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Day 35 – Q 4. The philosophical basis of governance is deeply engrained in Kautilya’s Arthshastra. Elucidate.

4. The philosophical basis of governance is deeply engrained in Kautilya’s Arthshastra. Elucidate.

शासन के दार्शनिक आधार को कौटिल्य के अर्थशास्त्र में गहराई से समझाया  गया है। स्पष्ट करें।


Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, is India’s most illustrious political economist of all time. He regarded economic activity as the driving force behind the functioning of any political dispensation. In fact, he went to the extent of saying that revenue should take priority over the army because sustaining the army was possible out of a well-managed revenue system, which is key for good governance.


Kautilya’s philosophical basis of governance:

Good governance in Kautilya’s literature ARTHASASTRA is aimed at fulfilling the welfare of the people. “In the happiness of the King’s subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare, his welfare. Whatever pleases him personally, he shall not consider as good, but whatever makes his subjects happy, he shall consider good.”

The jargon related to Human Resource Management was not prevalent then, but its essence was widely practised in Kautilya’s times. “The King should look to the bodily comforts of his servants by providing such emoluments as can infuse in them the spirit of enthusiasm to work. He should not violate the course of righteousness and wealth. Thus, he shall not only maintain his servants, but also increase their subsistence and wages in consideration of their learning and work.”

Kautilya said that good governance and stability go hand in hand. According to him, there is stability if rulers are responsive, responsible, accountable, removable, and recallable, otherwise there would be instability.

Principles of Economic Administration:

The cardinal principle of economic administration was laid down in Kautilya’s Arthshastra in the following words – “The root of wealth is economic activity and lack of it brings material distress. In the absence of fruitful economic activity, both current prosperity and future growth are in danger of destruction. The King shall populate the countryside by creating new villages on virgin lands or reviving abandoned village sites.”

Conceptualising Good Governance:

The Arthashastra equates political governance with economic governance. The end is economic governance while political governance is the means. But as economic objectives are not realised in the absence of political ones, then political governance becomes an end and economic governance the means. ‘The end justifies the means’, this is supposed to be the basis of Kautilyan and Machiavellian philosophy. Political power and material wealth according to Kautilya are the means and ends of governance. And good governance – political or economic – depends upon justifying the ends and means as the socio, economic and political conditions.

The three constituents of power are: intellectual power, military might, and enthusiasm and morale.


Kautilya was a true statesman who bridged the gap between experience and vision. For Kautilya, good governance was paramount. He suggested built-in checks and balances in systems and procedures for the containment of malpractices. Many postulates of Kautilya’s philosophy of political economy are applicable to contemporary times.

Best answer: P29

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