Saturday, March 20, 2010

Arthashastra: The Foreign Policy Focus –Part 1

I have been a follower of Kautilya Arthashastra since 2002. I was introduced to the content of this treatise through L.N. Rangrajan’s Kautilya – The Arthashastra. Then in 2004 I had the good fortune of obtaining The Kautilya Arthashastra of Dr. R.P. Kangle. I found certain differences of understanding of the same text between the work of L.N. Rangarajan and Dr. Kangle. I found myself more comfortable with many sections of Dr. Kangle’s translation. But that is a subject of another discussion. Also, I came to recognize that though Dr. R Shama Shastry’s version was the first in modern times, it is Dr. Kangle who’s seminal work has become the basis of all future translations and analysis.

Therefore, like any other writer, wherever there is quotation of Book.Chapter.Text, it is from Dr. Kangle’s translation.

Over the last week, there has been a lot of mention of Arthashastra in various contexts. I for one had mentioned it to justify my view of Governance before Ideology. Recently, G. Aditya Kiran had published a write-up on his blog and shared with all on twitter, focusing on the import of Foreign Policy of Kautilya on current times. It is the discussion that started on Twitter that led to my own description of Kautliyan Foreign Policy administration. I am not claiming this to be the ultimate understanding, but this is what I have come to understand from my own readings.

Foreign Policy in Kautilyan Arthashastra

Many people tend to give Dandniti the central place in Kautilya's policies of governance. This is, however, untrue. Kautilya was a sane, moderate and balanced policymaker and "Prudence" is the central theme of his treatise. Let us see how he elaborated on the Foreign Policy.


Sama Vyayamau Yogakshemayoryonih(6.2.1)

To indulge in a noble exercise (Sama Vyayamau) that will bring advancement and enjoyment of fruit of labour to the people of the state (Yogakshemayoryonih). Conversely, any exercise that brings advancement and enjoyment of fruit of labour to the people of the state must be considered a noble endeavor.

Important Character: Vijigishu

In Kautilya Arthashastra, Vijigishu is a kind of king who is outward looking with a desire to have a control or an upper hand in inter-state relationships in order to not only have a greater personal influence but also to have benefits accrued for the advancement of his nation and its subjects.

For the sake of ease of understanding and also to relate in a minor way to existing situation of democratic state, we will identify the Vijigishu’s State with Our State. Vijigishu himself will be identified as Us.

Important Background Situations:

1. The constituents of the internal system of the state: Here the seven constituents have been described. Each constituent’s excellences (Book 6) have been disclosed and the ideal situations of the entire system along with the calamities (Book 8) that may befall have been explained in great detail.

The primary idea is that we should run the state well and all the constituents of a state must play their roles properly in order to create an ideal situation. This leads to the advancement of the state which in turn makes the state more powerful. This in turn forms the first principle of a foreign policy.

2. The existing relations with the neighboring states: Twelve different kinds of relationships with other states vis-à-vis Our State have been explained in Book 6 (from 6.2.13 to 6.2.22). This is the basis for the circle of Kings or alternatively the Raj Mandal Theory. This circle or the Mandal may have 3 constituents or upto 12 constituents. It is dependent on our Geopolitical situation.

While all neighboring states may typically be our enemy only one of them will be a natural enemy and, therefore, the staunchest enemy. This Natural enemy and the remaining constituents of the Mandal may act in a way to create the situations for war and peace which in turn will affect the decline, stability and advancement of Our State. This is always in addition to the first factor of ideal working of internal constituents of the state.

This possibility or reality of external influences on the state gives rise to the need for the foreign policy itself.

It also creates the second principle of foreign policy, which is to eliminate the enemy.

3. The power of the state: The power of the state will go through the phases of decline, stability and advancement. This is dependent on the functioning of internal constituents. The internal functioning could be ideal or away from ideal.

