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Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Dr. Kakali Roy Chowdhury

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Kautilya’s most significant contribution in foreign policy is the theory of MandalaYoni, that

incorporates discussion on the nature of state and inter-state relationship. It is important to

understand Kautilya’s concept of ‘State’ which appears to be noticeably different from the

concept of state in modern time. An analysis can help understanding the perspective of Kautilyan ideas about state, elements of state and how it can be the reason of dissimilarities between the inter-state relationship now and then. Along with the differences this paper aims to explore the possible relevance of Kautilyan theories on inter-state relationships in the contemporary era.

Keywords: Concept of State, Kautilya, International Relationship, Power dimension, Economic Dimension, Empowerment of State, Mandala Yoni, India’s Foreign policy.

Hypothesis: Objective and Methodology

The hypothesis in this paper is whether Kautilyan theory of inter-state relationship is relevant in the contemporary era, influenced by the concept of justice advocated by Kautilya. Despite having a considerable time gap and a completely different mode of governing system

existing as central power, the analysis of Chanakya about diplomatic efforts taken by a king is

considered the timeless principle of international relations. The article is based on exploratory qualitative data analysis. The data collected for this piece of work is mainly secondary data although primary data like news from various electronic and printed media have been chosen carefully to ensure high reliability. The analysis of foreign policy in Kautilya Arthashastra has framed the basic structure of discussion in the article. The analysis

here is mainly subjective.

1. Introduction

Within the frame of Essential Elements of the state and its power dynamics, Kautilya made his unique theory of foreign policy known as Raja Mandala or Circle of Kings, which has been

narrated in the chapter titled Mandala Yoni. Relevance of Kautilyan principle in various socio-

economic fields is a much-researched topic amongst researchers and students of multidisciplinary research. Kautilya was a versatile genius and his brilliance is often matched

with Western philosophers and statesmen like Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli1. Arthashastra is dynamic in the aspect of its relevance in the ,post-Kautilyan era and even in recent times, as the principles of the diplomatic strategies are researched, reinterpreted, and reconstructed, rather deconstructed(!) by social scientists. Kautiliya Arthashastra is a treatise on state craft that endeavor emphasised the importance of diplomacy and endeavour to build up the strength of the state.

India as observed to be a salient nurturer of global peace and harmony, prioritises ethical yet

practical approaches in the policy of International Relationships. The concepts inclined by the modern terminologies like State, Nations and Country are significantly different from the

concept that was merged with the term ‘Kingdom’. The term ‘State’ is relatively a modern term, hence there is adversity in finding complete relevance of the inter-kingdom power relationship narrated in Mandala Theory with the International Relationship in the contemporary era. The study of inter-state power relationships in two different ages becomes a challenging discourse due to the significant difference in their pattern of State-administration, inter-state trade and commerce, border security deals and politico-sociological discrepancies. Considering the breadth of the topics that Arthashastra covers and does a deep discussion within each topic, in this paper the analytical discussion on the possible relevance of Kautilyan policies has been done only in Humanitarian, Military and Social dimensions. While assessing the pertinence of the Mandala Theory, both supportive and opposing arguments have become the content of the discussion.

2.Mandala Theory and its analysis: Concept of State, Nation, Rashtra and Rajya

Following the initial overview, let us understand the different concepts underlying in the terms of State, Nation, Rashtra and Rajya. Factually there are no undisputed definitions of any of these terms. The time, nature and concept of the State that is represented by Kautilya in his treatise is evidently not as same as it is understood today, cause the ‘State’ is a modern term and can’t be applied completely to the period when Kautilya consolidated the code of administration of a kingdom. It is stated by Rajiv Bhatia that, ‘The complex security-development matrix is an integral feature of international politics at present’ 2 . An effort has been taken here to understand the difference between the concept of State 2300 years back with the same in modern times and the possible relevance of Kautilyan principles in today’s context.

