On a rainy evening here in Bangalore, me and Naveen were sipping beer and having chicken tikka at the oasis mall, when we realized that we need to rush. I had a bus to catch at 8:30, and it was already 7:45. It would take me more than half an hour to get to the bus stand.
In spite of the rush, I could not resist getting into Shankar’s book store in the mall, for a magazine to aid while travelling. My eyes fell upon a golden color interesting looking book, and I could not help but buy it in a hurry and rush out to the bus station.
CHANAKYA’S CHANT – ASHWIN SANGHI
Very well researched. Creative. And catching.
The book runs alternatively between 2300 years ago and the present day. One chapter speaks about the legend chanakya who helped unify India and bring in the golden rule of Chandra Gupta Maurya as the emperor of India, while the other is the present day account about GangaSagar Mishra, Chanakya’s modern avatar, with the same narrative, where his protégé is the oxford educated slum child Chandini, who becomes the eventual prime minister of india.
The book narrates excellently the parallel stories of both Chanakya and Gangasagar, who with their cunning intellects, and manipulative techniques, twist their respective surroundings and political environments without an iota of self doubt or remorse.
The writing style of the author ( Ashwin Sanghi, his first book the Rozabal line now commands a read!) is captivating, especially the frequent use of proverbs, and quotations. The protagonist’s observations, and the dialogues are witty and sharp. Also, each of the episodes seems well planned out and executed to be fitting in the overall scheme of things.
There are times when you feel that it is Chanakya (or gangaSagar) running the show, and their respective proteges are mere puppets in their hands. But I guess, this much was important to highlight the character of the shrewdest Brahmin india has known.
Sanghi demonstrates very convincingly that the core of politics and strategy has not changed much with time, and the basics still apply. Information is still wealth. The parallels drawn between the two eras are also quite interesting – Chankya’s Vishkanyas versus Gangasagar dancer-whores and B-grade film starlets, Chanakya’s tantric versus the present day pavement astrologer.
Twisting the facts, gossip, blackmail and removing of obstacles are all part and parcel of this dirty job, and very well depicted here. The book shows us that politics is not about only pulling each other’s hair, but involves much more and requires the understand of a lot of varied fields. Also the present day story hints at the present day happenings around us and gets the reader thinking.
For example, R & S is shown as a business house bestowed by political favours. It is shown that the two partners display a public fight just to attract more political favours, and expedite their business growth. ( Ambani’s anyone?)
In the last chapter, it is written that the husband dies in an air crash suspiciously. ( Sanjay Gandhi anyone?)
The book fails on predictability, with the ending being anyone’s guess. But the way to go about it is quite interesting. The book manages to keep the reader engaged and compelled to read through to the very end. Overall, this should be a must read book in your shelf this summer.