Chanakya’s New Manifesto by Pavan K.Verma-A Book Review

The Republic of India was born on 26th January 1950 after Hindustan gained independence on 15th August 1947. These two marvelous events are the important highlights of India’s history, results of a exhaustive meticulously fought revolution. Jump to modern day India. We are in the middle of a transformation, a revolution if you will. Yet, what we are missing is a concise pathway to follow. The struggle for independence, although never backed by a document, always followed a principle. The principle of non violence, ahimsa etc also cumulatively known as Gandhi’s principles. Somehow this book is exactly what we need right now.

Author of Chanakya's New ManifestoThis 247 paged novel is an excellent book by Pavan K. Verma. Before I dive into how the book is and how it deals with India’s needs perfectly, a word about the author. Mr.Verma is an ex-civil servant who took voluntary early retirement from the Indian Foreign Services and now leads an actively involved public life. I believe these credentials are enough for him to provide an accurate commentary on the topics this book covers.

Inspired by the great Vishnu Gupta or more commonly known as Chanakya’s Arthshastra, this book lays down a blueprint of systematic changes India needs to become a superpower. It clearly lays down five key areas which are down in the dumps and are in a desperate need for improvement. Mr.Verma, in a concise and precise way, first details the current situation in that sector, tells us how this problem came about and what its roots are. Thus, after establishing a firm background and working knowledge of the topic to be dealt with, Pavan elaborates on the changes he thinks are needed while backing each one of them with a sound and logical reason(s).

The only flaw which I could even possibly relate to this book is extremely remote i.e. it didn’t debate the cons of the plans laid down in the book. But in the author’s defense  he ends the book by humbly saying that these points are not perfect and should be debated. So, no harm done. This along with a grammatical error or two, the book is perfect.

Chankaya's New Manifesto

As a whole, the book is something India desperately needs right now. We are plagued by inefficient governance, archaic policies, slow judicial mechanisms, a corrupt system and a lax bureaucracy. Although we have an enraged population, anger is not what will change the system. People hate corruption but have no way to fight it. This book presents an idea, an implementable idea. Something for us to follow and do. The X factor lies in the fact that the author himself has been in the very system he is trying to change. As he is already aware of its nooks and cranny, his ideas lay out the battle plan to combat them as well. I don’t say the ideas of this book are perfect as that perception differs from person to person in a free and independent society like ours. All I am saying is that like those fancy self-improvement guides we buy, this book is a nation-improvement book. We have the blueprint, we want the change. All that’s left to do is, ironically, is to do!

Like: Clear, concise, precise, effective, well planned, well thought out, reasonable logic
Dislike: Nothing

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Aazadiyan:A Look At Life

NOTE:This is guest blog post I wrote for Nelton D’Souza’s blog Just A Minute Here’s the link to the post http://justamin.blogspot.in/2013/01/aazadiyana-look-at-life.html Also,I recommend you read these posts as well : It’s Okay To Be Confused, Debugging Life and Debugging Life(Rebooted)

Something which all of us acknowledge is the presence of the nagging voice in our hearts. It’s the voice which tells us what we really want, what we are or what we have become. It’s that tiny little poke which reminds us how we have somehow screwed up life and we should “un-screw” it. One of the common commands it issues is to break free and change everything. Call it whatever you want, I call it Aazadi.

Don’t mistake me for the colloquial English synonym “freedom”. To me Aazadi expresses much more than freedom. It reflects the pride of achieving our dream, cherishing our passion and our inexpressible joy at doing all of that. Someone finds solace in snapping pictures of animals while someone loves to play the drums. Someone loves writing poems while on the flip side, some find sadistic pleasure in being a critic. My point is that everyone has his or her own forte and guilty pleasures. But not everyone gets to do that. Some bow down to the pressure of economic troubles and some to social ridicule. Some are scared by the magnitude to scale and some have plainly lost hope.Some,like Santiago are still searching for their Alchemist while some are being their own.

