Yesterday was another dream come true for me. As the founder Co-ordinator of Sumantra - The Book Club at the Institute of Management, Nirma University last year, one of my fancied objectives was to not only present reviews of a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, to a diverse audience, but also, if possible, invite a number of guest speakers.
I was extremely happy yesterday when the culmination of a month of efforts resulted in Sumantra's first ever 'Authorspeak'. Around 2 months ago, I chanced upon the book 'Canakya's Aphorisms on Management' by Mr. Ashok Garde. [The book, originally published by the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), is now re-titled as 'Chanakya on Management', published by Jayco Books and is available at all Crossword stores. ]
Mr. Garde is only the third person to be awarded the Honorary Life Membership of the AMA, his only predecessors being the great Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and Prof. BS Shenoy. He is also a former Director of the Ahmedabad Textiles Industry's Research Association and a resident of Ahmedabad. I pounced on the opportunity and invited him to the Institute.
A septuagenarian, Mr. Garde presented a review of the book with much vigor and passion. He told us how the 'sutras' of Chanakya were essentially a training manual for Chandragupta and his fellow students. He gave us a few examples of Chanakya's teachings and how they could be considered relevant to modern businesses. Mr. Garde introduced us to Chanakya's 'definition' of Management and also scoffed at the idea of comparing Chanakya to Machiavelli. His main point of reference was that Chanakya spoke about ethics when he spoke of 'dharma'; Machiavelli never did so. Moreover, Chanakya was a nation-builder, and had disciples of the likes of Chandragupta who established a dynasty which ruled for almost 135 years; Machiavelli cannot make any similar claims.
All in all, it was an intriguing and spell-binding session. A number of myths regarding Chanakya were smashed to bits and a new figure of Chanakya now loomed large - not only that of a shrewd counsellor and king-maker, but also a nation builder who advised the king on how to manage his resources (defence, economic and administrative) for the well being of the masses.