This is a book of surprises. A classic of the Indian literature and thinking, “Arthashastra” was written by the Chief Adviser of two Mauryan Emperors. It could be seen as a treatise about the arts of war and economic policy, but it is much more than that. “Arthashastra” is about ethics and the duties each person is obliged to incorporate depending on its role in society. I leave you with one of his most famous passages, which is about corruption vices and solutions:
Each department shall be officered by several temporary heads.
Just as it is impossible not to taste the honey or the poison that finds itself at the tip of the tongue, so it is impossible for a government servant not to eat up, at least, a bit of the king's revenue.
Just as fish moving under water cannot possibly be found out either as drinking or not drinking water, so government servants employed in the government work cannot be found out (while) taking money (for themselves).
It is possible to mark the movements of birds flying high up in the sky; but not so is it possible to ascertain the movement of government servants of hidden purpose.
Government servants shall not only be confiscated of their ill-earned hordes, but also be transferred from one work to another, so that they cannot either misappropriate Government money or vomit what they have eaten up.
Those who increase the king's revenue instead of eating it up and are loyally devoted to him shall be made permanent in service.
As we see by this transcription (pages 93 and 94), these writings are still interesting and useful nowadays. I highly recommend the reading of the whole book.
“Arthashastra” - meaning something like “The science of wealth”
Kautilya (also known as Chanakya or Vishnu Gupta), who was the Chief Adviser of the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta and his son Emperor Bindusara.
4th century b.C.