STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Overcoming the Ways of Matsya Nyaya

P. K. Gautam was a Consultant at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
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  • September 2013
    Volume: 
    37
    Issue: 
    5
    Commentaries

    Ancient Indian political thought as given in the niti (moral law) lays down that matsya nyaya (big fish swallowing the smaller fish), which is a law of nature, must be eradicated. However, in spite of best intentions it continues to prevail in internal and international politics. Society is bound together by dharma (justice), which is the great protecting principle, and economic prosperity, moral welfare and cultural advancements are the functions of justice. Kautilya also subscribes to this view and says that if danda is not inflicted, the law of matsya nyaya (force, authority or coercion) will prevail because in the absence of the chastiser, the strong devour the weak.1

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