Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review of Chankaya's New Manifesto

I received this book, "Chanakya's New Manifesto to resolve the crisis within India"  for reviewing from the Blogadda Book Reviews Program.

The author of the book, Pavan K. Varma, has very impressive credentials. A student of history, with a degree in law, he has served as Press secretary to the President of India, Official Spokesman of the Foreign Office, Director General of ICCR, and India's ambassador to Bhutan.  A multi faceted writer, his earlier books, have been about poets, the great Indian middle class, Lord Krishna,  and so on, and he has translated the poetry of folks as diverse as Kaifi Azmi, Gulzar, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

This book begins with describing the advent of Chanakya and his penning his famous treatise on Statecraft, "Arthashastra" thousands of years ago. The author has exhaustively studied it , and pieces from it are quoted by him, at the start of each of the main sections of the book, like Governance, Democracy, Corruption, Security, and the Creation of an Inclusive Society.

This isn't a book that you can read start to finish.  It is massively replete with facts, figures and numbers, and their changes across the years that we have been an independent nation with our own Constitution.

In each section , the authors gives details of the current state of affairs, and how it has developed, the mindsets that have got formed, and what must change.  He then spells out point by point what steps we need to undertake , guided by his understanding of our Constitution, and the duties of a ruler as suggested by Chanakya in his treatise.

There are suggestions of setting up a Governance Appraisal Panel (GAP) , an independent body under the Constitution to evaluate governance. He suggests that the panel be comprised of a specific mix of people from academia, corporate world, media, expert reputed former administrators, and a member of the judiciary.  Under the Corruption section, there is a dedicated section on the Election Commission, , its work, implementation of its rules, and the changes to be made  so that Parliament once again becomes free of criminals and folks not yet convicted , who today exploit the lax rules. A six month lead time to elections is suggested for proper implementation of these rules.

The main sense one gets out of reading this book, is the shocking and very sorry state of affairs , we as a country have landed up in.  Whether it is Governance, currently mostly paralytic;  Corruption, so endemic and widespread that it threatens , nay, has become, a way of life;  Democracy, where we grab all the rights but show no responsibility ; Security, where I personally greatly salute our soldiers who continue to defend the land,  despite the powers that be that have no clue about how to strengthen a country's defence ( as they play politics); and the section on Inclusive Society, that suggests ways that a country can homogenize a population that is today split between the have-nots (with no haves and only nots), and those that live with countless shameless zeros after a number (and are blind to everyone else).

This is not the place to debate individual points enumerated by the author in his Chanakya's New Manifesto.  But it certainly gets you worried , and shocked , when you read what he has to say about the state of our affairs since Independence ,  the blatant disregard for public good, the crass unconcern about wasteful expenditure, the absence of any analysis and action regarding non performing entities, whether human,industrial or commercial, and  you have difficulty feeling hopeful in the face of the scams currently surfacing one after another, with barely a dent on the psyche of those who purport to rule us.

I hope someone studies this,  uses many of its good suggestions and ideas, mentioned  in the new Manifesto.

I understand the author plans to enter public life.  My best wishes to him.

George Santayana once said "Those that do not learn the lessons of history, are doomed to repeat it" .

 The lessons of history are all there in this book. We simply need to learn.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


  1. I don't see any post here...just 'Review of'!

  2. I apologize. Mistakenly pressed Enter. Please check again. Now published as a proper post .

  3. There is something wrong.I can't reach the post