Similarly the power of enemy state plays an influential role on the decline, stability and advancement of our state. It may not be possible to be stronger than the enemy all the time over a long term period. In this situation, our state must find allies from within the circle of Kings or the Raj Mandal. Those states that are neighboring our enemy but do not share borders with us will typically be our Natural enemy’s enemy. The Natural enemy being the common enemy, neighbor’s neighbor will be our ally. But such a state must be considered an ally, if and only if, it comes forward to help our state.

This ever-changing situation creates the need for an ally and ally is only judged by his action. This also becomes the third principle of foreign policy.

With this background and the use of wisdom and Dharm, we arrive at six principles of Foreign Policy:
1. The King shall always develop his state through its constituents to make the state powerful and the conditions favorable for advancement.
2. The Enemy of the State should always be eliminated
3. Those who help Our State are our Allies
4. We should always adopt a prudent course of action. Preventing a situation, that obstructs advancement, from occurring is better than curing it after it has occurred. This is a wise decision.
5. Peace should always be preferred to war. We should only be interested in long term advancement of our state and if it comes through instruments of peace, then so be it.
6. A King’s behavior, in victory and in defeat, must be just. He should always follow the Dharm, His Dharm is the Raj Dharm.

Having understood the need for a Foreign Policy and the principles that we may observe, we reach the operational aspect of ‘How do we implement the Foreign Policy?’. Kautilya gives us six- well thought out measures of Foreign Policy.

Six Measures of Foreign Policy administration

1. Peace
2. War
3. Staying Quiet
4. Marching
5. Seeking Shelter
6. Dual Policy

For those who have followed Arthashastra for a while, it is known that the Arthashastra had been in existence much before Kautilya, and Kautilya Arthashastra is probably the last version. This version stands out also because Kautilya has clearly stated his opposition to the text of the older versions proposed by different teachers. In case of Foreign Policy measures, Vatavyadhi (another teacher who may have given one of the earlier versions) identified only two main measures – War and Peace. According to him the other four measures come from War and Peace itself. (7.1.3-4)

Kautilya disagreed and stated that due to difference in situations that they may be applied, these are actually six different measures. (7.1.5)

However, the six measures have existed as part of foreign policy administration.

Now comes the Power of the state to analyze the situation and judge when each of these measures may be employed. Right medicine is possible when the diagnosis of the ailment is right. In that sense, ability to analyze and judge forms the part of the Power of the State, in addition to resources and size of army.

We will discuss this operational aspect and scenario building in the Part 2.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Religion Based Reservation: Anti-India

India is committing a suicide through a slow poison of reservation, especially the one on the basis of religion.

The supporters of this reservation theory always like to make the Indians forget the episode of partition and creation of Pakistan. Whereas, the fact is that there in lies the answer for why India doesn't need to pursue this self-destructing reservation policy.

Without getting into the exactness of the Muslim demand at the time of freedom struggle, it is a general knowledge that at different points in time various demands for political reservations specifically for Muslim community had been raised by Muslim league, almost as if they are a separate nation by themselves. Whether it was for reservation on the basis of population or later for reservation of Muslim dominated regions, Muslims have continuously endeavored for a sort of social exclusiveness from their Hindu, Christians, Sikh and countrymen from other religion.

It was this demand that was also the reason behind the Two-Nation Theory that finally led to creation of Pakistan.

Lets rewind a little now. Indian National Congress at the time had dealt with the Muslim League and their demands and had almost always come back frustrated. Read almost any note whether of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad or Nehru or any other writer who was a Congressman and was in someway part of those discussions, you will find a similarity of description in the complete outcome of meetings and interactions between INC and Muslim League. Adamant approach of Muslim League and frustration in INC due to obscene demands from Muslim League are evident everywhere.

Map of India Before the Partition

Come 1947, and after lengthy and characteristically frustrating discussions between The Viceroy, INC and Muslim League and agreeing to most of the formulae, INC still had to come to a conclusion to accept the partition that offered Muslim community in India their own country where they could live as they pleased.

