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  • Generality of Kautilyan Tenets Informed by Unique Indianness

    The interweaving of philosophy with statecraft lends Kautilya’s Arthashastra a unique comprehensive approach. Even if some of the Kautilyan tenets are resoundingly commonsensical, the lamp of philosophy credibly illuminates its Indianness.

    April 28, 2021

    A Study of the Kural: Concepts and Themes

    India has a live, longstanding, and multiple traditions of secular texts and treatise on statecraft, not only in Sanskrit but also in Dravidian traditions in Tamil. For a total picture of Indian civilization and culture there is need to explore texts other than just Sanskrit. In this category there is a powerful and compact text in Tamil from south India called the Tirukkural by Tiruvalluvar, also known as the Kural.


    Individual Rights and Collective Good: A Historical Perspective

    Any dichotomy between the individual rights of the people and the powers of the state has to be dealt with through a nuanced approach.

    April 29, 2020

    The Nitisara by Kamandaka: Continuity and Change from Kautilya’s Arthashastra

    This study compares Indian traditions of statecraft in Kamandaka’s Nitisara, or the Elements of Polity, with the earlier foundational root text of Kautilya’s Arthashastra. There are commonalities, dissimilarities and uniqueness in the texts. However, key values and concepts across time do not seem to have changed and remain relevant even today.


    How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century,  by Shyam Saran

    One of the first lessons a student of international politics is introduced to is that foreign policy is a compendium of continuity and change, of static and dynamic co-existence, mired in the national interest of the nation state. In the Indian context, in particular, the first political theorist the same student studies is the realist ancient thinker Kautilya. These elementary but indispensable lessons form the basis of Shyam Saran’s riveting work, How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century.

    October-December 2018

    Arya Chaturvedi: What is the potential of India's 'soft power'? How successful is India in projecting and using it to its advantage?

    Parama Sinha Palit replies: India’s potential, when it comes to its soft power, is phenomenal. Noted ancient Indian scholars like Kautilya and Kamandak have referred to ‘soft’ diplomacy, including practice of sandhi (peace)for achieving progress. In fact, the role of the doota (or ambassador) in conducting interstate relationship has been emphasised time and again by these scholars.

    Kautilya’s Arthashastra: an intellectual portrait: the classical roots of modern politics in India

    The generalist reader, as also those interested in indigenous historical knowledge, owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Subrata K. Mitra and Dr. Michael Liebig for bringing out this remarkable study. This is especially so since the IDSA has been investing for several years now in studying indigenous historical knowledge and its links to modern Indian political thought. Professor Mitra and Dr.

    July 2018

    Mirza Faiyaz asked: What is Kautilya's kootayuddha and its importance?

    Saurabh Mishra replies: The meaning of kootayuddha has to be understood in terms of Kautilya’s approach towards existential realities and understanding of different kinds of warfare. For Kautilya, if war and deception are an extension of certain natural constituents of human nature, so is the need for a norms-based social and political order.

    Kautilya’s Arthashastra: Indian Strategic Culture and Grand Strategic Preferences

    The utility of the theory of strategic culture to explain the choices nation-states make is still to be convincingly proven. Alastair Iain Johnston has provided a viable notion of strategic culture that is falsifiable, its formation traced empirically, and its effect on state behaviour differentiated from other non-ideational variables. Following his methodological framework, Kautilya’s Arthashastra is identified as the ‘formative’ ideational strategic text which is assessed to illuminate Indian strategic culture.

    July-September 2018

    The New Arthashastra: A Security Strategy for India, edited by Gurmeet Kanwal

    The clamour for a national security strategy has become part of a constant refrain that accompanies every debate on India’s strategic culture or national security outlook. This repeated call for a security strategy stems from a perceived lack of clarity for functionaries within the government as well as the larger audience. An important constituent amongst the latter are a large number of countries that increasingly look upon India as an important partner in the evolving geopolitical environment.

    July 2017