Remembering Chanakya In The 21st Century – OpEd


Ukrainian Ambassador Igor Polikha last year urged the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to de-escalate the Ukrainian crisis citing Mahabharata. He urged the Indian Prime Minister to pursue diplomacy with President Putin and help Ukraine get out of this devastating situation and said, “India had qualified in diplomacy through Kautilya (Chanakya) several thousand years ago when Europe had no civilization. India is an influential global player and for many years, was the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which was created at the time of the cold war.”  

He added: “At present, we are pleading for political assistance from India. Modi is one of the most powerful leaders of the world and has a special partnership with Russia. It is said that if the Kauravas had listened to Shri Krishna’s advice at that time the Kurukshetra war could have been averted. In such a situation, it is said that there has always been a tradition to send a peace proposal regarding the war and Ukraine is also referring to this incident and praying to India to become a peacemaker so that this dispute can be ended. However,certain stake holders have not been interested in the early end of this avoidable war.

The ongoing geopolitical conflicts have intensified the power dynamics.Russia-Ukraine conflict was an initiator and Hamas-Israel war served as a booster for the US and Europe power struggle all over the globe.The Russia-Ukraine conflict and now the Gaza conflict has currently divided the international community further.And today we remember the great Indian ancient philosopher Kautilya who  lived centuries ago in the historical region called Taxila (in present Pakistan).

Why do we need to remember Chanakya Now? 

To answer this question, we must understand the qualities that made Chanakya the beacon:

  • First and foremost, Chanakya had the ability to speak truth  unerringly, without fear or favour, and with courage of conviction. This trait is absolutely essential for any nation, for unless there is the freedom to express contrarian points of view, democracies will end.  
  • Secondly, he had a clear understanding of human behaviour, which he was willing to articulate without being a prisoner of ideological inflexibility, and without devaluing idealism itself.
  • Thirdly, he believed in the importance of leadership that is capable of clear decision-making without caring for what his critics have to say.
  • Fourthly, he never lost sight of the fact that all politicians must work for the overall good of the people. If this central tenet is ignored, no Constitution, however high-minded, is worthwhile.
  • Fifthly, he considered economic prosperity the backbone of a nation’s strength. If the treasury is empty, all promises are mere slogans and all pretensions to power are so much hot air.
  • Sixthly, he believed in analysing systems. According to him, this required an open mind, and a true understanding of alternative opinions before a final decision is taken.
  • Seventhly, he believed that systems must be just, and those who threaten the rule of law must be adequately punished.
  • And finally, he laid great stress on a harmonious society, which is the real strength of a nation, for if a country is at war with itself, it can never be strong enough to face an external enemy.


At that time, it was believed that the use of force was the only option to end conflicts.  According to Kautilya , if opponents are controlled by force, what will be the guarantee that successors of the opponents will also remain under control? According to him, the unnecessary use of brutal force is the root cause of hatred, misunderstandings and tussle in any region.Chanakya, therefore, emphasized the need to avoid war as much as possible and recommended military action only as a last option. The strategy he recommended to resolve the conflicts is known as ‘Sama-Dana- Bheda-Dandopaya’ meaningConciliation, Gifts, Rupture and Force.’ These four techniques  are available for use in order to solve any problem. 

Power can be defined as the ability to direct the decisions and performance of others. There are various methods of exercising power. Diplomacy is the art of manifesting power through persuasion rather than coercion or force as a means of obtaining certain (political) ends. Hence, diplomacy is aimed at preventing the application of force. It is so because the ultimate purpose of diplomacy (if taken in a political context) is to avoid war (force). It is only when diplomatic measures fail that one has to resort to force and countries to war.

According to Chanakya, 

  • First and most important approach to bring any conflict to its logical conclusion is ‘Sama’, which translates to conciliation and to initiate dialogue with the other side. Most conflicts are based on misunderstandings and communication gaps. When someone starts negotiations with arguments, they win a moral victory at the first stage. However, getting rid of ego is a prerequisite to sit at the dialogue table.
  • Secondly,if the ‘Sama’ policy does not work, try ‘Dana’. In Sanskrit, the word means giving gifts, cash, and favours, etc. To entice the other party or redress the loss, monetary support helps resolve many issues. In ancient times, many rulers used to get married with family relatives of opposing rulers to maintain peace between both states.
  • If this tactic of ‘Dana’ does not work, one should try the principles of ‘Bheda’, which aims to use strategic tactics, including isolating the opponent from the rest of the world. Today, many countries at the global level are increasing their influence by isolating their opponents on the diplomatic front.
  • Lastly Kautilya termed the strategy of ‘Using Force’ as ‘Danda’, which according to him is the last choice when all efforts for a peaceful resolution fail, and there is no other option left. However, before taking the final decision on going to war, Kautilya advised to exercise patience so that a foolproof plan of action can be worked out, and the advantages and disadvantages of the decision can be evaluated from a strategic point of view.He advised that military strength should be demonstrated carefully.

In the Arthashastra, Chanakya puts down point of views opposed to his line of thought. In fact, the strength of his lucid convictions was based on the acceptance of the fact that there could be different ways of looking at the same issue. Chanakya’s legacy, of clear thinking while welcoming debate and discussion, is an inherent part of our cumulative Civilizational heritage and  not diktat or blind fanaticism.

As the Ukraine war continues unabated and now the world is witnessing yet another war the Hamas-Israel war.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly said “It is an Era of No War” but…India wants the international community to question, Why the Security Council, the UN’s principal organ tasked with the primary responsibility to maintain international peace, has been rendered completely ineffective to resolve the ongoing conflicts?UN Security Council has failed on ‘Upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter through effective multilateralism: maintenance of peace and security’. 

Today, there is a dire need to establish a ceasefire for the Russia-Ukraine conflict and  the Hamas-Israel war whereas all parties should be brought to the dialogue table to ensure a peaceful and sustainable solution to the long-standing Ukraine and Palestinian conflict in accordance with UN resolutions.UN having failed to resolve any problems need to study the Arthashastra,applyChanakya Neeti and take the lead to use the first technique of’Sama’to initiate dialogue tosolve the The ongoing geopolitical conflicts  peacefully.

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

2 thoughts on “Remembering Chanakya In The 21st Century – OpEd

  • October 29, 2023 at 3:18 am

    Sir, excellent thought and comparison of Chanakya tac with the modern society and the happenings around the world at present. Very informative article and forms a gud reading..thnx and rgrds

  • October 29, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Sir, it’s a very erudite elucidation of Chanakya Neeti. The progressive principles of Chanakya are timeless. It’s time indeed that UN Security council is under the scanner on its role to ensure global peace.
    Look forward to more of your views on such global strategic subjects.


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