The Economic Survey 2020 that was released on Friday has been heavily influenced by Kautilya's Arthashashtra. In the preface itself, the survey stated that it documents ideas of wealth creation that are rooted in India's tradition from Arthashashtra to Thiruvalluvar's Thirukural. The latter saw wealth creation as a "noble pursuit", stated the document.
In its section on the 'Importance of Wealth Creation', the document refers to Arthashashtra and draws parallels with Thirukural. The Economic Survey states that for more than three-fourths of known economic history, India has been the dominant economic power. It stated that India has been a major wealth creator and a significant contributor to world GDP. It adds that such economic dominance manifests from design and is not mere chance. The document then refers to Arthashashtra as a canonical example.
"Much before the time period that Maddison (2007) analyses, a stakeholders-model existed in India as is discernible in Arthashastra in which entrepreneurs, workers and consumers share prosperity (Deodhar, 2018). Arthashastra as a treatise on economic policy was deeply influential in the functioning of the economy until the 12th century (Olivelle, 2013). During much of India's economic dominance, the economy relied on the invisible hand of the market," it stated.
The Economic Survey also takes to defending Kautilya, who, it says, is often presented as the Machiavelli of India. The document said that such notions come from partial reading of the Arthashastra that literally means 'The Treatise on Wealth'. "The Arthashastra literally means "The Treatise on Wealth" and it extensively discusses issues ranging from urban governance to tax administration and commerce. The book explicitly presents its intellectual framework right in the beginning by stating that good governance is based on the following branches of knowledge: Varta (economic policy), Dandaneeti (law and enforcement), Anvikshiki (philosophical and ethical framework) and Trayi (cultural context)," it stated.
In the beginning of the sixth chapter of the Economic Survey 2020 titled 'Targeting Ease of Doing Business in India', the document quotes Arthashashtra. "The King (i.e., the State) shall promote trade and commerce by setting up trade routes by land and by water, and establishing market towns and ports," stated the document.
Arthashashtra, written by Kautilya is a treatise on economic policy, statecraft and military strategy. The treatise is estimated to have been completed around the 2nd century BCE.
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