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February 15, 2013

Book Review - 116 : Chanakya's New Manifesto

Author : Pavan K. Varma
Publisher : Aleph Book Company

Former diplomat-turned writer, poet and now budding politician Pavan Kumar Varma adds to existing repertoire with his formidable collection of India volumes like "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 and Culture and Identity" and "When Loss is Gain". Varma's new book, "Chanakya's New Manifesto: To Resolve Crisis Within India", is a journey through the ideological terrain of modern India striving to streamline governance, hone the democratic apparatus to make it more inclusive, purge corruption and instal foolproof security - key areas that continue to throw up fresh challenges 66 years after Independence.

The book is a reflection on ideas of change that the writer says is meant for youngsters - aged between 15 and 35 - to draw them into the functioning of the country and join the refrain against rot. The narrative is in the voice of one of the greatest thinkers and teachers in Indian history - Chanakya - as his response to the various crises that beset modern India.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, writer 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. Varma’s Chanakya prescribes setting up of 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. According to the suggestion in the book, the GAP should comprise a leading economist or a corporate sector personality, a distinguished journalist, a respected former bureaucrat, an academic of eminence in the field of governance, and a retired chief justice of India or a retired Supreme Court judge. And they should be picked up by a selection panel comprising Prime Minister of India, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India.

I am going with 3/5 for Pavan K. Varma 'Chanakya's New Manifesto'. It is gripping for the most part and does well in collating together the pointers to each of the five foundations of India. As far as the politics and economy is concerned, it doesn't tell you very much that you don't know already. Read it for a comprehensive quick recap of what is so wrong with India and effective measures how it can be improved in the future.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


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