‘Our democracy is antithetical to the imperatives of governance’
Pavan K Varma
Aleph Book Company
One of the great lessons that Chanakya teaches us is that laws must take into account the psyche of a people, Pavan K Varma, author of Chanakya’s New Manifesto, tells Sharad Raghavan Does an ancient text like the Arthashastra really have relevance today?
The Arthashastra has relevance because, as the first political treatise of the world predating Machiavelli’s The Prince by over a millennium and more, it represents the ability to set forth a comprehensive, holistic and detailed response to the pivotal issue of how to run an efficient, caring and secure political system. The sheer audacity of this vision makes it relevant today.
Does this relevance translate into specific actions that can be taken to improve governance, etc, or are they vague guidelines?
In response to the situation when it was written, the Arthashastra has no waffle. It eschews ambivalence, and while eclectically considering possible options, is precise in its recommendations. This is precisely the spirit in which I have written Chanakya’s New Manifesto.
In your book, you prescribe an increase of FDI in defence manufacturing past 49%—that is, you would allow foreign companies to own controlling stakes in arms manufacturing units based in India. Is this prudent?
The goal is not the quantum of FDI you allow, but the ensuring of national security. If this goal is served by allowing greater investment from abroad, I see no harm in it. We would not be the first country
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