A ‘State’ is defined as, A country considered an organised political community controlled by one government3. According to Aristotle (384BC- 322BC), the State is equivalent to nature itself where people are assumed to be living in a community and managing a communal life, which has gradually turned into a country4 . John Locke (1632AD-1704AD), Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712AD-1778AD), and Thomas Hobbes (1588AD-1679AD) are of opinion that, State is a social contract that tries to protect the right of human being5. Niccolò Machiavelli seemed quite radical in this matter, he defined a state as sovereign, autonomous, and non-religious, and he was a vehement supporter of maximizing the power of state6 . Let us have a glance over the concept of the term ‘Nation’. ‘Nation’ is defined as, a country considered as a group of people with the same language, culture and history who live in a particular area under one government7 . ‘Rashtra’8 has been mentioned as a kingdom with the fort and other elements in Amarkosha. It is also mentioned as an Empire in ManuSmriti ( The term ‘Rajya’ 9 has been applied in Raghuvamsa as “Raajyena kim tadvipareetavritte’ and the phrase can be interpreted as, Royalty, Sovereignty and Royal authority that possess supreme authority, does not go against its people and maybe vice versa. Kautilya (370BC-283BC), India’s earliest known political theorist-philosopher and economist was the Prime Minister of King Chandragupta Maurya (c.321-c.297BCE) and according to this versatile Statesman, Rashtra is a combination of King, Minister, People, Fort, Treasury, Army and Allies. The definition of State by Aristotle appears to be completely different from what Kautilya said about Rashtra, although Aristotle and Kautilya belong to the contemporary age. On the other hand, even though belong to two different centuries, Machiavelli quite likely Kautilya, was a believer of the empowerment of the State. C Nederman correctly said that, Machiavellian “modern concept of state” is an ‘impersonal form of rule possessing a monopoly of coercive authority within a set territorial boundary’10. The term Rajya and Rashtra gives an image that involves King, Royalty, Sovereignty, and authority, whereas State and Nation are commonly conceptualised as an entity within a particular geographical area where the rights of inhabitants are protected by the governing authority. In Arthashastra, Kautilya defines state as a combination of 7 Essential Elements and these elements work as nutrients for the empowerment of the king and help the sovereign to gain strength for attempting the expansion of the kingdom. Artha, despite being considered the most important pursuit of the administrative system, has been combined with 6 more Substantial Entities known as Prakritis and an ambitious king is advised to maintain all of them collectively. Except ‘Enemy’, all 6 Prakritis are believed to be self-evaluated and are mutually supportive. The Janapada (city), Durg (castle) and Mitra (friends) are the basic phenomena of the Kautilyan State.

On the other hand, the term State has been perceived from a different angle in the contemporary era. ‘Statehood’ is a criterion for membership in the United Nations Organisation, although, the charter of UNO doesn’t define the term ‘State’11, according to Article 4 ( Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, Dec. 26, 1933, art.1,49 Stat. 3097, 165 L.N.T.S. 19, U.S.T 881.) the charter of UNO a sovereign country only can be considered as eligible for the membership of this organisation. In consonance with the traditional definition of International Law, a country that contains a permanent population, defined territory, a government, and capacity to enter relations with other countries, can be accepted as a State and a member of UNO12. The concept of State is formed on the situational need of prioritizing peace in the world, post-World War.

UNO as a non-governmental international organization works for peace and harmony, and promotes Economic and Sustainable Development. Thus, it appears that the Kautilyan perspective of the State does not match completely with a contemporary concept of the State, so as the inter-kingdom or inter-state power relationship has a different mode of operation, but some significant similarities in both aspects can’t be denied too. Although time is an extensive factor in conceptualising the State, it can’t be considered as the only factor, thus the analysis of the possible relevance of Kautilyan theory on inter-kingdom relationship is a widely researched subject in the study of social science. In the context of the formation of state the power and power dimensions can be discussed.

3. 1 Power Dimension: The leadership qualities of a King, as narrated in Arthashastra were a man of pragmatism and realpolitik, also a believer of power accumulation in the hand of the Monarch. Prof. Jayanta Bandopadhyaya correctly pointed out in his book saying, 'Kautilya was even more sophisticated than the modern realists like Hans J Morgenthau who is confused between means and end of livelihood as compared to the Indian genius who clearly stated that, Happiness is the end and power is the means to it’.13

... Shaktih siddhishcha | Power is strength | Happiness is the ultimate achievement.

Being a visionary statesman Kautilya realised the necessity for a king to achieve power

through a vivid process of self-grooming and procuring the fundamentals to the state. In 6th

Adhikarana of Arthashastra those personal attributes are referred to as Atmasampada or

Swamiguna also emerges with the term ‘Rajasampatti’14. Atmasampada refers to the

qualities that are inherited or achieved by the King, whereas Rajasampattis are the resources that can be utilized in an appropriate manner by the king to achieve more and more political power.

Kautilya also establishes in his text that, a king who is powerful must try to maintain and

