Nitin Pai, co-founder and director of the Takshashila Institution, an independent think tank and school of public policy, translated the manuscript of The Nitopadesha that came to his hands. It is a unique blend of fables and stories that covers politics, economics and philosophy. Published by Penguin Random House India, it is scheduled to release in January, 2023 and is currently available for pre-order.
In the distant land of Gandhara, there once was a janapada called Chakrapuri. Its elders were a worried lot. Their children were uninterested in the welfare and upkeep of the janapada. Most of them were consumed by self-interest and avarice, seeking personal gains, even at the cost of their fellow citizens. Realizing that the young must learn the arts and crafts of citizenship, the Sabha of Chakrapuri decided to employ Nitina of Takshashila, whose wisdom was said to be unparalleled, to teach their children. So it came to pass that the unconventional scholar was entrusted with the charge of these boys and girls for the next ninety days.
Thus begins the Nitopadesha. A labyrinth of stories in the style of the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales, this is a book about good citizenship and citizen-craft that will speak to the modern reader. Covering aspects such as what citizenship means, the ethical dilemmas one faces as a citizen and how one can deal with social issues, Nitin Pai’s absorbing translation is an essential read for conscientious citizens of all ages.
Nitin has been blogging on international relations and national security issues at the Acorn since 2003. Pai was a gold medallist at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, from where he has a master’s degree in public administration. As an undergraduate scholar, he studied electrical engineering at Nanyang Technological University, after which he spent more than a decade in the telecommunications and technology industry, including a long stint as a policymaker in the Singapore government.
“Nitin Pai, the man behind the Takshashila Institution’s thoughtful public-policy work, has turned his hand to a collection of fables on citizenship . The Nitopadesha is a timely guide for citizens of democracies who wish to preserve and strengthen their constitutional values and institutions even as they strive to change the world for the better.”
– SHASHI THAROOR
“What an exciting and much needed book on the dharma of citizenship! It teaches us proper civic conduct role through clever stories of ethical dilemmas, brute state power and economic freedom. Every Indian should read it.”
– GURCHARAN DAS
“Indeed, the first book is on citizen craft, praja dharma, to ensure yoga and kshema. In the epilogue to the first book, Rajnidatta’s summary of the rule of law is one of the best expositions that exists…had the drafters of India’s Constitution been familiar with the fox’s maxims, the fundamental duties section might have been crafted differently.”
– BIBEK DEBROY
“Playful yet profound and told in the comforting cadence of Indian storytelling,Tthe Nitopadesha should be required reading for every student and change agent. What a delightful book!”
“These stories demonstrate how a common understanding of roles and therefore power in a society is the foundation of successful self-governance. Another confirmation of the timeless significance and influence of the fables.”
– VIVEK SHANBHAG