Kautilya is well-known as ‘Chanakya’ was a political advisor and minister of Indian king Chandragupta Maurya. He advocated unification of India through centralized government by acquiring military might, economic strength and geographic expansion because he considered territory as a material wealth of a nation.
Following dictates of realpolitik, Kautilya advocated merciless political decision-making in order to confront challenges of the given period. He wrote ‘Arthashastra’ around 300 BC as a political treaty and advisory text for his king.
During that period, India was facing sever attacks and military encroachments from the descendants of Alexander The great and Persian Kings. This scenario posed a two-front threat to the establishment and unification of the Hindu Kingdom in India. Chandragupta followed Kautilya’s philosophy and unified India into a strong centralized state through the conduct of national politics and foreign policy as explained in Arthashastra.
Kautilya proposed six principals of foreign policy for the successful conduct of foreign policy by an ambitious Kingdom or state. The contemporary strategic thinking in India has been influenced by these principals whose detail is given below.
Sandhi: (Policy of Peace for Co-Existence) Sandhi or policy of peace for co-existence is a principal of foreign policy advisable for kingdoms or states which have to deal with more powerful states. Due to the difference of material national economic, political and military power, the weak state cannot fight with the more powerful country. Therefore, it must enter into an agreement through skilful and swift diplomacy in order to avert war with the powerful state. The treaty-based peace must be conditioned on equal terms so that the strategic autonomy of peacemaking state must not be compromised.
2)Vigraha: (Policy of Hostility) Kautilya advocates for hostilities in order to further material interest if one state is stronger than its enemy. He considered war an instrument of policy similarly like Clausewitz proposed war as a continuation of policy. The doctrine of war has been further classified into offensive war and defensive war. Defensive war is proposed when the enemy has launched an offensive and the defending state has enough capability to thwart aggression of the enemy.
The doctrine of offensive war is based on deception and intelligence that the enemy is engaged in another war with another state or internally. The internally weaker enemy is the best prey for offensive war in order to further material interests of the state. However, Kautilya was very keen about profit and loss in the war. Therefore, offensive war or policy of hostility will cause more human and material damage to the aggressor.
3) Asana: (Policy of Preparedness for War) If the ambitious or central state is weak compared to its enemies or neighbours than the best policy option for the ambitious state is to remain pacifist but prepare for war. Pacifist peace is a recess from the war in the views of Kautilya. Therefore, an ambitious state must render its economic resources for military modernization and preparedness of its armed forces to defend its overstretched economic interests.
During this period of preparedness for war, an ambitious state must create instability and insurgencies in the enemy state through spying, sedition and political chaos by using special agents. These circumstances will weak the enemy and compel it to accept the conditions as suit the ambitious state and its interest. The ambitious state may go for war and marching with that state after creating these circumstances.
4) Yana: (Policy of Marching/Direct war) Yana or Policy of marching and direct war is a suggestive policy for the ambitious state which has greater military strength compared to an enemy state. Open war and expedition is a best foreign policy option for the ambitious state if it has surety that it has greater military strength compared to its enemy. Kautilya also proposes an alliance in war if it suits the ambitious state. However, he argued that dividends of alliance based war will be distributed between and among allies as allies enter into alliance only if it provides material benefit to all of them.
5) Sansraya: (Policy of Seeking Alliances) Kautilya has outlined a foreign policy option of seeking alliances for weak states with strong states in order to secure their foreign policy interests amidst chaotic circumstances. The purpose of these alliances will be to gain security assurance and defence cooperation in order to mitigate security threats.
6) Dvaidhibhava: (Policy of Double Dealing) The policy of double-dealing is based on psychological damage, deception and intelligence based exploitation of enemy state. The king or state seeks this policy option as a choice against an equal power enemy state or the weaker state which is supported by great power.
Therefore, the aim of this policy is burden sharing or seeking a partner for war who becomes ready to bear the cost of war along with war waging state. It is an act of balancing against your enemy by the support of other state but the intention behind the action of balancing state is buck-passing or war burden sharing with contributing state. This tradition of double-dealing is very relevant in the history of international relations. It means that the war waging state must use the resources of another state in order to defeat its own enemy.
Post-Independence India’s conception of immediate neighborhood and extended neighborhood as primary and secondary areas of vital national interest as cited in Indian ministry of Defence (MoD) and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) annual reports 2001-18 have geo-centric orientation which guides Indian political elite and security establishment to prioritize conduct of these foreign policy principals in conduct of foreign policy.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.