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Arthashastra of ‘Achhe Din’: Looking at Modi as Kautilya’s ideal ruler

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By Sagar Sethi

“We should always speak what would please the man of whom we expect a favour, like the hunter who sings sweetly when he desires to shoot a deer.” – Arthashastra

So who all fell prey to the rhetoric of ‘Achhe din’?

A man promising a better, brighter future rises from among the people, and sweeps the nation with his persuasive eloquence. The ‘one-man cabinet’ Narendra Modi is definitely the man solely responsible for BJP’s inevitable triumph in last year’s general elections. He came, he sang, he conquered!

NaMo is quick, bold, foresighted, captivating, alluring and attentive – resembling the qualities of Kautilya’sRaja-Rishi,’ or ideal king (Arthashastra).

Interestingly, these resemblances are not only limited to Modi’s characteristics but are also resonated in his approach to national and foreign policy. In the following sections then, we will unravel three instances where NaMo’s art of diplomacy and governance bears striking similarities with Kautilya’s ideal king.

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In his Arthashastra, Kautilya writes “power is strength,” and “strength changes the mind,” shows that Kautilya’s king must possess the power not only to change the outward behavior, but also the conscience of his subjects and enemies.

Narendra Modi in his radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat,’ is apparently ‘freely and fairly’ addressing the people of India.

Besides implicitly promoting government policies – ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao,’ ‘Land Acquisition bill’ and, ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan,’ he also carefully avoids speaking on the controversies involving his government.

Is Mann Ki Baat then a tool for shaping the hopes and aspirations of the people?

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The ideal king must possess the ability to perceive any threat to his legitimacy.

Admitting to its ‘anti-farmer’ shades, the government recently dropped its contentious amendments to the Land acquisition bill.

This move was later projected as ‘pro farmer,’ thus, adding to Narendra Modi’s credibility.

The Mandala theory

Beginning his term by inviting India’s South Asian neighbors to his oath taking ceremony, followed by his foreign policy visits to these countries shows how Modi sought to tackle the ‘inner Mandal’ (circle).

For the ‘outer Mandal’ Modi visited countries like Japan, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and has plans for future visits to West Asia, especially Israel! As of September, 2015 Modi has made twenty seven State visits to foreign countries.

Conclusion

Do not be very upright in your dealings, for you would see by going to the forest that straight trees are cut down while crooked ones are left standing.

The element that distinguishes Arthashastra from other treatises on politics is the ruthless pragmatism that it reflects.

The literature in Kautilya’s Arthashastra has been aptly described by Max Weber as “truly radical Machiavellianism” to the extent that it makes Machiavelli’s Prince seem almost harmless.”

It is with this ruthless pragmatism that Kautilya prescribes the following for his ideal king – “Give up a member to save a family, a family to save a village, a village to save a country, and the country to save yourself.

Now that we see that Modi’s politics can be understood in the larger rubric of Kautilya’s Arthashastra; the questionKevin-Spacey-House-Of-Cards that arises, does India need Frank Underwood[1] at the helm of its affairs?

 

[1]  Role played by Kevin Spacey in popular TV series ‘House of Cards.’

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  • rajivx

    True. That sort of politics does fetch a lot of praise …… although it may not solve any real problems, which, is another issue altogether ………..

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Survey Reports That Significant Number of People Rate Performance of Modi Government as Below Expectations

According to the poll, around 32 per cent respondents feel that crime against women and children have reduced in the last four years while 58 per cent feel otherwise.

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According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
On the state of the economy, 54 per cent respondents believe that the unemployment rate hasn't reduced in the last four years, while 35 per cent think otherwise., wikimedia commons

The Modi government hasnt scored too well on farmers issues, jobs and prices of essential commodities at the end of its four years in power, according to an online survey that also found a substantial number of people calling its performance “below expectations”.

The survey done by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, says that 43 per cent of those who participated in the poll rated the government as performing below expectations, 29 per cent rated it as meeting them and 28 per cent said the government was “exceeding expectations.

“Most performance parameters (of the government) show a decline over time as the gap between expectations set and impact on daily life rises,” according to the survey done with over 62,000 citizens from over 250 districts across the country. Thirty-five per cent respondents were females.

According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.

The respondents have rated the government low on reducing crime against women and children, generating employment, improving farmers life, lowering cost of living and healthcare, the survey says.

However, it has scored well on improving India’s image globally, handling of Pakistan, fighting terrorism, infrastructure development and reducing tax harassment.

According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
43% say performance of Modi govt. is below expectations, IANS

“Around 60 per cent citizens said price of essential commodities and cost of living have not reduced. Only 33 per cent believe that the price of essential commodities have come down in the last four years.”

According to the poll, around 32 per cent respondents feel that crime against women and children have reduced in the last four years while 58 per cent feel otherwise.

In the area of healthcare, only 32 per cent respondents believe that facilities and services have improved in the last four years whereas 62 per cent say no it has not.

On the state of the economy, 54 per cent respondents believe that the unemployment rate hasn’t reduced in the last four years, while 35 per cent think otherwise.

Around 46 per cent respondents believe that doing business in India was now easier while 39 per cent say it is not the case.

The respondents were asked if sufficient new infrastructure development — roads, power, irrigation, broadband — had taken place in the last four years.

“Approximately 65 per cent said yes while 29 per cent said no.”

Around 49 per cent respondents believe that corruption in India has reduced in the last four years while 44 per cent believe it has not reduced.

Asked if they felt India’s image had improved, 82 per cent said yes while 13 per cent said no.

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Respondents were also asked if they approved the way Indian Government had handled the perpetual conflict on the borders and relations with Pakistan in the last four years.

“Around 74 per cent felt it has improved strongly while 24 per cent felt that government’s tactics are not right.”

People were asked if they believed that terrorism and acts of terror against Indians have reduced in the last few years. Around 61 per cent respondents said yes while 35 per cent disagreed.

On the issues of communalism, 50 per cent felt that the government it well in the last few years while 45 per cent no. (IANS)