Kautilya alias Chanakya: Getting Raw Deal

I was going through Times of India on November 19. I came across a news report that highlights the pathetic condition of working of the institutes of the country under the present governing system.

“A 450-year-old manuscript, the earliest available copy of Kautilya’s Arthashastra, written in 4th century BC, and preserved at Mysore’s Oriental Research Institute (ORI) is peeling off. According to the institute, “It is in great danger. There is not even a locker to keep it safe,” It is merely wrapped in a cloth and kept in a cabinet. In 1909, Rudrapatnam Shamasastry found the copy in a heap of palm-leaf manuscripts. Historians across the world then recognized that India had an enviable textual history. The Arthashastra and about 60,000 other manuscripts at ORI came close to be reduced to ashes during two fires caused by short circuit at the institute in 1996 and 1998. Yet, the manuscripts have not been secured in fireproof chambers. A fumigation machine, donated by the Ford Foundation to protect manuscripts from insects, fungi and algae, does not work. The Institute lacks fund to protect these national heritages.”

Interestingly, the newspaper had at least half a dozen ads from different ministries of the country to commemorate the birthday of Indira Gandhi. Perhaps the cost incurred to one media house for these advertisements would have been stuffiest enough fund that the Mysore’s Oriental Research Institute may be hankering for.

In evening I again tried to watch ‘Chandragupta Maurya’ on Imagine Channel to find if the director and producer have come out with some sensible episode. It was just disgusting. How are the Indians tolerating such serials? The historical heroes such as Chanakya and Chandragupta would not have been portrayed as the heroes of Chandrakanta Santati. I was wrong. Indian TV addicts, for whom the serial has been produced, would have hardly gone to school or read about Chanakya. It is pretty clear from some of views expressed and available on Internet. You get what you deserve.
It is interesting to know that Turner Broadcasting System based owns Imagine TV entertainment channel. Unfortunately, I see the channel propagating things such the importance of Sani Dev and making Sudama saying that every good Brahmin must beg.

Is it the reason for the poor deal to India’s historical heroes such as Chandragupta and more so of Chanakya. India certainly requires good content producing firms. It requires also some amount of regulation ensuring the quality, particularly for the stories related to historical and mythological characters. The serial producers may be asked to give references.

Interestingly, the famous Sagar Arts has produced the serial, Chandragupta Maurya. Should I assume that the younger generation doesn’t have the value and quality bias of the older Sagars?

PS: Let me clarify that I am only shore about the imaginary story and script of the serial and not the acting quality of the individual actors playing the role of either Chandragupta or Chanakya.

Is it the way to depict the life and time of Chandragupta Maurya, the greatest emperor India has ever known?

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