Corporate Chanakya – Radhakrishnan Pillai | Book Review by Swapnesh Sawant

Corporate chanakyaIntroduction
The title of this book – Corporate Chanakya is apt as it relates Chanakya and his lessons with the present corporate world. Chanakya’s strategies applied to the modern day corporate world is the essence of Corporate Chanakya. It’s a guide for students as it explores different dimensions of corporate life and the real-life applications of Chanakyaniti.

It is divided into 3 sections – Leadership, Management and Training and comprises of 175 short chapters focused on topics like organizing and conducting meetings, dealing with workplace issues, managing employees, decision making, responsibilities and authorities of a leader. The book picks up teachings from the legendary thinker ‘Chanakya’ and describes their applications in contemporary workplaces.

corporate chanakya
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About Author

The author – Mr. Radhakrishnan Pillai has studied Arthashastra at Chinmaya International Foundation. He is the recipient of Sardar Patel International award for his research in Arthashastra. Currently, he is the director of SPM Foundation and founder of Chanakya Institute of Public Leadership (CIPL) which provides management and leadership training.

He has dedicated the book to his Guru Swami Chinmayananda who inspired him to study ancient scriptures i.e. the Shastras that offer solutions to all modern day problems.

The book has been published by Jaico Publishing House which is India’s first publisher of paperback pages in the English language. It is the publisher of renowned authors like Robin Sharma, Khushwant Singh, Stephen Hawking, The Dalai Lama, Osho and many more.


The first part deals with different elements associated with authority and attributes of a leader, art of people management and obstacles a leader’s faces. The author has focused on how different factors contribute to the making of a successful organization. This section discusses different forms of ‘Power’ in the corporate world, the concept of power with responsibility, the art of retention of the position, creating one’s own command within the organization.

The second part deals with management and necessities for holistic management of an organization. It discusses employee management, financial management, ways to encourage teamwork and clarity about the strategy of the organization. It also discusses principles of management, project management, disaster management and aspects related to CSR.

The third part of the book deals with different levels of training. Talent acquisition and training of young minds, training leaders and managers, training the organization for effective management of different departments and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Author has made a wise selection of around 225 sutras (out of 6000) relevant to the topics he addresses and presented in a simple language for better understanding of readers. Author has tried to bring in a certain sense of spirituality in the business world in a way that looks at the welfare of everyone and has a long-term goal of the welfare of the individual as well as the society. Pillai has been successful in promoting the ideas of the universally recognized wisdom of the past which can be utilized to tackle the situations in the present.

The author doesn’t differentiate western management from Indian management. In fact, he brings the best of both worlds. Management has been recognized as a science since the 1950s. But management existed in India even before that and the Drucker era. There are brilliant management strategies derived out of our Ramayana and Mahabharata which is being studied in the Harvard University. Thus, the author himself found the right way to his problems by looking within.

On the flip side, the content in various subtopics is independent and loosely bound missing the connection. At some places, the examples are missing where it sounds like a translation of the particular verse by the author. People understand better with examples. Thus, including practical examples would have improved the relevance and authenticity of the verses.

Corporate Chanakya focuses on management principles which can guide an individual as to how one should create and run an organization. It reinforces the idea of integrating ancient Indian wisdom with modern management concepts which could result in a uniquely “Indian management” style that others would follow.

10 Key Learnings:

1) Knowledge is power. The greatest asset in today’s world is ‘Knowledge’

2) Financial success ensures the progress of any organization. An organization should reinvest its earnings in R&D, innovations and contribute to social causes

3) Decision Makers should understand the needs of the people in the organization and fulfill them to ensure loyalty among the employees

4) Leaders shouldn’t be carried away by the thirst for Power. Instead, they should identify new leaders and train them and evolve into mentors guiding this new generation leader to take over.

5) Go to meetings with a clear agenda and don’t beat around the bush. State your points clearly and arrive at an action plan at the end of the meeting

6) Even the most unexpected person could give you the key information and direction that you might have been waiting for, for years. So, listen to everyone without preconceived notions

7) Excel in Time management by noting important points, prepare to do lists and maintain a diary

8) Management trainees shouldn’t consider any task as small or mediocre. Completion of assignment within the timeframe and most importantly with the Right attitude should be the objective of a trainee

9) Try to be an asset to your boss, your organization. Be part of their solution, rather than becoming a problem for them. You should be INDISPENSABLE

10) Whatever you learn in textbooks, lectures, activities is of use only when you apply those learnings. Similarly, just reading the book or listening to this book review won’t help unless you read and apply what you learn.

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