Review: Chanakya's New Manifesto by Pavan K. Varma


Title: Chanakya's New Manifesto to Resolve the Crisis within India
Author: Pavan K. Varma
Pages: 248 Paperback
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Genre: Non-fiction
Release: 2013
Buy : Flipkart / Aleph

Author's website:

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.


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This is not a book one would read over night and forget but a book that is to 'Think & Ponder', 'Understand & contemplate', 'Debate & discuss' and most importantly act upon it as it proposes a well analyzed comprehensive blueprint for mostly systemic changes India desperately needs to not just become a superpower but to survive as well.
"The crisis is Systemic and, therefore, it needs a systemic response." -- Page 31
 Our humble author Pavan K. Verma has clarified that the blueprint is meant for debate not a final verdict. And the book is written with urgency and humility, it does not claim to have a monopoly on the truth and this book is written without any ulterior agenda but for India's betterment.

The book is well researched and it is definitely going to become a treasure for youngsters (aged between 15 and 35), which captivates to understand the functioning of the country. The author has used economic figures and data not only of India but of other nations as well to explain every crisis within India in extensive detail and presented a blueprint for change. So a question may raise in your minds, why read this book when you read a newspaper daily or stick with a business news channel? Well from 1947 to 2012, whatever happened systemically, it's impact on the nation as a whole, facts and figures and most importantly the solution on the basis of Arthasasthra written by a world's most incisive thinker and scholar Chanakya around 200 years ago, is there is these 248 pages which I think one will hardly find anywhere else.

In prologue, Author has described Chanakya's story and about the purpose & the origin of Arthasasthra, How it is an ultimate tool for a better management and functioning. Subsequently describing the purpose of this new manifesto in order to tackle the current malaise.
"India, in order to make it's real tryst with the destiny, must change." -- Page 15
  Crisis: Author has raised some serious questions as we are as a nation, dangerously close to the brink. After a careful thought Author has shortlisted FIVE areas which are the current principle cause of our current predicament. Subsequently briefing about the five grim crises we are facing today.
For better understand and easy access Author has given an individual chapter to each crisis for detail assessment. Every chapter Starts with an excerpt albeit profound advice from Arthasasthra explaining the importance of the Subject in real life, consequently explaining the gravity of the subject presenting facts then drilling down to the to what exactly needs to bone to eradicate the problems.
The five Chapters/problems/Grim crises:
  • Governance
  • Democracy
  • Corruption
  • Security
  • The creation of an Inclusive society

 1) Governance: It's well known that in current times government have shown a pronounced inability to govern.
“The people of a nation have a fundamental right-- Those whom they elect must govern. When they don't, this fundamental right is criminally violated. " -- page 17. 
This chapter focuses upon the growing poverty, malnourished children, infant mortality rate, malaria, instability of the coalition government, problems in agriculture sector, power generation, shortage of coal, poor quality of Indian Railways, Poor infrastructure, condition of civil aviation sector, High Fiscal Deficit, High Current Account Deficit, High Inflation, Low GD all in on i focuses on the government paralysis.
Some (very little) astonishing facts collected from this section--
--> Agriculture productivity is growing at the abysmal rate of 2-3%
-->Brazil spends 1.7 % of it's GDP on agriculture sector, what we spent does not even register.
--> Around 25 million tons of food produced in India rots every year. In 2012, it was 75 million tons.
-->Farmer gets only one third of what we pay, thanks to APMC act.
-->Aggregate loss of our state power utilities was more then $445 billion in 2010.
-->China produced 203 million tons of oil in 2011, Our tally was mere 33.7 million tons.
-->70% of infrastructure projects are delayed.
--> It'll take 3 decades to surpass Brazil, to for South Africa in GDP terms. 29 years to to take Russia & UK, and 35 years to even dream of US.

Chanakya's new manifesto states 57 well laid out points on how to improve the condition of above mentioned and much more then that.

2)Democracy: We are the world's biggest democracy but yet we are flawed in many many ways. 
"There is a cancer at the heart of our democracy; our electoral system is filled with black money rather than within funds."
This section focuses on the nexus between black money and political parties, after winning how parties tends to milk the state's money to recoup their investment in the election campaign, criminal records of many MP's and state ministers, the succession reign in political parties, stalled parliamentary proceedings etc.
Some (very little) astonishing facts collected from this section--
--> In 2009, 153 members of Lok sabha were with criminal records. And it's increasing.
-->Each minute in Parliament cost- 2.95 lakhs.

Chanakya's new manifesto states 87 well thought strong points which can help to improve the democratic condition of the nation considerably.

