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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.

www.mibtimes.com
www.mibtimes.com

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.’

  • 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 ………..

Next Story

PM Narendra Modi Hails India’s Position in Astronomy in Mann ki Baat

Referring to the contributions of astronomy centres in places like Pune and Ooty, the prime minister commended the strides the nation has taken in the field

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Modi advises Scientists
Prime Minister Modi tells scientists that science and technology should be used to bettering the lives of citizens. Wikimedia Commons

Speaking about the last solar eclipse of the year which happened on December 26, the prime minister Narendra Modi recalled India’s mastery over astronomy since ancient times.

In his Mann Ki Baat address to the nation, the Prime Minister mentioned the request from Ripun who hails from the northeast but is staying now in south India because of his job.

The prime minister mentioned Ripun for his request to find ways to popularise astronomy in rural areas of the country.

PM Modi
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Referring to the contributions of astronomy centres in places like Pune and Ooty, the prime minister commended the strides the nation has taken in the field.

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“The eclipse reminds us that that we are travelling in space while residing on the earth…. Friends, India has an ancient and glorious history of astronomy. Our connection with the twinkling stars in the sky is as old as our civilisation. Many of you might be aware that at various places in India, there are magnificent observatories (Jantar Mantars) – which are worth seeing. And these observatories have a deep bond with astronomy. Who doesn’t know about the prodigious talent of the great Aryabhatta,” PM said. (IANS)