The interesting thing here is that after a point the Congress leadership of the time that included eminent politicans like Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru was convinced that the demands from Muslims will never cease to end. They will continue in all spheres of life, from politics to personal laws to education and work. They had earned this experience primarily during the Interim Government and by the end of it all were clear that partition may indeed be the only solution. So we lost almost 10 lakh square kilometers of Indian territory to East and West Pakistan.

Map of India in 1947, after partition of Pakistan and Integration of Indian States

The sacrifice of this territory meant that India rejected:

1. The idea of reservation of jobs, educations, territory etc
2. India will treat all its citizens equally in a true nationalistic sense

Surprising thing is that the lessons learnt the hard way then, and the conclusions drawn and acted upon by the forefathers who were Congressmen have been forgotten by the existing members of the same Congress.

The policies that brought about the division of 25% of the Indian territory back in 1947, is being pursued again. We have not learnt to nip in the bud.

Is it not an almost similar demand for reservation for Muslim community in various spheres? Be it education, jobs and now parliamentary democracy.

In response to the passing of Women's Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha, Asaduddin Owaisi quoted on NDTV 24x7 the figures of Muslim Women in parliament since independence etc. By mentioning this he was asking for specific quota to be mentioned for Muslim Women within the overall reservation of 33% for women.

I have no personal views on Women's Reservation Bill as I have not even read the first page of the said bill, but hearing Mr. Owaisi's comments I wondered if India is meant to be ruled in Silos. Muslims representing Muslims and Hindus representing Hindus and so on and so forth. Is this why India gave away Pakistan to those Muslims who held such a mentality? The Muslim community members that we let go from India into the land called Pakistan, which is, ironically, anything but that was because we never dreamt of Indian community being built on such principles.

If a religious community in India is today asking for political representation through reservations rather than facing an open general election, then it is not wrong to fear that tomorrow they will not shy away from asking for reservation of constituency with domination of Muslim communities. Is this why there are pockets in India that seem to house only Muslim members of the Indian community?

The other argument placed is that the weaker population of India should get a chance to make representation in the Indian parliament. What? There are ample opportunity for Muslims and other "weaker sections" of the society to become stronger because there are reservations in education, jobs etc. Since education is the training ground, one excepts, with certain objections, the idea of reservation in education. Let the weaker section become stronger through education, ideas and self-confidence. But Indian Parliament is no place for weaker sections to gain confidence.

Such confidence and capability should be considered the hygiene factor and, therefore, the minimum qualification for someone entering the Indian Parliament.

Women's Reservation Bill in that sense is a negative provision but if used wisely, smart, educated and energetic women with progressive ideas could be given opportunity to participate in legislature. The idea is to prove the existing talent and potential and not to train people or come and learn how ruling is done or to generate numbers of the people from same community.

In fact, the reservations, on the whole, are quite aimless. Reservations on the basis of Caste and Religious lines are almost completely out of line. A large number of people from certain castes and religious communities that enjoy reservation are neither poor nor uneducated nor lagging behind in social participation. It is time for the Indian Parliamentarians to move in favor of creating reservations on the basis of Socially and Economically challenged classes.

In doing that the govt. will not only create a welfare state, but also get rid of the structures that make India weaker in the long run.

As for Congressmen, I wish they will relook at the learning of our forefathers during the Partition of India, understand that reservation on community lines was rejected for good reasons and immediately put that into practice. They must also understand the fundamental difference between creation of Pakistan and continuation of India with a sizeable Muslim population. If they want to rule India, they must first ensure the existence of India.

For those who might imagine a smell of right wing extremism, I would like to assure that I am perfectly comfortable with secularism. I am comfortable with Sunday masses, Shabads in Gurudwara, five times of Namaz and Morning evening Aartis. I am only against specific appeasement policies of the govt that are aimed at specific communities on the basis of their religion, especially Muslims. Such a behavior gives Muslims a reason to be more Muslim than being Indian. If being more loyal to Islam brings me benefits then I would rather be that then being an Indian.

I will be more happy if govt reserved places for weaker sections of the society because they are socially and economically backward. It doesn't matter whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians or anything else.

Forever in favor of stronger India.