increase his power15. A king with personal attributes (Atmasampada) can generate effectiveness out of the rest of the Essential Elements (Rajasampattis) and a king otherwise can spoil the virtues of the essential elements16. Indian literary works have plenty of examples of kings getting perished along with his prosperous kingdom due to a lack of virtues in their character like Chedi king Shishupala was killed due to his arrogance in the poetry Shishupala Vadha17. Being a Political Realist, Kautilya advises the king to have his personal attributes enchanted by following Dharma as well as getting the support of his minister’s family members and subjects. The members of the royal family were included in the category of Natural Enemy or Sahaja Shatru18 as described in Mandala Yoni. Pandavas in Mahabharata defeated Kauravas, their brothers in Mahabharata in the battle of Kurukshetra, with a much smaller army of 7 Akshauhini against Kaurava’s army of 11 Akshauhini19. Pandavas were more inclined towards virtues of life even during the long-time rivalry for the rights over the throne, so was the virtue of morality that favoured them in Dharmayuddha. King Ashoka created friendly terms with countries like Ceylon, Tibet, Central Asia, China, Japan, Burma, and Nepal through his mission with the message of peace. The virtue of a leader is certainly a compelling factor in creating a related impact on international relations in the contemporary world too. Some leaders like German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi, or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein have been bitterly criticised for their inhuman policies against their own countrymen as well as their ideologies against humanity. All these extremely powerful top leaders had to face severe consequences at the end of their political journey.

In 97th Prakaranam of Arthashastra, there is this phrase ‘Shamavyaayaamau yogakshemayoryonih’, where the term Shama or ‘Shanti’ does not mean peace20 but, destruction of the elements that create hurdles in the way of achieving castle, peace etc. Also, the term ‘Vyaayaama’ denotes the appointment of officers who are skilled in maintaining the castle and other military possessions. Kautilya was in favour of accumulating power for the king by every possible means. He was a man of Political Realism21. The pragmatic principle of this statesman never compromised with the imperialistic approach of a Monarch. A typical realistic attitude must be adopted by an ambitious king who plans to attempt the expansion. An assessment of the power of the, enemy king must be done prior to the military advancement, otherwise, the entire initiative may remain futile. Napoleon Bonaparte even though a massive warrior, showed a severe lack of insight in assessing the possible risks and war tactics in his Russian Campaign22 . Jawaharlal Nehru’s decision to support China abdicated India’s opportunity to become a permanent member of the UN Security Councilinterrelationship and was criticised broadly amongst political realists23 . The leadership vision necessary to visualise the harmonious inter relationship of the kingdom can be applied in present-day politics too, but a visionary leader, leadership and Realpolitik are missing here.

Although from a critical point of view, it can be said that, it is difficult to predict the political

situation that is going to be there after 40 years or more but at any point in time a rare

opportunity missed can impact the power nexus of the country. In 1971 the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s decision to support East Pakistan in the Liberation War against (West) Pakistan, was indeed an insightful decision that freed India from being land bounded

by two segments of the same country, more over People’s Republic of Bangladesh became an independent country and India got a chance to be into an amicable relationship with a newly created neighbour at the border.

Acquisition and possession of wealth and power is referred to as Yogakshemasadhanam24 in

Arthashastra. The Yogakshemasadhanam was also possible by the military advancement referred to as Udyog or Vyaayaama. Attack, an alliance, signing of a treaty or surrender to an opponent power, could be decided based on the assessment of loss and profit involved in the perspective of the Victorious king, which was Kautilya’s realistic philosophy25 . Amongst the rulers of much later periods, Badshah Akbar was known for his inclusive leadership style. Akbar’s success in expanding his empire was as much a fruit of his ability to earn the respect of the conquered people as it was of his ability to conquer them. He rather showed an attitude of tolerance and allied with the defeated Rajput Kings instead of being hostile towards them moreover, instead of squeezing the was huge amount of ‘Tribute Tax’ and leaving their kingdom unattended, Akbar started a system more of a pattern of central government and appointed those kings into his administration. The mode of inclusivity for the defeated Rajput kings was a victory more diplomatic than imperialistic26.

Kautilya as a statesman strongly recommends the foreign policy of an ambitious king to be

flexible according to the benefit that is supposed to be obtained from the alliance. Although

Kautilya, as estimated generally, not actually found to be too radical about dealing with

hostages. In the chapters regarding the formation of Treaties, war hostage is found to be an

important aspect. Rangarajan interpreted the Kautilyan principle aptly by saying that the narrator

seemed to have a focused vision on the ultimate gain fetched out of the treaty, as he clearly says intervention, negotiation, or keeping a hostage – the purpose of all these was the same, to create confidence between two kings27 and he also disagreed with some teachers stating that, a word of honour, even verbal oath is enough to create stable peace through treaty. He also believes that breaking the verbal promise of the peace treaty will bring severe consequences to the person in life and after death. This can certainly identify Kautilya as an exponent of an ethical approach towards life and most significantly on the ground of an inter-kingdom power relationship. In his Indian campaign (327BC- 325BC) Alexander the Great, had an uninterrupted military advancement penetrating Indian kingdoms like Gandhara, Satrapy and the city of Taxila breaking their futile effort of stopping the Macedonian King. The attitude of a King, who had been brought as a war prisoner became the main impetus for Alexander to change his mind as an invader. The generosity of Alexander here can be debatably questioned as to how much political gain he compromised by returning the kingdom to Porus, but the point here is not to weigh the loss and gain of two kings. Alexander probably neither had the intention nor could possibly establish the Macedonian rule in India extended from Macedonia, but history says the Battle of Hydaspes was possibly the costliest battle fought by the Macedonians28. This magnanimous act of Kingpost-warfare Alexander is appreciated due to its humane approach that merely involved diplomatic accomplishment.

History has many such instances where a humanitarian approach has been shown to a defeated king and war prisoners, by avoiding unnecessary barbarism towards them. Kautilya believed in a coherent policy in the inter-kingdom relationship; also, from the suggested patterns of his treaties post-warfare, it would not be difficult to say that his principle of Realism was established on ethical practices. The ethical practices in the inter-kingdom relationship is highly insisted by the countries of the contemporary world especially after US atomic explosion in Japan, a much ‘criminalised’ act not only against a country but against humanity too. It would be justifiable to say in conclusion that, the inter-power relationship among the states goes parallelly with the ethical implementation of humane principles, both in Kautilyan and modern era.

The administrative system of a kingdom revolves around the King, and a king must possess good character and nurture the qualities of a good leader. Arthashastra has a mention about 3 categories of attributes like Abhigamika Guna , Pragna Guna and Utsaha Guna29, at the very beginning of 6th Adhikarana. Abhigamika Guna includes nobility, foresight, righteousness, total integrity, and qualities that are usually inherited, whereas Pragna Guna emphasizes the qualities that can be achieved through a formal training and grooming of the titular head. Kautilya’s leadership design insists on Utsaha Guna which modern-age was built on promptness, bravery, wrathfulness, and proficiency. Some of these qualities may appear a bit irrelevant in the modern age leadership concept but a different interpretation may lead us to a different perspective. In a democratic system, the selection of a leader is completely law and constitution bound and there is hardly any scope for prioritising nobility or appearance of the leader, although it has been noticed that loyalty towards dynastical rule is strongly in vogue in our country. For example, natural obedience towards Nehru-Gandhi or Sindhiya leadership brought strong controversies in Indian politics. On the other hand, it has been observed that, the unstable marital relationship of Prince Charles of British Royal family incurred huge criticism, whereas Princess Diana became a much adored and respected personality across the globe. Thus, nobility among other criteria is contemplated as a

significant one, as it may attract the natural obedience of the subjects but Kautilyan authorship made one point very clear that no individual attribute can suffice to be the reason for good leadership. Though the pattern of leadership as well as the political scenario has gone through a huge transformation, the fundamental principle of successful leadership remains the same. In the chapter ‘Mandala Yoni’ the strategic policies of the foreign relationship remains led by the explanation of ‘Swamigunas’30 where it clearly said that a king needs to be extremely alert and updated about the economic situation, internal activities of his ministry as well as the neighbouring states; he needs to be diplomatic and pragmatic while dealing with various types of issues that come through complicated situations.

Army or Danda is an indispensable component of State and plays a vital role in the administrative system. The King ensures the security of his individual subject and society, controls the office bearers, and feudal lords and maintains general law and order by using Danda. The Mauryan Empire (322-187BCE) became geographically the most extensive among the kingdoms in the ancient Indian sub-continent31. The glory of this kingdom continued till the reign of King Ashoka32 and Mauryan Empire 33 declined shortly after his death of the king due to various reasons. Historian Romila Thapar supported the theory of division of the kingdom between two successors34 whereas Vincent Smith could not have a supportive view in favour of this theory due to lack of evidences35 Kautilya says in the Shamavyayamikam Prakaranam of 6th Adhikarana of Arthashastra that, the king who is empowered with Atma Prakriti and Dravya Prakriti36, can only be considered as a Vijigishu Raja or the Victorious king as it is seen in the following statement in Arthashastra,

‘Raaja atmadravyaprakritisampanno nayasyaadhishthanam vijigishu |’

A year after Alexander’s return and untimely demise, Kautilya made Chandragupta Maurya of

Magadha defeat the Nanda king and establish Mauryan Dynasty and Empire in India. From a

narrative point of view, it appears to be Kautilya’s well-timed policy decision to use situational flexibility in favour of his plan of action. Post-Alexandrian invasion, the political situation was somehow not at par with the strength that used to prevail in the pre-Macedonian invasion in the sub-continent. Although there is the absence of purely historical information about Kautilya and the presence of a semi-legendary account of his background;37 his excellence in the science of diplomacy cannot be demeaned. A similar approach is noticed in various layers of Mandala Theory, where Kautilya strongly supported attributes like imperialism of an ambitious king, as well as flexibility in foreign policies in favour of the Vijigishu Raja.

The interesting part of Kautilya’s policy of external affairs in Mandala Theory is, the term with

the neighbouring countries changed according to the expansion or extraction of the territorial boundary of the kingdom. Once the immediate enemy kingdom is conquered, the relationship is reframed. As the Vijigishu Raja captures the land of the enemy and establishes his rule, the former ally becomes a probable enemy and the same imperialistic policy applies on it as well.

The expedition of an ambitious king thus never goes into complete halt. Diplomacy and

formation of strategy for Kautilya was quite clearly fulfilling the imperialistic urge of the

Vijigishu Raja. Professor Tridib Chakraborti correctly mentioned in his article that, ......’stances

change alternatively in diplomacy due to changing conditions arising due to changing political circumstances.38 The guerrilla war, surprise strike or secret sabotage, the mode of military invasion must always be compatible to the benefit for the Vijigishu Raja. Peace was preferable to war only in so far as it buys some time to rejuvenate the lost power of the king. The size of the Mauryan kingdom proves Kautilyan strategies to be aggressively and successfully utilised by the King Chandragupta Maurya. Kautilya also recognises the presence of neutral states known as Udasina39 and the state called Madhyama40 or the intermediary.the In recent Jammu-Kashmir issue, India Government clearly insisted on United States remain as an impartial partner or Udasina, although The US President showed interest in playing the role of a mediator.

Political analysts showed enormous interest in studying Kautilyan policies due to various

reasons and pragmatism is one among those. Behera is of opinion that “Kautilya is ...the

forerunner of the modern fathers of the realist traditions in International Relationship as

Arthashastra predates Hobbes’s ‘State of Nature’, Machiavelli’s ‘Prince’ as well as Kenneth

Waltz’s anarchic international system and the ‘security dilemma’ of modern states.”41 The

politics in the monarchical system during the Kautilyan age was fundamentally not too different than the political scenarios today. Although modern age International Relationship is much more complex the pragmatic strategies of Kautilya are never backdated. As we have discussed before, the political relationship between kingdoms, had always been a subject of an intense and complicated game of power in the world of politics irrespective of time. Alliance to a king weaker to the enemy is of no use, as mentioned by Kautilya in the chapters where he discussed the logical reasoning of alliance and treatise 42. Following this principle, England ended its long-term enmity with France and joined Allied power in WW I.

3.2 Economic Dimension

The first part of this point irradiates the importance of Artha in the understanding of inter-

kingdom relationship. Arthashastra is an illustrious treatise on statecraft, which also converses about, governance rooted in a balanced conception of Artha, the livelihood, Dharma, the righteousness and Kama, the earthly pleasure43, so this text tries to uphold a consolidated narration over the interconnected aspects of statecraft which may apparently look isolated. Thus, an in-depth analysis of foreign policies, internal dispute management and external strategy formation of a kingdom have taken a respectably significant space in Mandala Theory. This is an excellent account of State Craft and appears to be a result of the practical experience gathered by the author where the aim of implementing successful economic policies is to increase the revenues of the state and accumulate the surpluses in the state treasury which stands by the king as the biggest support to run his kingdom. Kautilya has merged the economy with the socio-cultural-political aspects of a country’s administrative system to match the flow of its economic progress.

Arthashastra literally means ‘The science of wealth and welfare’44. In this text, the submergence of the economy of a country with its administrative system and inter-kingdom relationship signifies all contingencies of the economy playing a crucial role in both. Hence, identifying, maintaining, and generating resources, become an indispensable part of the process of empowerment of the state.

In this context, Kautilya has mentioned the discourses of his ancestral scholars and

Dharmashastravids like Acharya Brihaspati and Sage Manu, and after a profound analysis, a

balanced and comprehensive interpretation of their opinions is done by the writer, more over a conclusive opinion has been given in order to provide the best means of having the best of livelihood. Along these lines, he establishes, equal status of Varta (agriculture-commerce), Anvikshiki (Philosophy), Trayee (Vedas) and Dandaneeti (Law and Justice)45 in the chapter Vinayadhikarika;

Chatasra eva vidyaa iti Kautilyah | Taabhidharmaarthau yadvidyaattadvidyaanaam vidyaattam|

The statement says, ‘A real understanding of all 4 subjects resides in the knowledge of both

moral and immoral practice of them’. The discussion of these 4 branches of knowledge cover all necessary learnings of human life including its pertinence to the governance of a kingdom.

Secondly, the term ‘Imperialism’ has been re-analysed and obtained a different dimension in the post-colonial contemporary world. The colonial rule of European powers over the Afro-Asian-Latino countries has drastically changed the concept of imperialism. British East India Co. started its empire as a monopolistic trading body, but later the company became involved in politics and started acting as an agent of the British government by helping them spread their empire in India and across the globe from the 18th century to the mid-19th century. Industrialisation and technical development in European countries generated high demand for raw materials to support the industries as well as required a market huge enough for the consumption of home productions. Transformation of the world away from the European continent into a colonial kingdom was the need of the time for European powers. That is the way the concept of the global economy was raised. It did not stop there, the British influence acted as a catalyst in China too during the 19th century. The interest of gathering capital to vitalising the economy of those European countries obtained control of the foreign and colonial policy of those governments. Thus, economic imperialism stands as a divergent concept in the contemporary world which is noticeably different from the Kautilyan concept of inter-kingdom relationship. Along with a new concept of economy, web of transactions and, communication, drastic technological advancement, movements like Marxism and Socialism started. Competition between imperial powers put colonial countries

into financial, political, and social struggles. Extortion of the poor or developing countries started and continued till WW2. It appears that the mode of imperialism in the Kautilyan era use to indicate possession of land including people and resources, through military aggression, whereas imperialism has got an economic face in the present-day world. As stability and peace, are insisted on by United Nations Organisation, military aggression is highly discouraged at the global level post-World War, but imperialism is an ongoing entity of International Politics and Commerce. The aggressive attitude of imperialism has a twist in its form from military invasion to market apprehension.

The ongoing economic conflict between China and United Nations in the contemporary world post WWII has become a global concern after the fall of USSR. China being the world’s largest exporter and the US the largest importer of the world, had become leading powers in the global economy.

Kissinger has rightly stated that ‘...a contest for supremacy between China and the United

States are inevitable’ 46. The reason behind the conflict is the aggressive Chinese infiltration into US market, which poses a threat of a serious trade deficit for the United Nations. Lawrence J. Lau, a Hong Kong-based professor of economics argues in his book that a major cause of the growing battle between China and the US is the global economic and technological dominance47 . China’s apparently uncontrollable infiltration deep inside the market economy of other countries including the United States has a serious impact on their domestic manufacturing. The aggressive Chinese trade policy is nothing but a non-militaristic mode to its imperialistic strategy. The US President has gone for an almost open Cold War against China by imposing higher trade tariffs and other restrictions on trade with the intention of forcing it to make changes to its ‘unfair trade policies’. Recently Government of India has banned the import of India’s National Flag from other countries like China. A notification has been issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, banning the import of the national flag due to non-compliance with the standards set in the Flag Code of India48. It was rather a bothersome fact to know that the unfair trade of a single product could become a point of attention due to the violation of standardised parameters of quality control. Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism has generated a concept of ‘We’ and ‘Others’ where the theorist z a clear opinion that, the European perspective has imposed the idea of ‘We’ for those white skinned rulers who liked to and used to exploit the dark-skinned ‘Other’49. Said’s A complete ‘Colonial’ colour in Chinese Trade policy is having the similar shade of British Colonialism that dominated politics and economy of a huge part of the globe for

about 3 centuries. The countries under colonial rule turned into the resource-buckets as well as markets for United Kingdom during 18th and 19th century creating a huge damage to the

economy of those colonies. The Colonial India lost its 10,000 soldiers in WW2 without being

directly involved into the war. The foreign policy of Kautilya too have suggestions to use the

resources of the enemy state post the victory of the ambitious king and various types of treaties like Bhumi Sandhi, Karma Sandhi or Hiranya Sandhi appears to be the ways to score over the rival50. A country with strong economy and military power does have the manipulative approach towards any socio-political-economic issue that comes up not only in the neighbouring region but in the global periphery too, as observed in the contemporary world. A timeless treatise like Arthashastra strongly recommends every diplomatic strategy made by the ambitious king to go in favour of the political and economic benefit of his state.

The aggressive economic dominance of China is intruding and manipulating over developed, developing and under-developed countries too. The disputes in South China Sea region involve the control of marine trade in the sea across Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and Philippines, while China is interested in keeping the rights over fishing stocks, exploration and potential utilisation of crude oil and natural gas in the sea beds which politically belong to the other countries, including the strategic control of important shipping lane.

3.2.1 Mandala Theory: diplomatic possibilities

The Sanskrit word ‘Mandala’ communicates a concept of ‘circle’ and the word ‘Yoni’ means

‘the centre for origin’51. Kautilya’s MandalaYoni is a circle of kings with states, around the

