Chanakya's New Manifesto - Book review

To start with ~This book (Chanakya's new manifesto to resolve the crisis within India) is not a novel. It is an answer to the question,"What would Chanakya do if confronted with the various crisis that beset contemporary India ?" - " Of course, from the author's point of view".

Pavan.K. Varma, the author who is an ex Indian foreign service officer, picks up five main areas that are to be addressed to resolve India's modern day problems. The author talks about governance, democracy, corruption, security and building an inclusive society. Chanakya's new manifesto, as laid down by the author is classified into the five topics stated above. It is a proposed blue print for change. The underlined assumption is that " we cannot continue as we are and must gather the resolve to bring in effective governance, a true democracy, a corruption free state, a security conscious nation and an inclusive society. If we fail, India may never succeed. Our future is at stake. "

The author starts each chapter with a quote from the Artha Shastra, walks through the history and current state of India ( related to the topic under discussion) and then provides "what should be done now", in very clearly jotted down bullet points.

If you ask me to pick one best suggestion that is stated in the book, I would pick up the following without any doubt.
"Point 2.8 under Democracy - The current practice which allows parties not to identify donors contributing less than Rs 20000 must be scrapped. This is the principal (but not only) channel for parties to collect vast amounts of undeclared funds. Every paisa given as a donation to political parties must be accounted for and transacted through auditable and transparent bank transactions"

When suggesting things on governance, the author feels that each coalition like UPA or NDA must publicly announce a common governance agenda, with indicative time frame for specific deliverables. Pavan . K. Varma's book Chanakya’ new manifesto also prescribes setting up a five member Governance Appraisal Panel (GAP) which will independently evaluate the performance of the government and submit annual report to the President of India.

The author has boldly expressed his views in all of the chapters either be expressing views on the need to support the Jan Lokpal bill or condemning the dynasty rule in the country, the author is pretty straightforward.

This book is more for a serious read and not one of those kinds with which you plan to pass time. Even if atleast 50 % of the prescribed actions in the book are attempted to be implemented, then it would take India a long way in the path of development.

So, if you read this book, it is not enough to treat the content lightly but we need to try to convert some of the ideas into action. It is possible only if all the citizens (atleast the educated ones), act in cohesion, unison and wisdom to bring about the much needed change that India needs.

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