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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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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Changing Seasons; Spring Of Progress Or Autumn Of Decay?

Don’t be fooled by the lofty title, it’s the theme of a particular international diplomacy event coming up in the next few months(Namely TEIMUN found at http://teimun.org). However, the question posed was impertinent and my heart demanded it be answered. Here’s my take on it:

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”‘

Today, when the world stands at the cross roads of diplomacy and tact, I am sure that peace shall be achieved if each global citizen makes these beautiful verses their motto.
If 2011 was turbulent, 2012 promises to right the wrong. The world was threatened by nuclear weapons, but the threat is set to be nullified via peace talks at Seoul. If economic troubles were what gave us sleepless nights, financial agreements and stronger trade ties are set to fight. Today’s world, buoyed by the inspired need for peace and the young generation’s zeal for justice, has emerged on the path for a supreme civilization. The Arab Spring revolutions were not an indicator of instability. Rather, they showed the human tendency of not being suppressed. Although we have lived through an extremely incumbent period, it had its merits as well. Terrorists were nabbed or killed; Dictators overthrown and long standing issues were finally solved (and if not, were close to be resolved). Thus, as a citizen of the global community, I proudly believe that the changing seasons are not an autumn of decay but rather the spring of progress. The transition may be rough but salvation is definite because no battle was won without some pain. As technological improvements continue to bring us together, we as a civilization continue to bond together in a blanket of oneness.
To conclude, I reflect on Shakespeare’s immortal lines,
“All the world’s a stage, 

and all the men and women merely players”

If all of mankind is merely but a player in the bigger theatre, let’s not squabble over materialistic gains but instead, rejoice in the beautiful music and rhythm of peace and harmony.
Changing Seasons; Spring Of Progress Or Autumn Of Decay?

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We Fought, We Endured And Now We CHANGE

A quick glance at the supposed “glorious” culture and history of India yields nothing but a simplistic opinion to today’s populous. Pick up any book, any year and we notice this; We fought for something, and our opponents( under the veil of secrecy) gave it to us, we rejoiced and discovered that we were deceived.

Today, I was re-reading my copy of Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger  and came across certain lines which put me in a fix, making me write this article and also make the video attached alongside. I don’t remember the lines to the exact punctuation, however in essence they talk about how democracy was nothing but a shrouded opportunity for India(metaphorical assumed as a Zoo) to be turned into a Jungle by the powerful. partly I agree to the viewpoint. Mr.Adiga made an excellent note about how our nation should have had alleviated problems such as water supply issues, poverty etc. and then focused on Democracy.
Anyway,my point is that we have lived for nearly two millenniums under force. May it be an emperor or a federation of states, India has nearly never had a full scale democracy except from 1947; We were oppressed, we were labelled, we were killed, we were tortured. We fought, we protested and tried to hit back. But two points remain:
1. We still fight.
2.We still endure.
Bolne mein hum sab aage hain;par jab road pe kisiko bematlab maarte hain, we turn into silent spectators, ENDURING everything. But the time has come for a Change. We stop enduring and we change.
You may think that, okay another person crying about change and getting passionate. Who will bring the change?What will be the change?
Change as I define it is that we stand up to whatever we want,whenever we want.  Don’t promise anyone anything that you will alleviate poverty or blah blah blah. Nothing of that sort. But promise yourself that you will stand up to what’s wrong; it may be standing up to your milkman for mixing water in the milk or it may be standing up to your local MLA and telling him on his face “Tu Paise Khata Hai!”. But do stand up.
We Fought, We Endured And Now We CHANGE

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