Book cover.

Book Review: “Chanakya’s New Manifesto” by Pavan K. Varma

Title – Chanakya’s New Manifesto to Resolve The Crisis Within India
Author – Pavan K. Varma
Publisher – Aleph
Published – 2013
Genre – Non-Fiction
Pages – 248
Price – ₹ 295 (Buy on flipkart for Rs. 204 – aff link)

Book cover.
Book cover. (Buy on flipkart)

Chanakya is one of the greatest thinker/philosophers to have graced the pious land of India. His famous treatise on administration, ‘Arthashastra’ has been studied by scholars and practitioners to gain a peek into the functioning of the Magadha Empire, and also to draw parallels for the contemporary political and economic landscape. The master thinker that Chanakya (alternately known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta) was, he did not leave any aspect of governance untouched – and as someone who has read thoroughly through Chanakya Neeti, I can claim that his insights are nothing short of sheer genius encapsulated in words. It, therefore, interested me deeply when I stumbled upon a book named ‘Chanakya’s New Manifesto’ by author-diplomat Pavan K. Varma – a kind of solution booklet for challenges of modern day India, taking inspiration from Chanakya’s insights, which continue to remain relevant.

Mr. Pavan K. Varma has authored 19 books so far, and even a cursory glance at the list of books he has written throws light of the versatility of his literary forays. From economics, to politics, to translation and fiction, Mr. Varma has experimented with it all, and his books have consistently tasted success. Chanakya’s New Manifesto is the first of his books which I have read, thanks to an advance reading copy sent my way by Aleph publishers, and after being thoroughly impressed and enriched by the contents of this book, I can safely say that I understand why Mr. Varma has churned out such consistently successful books.

Chanakya’s New Manifesto is a document which analyses in very crisp terms the challenges which the Indian polity faces. This book, then, spends a greater time in illustrating some very pragmatic suggestions which can be a possible answer to the problems which our country finds itself grappling with. The book is critical of policies and people who have stood in the way of our progress and potential as a nation. It draws solutions/suggestions for contemporary crises from examples of other nations, from our own reports of various commissions and committees, and in each page, it displays the thorough research which the author has undertaken to come out with this kind of a comprehensive manifesto.

To streamline his suggestions better, the author has divided the many challenges which India faces into five distinct categories – Governance, Democracy, Corruption, Security, and creation of an Inclusive Society. After taking a few pages to outline the grey areas of policy and the repeated failures of lawmakers and implementers in these five areas, Mr. Varma elaborates in greater detail the kind of steps which need to be taken to combat and overcome our shortcomings. This is what I find great about this book – its passionate solution orientedness. This passion I understood in greater depth when Mr. Varma visited our campus, and in a single line, caught our attention ‘Evolution of nations badi pecheeda cheez hai’ – he stated in no uncertain terms, that despite being a civilization which is about 5000 years old, we have challenges which cannot be buried under the glory of history. Since it is our collective future at stake, we cannot afford to not be interested in the functioning of our nation. According to him, as has also been stated in his book, in India, the imperatives of governance and democracy are antithetical to each other, and our challenge is to tweak the system in such a way that governance and democracy become complimentary to each other.

In the year 1947, our republic had the luxury of time. Now, 65 years later, with rampant corruption, mass poverty, social indices worse than Sub-Saharan Africa and two hostile neighbours, that luxury is lost to us. Taking inspiration from classical India’s greatest thinker – Chanakya – this book attempts to devise result oriented political, administrative and social strategy – a must read for those who take interest in India and its dynamics. For students planning to get into administration, this book simply cannot be missed. I am already preparing to read it a second time, and if I were to rate it, 4.5 stars on 5 would be my succinct review of this manifesto. How I wish some political party came out someday with such foresight, passion and will for the unambiguous, non-negotiable betterment of India.

[Buy Pavan K. Varma’s “Chanakya’s New Manifesto: To Resolve the Crisis within India” from Flipkart–affiliate link]

Audio Supplement:

Listen to Pavan K. Varma talk about his book at Jamia on Feb. 12, 2013:

About Saumya Kulshreshtha

Saumya Kulshreshtha is a postgraduate student in the Department of English. She can be reached via email at: saumya.kulshreshtha [at] She also blogs at, and tweets with the handle @Saumyakul.

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