Thoughts on economics and liberty

Balbir Sihag’s book on Kautilya: the most important economics book in India since the Arthashastra

I was eagerly looking forward to reading Prof. Balbir Sihag's book (although I've read most of his underlying articles published in peer reviewed journals and commented on many of them on my blog). 

I procured the hard copy in India during my recent trip and have finally started reading it today. It is a pure gem of a book, the most important economics book written in India since the time of Kautilya himself. Please do buy it and read it. 
Now it is also on Kindle. Only $6! A steal. Get it!

I've already commented extensively on Prof. Sihag's work on my blog, but will write some more at the end of my reading of this book. Indeed, given time, I'd myself like to add to the scholarship on Chanakya – since in my view he demonstrates GREATER knowledge of key economic concepts applicable to public policy than ANY economist, dead or alive. Most economists have tunnel vision and aren't able to appreciate broader issues of governance. Chanakya ranges broadly and deeply across a wide canvas. 
He is also important for two other reasons:
– a great critical thinker and agnostic 
– confirms that cow meat was widely consumed in ancient India (the cow – which was worshipped, but eaten after it became barren – became "holy" only later because of Jain influence, and now we have the disastrous situation in India where farmers deposit cows in cities where they feed on garbage bins and accumulate many kilos of polythene and nails in the stomach. Let's revert to a more humane policy for cows – send them to a merciful death at the butcher. Let's not torture them the way we do. Hypocrites, all. Chanakya would have been appalled at how hypocritical – and squarely opposed to the truth – Indians have become).
At a minimum, I'd hope that all economists will start thinking more deeply about Arthashastra now. I expect to see a flurry of books and articles on Chanakya across the world. Application of many ideas from Arthashastra to India is guaranteed to make India the Sone Ki Chidiya that it once was.
Btw, I am planning to convene a meeting over the next six months in India of those interested in setting up a Chanakya School of Government. This man, Chanakya, is unambiguously the greatest Indian of all times, and deserves a major school in his honour. The school would not only teach Chanakya's work but become the world's best school of government. 
To progress this school, I have purchased the domain I will now prepare an outline proposal in the coming weeks and circulate it widely for comment. 
For the meeting, I'm proposing to invitee the following:
Balbir Sihag
Ashok Desai
Gurcharan Das
Nandan Nilekani
Varun Arya
Prajapati Trivedi
Parth Shah
Barun Mitra
Bibek Debroy
Justice Tewatia
Gopal Subramaniam
Jaya Indiresan
TN Chaturvedi
Arun Kumar
Ishwar Dayal

(FTI members can volunteer to help organise)
This is a very tentative list. Please send send me names of others whom I should invite – along with their ph. no./ email ID, etc.
Please also circulate this as widely as you can – so everyone in India starts reading this book on Chanakya, and gets involved in setting up Chanakya School of Government. 
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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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2 thoughts on “Balbir Sihag’s book on Kautilya: the most important economics book in India since the Arthashastra
  1. Rakesh Pujari

    Sometime ago, I mentioned to you about Pavan Varma’s new book on improving India’s economic governance by taking into account the Arthashastra’s principles. But you said that you didn’t need to read any more books on that topic since the best policies are already available in the SKCF/FTI agenda (which I do agree with)…what made you change your mind abt this book?

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    This is a masterly academic work on Arthashastra. Pavan is no academic, and being a mere pen pusher creates no claim to my time. A person like Pavan should ACT – assuming he has anything useful to say. Let him join FTI etc.

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