The author, Pavan K. Varma, is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, where he studied history and took a degree in law from Delhi University. He is at present India’s Ambassador in Bhutan. Prior to this he has worn many hats and held many important positions. He has been press secretary to the President of India, official spokesman of the Foreign Office, and director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
He has authored many bestselling books including Ghalib: The Man, The Times; Krishna: The Playful Divine; The Great Indian Middle Class; Being Indian: The truth about why the 21st century will be India’s; Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity and When Loss is Gain. He has also translated works of Gulzar, Kaifi Azmi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee into English.
Pavan Varma is hailed as one of the greatest social commentators of contemporary India. I had missed reading his previous works, so when I came across a chance to read his book “Chankya’s New Manifesto” through Blogadda I grabbed the opportunity.
The book aims to apply the Chanakya’s strategy (Chanakya neeti ) to the woes of contemporary India. What would Chanakya do if confronted with the various crises that beset contemporary India? forms the basis of this book. “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.”[From the book]
History is testimony to the results of Chanakya’s strategy and not utilizing such a great resource as his work can only be termed a crime. His work is relevant and also most required today when The Time called the most important man of our country an under-achiever, when we start everyday with news of a new scam, most of our leaders tainted and trust in the system is at its lowest. An urgent action is needed on our leaders’ part and an equal need for others to question the system, to ask for answers, to ask the right questions and debate on the right ways of bringing about a change and infuse a fresh lease of life into our system and country to really make it a Shining India.
Pavan Varma’s book has taken the first step towards that change. In his book, divided in five parts, he has analysed the current situation in detail and provided the solutions that he thinks can be used to overcome these problems. The five parts he has focused on are
- Security (of the country from external threats )
- Inclusive society
The best part about the book is that there is great focus how can the situation be remedied instead of just detailed problem analysis. Plus, the points are not dry theory or wishful thinking but practical implementable, and workable solutions. His rich experience shows in the analysis and the solutions devised. However, neither the content nor the language overwhelms the reader and in fact the book is quite a light read in spite of the topic at hand. The book made me run to Google plenty of times to get the facts, to verify something, to counter a theory or to defend my counter-views. And, for me, any book which can make you think in such a manner is a winner. He provides his perspective on the important issues and even when you don’t agree you’ll find the views and theories quite intriguing. The book makes you think deeply on all the issues.
Anybody who thinks about being a part of social change, changing the status-quo, interested in current politics, interested in statesmanship or knowing the art of statecraft and governance should read this book. Also, anybody who wants to read a great piece of non-fiction with practical outlook should pick a copy of the book. Not for casual readers though. Be ready to rack your brains if you want to read the book and some amount of patience is required to understand what is written if you aren’t very familiar with the ways of governance.
Final Verdict: 8/10
Name: Chanakya’s New Manifesto: To Resolve the Crisis within India
Author: Pavan K Varma
Publisher: Aleph Book Company(2013)
No. of pages: 248