It’s a funny thing how many people claim passion to be hokum,dismissing it as lore.I pity them because they don’t know the feeling  of true happiness. I’m on the path of achieving my own dream, and the rush,the feel,the emotions,the passion and the pure unadulterated exhilaration is simply unmatchable.
People ask me with awestruck faces “You’re 17 and you think you know your passion and your dreams?Yeah right!”. I tell them this: Dreams don’t have age,nor does your passion or happiness. As to how I stumbled on to my Philosopher’s stone, it was easy. Just think and ponder over this question: “What would you do if money didn’t matter?” and you’ll find the answer. 
To all those who still believe their thoughts and their dreams are entangled and chained in shackles, I quote my favourite song
Pairon ki bediyan khwabon ko baandhe nahi re, kabhi nahi re
Mitti ki parton ko nanne se ankur bhi cheeray, dheere dheere
Iraade hare hare, jinke seeno mein ghar kare
Woh dil ki sune kare na darre, na darre

Subah ki kirno ko rokein jo salaakhein hai kahan
Jo khayalon pe pehre daale woh aankhein hai kahan
Par khulne ki deri hai parinde udh ke choomenge
Aasman aasman aasman



Dream and dream on friends 🙂

The epitome of freedom

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The Gawkadal Massacre

Look at the grief of a commonerWith nearly two-third of January gone and almost all of our new year resolutions broken, the day of 20th January 2013 dawned to the 23rd anniversary of a brutal, ghastly incident which ironically most people don’t know about. I confess that even I was among those who didn’t know about this incident until some of my Twitter friends alerted me. So to that entire generation which doesn’t even know where Gawkadal is, here’s a summarised account.

On  the night of 19thJanuary 1990, Mr. Jagmohan was appointed as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, despite wide disapproval from the populace as well as the state government. In fact, the state government led by then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, resigned in protest. The very same night, the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) carried out unwarranted raids and inspections in Srinagar and arrested thousands of innocent people. Next morning when the word of the arrests got out, thousands of protesters poured out on the streets in anti-government marches, much similar to the outrage over the recent Delhi Gang Rape incident. In the evening, the protesters reached Srinagar’s wooden bridge over the Jhelum River named Gawkadal Bridge. To control this supposed unruly crowd, the CRPF opened fire on them, resulting in the death of 51(government toll) or 281(estimated toll). Also, thousands of people died as they had jumped into the river out of fear and drowned.
CRPF arrests protesters in Srinagar
23 years later, Kashmir still awaits justice. The police buried the investigation as “untraceable” and Delhi did everything to bury it. After all which government would want to have this on their resume? But the truth of the matter remains that this incident was no less brutal than the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Anyone devoid of sympathy, here’s a food for thought. Hundreds of people died before seeing the Internet. Many kids were orphaned just because some idiots in Delhi wanted power. Women were widowed because the government lacked the balls to take on a peaceful protest headfirst. As the 21stCentury citizens of India, we have learned to show our displeasure and annoyance at the government. But our forerunners were brutally massacred and ironically, almost no one knew. All I ask for is awareness, sympathy and respect. Awareness about this disgusting use of fascist fanatic force to crush the voice of the commoners. Sympathy for the original protesters who bravely gave up their lives for something they believed was right. Respect for the entire population of Kashmir, where (and I quote), “Every prayer is to beg god for a moment of peace in his heaven on earth.
Child Kisses Memorial Stone of Gaw Kadal Massacre

The need of the hour is crystal clear. India is awakening and the iron is red hot, ready to be struck. It’s time we change. I hope we change. Soon, Fast and Now.

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Who am I?An Indian Teen’s Identity Crisis

NOTE:This was the article I wrote for the What’s My ID Contest for Youth Ki Awaaz. I won a Nokia Lumia 710 and an internship with them. Here’s the picture :

Nokia Lumia 710 Won By Siddharth Gupta for What's My ID Contest for Youth ki Awaaz

As a seventeen year old teen, I can confidently say I’m an Indian who is astonished by India daily. With the second highest population in the world, the only way of describing us is “we’re everywhere”. Some rejoice by this unique factorial, claiming it to be a bright prospect for the country’s future. But what I, and most of today’s youth sees, is a situation of identity crisis. A situation that doesn’t look good at all.

Today, every child, by the sole act of his birth, acquires multiple tags, which already define him before he or she can logically think. When a foreign dignitary visits India, the first lesson they learn is of our cultural integrity, but they never learn of our inhumane and excruciatingly complex divide. May it be on the geographical distribution of states, or of the language rolled off their tongues, we have a nasty little intuition to immediately separate each other out. It’s interesting to note that most of the geographical and language issues are simply banal. Consider this: at the time of our independence, we had 15 odd states which today stand at 28. Looking at certain separatist movements, we may see an increase in the number. But the point that stands out is that over time, fragmentation, re-merging of areas, division etc stops mattering because over the years, the only common link geographically between people has remained that of belonging to a common nation- India.

