty, and the right of each individual to think and exercise his own intelligence.

Whilst I am not opposed to Rules to ensure that no one holds office for a completely indefinite period of time, I am deeply concerned by the implications of the amendment to Rule 10, which, if implemented would:

1. seriously vitiate the core ethos of the Theosophical Society concerning individual liberty and freedom of expression and voice, thus encouraging apathy;

2. deny members any real say in the election of its International President and so encourage apathy;

3. by allowing just the General Council Members the right to vote, create the ideal conditions for campaigning for or against individual candidates, lobbying, individual preference, cronyism and politics, along with the exercise of hidden agendas and vested interests, all to become a serious danger.

For example this statement: "Each General Secretary shall thereafter consult his Governing Body before casting his vote, BUT VOTE ACCORDING TO HIS OWN JUDGEMENT" [my emphasis] is far more likely to produce a vote according to the individual preference (or prejudice) of a General Secretary than a vote that truly represents his consultations with his Governing Body.

I regard the following statements in the proposed amendment as judgmental and subjectively construed:

"Popular election by the full membership of a worldwide, multilingual body is fraught with complications. Not least among those complications is the fact that most of the voting membership will have little or no knowledge of the candidates they are voting upon, and hence their vote cannot be well-informed. The persons most likely to have direct knowledge of and the most opportunity to become well-informed about the candidates are members of the General Council. They are likely also to be among the most experienced members of the Society ..."

Comment: There are a large number of members of long standing who are immensely well informed and well meaning, but who prefer not to become involved in the administration and governance of the Society; hence steer clear of committees, etc. and hold no official office. To impute that they are not well-informed is both ill-informed and presumptuous.

Finally, the contents of a Rule say as much as its timing. Let us pause and ask ourselves: would John Algeo and Betty Bland have put forward this amendment "in the best interests of our Society" if John Algeo had won the election? If our honest answer is 'no', then what is this telling us? That this Rule amendment proposed so very soon after the last election smacks more of vendetta by some, than action in the best interests of our sacred Society. At the very least I would expect that for an amendment of such magnitude, the best interests of our Society would be better served by first consulting our membership by way of some kind of Referendum, instead of the amendment being pushed through quietly at high speed.

I strongly oppose this amendment to Rule 10, which, if implemented would gravely disenfranchise our members.

With sincere wishes and regards,
Edi Bilimoria

Last update: January 2009
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