Saturday, January 13, 2007

An Asian Framework for Governance

The Arthasastra was written by Canakya or Kautalya around the fourth century BC. One of the eminent historians of Indian History, D D Kosambi, has observed that

The title Arthasastra means `The science of material gain'¡Xfor a very special type of state, not for the individual. The end was always crystal clear. Means used to attain it needed no justification. There is not the least pretence of morality or altruism. [In the Arhtasastra] the only difficulties ever discussed, no matter how gruesome and treacherous the methods, are practical, with due consideration to costs and possible effects... Espionage and the constant use of agent-provecateurs is recommended on massive and universal scale by the Arthasastra. The sole purpose of every action was safety and profit of the state. Abstract questions of ethics are never raised or discussed in the whole book. Murder, poison, subversion were used at need by the king's secret agents, methodically and without a qualm... Strife for the throne is treated as a minor occupational hazard by Canakya. No regard to morality or filial piety is ever questioned. He quotes a predecessor's axiom; `Princes, like crabs, are father eaters¡K' The eleventh book (probably shortened in transmission) of the Arthasastra is devoted to the methods of systematically breaking up free, powerful, armed tribes of food producers that had not yet degenerated into absolute kingdoms.

The main technique was to soften them up for disintegration from within, to convert the tribesmen into members of class society based upon individual private property..
Read On

No comments: