Ascribed to Kautilya and dating back more than 2000 years, the Arthashastra is the world's first manual in political economy. It is as important to Indian thought as Machiavelli's The Prince is to Europe. This ancient text defines wealth in stages, moving from individual wealth to kingship and its polity is a mixture of private enterprise and state control.
An introduction to the economic philosophy of Arthashastra, the present work analyses the relevance of this classic in its own time as well as in the modern context. The study tells about a number of things about kingship in India as a generator of wealth—things about kingdoms, goods, workplaces and markets. What it draws as a conclusion of use today is that the economy and the polity are inseparable.
Thomas R. Trautmann is professor emeritus of history and anthropology at the University of Michigan.