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Chanakya’s New Manifesto

March 1, 2013

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India, a young republic with a 500 year old civilization is at crossroads: Between stagnation and growth; between the hopes of 1947 and the challenges of 21st century. Inorder to get out of this plateau and give itself a final push, some significant change has to happen. What changes should India bring about to push forward in this century forms the basis of Pavan K. Varma’s book: ‘Chanakya’s New Manifesto – To resolve the crisis within India’.

The author bases his suggestions on Chanakya’s principles. Chanakya, a thinker and scholar wrote one of the world’s most incisive treatises on statecraft on 4th century BC, called the Arthashastra. The Arthashastra consists of about 6,000 shlokas and sutras. It deals systematically with the subjects of effective governance, welfare of people, economic prosperity, the conduct of foreign policy, war planning and preparedness and such. The author identifies these precisely the areas in which India, seems to have lost its way. But the hope is not lost yet. If more than 2000 years ago a person like Chanakya could, in a similar situation, bring about change and articulate a new vision of governance, there is no reason why we can’t do the same. Hence, the author states his suggestions for the overhaul of India under five broad categories:

Governance:

The people of the nation have a fundamental right – those whom they elect must govern. Hence governance must be an overriding priority of any country. The author brings to our notice the importance of infusion of technology and infrastructure in agriculture; consequences of governance deficit on power generation; poor crude oil exploration; importance of investment in education with India being one of the youngest countries in the world; setting up of Governance Appraisal Panel (GAP) and steps to curb the corruption. He implores that governance reform, which will directly impact the quality of life of every citizen, cannot be postponed or avoided.

Democracy:

In the years leading up from 1947,we have exulted in being labeled as the world’s largest democracy and have stopped noticing many serious distortions that had gradually become and inherent part of our democratic  functioning. Criminal records of our politicians and dynasty politics now prevalent within parties are things worth condemning. Chanakya’s New Manifesto states the importance of an Apex Committee to review proposals of electoral reform; transparency in party funding; an IT monitoring system to record all the transactions; a ceiling on the campaign expenditures; screening of electoral candidates contesting in elections; creation of negative or neutral voting options; maintaining decorum of the house during parliamentary proceedings and several other suggestions to improve the democratic framework of India.

Corruption:

An interesting fact that the author suggests in this section is that corruption is not unique to India. What is unique is the level of acceptance, and the ‘creative’ ways in which it is sustained. Author points out that in our country, a breach of morality is linked to circumstance, and certain deviations are considered acceptable if the circumstances so dictate. At least in Hinduism, there is no binding or universal code of conduct that gives unequivocal primacy to moral dimension. This ingrained mindset along with the fact that in India, an average businessman will consider a bribe as a fixed cost to circumvent the tapes of bureaucracy, makes everyone take corruption as a way of life. Chanakya’s New Manifesto states that all states must mandatorily adopt a Right to Public Services (RTPS) act which will state the timeframe and ways in which an ordinary citizen can apply for or avail a certain service in interaction with the government. M.P and Bihar have found considerable success with the adoption of this act. Use of technology to monitor the funds, effective punishment, fast-track courts and transparency in the government transactions is the way forward.

Security:

The principal components that make up an effective security doctrine: foreign policy, defence preparedness and an intelligence gathering apparatus. India must forge a foreign policy where security becomes a core concern – Period. This is one of my primary concerns too because I feel as a country, India is not taking strong measures to combat terrorism and to ensure the safety for all its citizens. Overhauling DRDO, increasing the cap on FDI on defence production and incubation of a Border Infrastructure Cell (BIC) are some of the recommendations put forward by Chanakya’s New Manifesto. Police reforms inorder to protect honest policemen from corrupt politicians is also the call of the time.

The Creation of the Inclusive Society:

With a gap between poor and rich ever increasing and problems like poverty, malnourishment, high infant mortality rate glaring at our collective psyche, it is important that concrete measures be taken to create a more inclusive society. Policy of State Altruism should ensure money from subsidies reaches the deserved people. Education and Health are two vital components of the inclusionary agenda. Creating partnerships with NGOs, focusing on health education, encouraging voluntary and charity groups, utilizing corporate social responsibility are some of the factor to consider, according to Chanakya’s New Manifesto.

This book was in no means an easy read. Nevertheless, it is an excellent read which makes one ponder about the current deficiencies in our system and ways to overcome them. The book made me realize that there is a need for change and more than that, it is possible to make it happen. It is up to us how we tap into the suggestions set forth by the book. The author says that all the suggestions are open to debate and this book is only a blueprint. The book will make an interesting and eye-opening read for anyone living in India currently.

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9 Comments
  1. vishalbheeroo permalink

    add to it revamp of our education system, bridge the gap between Rural and Urban India, citizens involvement in decision making and accountability of policy making.

  2. vishalbheeroo permalink

    hey dat ma blog link
    http://www.vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com

  3. Sounds like a very interesting book, though not one that I would commonly read.
    Lovely review!

    PS: Sent you an e-mail. 🙂

  4. Very well reviewed girl! 🙂 I must read this one. Sounds very interesting 🙂

  5. Sounds interesting. Gonna give it a try soon.

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