The Nitopadesha translated by Nitin Pai

The Nitopadesha by Nitin Pai


Published by Penguin Random House India, The Nitopadesha, has been translated by Nitin Pai, co-founder and director of the Takshashila Institution, an independent think tank and school of public policy. It is a unique blend of fables and stories that covers politics, economics and philosophy. It is currently available in bookstores across the country and on all major e-commerce platforms.

The Nitopadesha is based on the distant land of Gandhara, where there was a janapada called Chakrapuri. It narrates how its elders were a worried lot and 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.

The Nitopadesha captures the storyline of the unconventional scholar being entrusted with the charge of these boys and girls for the next ninety days.

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. It serves as a guide for democracies, economic freedom and power of self-governance.

Speaking about the book, author, Nitin Pai, said, “As citizens, we are called upon to decide on important matters concerning how our society is organised and governed, but there are very few guidebooks that tell us the right way to approach our duties. I hope that The Nitopadesha inspires us to be good citizens, compassionate, caring and far-sighted.” Milee Ashwarya, Publisher, Penguin Random House India, said, “The Nitopadesha is a unique and valuable book for contemporary readers on citizenship. I am delighted that Nitin Pai has brought out this gem and I am proud to publish it.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


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