Moving on to the touchy issue, caste based discrimination. It’s not that we are not trying to move past it. With each passing generation, the emerging youth of India has slowly worked towards making it a figment of history. Unfortunately, our social stigmas and laws haven’t caught up. As a child when my mother taught me equality, I often thought “How can I say XYZ is equal to me when he gets a reservation in educational institutes, government jobs and many other such similar offerings while I don’t?”

Bringing in the gender divide, I slightly start feeling disgusted. For a nation which claims to believe and worship in a goddess, we are simple brutes. As a staunch advocate of equality among women, I simply find myself in dearth of a true identity, because associating myself with any of them highlighted here, causes a revulsion in me.

Identity. The word itself resonates a feeling of unity, of oneness and in true essence, describes the individual persona of each person. Sadly, as an Indian who is still in his growing years, I’ve discovered that I have multiple facades, multiple descriptions associated with me. Why, is a question I’m yet to answer, because the search goes on. In India, you never have a single identity. It’s always a concoction of many different ones. But whatever the potion may be and whoever may be the brewer, one thing is apparent and crystal-clear. Something is wrong, and we must change. I hope we change. Soon, Fast and Now

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Life,Shife Tey Cornetto Khana

As I walk down the street, I see numerous eyes boring towards me, in an almost hate inciting manner. Men, with unkempt matted hair and bloodshot eyes, women with a slight sneer and noses flared in the not cute way. Even little children seemed to hate me, as they looked at me with the looks reserved for the uncle who takes away your ball when you break his window. I quickened my pace and kept walking, with admittedly a creepy little feeling right at the back of my neck, ignoring the sudden cold I felt. Damn! This bad phase was getting to me. Just yesterday I had a mock paper for an entrance exam I will be taking with lakhs of other students sometime next year. I still couldn’t remember my result and not suppress the feeling to throw up. Like all those moments, I start seeing flashes. The whirring of the fan as I read “Saransh Sharma, All India Rank 68”. The not-good enough look on my parents’ face, the slightly pale but reminiscent of the original white color tiles of the floor as my professor hurled his sarcastic comments, everything.

As I reached the odd looking shop and smiled at Jagran Chacha, he appeared to be in a bright mood. Here’s why it was fishy. Jagran Chacha was infamous for his grouchy expressions as he read the Dainik Jagran editorials perennially. He last smiled during the monsoons of 2010 when apparently his village had been nominated for a development award. I plonked three moldy 10 rupee notes on his table and wordlessly picked up my Ice-cream. That’s one thing I loved as a regular customer! Every afternoon at 1.30 my double chocolate Cornetto awaited me at Chacha’s shop. The small talk with Chotu and Chacha, was admittedly not the day’s highlight, but yes, it did figure into my daily dose of indulgence. Ironically, I decided to forgo today the one thing that I needed the most, an off chit-chat.

As I stood outside the shop and took a bite, I wondered about my precarious decisions and the mess that I know called life. One of my friends had once postulated “If you’re sorted right now, it just means God’s planning some mischief, Satan-style”. Strange isn’t it? Life suddenly changes paths without a warning, everything loses order or sense and you descend into chaos. That’s what was happening to me. I had potently decided that I needed to take some bold steps to curb my problems. Giving up on the supposed vices of teenage life was a priority. My sister already laid claim to my cell phone, and social networks were to be closed at the click of a button. Sorting and planning were my buzz words for the day as I miserably started off with the waffle of the cone. I don’t know why, but ice-cream, especially a Cornetto always brings me to my senses. Once I actually sat down to find the reason behind it. I even tried to interpret some deep meaning behind the melting of the soft chocolate flavored disk and I reached a sensible conclusion which read “If it’s hot, it’ll melt you dummy!” So I let it be.

Biting into the bottom half of the cone, I saw an uncanny scene. Right across the road, a small little boy, perhaps the age of three or four, the rags made him look older though, was walking. An insignificant empty can sat right in the middle of his path. The boy stopped in his tracks, and with eyes full of snide yet innocent curiosity, began examining it. He prodded it with small squishy fingers, stared at the nearly gone label and measured its size. Perhaps it was a religious thing or maybe an odd fixation, but he wasn’t going on further, as if the can was stopping him. Seemingly seeing no alternative, he did what most of us do to feel good; he started crying. He cried et he wailed, but the can didn’t move. How was the young child to know that like most people today, metallic cans too didn’t have hearts that melt at the sight of someone else’s anguish. Just as I bit into the best yet unfortunately the last bit of the cone, I saw the child wipe his snotty nose of his rag like clothes and angrily stand up. If I had not known better, I would have thought it to be the angry young man look of Bollywood. He raised his leg, and in perfect arc, swung it with force towards the can and kicked it straight across the road where it rolled over to God knows where. With a smile, the kid walked on.

