Thoughts on economics and liberty

Balbir Sihag on Chanakya (Kautilya) #2

Here's an extract from a publicly available source. The original source refers to a Table which I could not find. Could anyone with access please scan the table and send it to me?

Guest editorial, Humanomics, Volume 25, Issue 1.
More than 2,000 years ago, Vishnugupta Chanakya, wrote The Arthashastra – the science of wealth and welfare. It contains 150 chapters, which are distributed among 15 books.
The Arthashastra develops three interlinked and mutually complementary parts:
  1. Arthaniti (economic policies) to promote economic growth;
  2. dandaniti (administration of justice) to ensure judicial fairness; and
  3. videshniti (foreign affairs policy) to maintain independence and to expand the kingdom.
Kautilya believed that the establishment of a rule of law, an impartial judicial system, and private property rights, devising an incentive mechanism to ensure efficient and honest government officials, encouraging dharma (ethics), the moral and spiritual rules of human behavior, provision of infrastructure and capital formation were the key ingredients for the creation of a prosperous, safe and secure nation.
Kautilya is an early pioneer of political economy before Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. It is not claimed that Kautilya provides any formal proofs or offers fully developed concepts or that The Arthashastra is as sophisticated as Samuelson's (1947) foundations. [Sanjeev: Balbir Sihag seriously over-rates the depressingly inadequate and misleading work of Samuelson.]  But it can be claimed that Kautilya's Arthashastra is much more pragmatic, more consistent, broader in scope and, analytically more rigorous than Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Despite the non-availability of modern analytical tools to him, his economic analysis was reasonably organized, adequately developed, and applied to a variety of problems.
The Arthashastra contains a sufficient number of coherent economic concepts and hypotheses and an inter-dependent system of relationships. Almost all of his insights, concepts, and methodology are relevant today.
The Arthashastra far removed from the heat of current controversies provides a clearer picture of universal human tendencies, such as risk-aversion, rent-seeking and greed and Kautilya recommends that society should tirelessly search for ways to reduce risk and contain excessive greed and rent-seeking activities.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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