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Arthasastra and Foreign Policy

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" The welfare of the state depends on an active foreign policy."

- Kautilya



1. Kautilya's Arthasastra is a treatise on artha and sastra. . Arthasastra is the science, which is the means of the acquisition and protection of Earth. Arthasastra could be regarded as the sastra concerned with the general well being on earth. And since the state activity alone can make such a well being possible, the protection of Earth and it's acquisition which are an essential part of state activity are declared to be province of this sastra. The wide range of state activity covered in arthasastra has a two-fold aim. First it gives out how a ruler should protect his territory, which principally refers to administration of the state. Second, it gives out how territory should be acquired which principally is conquest of territory from others. This involves a consideration of the foreign policy of the state .

2. The name Arthasastra for the science of politics and administration finds its mention in the epic of Mahabaratha. The precepts of the science of administration and politics may have been framed by the early purohitas for the guidance of the kings whom they served. The precepts may be supposed to have been collected together and may thus have constituted as a manual for the guidance of rulers in general. Kautaliya may have put together these precepts and his arthasatra may be the culmination of a long period of speculation and not its starting point .

3. Kautilya's Arthasastra contains fifteen adhikaranas or books. Of these the first five deal with Ð''tantra' or the internal administration of the state. The next eight deals with Ð''avapa' or its relation with the neighbouring states and the last two are miscellaneous in character. In the sixth adhikarna the qualities, which make each of the seven prakritis or constituents of the state ideal, are enumerated. The Ð''Rajamandala' or the Circle of kings as a preliminary to a discussion on the state's relations with its neighbors is also discussed. The seventh adhinkara describes the way in which each of the six gunas or measures of foreign policy may be used in the various situations that are likely to arise. In the eighth adhikarna the calamities or weakness affecting the various constituents are described. The ninth and tenth adhikarna deals with the Army, mobilization and carrying out of expeditions, the eleventh adikarna describes how the would be conqueror should subjugate independent oligarchial principalities. The twelfth adhikarna describes how a weak king when threatened by a stronger king should frustrate the latter's design and ultimately overcome him. The thirteenth adhikarna concerns the conquest of enemy's capital by subterfuge or fighting. It also describes the administration of captured territory.

4. Kautilya proposes that the kosha or treasury is an essential element of the state. A king with a depleted treasury eats into the very vitality of its citizens and the country. At the same time a king who improvishes his own people or angers them by unjust exactions will also lose their loyalty. A balance has to be maintained between the welfare of the people and augementing the resources of the state . Kautaliya also propagates that the prosperity of the state and its inhabitants cannot be maintained unless new territory is acquired by settlement of virgin lands by alliance or by conquest. In a political environment, which had many states, any state resting content with its own territory was likely to fall prey to the expansionist ambitions of another. A king before moving on a campaign should first ensure that no vyasana has befallen any of the constituent elements of the state. The Arthasastra enumerates the role of state in maintaining the wealth of the nation, in welfare of people, maintaining relation between neighboring states and conduct of foreign policy based on relative strength of participants. The principles of foreign policy as given out in Arthsastra are as applicable today as they were in the third century BC. Kautaliya emphasizes the need of a strong economic and military might for a nation to pursue its national interests and has advocated a foreign policy for achievements of these national interests.

5. After the world war, two distinct blocs based on the communist and capitalist ideologies were formed with the Soviet Union and United States emerging as the dominant powers. The cold war rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States of America dominated the foreign policies of all nations during this period. In the modern world, nations developed distinct personalities or styles that affected the manner in which they conducted themselves in the international arena. Both the Soviet Union and the United States vigorously pursued policies in furtherance of their perceived national interests. The two nations also strived to become major economic powers by pursuing policies based on their ideals. In the case of the Soviet Union its outlook towards international relations can be understood by considering the Russian approach, Russia being the largest constituent of the Soviet Union. The Russians having had a long history of invasions have always felt insecure. The Russian state has historically dealt with its security problem by centralizing power in an authoritarian state possessing large armies and by pushing outward in a bid to gain more territories . This outward thrust of power was a means of safeguarding own territories from invasion. The neighbouring states in fact viewed Russia as a threat to their territory.

6 . In the case of United States, it had a very peace full neighbourhood and has had no external security threats to its existence for most of its history. Events overseas appeared to have little to do with its development of democracy at home. The cold war ended with the break up of the Soviet Union and the demise of the communist ideology. The Soviet Union although a strong military power could never have a strong economy. The United States on the contrary developed strong economic and military might.



Statement of the Problem

1. The principles of foreign policy as enunciated by Kautilya have been proved by the results of the cold war.



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