I hastily wiped my spectacles to remove the oily, sweat smudge. As I put them back on, everything seemed to change. The bloodshot eyes stare seemed to be more of a stranger’s courteous acknowledgement than hate. The woman’s flared nose as she bargained with Jagran Chacha over something seemed cute again and Chacha’s grouchy expression was back. The kids were giggling at me and my slightly displaced look. As I exited the shop, the afternoon seemed brighter and so did my mood. I wondered why I was thinking so oddly. Maybe, it was the spectacle’s smudge or perhaps the ice-cream. I’ll never know, but the best part is, I don’t want to know.


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My River Shall Always Flow

A Poem About A Revolutionary Proclaiming His Change. People Die, But Their Ideas And Premise Don’t
Belittle me if you can
Slap on me an unwarranted ban.
You can rain your blows
But, my river shall always flow
Suppress me if you will,
My thoughts, no one can kill.
With my arrow loaded in a bow,
My river shall always flow
Call me Satan if you may,
Roark was one too, in his day.
You shall reap as you shall sow,
As for me, my river shall always flow
Even the universe stands still
For a man whom truth instills
The righteous shall win
And the wrong will cry in woe
Because, come what may,
My river shall always flow

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From Pakistan, With Love

NOTE: This article was written by me for the newspaper Education Times (http://www.myeducationtimes.com/article/79/201209102012091011592217627a4cd78/From-Pakistan-with-love.html)while I Interned there. Here is the link to the PDF of the actual newspaper article(http://www.4shared.com/office/eyiy0Tub/TOIM_2012_9_10_32.html) 

Sometimes, life leads us down a path which figuratively changes us. I recently embarked on such a journey to Hyderabad which left me amazed as it changed some of my dominant preconceived notions that I had been harbouring since childhood. The impact this experience had on me was even more profound simply due to the current relevance of the matter. 
The purpose of my trip to the City of Nawabs was an international conference with students from over 21 countries participating including those from Pakistan. Unfortunately, this conference occurred around the time of the August 11 protests at Azad Maidan which accentuated the communal and anti-Pakistan sentiments already existent amongst many Indians. However, my interactions with students from our neighbouring country gave me an opportunity to view Pakistanis in a different light contrary to public opinion. During the course of a week, I had multiple conversations with my fellow students from Pakistan about a range of topics varying from terrorism to politics and even cricket! 
I distinctly remember an incident at a mall that made me realise that Pakistanis are similar to us in a number of ways. After a great team lunch, all of us were looking to hire an auto rickshaw back to our hotel. Being the typical Indian city it is, we couldn’t get anyone to agree on a fair price for the ride. After a lot of innate Indian haggling, we finally got into one, still not satisfied with the decided fare. However, I saw my friend from Lahore smiling. She turned to me and said, “We have the exact same tendency to haggle in Pakistan!” That was it! The big moment of realisation! 
I realised that despite being at each other’s throats for years, India and Pakistan are truly like fraternal twins with just different perspectives and ideologies. However hate-filled and prejudiced the thoughts of our leaders, or for that matter, our elders may be, we (the youth) have a radically peaceful outlook. Over the years, we have witnessed religious discrimination or fanaticism. Yet, we, the youth, have brought about a silent revolution that runs deep within our mindsets. This effect is that of religious indifference. We understand nationalism but with a cool head. To our minds, not every Pakistani is a terrorist nor do we believe that harmonious existence is a myth. Although our politicians constantly make efforts to mask nation-based hatred, the grim reality is it always resurfaces with biased and illogical anger. Just as we overcame religious borders, it’s time to bond over actual borders. 
I returned home a changed teenager. I’ve returned a person with some great friends across the border and with a vision in my mind, a vision of eternal peace and harmony. Because for the first time in seventeen years, when a Pakistani hugged me I knew that the vision was not Indian nor was it solely mine. It was a shared vision of some youngsters not as citizens of two different nations, but as humans living in a global civilisation.

From Pakistan, With Love in Education Times,Mumbai Edition


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