3) Corruption: Author provokes us to ask a question to ourselves that Why a nation which was lead by a man of unimpeachable rectitude of Mahatma Gandhi has become one of the most corrupt countries of the world? Author not only focuses on the corruption of commonwealth games, 2G scam and others but also the corruption within almost each of us. How we see the payment of bribe as a matter of judicious investment but not morality.
"Corruption is like a litmus paper; it takes on the colour of specific experience"
One consider bribing bad when one has to give but feels good when bribe gets them.
Businessmen looks on bribe as a fixed cost he needs to incur to get over asphyxiating regulatory controls etc.
Some (very little) astonishing facts collected from this section--
-->Corruption eats away 16.6% of our GDP.
--> India would have grown faster by 5% since 1970's if it did not to scourge of bank economy. Consequently India could have be been a $8 trillion economy, 2nd largest in the worlds, per capita income-- 7 times larger.
Chanakya's new manifesto states 111 points of betterment. Which includes that all states mandatory adopt Right to public service (RTSP) act and it's proper enforcement ; the neutral infusion of technology in many areas as possible where common men has to deal with the government; The jan Lokpal bill, it's should be passes ASAP ans should not be a handicapped one; NKL, CJI; punishment of corrupts should be enhanced; more simplified tax structure etc. 
If Government takes the mentioned points from this section then we could use that 16.6% GDP in many sectors which will improve the growth of India.

4) Security Security should be a major concern of a nation because according to Chanakya if a state is vulnerable then everything about it is of little or no consequence. And India needs to learn that hard and fast, In India the approach to security is sloppy, ad hoc, unplanned, reactive and completely lacking focus and will. This section shows grave concerns on Maoist and Naxalites attacks, not enough police stations; not enough weapons and vehicles; not enough defence infrastructure; governments meek response to China or the terrorism/Pakistan; No CCTV cameras installed in much sensitive areas, if installed then not working; large number of vacancies in defence forces, how US passes the USE PARTIOT act on 23rd Oct 2001, Approx, 6 weeks after 9/11, and also the homeland security act (HSA) on 25th Nov' 2002 which has prevented USA from any terrorist attack after 9/11. This section focuses on many more issues on Security of the Nation.
 Chanakya's new manifesto states 58 points. Security is a matter of supreme importance and the mentioned points in the book will definitely help in changing our attitude towards it.

5) The creation of an Inclusive Society: Nation can only progress and grow when it's every citizen grow in themselves. And for that we all must participate and help each other, show empathy.
With 41 Chanakya's new manifesto this section is very significant one as well as it suggested many ways to improvise.
Time has come for a new beginning, so that India, beyond the rhetoric of politics, moves definitively towards becoming pro-actively country.

All in All, this book is immensely knowledgeable, draws one's interest towards the nation and provokes to be an active participant. I did enjoyed thoroughly and was definitely horrified by the astonishing facts presented, and indeed impressed by this new manifesto.

A small Problem-- I find this book a bit inclined towards the current union Government.

4 new coffee cups to energize
NOTE: The Individual chapter has a lot more then what I have written.

Goodreads Reading Graph:

Reading Progress

02/26page 248
100.0%"a well analyzed comprehensive blueprint indeed." 1 comment
02/26page 210
84.0%"result-oriented strategy for better or rather impeccable Security of the Nation."
02/25page 166
66.0%"Well from this segment, I'd support all the points like of RTPS act, Lokpall Bill etc...
--from 3.1-3.111"
02/23page 124
50.0%"points I strongly support--2.10, 2.13,2.20, 2.23,2.31,2.36,2.39,2.49"
02/22page 87
35.0%"points I strongly support-- 1.5, 1.8, 1.13, 1.17, 1.21, 1.35, Points I very Strongly support-- 1.44, 1.46, 1.57
Other points-- 1.16, 1.19, 1.29." 4 comments


           About The Author                                                                                                                                                                   

Pavan K. Varma studied history at St Stephen's College, Delhi, and took a degree in law from Delhi University. He has been press secretary to the president of India, official spokesman of the Foreign Office, director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and India's ambassador to Bhutan. Having taken premature retirement from the Indian Foreign Service, he now seeks to be actively involved in public life.
Pavan K. Varma has authored several acclaimed and bestselling books, among them, 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 into English the poetry of Gulzar, Kaifi Azmi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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I want to thank for giving me this wonderful opportunity of reviewing this book

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  1. you have given a brief description of the entire book...highlighting crucial points of all the 5 major areas ...nice review...!!!

  2. Thanks Anjan for such an insightful comment!!! I wanted to write more but was afraid to spoil it for other...
    Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Wow! This sure as hell sounds absolutely interesting. Being a Politics student, I think I should keep an eye out for it and give Chanakya a try sometime! Amazing review, Ankita! I'm liking the fact that this book makes you question some well established concepts. So glad you liked it. I hadn't heard of it before, so thank you for sharing! :)

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

    1. Hey Sarika, I know you would love this book... This book indeed made me question so many things. Thanks for reading my review :))



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