Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Chanakya's 7 secrets of leadership - book review



Chanakya's 7 secrets of leadership is an eulogy of D. Sivanandhan who was former Commissioner of Police of Mumbai. No wonders it is more about him than Chanakya. Yes one or two quotes from Arthshastra are sprinkled here and there. But still Sivanandhan remains hero of this book.


The preface says that this book is for future police leaders as a document for reference. It says that this book is for commoners too so that they could empathize with the policemen instead of cursing them. I appreciate the honesty of the writers for making these disclaimers in the preface in so unequivocal words. But still seeing the title a reader would buy the book with the hope of learning more about Chanakya and not Sivanandhan.

The book has its own strengths and weaknesses. More weaknesses than the strengths. But still let us begin with the strengths.

Ironically though the book claims to share secrets of Chanakya and is an eulogy of Sivanandhan, the best part of the book comes in the form of quotes which emanate neither from Chanakya nor from Sivanandhan. “Like love, talent is useful only in its expenditure and is never exhausted,” are the words of Judge Elbert P. Tuttle which I liked and are quoted in the book. The following words of Gandhiji quoted in the book should be of great value to all of us.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving an opportunity to do so.”

I also liked a story in the book where an ascetic says that a person who is not successful in the material world cannot attain success in the spiritual world. Thus it says spirituality is not escapism. The writer duos have spend considerable ink in emphasizing the importance of soft infrastructure. When thousands of our countrymen are still starving I feel this emphasis is unreasonable, at least until no one in our country sleeps empty stomach.

The book's biggest drawback is though Chanakya and his secrets are made the highlight of the book, they just meet us in the backdrop. The writer duo may be achievers in their respective fields, but here collectively they have spoiled the broth. So Pillai's reverence for Chinmaya Mission makes him quote it at opportune places. So do references come to alliances like Jagdish Seth. The book lacks the flow and appears patchy. The reader gets a feeling that the book has been haphazardly written to meet the deadline of publication. The use of American English for words like favour, neighbours mars the narrative. They form sore in the eyes. I was also able to locate an editing mistake at page no. 86 where it was written “ The leader s hould” I guess what the writers meant was “The leader should.”

To conclude this book is not about Chanakya. It is about Sivanandhan. So the choice is yours. 

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