New Delhi, Oct 19: National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon has said India needs to develop its own strategic vocabulary and doctrines to truly seek “the broadest possible degree of strategic autonomy”, adding that reading Kautilya’s Arthashastra will help us “by broadening our vision on issues of strategy”.
Menon was speaking at the Workshop on Kautilya, organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) under its Project on Indigenous Historical Knowledge-I.
“Much of what passes for strategic thinking in India today is derivative, using concepts, doctrines and a vocabulary derived from other cultures, times, places and conditions” Menon said.
Terming the Arthashastra as a “text of its time and place, Mauryan to Gupta administration,” Menon said that “Kautilya’s is more than just a power maximisation or internal dominance strategy for a state. He has an almost modern sense of the higher purpose of the state, and of the limits of power”.
Arthashastra is “serious manual on statecraft, on how to run a state, informed by a higher purpose (or dharma), clear and precise in its prescriptions, the result of practical experience of running a state. It is not just a normative text but a realist description of the art of running a state, the NSA added.
Describing India’s supposedly incoherent strategic approach as a “colonial construct”, the NSA insisted that “some of the problems in IR and strategic studies that we think we are dealing with for the first time, have been considered by great minds in India before” and the country should “use the past to learn ways of thinking about these problems, improving our mental discipline, as it were.”
“By reading Kautilya (and other texts like the Shantiparva of the Mahabharata) “one is also reminded of the rich experience in our tradition of multipolarity, of asymmetries in the distribution of power, of debate on the purposes of power (where dharma is defined), of the utility of force, and of several other issues with contemporary resonance,” Menon concluded. (ANI)