Arthashastra And Its Relevance In Modern Times


The key political and strategic treaties that makeup Kautaliya’s Arthashastra are a compendium of eternal ideas. Such tactics and concepts are still relevant in the modern day. Such ideas, if effectively implemented, will help a state in the long run and address some of the major issues plaguing many nations today. The Arthashastra offers direction to the state’s head of a nation in order to advance the security, wealth, and prestige-related national goals of the state. It adheres to the idea of the trickle-down effect, according to which strong governance (promotion of the subjects welfare) will result in an expanding economy. As India’s rise in the twenty-first century has once again resulted in renewed attention of the country, geo-politics experts across the world are constantly confronted with a lingering question as to how India would respond in the international arena when confronted by two nuclear powered countries which in the future, will decisively influence international politics. It becomes pertinent at this juncture to have a re-look at Arthashastra, which provides a comprehensive commentary on political realism.


“The welfare of a state depends on an active foreign policy”

– Arthashastra

When he talks about the interests of the leaders, he is referring to the national interest of the state, since the state’s leader is its figurative embodiment. Since it is in every leader’s best interest to uphold and guard the national interests of his state., According to the theory of Rajmandalan, the leader is regarded as the center, though symbolically seeking their quest for suzerainty. The neighboring state is considered an enemy because, despite not now taking part in skirmishes, it is capable and ready to do so in the future. As a result, a neighboring state is always an enemy. 1 Using the same logic, Kautilya claimed that the opponent’s enemy is an ally. 2 The applicability of this premise can be seen in India’s foreign policy, where New

Delhishe has invested heavily in Iran which. Iran was also the destination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official trip. 3 The visit’s main objectives were trading with Afghanistan, bilateral connectivity and infrastructure, and a partnership in the energy sector. To confront the Taliban and try to place Pakistan between India and Afghanistan, India donated three Mi-25 helicopters to Afghanistan in 2015. 4 

Neighboring states that have the characteristics of an “enemy” are of two different types: firstly, the enemy in front, not self-possessed and constantly trying to do injury; and secondly, another neighboring enemy, in league with another enemy. 5 From this perspective of the neighborhood, Pakistan bears a resemblance to the “enemy” in front, whereas China is the “contingent enemy” and falls into the second category.

Pakistan as a state seems to completely distance itself from Arthashatran principles. According to Arthashatra, Pakistan will be assessed as irrational and imprudent as it has continued to prioritize danda (armed power) over janpada (people and territory). With several terrorist attacks in recent years and the persistence of extremism’s underlying causes, Pakistan’s use of radical Islamist terrorist groups to destabilize Kashmir has had dreadful repercussions on its territory. There are no signs that India would ever view Pakistan as an important and legitimate actor in issues relating to the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Therefore, a straightforward resolution between India and Pakistan remains unlikely. General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s stance that the Kashmir issue is “at the heart” of the hostility between the two neighbors assures that a grand reconciliation is unlikely and that South Asia’s long-overdue unification will not take off. According to Kautilya, Pakistan is India’s  “adversary” and without a fundamental change in the ideology of Pakistan’s government, there is little chance that Pakistan will ever be able to stop being India’s “strategic opponent”.

China can be regarded as the “strategic competitor” of India because its approach towards India is not with the sole motive to oppose India but from a competitive perspective. By the end of the last century, China had surpassed India and moved up in the Rajamandala to become a contingent enemy. China proves to be the biggest stumble for India’s permanent seat in the UNSC. 6 The Ladhak stand-off 7 can be seen from the change in the policy of China from samadhi to samdhayayana (attacking one by signing a peace pact). China is, therefore, without a doubt, a greater strategic danger to India than Pakistan. Kautilya would caution, however, that this reality should not cause India to welcome or initiate a fight with

China. Instead, India should understand that there are certain possibilities for China to cooperate with to advance its own interests, 8 India’s China strategy is far more crucial and will contribute to the country’s progress, even though India”s Pakistan policy may garner more attention in domestic politics.


An Arthashastra is a work from the Indian subcontinent that distills and records the wisdom of many centuries of combat, government, and diplomacy. As a result, Arthashatra is regarded as the science of statecraft. A thorough examination of Kautilya’s Arthashastra broadens one’s understanding of combat, diplomacy, and administration. The article reaches the conclusion that even in modern times, the relevance of Arthashastra has not increased but has
remained the same, especially in the arena of international affairs and warfare. But one characteristic that finds the keynote in Arthashastra is that of greed and insecurity, which is the root of all interpersonal and professional relations. 9 The timeless nature of Kautilya’s teachings has significant relevance and will remain the same even in the times to come. For the conduct of strategic and foreign policy in the Indian context, it is my sincere hope that India must imbibe the lessons of Kautilya’s thoughts to enable herself to achieve her rightful place in the global community.


[1] Rajmandala Theory and India’s International Relations, Amalendu Misra <>

[2]Just as Thomas Hobbes would argue that even when conflict is not ongoing, the ―threat of war is ever present, and that suffices to create a hostile state of nature. See Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, edited by Richard Tuck (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 89.

[3] Modi’s visit to Iran: highlights <>

[4]Sridharan, Vasudevan (24 December 2015). “India delivers attack helicopters to Afghanistan to counter Taliban offensive”. International Business Times UK. Retrieved 15 October 2020. <>

[5] P.K. Gautam; Kautilya’s Arthashastra: Contemporary Issues and Comparison <>

[6]Shishir Gupta, “China is biggest stumbling block in India’s UNSC permanent membership”, Hindustan Times, November 19, 2020. <>

[7] Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan;  Relevance of Arthashastra in the 21st Century <>

[8]Dinaker Peri and Suhasini Haider, “India, Pakistan agree to observe 2003 ceasefire”, The Hindu, February 25, 2021. <>

[9] Colonel Pradeep Kumar Gautam, Kautaliya’s Arthashashra and its Relevance to Contemporary Strategic Studies. <>  

Prakhar Bajpai
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