About Me

My photo

Krishna Kumar Singh, also known among friend circles KK and among close relative Krishna; Matriculation from Mithila High School Balour, Darbhanga in 1959, Graduated in Political Science Honours from C M College, Darbhanga, Bihar University in 1963; Joined post-graduate in Political Science the same year but dropped; joined Naxal movement under Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal, Satya Narayan Singh and Umadhar Singh in between but circumstances compelled to join literary work, clerk, proof readers etc in different publishing houses for livelihood; Finally joined journalism as career in different English newspapers and before my retirement from active journalism, I worked in The Times of India for about 19 years and retired as Chief Reporter  a few years back; continuing in journalism-reading more and more, writing more and more and praying to Almighty more and more-currently writing for different national English and Hindi dailies and magazines..

Friday, 28 December 2012

CONCEPT OF WELFARE STATE DURING MAURYAN EMPIRE VIS-A-VIS NEOLIBERAL ECONOMIC POLICY IN THE PRESENT DEMOCRACY!

The rule of the 'New state"-that was  Bharat- during 321 BC  was more democratic and people-oriented than the present 'Parliamentary democrarcy' in the present-day India! That 'Bharat' of Mauryan period covered far the greater part of India, right up to Kabul in the north. In today's context, our parliamentary democratic system. has deteriorated to such extend that over 80 percent of people continue to be in the grip of poverty and in dire need of proper health and education facilities! But history of the past depicts altogether different facts where people were happy although there was 'autocracy and dictatorship' at the top echelon of the governance. But at the local level, there was much 'autonomy'  in the towns and villages units where elected representatives looked after these affairs.. On the other hand, today's parliamentary democracy, existing right from panchayat to Parliament level in  India, there are least concern over peoples' welfare. In the name of the so called majority, the successive ruling dispensations in India are initiating measures, detrimental to the people of the country. Present day political classes are more interested in amassing huge wealth as well as conniving with 'nations and groups ' to further their enlightened self-interest The .Mauryan empire reminds one of the most successful 'state' on the scores of peoples' welfare.

Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru in his book-Discovery of India-,who  has deliberated in length about successful rules of the 'Mauryan empire', has said, " There could have been then, in a purely agricultural age, nothing like the control of the individual by the state which we see today. But , in spite of limitations an effort was made to control and regulate life. The state was very far from being just a police state, interested in keeping external and internal peace and collective revenue. There was a widespread and rigid bureaucracy and there were frequent references\ to espionage. Agriculture was regulated in many ways, so were rate of interest. Regulation and periodical inspections took place of food markets, manufacturers, slaughter houses, cattle raising, water rights, sports, courtesans and drinking saloons. Weight and measures were standardised. The cornering and adulteration of foodstuffs were rigorously punished. Trade was taxed, and, so also in some respects, the practice of religion. When there was a breach of  regulations or some other misdemeanour, the temple monies were confiscated. If rich people were found guilty of embezzlement or of profiting from national calamity, their property was \also confiscated..........The state give relief to widow, orphans, the sicks and the infirm.Famine relief was\ special care of the state, half the stores in all the state warehouses were always kept in reserve for time of scarcity and relief........."

The village communities  were  autonomous during Mauryan period. When we look the present-day India, apparently every things are there but of practically no use and people are suffering! Like our 'Magnacarta -like Indian Constitution' there was Chanakya's Arthashastra, which provided a variety of subjects and covered almost every aspects of the theory and practice of the government. Like our 'Indian Constitution', the Arthashastra had defined the duties of the King, of his ministers and councillors, of council meetings of departments of government, of diplomacy of war and peace. Chnakaya had stressed the enforcement of strict discipline. More over , we have the Constitution, mentioned 'all good' but it seldom comes to surface. The Constitution, laws, rules , conventions etc are manipulated and mutilated by present-day ruling and opposition classes! Interestingly, there are huge arguments against subsidies on welfare measures to poor during the current neo-liberal economic policy but during the Mauryan regime, there were wide-scale relief to widows, orphans, the sick and the infirm.

There were references that at the time of the coronation of the King, he had o take the oath of service to the people------' May I be deprived of heavens, of life and off springs if I oppress you'. 'In the happiness of his subjects, lies his happiness, in their welfare what ever pleases himself he shall consider as not good but whatever pleases his subjects, he shall consider as good..............'.And if the King misbehaved, his people have right to remove him and put another in his place. But misdeeds of present day 'democratic' rulers in India appear rule of law do not exist  in India as the entire governance machinery including executive , legislature and judiciary are suffering from policy-paralysis.

Before I end up describing 'golden period' of India during Maurayan empire, I must mention that there were many wonderful cities in that vast empire.But the capital of the Mauryan empire-Pataliputra (the present day Patna and capital of Bihar state under Indian union)  was magnificent. The city , even today, is spread out along the banks of Ganga river, where the Sone river meets in the modern Patna. Magasthens, the Greek ambassador describes Pataliputra as thus:" At the junction of the of this river (Ganga) with another is situated Palibothra, a city of eighty stadia (9.2 miles) in length and fifteen stadia (1.7 miles) in breadth. It is of shape of a parallelogram and is grided with a wooden wall., pierced with loopholes for the discharge of arrows. It has a ditch in front for defence and for receiving the sewage of the city. This ditch, which encompassed it all round, is 600 feet in breadths and thirty cubits in depth, and the wall is crowned with 557 towers and has four and sixty gates."

Significantly, all the great walls were made of wooden structures. Many houses were of wooden structures. Even today in the old Patna city areas (now called Patna Saheb), many old wooden houses are in existences. Apparently , the wooden houses were preferred at that period , as the entire Pataliputra zone even today is  considered most vulnerable to earthquake. Not only in Patna city areas, in many parts of Bihara (now Bihar), houses were structured with woods. The worse earthquake of 1934 in Bihar reminds us the facts that less houses were damaged because houses were comparatively constructed with wooden structures!

Another revealing aspects of Pataliputra was best-administered local -self government. In the capital of Maurayan empire, Pataliputra had a 'municipality', elected by the people unlike the present -day Patna Municipal Corporation, messing up the present-day capital of Bihar-Patna!. The Maurayan empire  Capital Pataliputra has a 'Municipality'. It had thirty members, divided up into six committees of five members each, dealing with industries and handicrafts, death and births, manufacturers, arrangements for travellers and pilgrims etc.. The entire municipal council looked after finance, sanitation, water supply, public buildings and gardens. Today's Patna Muncipal Corporation has rather worsened the situation in the vast growing up city!

I feel that there were only good during  Maurayan empire and bad after bad have emerged in our present set-up of democracy. Have the systems failed or political leadership failed?

No comments:

Post a Comment