Vijigishu King where each one of them is positioned in different diplomatic status and term with the king at the centre. The relationship status of the12 constituents of Raja Mandala52 is not referred based on historical instances but more of a hypothetical situation when the Victorious

king can strategize his foreign policy. In the Circle of Kings or Raja Mandala, the relationships

are based on the principle that, the geographical position of the neighbouring states defined the nature of the power/diplomatic relationship between them, as elaborated by the writer; where he designates the immediate neighbouring states as potential enemies and the states with a common enemy tend to be allies53. The complex diplomatic relation between India and Pakistan supports the relevance of this theory quite profoundly. The military issues at the border, complex political relationship, economical dependency, diplomatic and commercial exchange with other neighbouring countries, have made the India-Pakistan relationship a complex one. Kautilya said very aptly that, the bordering states may always have certain conflict of interest, the reason why they can be called natural enemies. Nevertheless, the immediate enemy state once conquered and gets it’s land encroached inside the territory of the victorious kingdom loses its individual existence and thus the next neighbouring friendly kingdom along the boundary turns into Ari or a

potential enemy of the Vijigishu King. The relationship status between two friendly states was completely subjective and was flexible under the influence of empirical interest in changed circumstances. Most western thinkers hardly agreed to Kautilyan definition like, ‘every neighbour is an enemy and the enemy of the enemy is your friend’54. The literal study of the text does not help to find its pertinence to the time, but a book like Arthashastra can never be taken casually and a Prime Minister like Kautilya should never be assessed generally. An extended study of this theory reveals that in the Mandala system, the relationship between states gets defined by the power dynamics and imperialistic hunger of the victorious king and not only by the territorial position, thus all the states of the Mandala system has to face the same predicament. Moreover, the diplomatic policy of inter-state relationship revolves around the political and economic benefits of the ambitious king. A profound discourse in 7th Adhikarana renders possible military situations to the king to choose one of Shadgunyas or 6fold policies.

Sandhi (settlement), Vigraha (attacking the enemy), Aasana (remaining indifferent), Yaana

(attack), Samshraya (taking shelter) or Dwaidhi bhava (utilizing both the policies of attacking

and agreement)55 .

3.2.2 Absence of Globalised platform and technology

In the analyses of Prof. Wilhelm. Rau’s pioneer work “State and Society in Ancient India”, H.D. Goswami stated that ancient India had several small and big states with monarchical, aristocratic, oligarchical, or public assembly-oriented administration56. Mahajanapadas with its fragments of Janapadas was in existence for a long period of time57. Feudal states in later Gupta period, independent states like Rajputana and Maharashtra in Mughal period, Princely States and Residencies of British India; the concept of “Neighbouring kingdoms” in India rotates inside the geographical boundary of the present-day sub-continent only. The Globalisation of increasing interdependence of world’s economies and culture; concept of Global platform and technology was absent during the time of the composition of Arthashastra. Although this transition in vital statistics of the society has created a major difference between the inter-state relationship then and International Relationship now. Based on the discussion done in this paper before it may appear that, Kautilya has prioritised geographical position of the states while theorising his foreign policies but it can be also interpreted that he meant the physical space of the states which could be threatened by a neighbouring state. Indigenous literary works have instances of battle fought between many kings as a group, where there might have a factor of insecurity from the neighbouring states. Rg Veda has the reference of the ‘Battle of ten kings’ or Dasharagna yuddha (Book 7, hymns 18, 33 and 83.4-8) took place near the river called Ravi, Punjab. In Mahabharata, almost all neighbouring kings of Kuru kingdom have participated in the battle of Kurukshetra in either of sides. Thus it appears to be not so uncommon practice for kings in ancient India to form an allied power that share the common diplomatic interest which brought them together, this pattern of alliance is not time bound and seen during WW1 and WW2 but certainly there was no common platform where individual kingdom could come up with any security issues of its own or in case it expects a threat from a bigger kingdom. The bigger kingdoms had always been a threat to the smaller ones. The individual kingdom used to deal with its defence-related issues from the perspective of the individual’s political and imperialistic benefit,

whereas the global political scenario of the twentieth century has got a complete changeover, for example, the Israel-Palestine conflict58 has turned into a Global issue and the inter-communal violence has been sensitised at its extreme level. On 2nd August 1990 when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and the emir of Kuwait fled to Saudi Arabia, the United Nations Security Council unanimously criticised the invasion and demanded Iraq’s immediate withdrawal of forces from the land of Kuwait. Iraq- Kuwait Crisis lead to Gulf War that waged by a coalition forces from about 32 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Those 32 countries that joined the coalition force had no direct conflict with any of the parties that can lead them to get involved in this war. It was basically an effort to teach a lesson to Iraq and give the message to the world that, any unethical aggression towards any country will not be tolerated. On August 6, the Security Council imposed a worldwide ban on trade with Iraq. In Arthashastra this globalised approach of IR was concentrated in the states or kingdoms within the periphery of neighbouring kingdoms along the boundary. Moreover, after UNO came into existence, the fundamental attitude of IR leaned towards peacekeeping which is not known to have existed during the time of Arthashastra.

The political and diplomatic situation appeared to be simpler in the world when Kautilya wrote his treatise than what it is now in the contemporary era. In one Raja Mandala the mutual friends and enemies were parts of an inter-kingdom relationship59. The twentieth-century and inter-power diplomatic situation is much more complicated economically, politically and diplomatically.

