Pavan K Verma ,author of several books like Krishna :The Playful Divine,Ghalib: The man,The Great Indian Middle Class, has penned this manifesto so that all is set right in India.This is a book of 248 pages. There are seven chapters preceded by Prologue & succeeded by Epilogue,Notes & Acknowledgements.The language is great though more simple vocabulary would have made it an easy read.
The author has been inspired by Kautilya or Chankaya who managed to unite large parts of the erstwhile India into one State under Chandragupta Maurya.Kautilya wrote a treatise on Statecraft titled Arthashastra.Pavan Verma's manifesto is the new Arthashastra suited to the present day turmoil going on in India.
The book starts with the problems facing our nation today.It lists them as Governance,Democracy,Corruption,Defence, & Egalitarianism.There is a problem with this listing.Our nation has just witnessed the horrific gang rape .Maybe this book was written before that crime.Still ,women & their problems are not the problem of India as no mention is made of the rising crimes faced by women- trafffiking,foeticide,rapes,molestation,bride burning ,etc.If we brush aside the sense of insecurity felt by nearly half of the population ,how can we expect to solve any which we refuse to even admit as troubles ?
All the five chapters dealing with the problems begin with a long quote from Kautilya's Artha shastra.
In each chapter,the author lists the various facets of the problems stated.He then goes on to suggest solutions to the same, as per his Manifesto -the new Arthashastra.The solution is presented neatly in points.
Readers will agree that the Government of today, is only interested in survival - all others things can wait till the next election.All parties depend on money power to fund elections.Money is offered to buy off voters,candidates ,in fact ,anybody who is willing to name a price.Our nation has no security policy- terrorists & naxals are bleeding out nation.Our neighbour hood is teeming with nations who seize every opportunity to fish in our troubled waters.Moreover ,all would like the world to believe that India is the big brother in South East Asia & must behave magnanimously. Corruption is the factor, which is all pervading - defence deals,coal gate,PDS ,etal. In our nation ,the haves turn away from the have nots.Many believe,that this is the prime reason, which gave birth to naxalism.
Verma suggests sweeping changes to solve all problems.He suggests making changes like pre-declaration of the aims of the political parties.Anti defection law must be changed as in its present form ,it has hardly any teeth.No supporting party can withdraw during lock in period etc.The Election Commission must be made stronger than what it is now.His suggestion that the President must exercise more powers is bound to raise eyebrows as it would be seen to be against the tenets of parliamentary democracy. He suggests that DRDO must be overhauled as it has failed miserably to deliver anything.Private -Public partnership in defence production is a valuable suggestion.The Lokpal bill recently passed has many shortcomings. Goverment ought to make it more stringent if it believes in tacking corruption.NGOs & government must partner to make our society egalitarian. Aadhar cards would go a long way in delivering cash incentives to the needy.UID scheme is in its infancy & we have to wait till any comments can be made.
Pavan Verma has done extensive research .He had access to many people & statistics which other writers may not have as he had worked with the Government in various capacities.He suggests that many committees be formed to oversee & supervise working of many institutions.This would lead to lot of red tape.He has made no mention of some other problems like rapid urabanization which is leading to choked cities with teeming population,rising crimes,traffic snarls etc.
Still ,his listing makes a beginning .If a start can be made ,then perhaps ,we could start looking for solutions as well.This could lead to next steps & surprisingly ,we may be a Nation State as envisaged by Chanakya.