Mediation is intrinsic to Indian tradition, culture and ethos. The Mahabaratha, India’s greatest epic, is the story of a succession dispute between two branches of a royal family, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, resulting in the Kurukshetra war (said to have taken place in and around modern-day Delhi). Lord Krishna mediated the dispute between the families, using several sophisticated mediation techniques, but intractable positions resulted in a war that wiped out three generations. The hard consequences of this failure to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement are thus ingrained in many Indian minds.
With more than 27 million cases pending in its courts, India is facing immense challenges in quick and efficient dispute resolution. There is a growing recognition that confining dispute resolution to only an adversarial system of litigation and arbitration is preparing the way for further disaster. A collaborative dispute resolution process must be the preferred option for many disputes, and mediation is steadily gaining importance in the country.