The military advancement in Kautilyan time used to be driven by the imperialistic attitude of the kings, primarily for more socio-economic strength and territorial control, whereas aspects such as religion, and different political ideologies have made the IR a complicated affair in the current age. In 1980 Iraqi President declared war against Iran. The purpose of this invasion was partly religious60, partly political61 mostly diplomatic62 and economic. In Gulf War, Iraq declared a Jihad or holy war against the coalition to garner the support from Muslim world63. Thus, the complicated attitude of world leaders had given a different dimension to the inter-power relationship now. Most importantly, technology didn’t have control over civilization. Social media is having a huge impact on people of the Twentieth century. Technologically advanced electronic media and social media give exposure to inter-state interactions and thus, those incidents get global attention. Kautilyan Arthashastra and its theories were completely land bound and the exposure was through Greek invasions and through trades with Chinese merchants.

Sometimes travelers from other countries too played important role in this matter.

3.3 Humanitarian Dimension The principles of Kautilyan imperialism remain the same in some of the aspects of the modern imperialistic approach and some have changed drastically. The pre-colonial world had experienced great warriors and invaders in Europe who were into aggressive militaristic invasion across the continent. A lot many principles of Mandala theory can be relevant to those military expeditions. Due to the common awareness generated after the countries incurred huge economic damages during World Wars, the military campaign due to imperialistic attitude is strongly discouraged. The big and powerful countries have adopted the trend of economic aggression which will ultimately fulfil the same purpose of empowering the bigger countries in an apparently peaceful manner. Capturing the global market, having an economic monopoly, accumulating nuclear power, utilising veto power in UNO, and unofficially nurturing internal socio-political disturbances in other countries, are a few by commonly visible imperialistic acts.

War has always been a serious matter for the kingdoms who got involved in it. Sihag put his argument saying that, Kautilya invariably applied cost-benefit analysis to every undertaking including waging war64. Being a statesman Kautilya’s primary focus was on the outcome of the war that is beneficial to the economy and national security, but Kautilya also makes a clear distinction between war as a necessity for the nation to survival which can’t be assessed based on the cost-benefit analysis and the war that is waged for the escalation of the strength of the kingdom. The mentions about kings like Ramachandra, Harishchandra and Yudhishtheera performing Rajasuya yajna and Pushyamitra Shunga, Samudragupta and even in recent times Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur performing Ashwamedha yajna65, signifies imperialism enforced by the kings who considered himself to be the most powerful and fit to be an emperor. War may exactly not be an aristocratic pastime now, but it is a result of an egoistic attitude toward other countries. The Iraqi invasion of Iran is an example of this. Recently North Korean President appears to have done the required arrangement by making the country shielded as well as empowered by Intercontinental Ballistic Missile66. The world has appeared to be a conflict zone post-World War II. A situation has come when people, society, and countries are in anguish. China’s support for Pakistan certainly puts Indo-Chinese relationship into big question. Chinese aggression in Doklam has directly affected the border peace settlement between these two countries.

Kautilyan imperialistic mindset is quite contemporary in this matter. Countries are all set to prove their power. A huge part of their financial resources is going for the military empowerment and accumulation of atomic weapons. A contradictory approach is seen in the member countries of UNO when they sign Peace Pact but always keep themselves ready for military invasion. Some countries are having serious internal political, economic, or catastrophic problems, whereas some

are having problems with neighbouring countries. Kautilya specially mentioned in his Mandala Theory that, a victorious king must investigate the internal problems before planning for an imperialistic invasion. He mentioned the enemies from the ministry or royal family of the King as Sahaja Shatru or the natural enemies. In this it can be noticed that a king who cannot have a complete control over internal issues cannot strategize a foreign policy that leads to success.

Nawab Siraj ud Daulah’s defeat in the battle of Plassey is not only an act of worse treason, it

changed Indian history forever. On the other hand, egocentric top leaders of countries are trending to become autocratic heads of their own countries as well as being imperialistic over world-market, for example, China and the USA are in a Cold War zone and after the fall of USSR, China has made international trade a Bi-polar war zone.

Pragmatism was a key point in an inter-state relationship in Mandala Yoni and Kautilya was a man of Real Politik, although his advice for the Victorious king was to be on the path of righteousness and justice for becoming a powerful emperor as well as sustaining the power of the monarch...... “....chalachale cha sansaare dharma eko hi nishchalah |”


Finding the relevance of the Kautilyan Mandala Theory is admittedly a challenge due to a huge time gap and social and political structure(!). The interesting part of this work is the fact that despite having significant differences in the principles, and strategies regarding foreign relations, the concept of justice (the term in Sanskrit for which is ‘Dharma’) is emphasised so much so that it becomes the foundational principle for major negotiations and transactions in almost all areas of state-craft.

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