Welcome Address by Dr. Arvind Gupta, DG, IDSA at International Seminar on Kautilya’s Arthashastra
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  • Respected National Security Advisor
    Distinguished participants
    IDSA Colleagues
    Ladies and Gentlemen

    I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the National Security Advisor Shri Shivshankar Menon for inaugurating the International Seminar on ”Kautilya’s Arthshastra” being organized at the IDSA today.

    I would particularly like to thank the foreign delegates who are participating in today’s seminar.

    Col PK Gautam, Research Fellow at the IDSA has been painstakingly pursuing the project. He has dedication to the idea of researching the Arthshastra systemically is laudable.

    Since we began the project in October 2012, we have had three planned events. Two monographs have been published and two edited books are under publication.

    At the IDSA library we have built one of the finest reference desks on the Arthshastra. We have also started introducing the Arthshastra in the few training courses that we organize including those for IFS probationers.

    The South Asian Institute, Heidelberg Institute, Germany has expressed interest in collaborating with the IDSA on further explorations of the relevant of the Arthshastra for modern political science. We do hope that the government will provide some support for this collaboration to go ahead.

    One of the major gains of this project have been the identification of resource persons whether in India or outside who are dedicated to the study of the Arthshastra. Our website lists over two dozen resource persons.

    While the vast treatises of the Arthshastra have yet to be explored fully for its relevant to modern theories of international relations, security etc., we have in the last two years discovered that some of the concepts contained in the Arthshastra are worth investigation.

    In the field of foreign policy, Kautilya’s Mandala theory stands out as a nuanced exposition of alliances. The six attributes of foreign policy - Shadgunya- provide a sound conceptual basis for a country’s foreign policy. The four upayas of sama, dama, thanda and bheda remain relevant as instruments of state policy even today.

    The Arthshastra is a veritable manual for intelligence operatives and soldiers. The art of spying mentioned in the Arthshastra is extremely interesting even today.

    The researchers should also look at concepts such as mathsyanaya and saptaganga are worth exploration in the context of inter-state relations.

    In order to judge the relevance of the Arthshastra, it is important that scholars should undertake comparative research comparing the precepts mentioned in the Arthshastra with those in the comparable non-Indian texts like Suntsu. Some work has been done in the IDSA in the past in the area but this can be deepened.

    It is also necessary to develop an authoritative dictionary of the concepts of statecraft mentioned in the Arthshastra which can be referred to by students.

    The Arthshastra is only one element of India’s vast tradition of strategic thought. Undoubtedly, other texts should be studied as well. However, for the time being we will try and keep the focus on the Arthshastra so that a critical volume of research is generated through the project.

    I would like to request the NSA to kindly make his remarks.

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