Book Review: A Manifesto in Idealism

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 Vishaal 1 Comments

Title: Chankaya's New Manifesto
Language: English
Author: Pavan K Varma
Genre:  Non Fiction - Political Science
Publisher:  Aleph Book Company (2013)
ISBN - 10: 9382277099
ISBN-13: 9789382277095
Binding: Paperback
Price: Rs. 295 (Buy from Flipkart for Rs.201)
Pages: 248

Synopsis: A nation betrayed by its own leaders needs to find its feet again in a fast changing world. India is again at crossroads and in urgent need of a new direction that will take it back to its former glory. In Chanakya's New Manifesto, author Pavan Varma puts up a five stage plan to restore the dignity of a country stripped by successive governments that have filled their own coffers while ignoring the plight of its billions! He argues against dynastic rule, suggesting that the sacrifices made by the ancestors of an individual should in no way act as a reward for future generations.  In this wonderful book, Pavan Varma puts across an idealistic path towards a secure future for the country, which sounds logically correct, with sound reasoning.

Detailed Review

The book begins by tracing the origins of Chanakya and his association with Chandragupta, his formulation of the arthasastra and the subsequent inspiration this vast manuscript on everything involving governance had on the creation of Chanakya's New Manifesto.

Next Pavan Varma, highlights the crisis facing our vast country in the fields of
  1. Governance - where India is now lagging behind countries which were once looking towards India for direction and are now having growth rates, India is dreaming about.
  2. Democracy - the criminalization of  politics and the inadequate representation of the people. The need to reform the parliamentary system and the constitution! 
  3. Corruption - 2G, 3G, and what not and how the perpetrators are beyond the reach of the law and are being shielded by our representatives!
  4. Security - the MEA seems to be incapable of handling any threats to the country despite having some of the best intelligence resources at its disposal. The rise of naxalism and the absence of a unified response to the same!
  5. An Inclusive Society - A dream of the Mahatma which still remains elusive due to petty vote-bank politics.
 Of course the book talks about these things in much details providing us with an up to the minute information about the problems facing our nation. Chanakya’s New Manifesto, details the pressing charges that hinder the progress of our country towards being a self-sustained global superpower. 

In the next passage titled 1947 and After - the author speaks about the impact of the events during and after the partition/independence  on the direction taken by our country. Here he quotes eminent economists and columnists to highlight how the seeds for dynastic politics were sown quite early with the emergence of personality cults and how this was the anti-thesis of a democratic structure! 

To quote " If a democratic India is the legacy of 1947, the distortions in the functioning of democracy today are because nobody thought it necessary to question them."

From then on the author has decided to tackle the aforementioned problems providing a set of rules/guidelines which can be implemented in the near future to begin the nation's journey back towards a semblance of dignity and glory.

With a crisp narrative and a point-by-point description of the problems facing the nation and a similar approach towards the resolution of these "perceived" weaknesses, Pavan Varma gets us to think for a change. Ideally this book will take a long time for us to digest and as such, this review should have been written about 4 weeks ago. But the topic is such that a thorough understanding takes a long time. 

Chanakya's New Manifesto, takes on the tone of a college text-book (it may actually end up as one) and keeps the reader engrossed.

Book Blurb

Chanakya (c. 270-380 BCE) was classical India's greatest thinker and teacher. Through his unparalleled ability to devise result-oriented military, political, and administrative strategy, he overthrew one king, crowned another and paved the way for the establishment of India's first great empire. His seminal work, the Arthashashtra, arguably the world's first comprehensive treatise on statecraft and governance, was written approximately two thousand years before Machiavelli's The Prince.

What would Chanakya do if confronted with the various crises that beset contemporary India? Using this question as the starting point for his new book, celebrated writer and thinker Pavan K. Varma has drawn up a practical and detailed plan, modelled on the Arthashashtra, to bring about reform and change in five key areas that require urgent attention governance, democracy, corruption, security, and the building of an inclusive society. Whether it is laying the foundation for an independent and effective Lokpal, or decriminalizing politics and successfully weeding out the corrupt, the solutions he proposes are substantive, well within the constitutional framework, and can make all the difference between intent and action.

Chanakya's New Manifesto is both a call to action as well as a deeply insightful account of the challenges facing the country today. It is a book that should be attentively read by everybody with a stake in India's future.

  1. Matter of Fact approach
  2. Very good language that is not difficult to grasp despite being a difficult topic.
  3. A point by point summary of the problems facing the nation and a point by point rebuttal.
  4. A sound and logical reasoning without any jingoism or rhetoric.

  • To the educated, the problems are not something new, in that we have a nagging feeling that we've read the stuff before.
  • a five-point delimitation of the chapters could have been furthur structured with possible sub-points to present the problems in more detail (but then could have made the book more bulky)
  • At some point it appears too idealistic and utopian.
Who will like this?
People who like to keep abreast of the general politics and current affairs.

Buy or Don't Buy?

A definite buy if you are even minutely interested in nation building.(Buy from Flipkart for Rs.201)  

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