“If India triumphs, so will we all. If India becomes a genuinely vibrant democracy, all Indians will be more empowered. If we are more ethical in our conduct, all of us will lead a happier life. If the threats to our security are dealt with more effectively, we will be safer. If the lot of our poorest improves, all of us will prosper”
The book ‘Chanakya’s New Manifesto: To resolve the crisis within India’ could have been titled, ‘Pavan K Varma’s New Manifesto: Measures to create a better India’. Of course, Pavan K Varma, is the author of this book and his reading of the current situation along with the suggested measures to improve it, can very much stand on its own without having to use Chanakya’s name for support.
This is a non-fiction book that gives exhaustive information and analysis about our current situation. It deals with topics like governance, democracy, corruption, security, creation of inclusive society, among others. The author also suggests comprehensive measures/solutions to improve the current situation in India.
First, I need to appreciate the author’s depth of understanding of our current situation. He is also able to communicate that excellently to the readers. I found the analysis of our current situation (supported by statistics and other info) to be quite gripping. There is no sugar-coating/fake inspirations anywhere and hence (at times) we are left wondering, ‘Is the situation so bad?’. Of course, there are no surprises but when reality hits us in bulk, we tend to get depressed.
In this context, I did wonder how the author is so confident and positive when he gives his suggestions to solve the various micro and macro level problems. Though what the author says makes a lot of sense, one wonders whether the theoretical points mentioned in the book will ever become reality?
Of course, Rome was not built in a day and neither was India! So, we can safely say that conception of an idea/thought is the first step to making it a reality. By releasing a book full of ideas, the author has attempted to inspire others and gives us the much-needed anti-depressant: Hope!
While reading the book, I agreed with many ideas (few of them are listed below), I thought many of them were impractical (but not impossible), some of them were a result of wishful-thinking and I disagreed with some ideas (like the point that suggests opening up of armament manufacturing to private parties – No!). Many ideas sparkled an internal debate in me, and for that I credit the author.
A few ideas (mentioned in the book) that I liked:
- All political parties that wish to enter into a coalition should declare their partners before the elections and should not be allowed to change it afterwards. Each coalition should announce a common governance agenda and list of cabinet ministers, prior to the elections.
- The tenure of a PM should be restricted to a maximum of two five-year terms.
- Compulsory retirement age for a politician should be not more than 70 years.
- Every donation to political parties should be accounted for, and transacted through banks. The current system that allows anonymous donors for amounts up to Rs. 20,000 should be scrapped.
- To avoid frivolous cases against competitors (to disqualify them before the elections), only those cases filed 6 months prior to the election should be considered. A fast-track court should complete the investigation quickly and if the accused is found not guilty, punitive action should be taken against instigators.
- We should have a system of primaries which enables voters to participate in pre-election exercises with politicians (national debates, for example).
- No judge has ever been punished for corruption in India, in-spite of impeachment process being in place. So, a separate Nyayik Kshetra Lokpal should be appointed (with appropriate powers) to punish the corrupt among the judiciary.
- A simplified tax structure (like GST) and lowering the stamp duties on real estate deals will go a long way in reducing black money.
- Authorized agents (with proper rules/regulations governing their actions) could be allowed to act as middlemen in defense deals. Lack of such a provision will only create unauthorized operators.
- Aadhar scheme could be used to directly transfer money from the Govt. to the bank account of the beneficiary, instead of going through the PDS.
Of course, all the above ideas are of the author and they have been presented here to enable the reader to sample a few proposed measures. At the end of the book, the author does acknowledge that –
“Ideas for change don’t bring in change by themselves. They remain unproductive until people are willing to adopt them, to consider them, to debate and discuss them, and finally ACT UPON THEM”
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book for review purpose.