Monday, February 18, 2013

Chanakya's New Manifesto by Pavan K. Varma

This is not a book review. This is a book experience.

There are perks to being a student of the English Department at Jamia Millia Islamia. There are days you can come to college and realize that the department has organized a free book pick-up for you. (Yay!) Then there are other days when you are gifted the privilege of meeting some of the most prominent authors, who are responsible for making the literary scene of India rich and happening. In these co-curricular activities, their is a joy of stepping out of books to receive knowledge from wisdom and experience of those who are veterans in their fields. I happened to feel similar joy last week, when Aleph and Department of English, JMI, jointly came together to introduce author-diplomat Pavan K. Varma to students and avid book readers, and, more specifically, to those young-hearts, who feel they have a stake in our country's future.

Mr. Pavan K. Varma has authored 19 books so far, and even a cursory glance at the list of books he has written throws light of the versatility of his literary forays. From economics, to politics, to translation and fiction, Mr. Varma has experimented with it all, and his books have consistently tasted success. Chanakya's New Manifesto is the first of his books which I have read, thanks to an advance reading copy sent my way by Aleph, and after being thoroughly impressed and enriched by the contents of this book, I can safely say that I understand why Mr. Varma has churned out such consistently successful books.

Chanakya's New Manifesto is a document which analyses in very crisp terms the challenges which the Indian polity faces. This book, then, spends a greater time in illustrating some very pragmatic suggestions which can be a possible answer to the problems which our country finds itself grappling with. The book is critical of policies and people who have stood in the way of our progress and potential as a nation. It draws solutions/suggestions for contemporary crises from examples of other nations, from our own reports of various commissions and committees, and in each page, it displays the thorough research which the author has undertaken to come out with this kind of a comprehensive manifesto.

To streamline his suggestions better, the author has divided the many challenges which India faces into five distinct categories - Governance, Democracy, Corruption, Security, and creation of an Inclusive Society. After taking a few pages to outline the grey areas of policy and the repeated failures of lawmakers and implementers in these 5 areas, Mr. Varma elaborates in greater detail the kind of steps which need to be taken to combat and overcome our shortcomings. This is what I find great about this book - its passionate solution orientedness. This passion I understood in greater depth when Mr. Varma visited our campus, and in a single line, caught our attention 'Evolution of nations badi pecheeda cheez hai' - he stated in no uncertain terms, that despite being a civilization which is about 5000 years old, we have challenges which cannot be buried under the glory of history. Since it is our collective future at stake, we cannot afford to not be interested in the functioning of our nation. According to him, as has also been stated in his book, in India, the imperatives of governance and democracy are antithetical to each other, and our challenge is to tweak the system in such a way that governance and democracy become complimentary to each other.

With Mr. Pavan K. Varma

In the year 1947, our republic had the luxury of time. Now, 65 years later, with rampant corruption, mass poverty, social indices worse than Sub-Saharan Africa and two hostile neighbours, that luxury is lost to us. Taking inspiration from classical India's greatest thinker - Chanakya - this book attempts to devise result oriented political, administrative and social strategy - a must read for those who take interest in India and its dynamics. For students planning to get into administration, this book simply cannot be missed. I am already preparing to read it a second time, and if I were to rate it, 4.5 stars on 5 would be my succinct review of this manifesto. How I wish some political party came out someday with such foresight, passion and will for the unambiguous, non-negotiable betterment of India.

Book Details -
Author - Pavan K. Varma
Source - Review Copy
Publisher - Aleph
Published - 2013
Genre - Non-Fiction
Price - ₹ 295
Pages - 248

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