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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RIP by Mukul Deva-A Book Review

Mukul Deva, author of RIPToday’s India is defined by scenario which is disturbing. A corrupt political class which was used to ruling over the masses and fooling them, but is slowly meeting its downfall with the emergence of what I call, “the part-time street activist”. These new citizens of India refuse to accept the idiosyncratic standards of Indian governance and using mass-appeal techniques like social networking, protests and anshaans, have taken the country by storm. It is not news that India is changing. But a portion of the crowd believes the change is slow. This book is like wine to them.

 

This 286 paged novel is Mukul’s 12th novel. As I have not read any of his other books, I cannot comment upon the continuity of style, but this book is what we Indians like to call, teekhior spicy. The plot is pretty simple and straight forward. No detailed mysteries to be cracked or codes to be interpreted. Just a bunch of ex-army men wishing to eliminate corruption from their beloved nation as they swore to. How do they do this? By killing of the corrupt and jolting them into reactionary phases. The characters of the book are relatable as well easy to connect with. Deva has been creative with the real life inspirations as all the politicians and political parties referred to in the book, although slightly differently named, can be guessed in one go.
RIP(Resurgent Indian Patriots)The factor that drives this book is the honesty of the author’s thought process, brutal expression of ground reality and it’s impeccable timing( the violent revolutionary anti-establishment mood of the book is extremely similar to India’s reaction to the Nirbhaya gang rape case). The author is clearly a person who wishes to change India, but unlike Anna’s Gandhian movements or Kejriwal’s political outfit, he wishes to do this, Rang de Basanti style. A idea advocated by a growing group every day.
Coming to the bumps in the road, RIP, according to me is a bit too fantastical. The way the protagonists execute the key figures of the Indian political arena is yet believable. But the fact that they get away with successful assassinations of many important figures in a period of just 2 weeks, is slightly unrealistic. It is something that none of the major terror organisations have been able to pull off. In fact such a case has never been observed in history. That was one thing that put me off. Couple this with the over-the-top Bollywood like end; I was left feeling a range of emotions. Imagine that you’ve just seen an Anurag Kashyap movie which ends like a Yashraj flick. That’s what I’m talking about.
Overall, this book is an excellent read and is easy on the eyes as well. Mukul tactfully narrates the story through different POVs without any glitch or loopholes, a feat which is an achievement in itself. So to every angry young Indian out there who is seething at the government, rush to the nearest store (or just buy it online). A revolution is in the making.
Like: Easy to read, Revolutionary, Radical ideas, Matches the mood of the nation
Dislike:  A wee bit fantastical, Bollywood like over-the-top end

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Corruption: A Threat To Democracy

Democracy is based on the principle of forming a government “of the people, for the people and by the people”. So when a nation of the people stops being for them, one of democracy’s fundamental principles itself is challenged.

Corruption is the very threat itself which has nearly destroyed India’s government and has tarnished a fake image of being a nation which is clean right down till its roots. Corruption always was a part of our system, right from our independence in 1947 up to the recent events, always existing in varied forms. It has become one of those things which are taught to us as fundamentals of life.”Corruption toh sab maa ke paet se sikh kar aate hain” is one way of putting it; because it is something which is profoundly true because may it be bribing traffic officers as a child for avoiding underage driving or giving ‘gifts’ to ministers for building approvals, we have made corruption an innate attribute. Recent events such as the CWG games scam (courtesy Suresh Kalmadi) , 2G spectrum scam(a certain A Raja) and of course the Jan Lokpal Movement led by Anna Hazare has brought this elusive tyranny to the limelight.

A national poll reveals that nearly 73% of India’s adult population was forced to give bribes to ensure the smooth passage of their tasks. So the question arises is this: How do we stop this menace? How do we eradicate something that is today running through our blood? Can it really be stopped or will it just be hidden behind a new mechanism?

Although passion is a helpful thing, it is not enough. Because if it would have been enough, I would have been a Steve Jobs-cum-Dan Brown figure in society because that’s my passion. I believe that although further reforms will help us in solving ridding our nation of this problem but the same can be achieved by proper exercise and awareness with regard to existing mechanisms such as the Right To Information Act (RTI), reporting bribe demanding authorities to the Anti Corruption Bureau etc. This will not only be highly practical when compared to a new mechanism but viable also. But then there also arises the issue that nobody uses them thus a monitoring body is required. But imagine this: India is a nation with a huge population. Imagine what would happen if each one of us reported at least one corrupt officers? I would like to end by modifying Mr. Obama’s popular slogan,” Together We Can!”


Anna Hazare Fasting In Protest (Anshan)



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"Nobody Wants A Bhagat Singh In Their Home!"

I was standing at Andheri station, awaiting my train when  the latest issue of “The Week” caught my eye. The cover story was one covering Mr.Ajeet Singh,a great social activist who is working on the elimination of child prostitution. However, this article is not about him but rather about something he said.”Nobody Wants A Bhagat Singh In Their Home!”. This statement really intrigued me to no extent. Being born and brought up in an urban environment and a modern family, I have never faced any form of restrictions in helping people out. But Mr. Singh’s statement has cruelly revealed the so called “pedestrian population” of India. It is the face of India which is still grovelling in the dirt of myths, baseless culture, illiteracy, gender bias and caste based discrimination. It saddens me to say that our nation which is bustling with an ever increasing populous is burdened by outdated and redundant social customs which leaves us at a total blockade in terms of growth. Although the remarkable anti corruption programmes in recent times have definitely taken a step in the required positive direction, our minstrels will always be shackled to the sands of time due to the stubborn will of our nation to stick to old traditions. So the question arises, “How Can We Change?”.I say we do so by changing ourselves and the ones near us. Let’s have the courage to stand up and say what is right or wrong. It may be something as trivial as asking your parents not to hire a house help who is underage or may be protesting the arrest of an innocent citizen who is just fighting for his rights. The magnitude of our involvement does not matter. People may mock us and cite the contrary but in fact the truth as I believe it is, can be explained by a small event from the life of our ex-president, Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
As all of us know, he loved children and always will. I always keep a track of his events and speeches because he is one of those few people who really inspire me from the bottom of my heart. Anyway, at a school event in Ahemdabad, a cocky seventeen year old smugly asked him,” Sir, as a student all my time is gone in either studies or running errands. When you say I should plant trees, do you suggest I stop studies or running errands for my parents?”Dr.Kalam smiled and replied “Son, what do you do when you want to relax?”Taken aback by this sudden change in the subject, the boy replied, “I go for walks with my friends.”Broadening his smile, he said “Then, my son you just need to do one thing: Carry a handful of seeds and drop them near any area which you wish to see as green.”Dismayed, the boy quickly replied, “But Sir, how will I water them, fertilise them or take care of them?”.Dr.Kalam solemnly replied, “Leave that to nature. If you plant 50 seeds, at least 5 will grow naturally! You will know that you have done your bit at least!”This simple hypothesis is what I apply to my life. Let’s all do our bit and more if we can to see a better society.
Let me end with one of my own personal experiences. Once a pair of old uncles from my community had come over and coincidently it was when Anna Hazare ji was fasting for the Jan Lokpal Bill. Just before departing, the topic of discussion was corruption (inevitably).At the door one of them said, “Corruption ka kuch bhi bolo sikhate toh hum hi hain na ghar pe(call corruption whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it’s we who teach it at home!)”.I said nothing but just before I shut the door, I proudly said, “Uncle jo bhi ho,mere mummy-papa ne toh kabhi nahin sikhaya(Uncle, whatever it may be, my parents never taught me that)” and slammed the door.

Dr.Ajeet Singh
Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam

Anna Hazare

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