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Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Balbir S. Sihag

The purpose of this paper is to explore the status of economic analysis of laws relating to property and contracts during ancient times in India.

5855

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the status of economic analysis of laws relating to property and contracts during ancient times in India.

Design/methodology/approach

Modern research tools are used to present Kautilya's ideas on contracts and property.

Findings

Kautilya implicitly proposes a labor theory of property. He devised economic laws related to contracts, property and tort, which promoted economic efficiency and encouraged ethical behavior.

Research limitations/implications

Current approaches ignore the role of ethics in designing legal rules for promoting economic efficiency.

Practical implication

Unless laws are designed to encourage and promote ethical conduct optimum economic efficiency is unlikely to be achieved.

Originality/value

Kautilya advocated a contract theory (between the ruler and the ruled), which was utilitarian in nature, however, unlike Bentham, he still appealed to the moral motivation.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Balbir S. Sihag

4460

Abstract

Details

Humanomics, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Balbir S. Sihag

The purpose of this paper is to explore the origin of economics as a separate science.

15140

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the origin of economics as a separate science.

Design/methodology/approach

A very comprehensive approach is presented for determining the origin of economics as a science. Three kinds of inter‐related issues are discussed: how to interpret and evaluate earlier, particularly ancient, writings, the specification of the requirements for declaring economics as a science and the definition, scope and methodology of economics.

Findings

Application of the most stringent requirements for declaring economics as a separate science to Kautilya's Arthashastra validated A.K. Sen's claim that it is the first book on economics.

Research limitations/implications

According to Kautilya, economics is a separate science but not independent of other disciplines and particularly of ethics. Whereas, most of the current research ignores this inter‐dependence and consequently does not fully capture reality.

Practical implications

It implies that the inter‐dependence between economics and other disciplines should be encouraged and vigorously explored.

Originality/value

It validates Redman's assertion, “The history of economics as a science is, in my view, still waiting to be properly written”.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 2005

Balbir S. Sihag

Sages and seers in ancient India specified dharma, artha, kama and moksha as the four ends of a moral and productive life and emphasised the attainment of a proper balance…

Abstract

Sages and seers in ancient India specified dharma, artha, kama and moksha as the four ends of a moral and productive life and emphasised the attainment of a proper balance between the spiritual health and the material health. However, most of their intellectual energy was directed towards the attainment of moksha, the salvation from birth‐death‐rebirth cycle. Kautilya, on the other hand considered poverty as a living death and concentrated on devising economic policies to achieve salvation from poverty but without compromising with ethical values unless survival of the state was threatened. Kautilya's Arthashastra is unique in emphasising the imperative of economic growth and welfare of all. According to him, if there is no dharma, there is no society. He believed that ethical values pave the way to heaven as well as to prosperity on the earth, that is, have an intrinsic value as well as an instrumental value. He referred the reader to the Vedas and Philosophy for learning moral theory, which sheds light on the distinction between good and bad and moral and immoral actions. He extended the conceptual framework to deal with conflict of interest situations arising from the emerging capitalism. He dedicated his work to Om (symbol of spirituality, God) and Brihaspati and Sukra (political thinkers) implying, perhaps, that his goal was to integrate ethics and economics. It is argued that the level of integration between economics and ethics is significantly higher in Kautilya's Arthashastra than that in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations or for that matter in the writings of Plato and Aristotle.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Balbir S. Sihag

The purpose of this paper is to present Kautilya's ideas on international trade.

1141

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present Kautilya's ideas on international trade.

Design/methodology/approach

A non‐technical descriptive approach is followed.

Findings

Kautilya implicitly proposes a theory of gains from trade and recommends imports promotion rather than export promotion.

Research limitations/implications

It is indicated that our current understanding regarding international trade during ancient times is quite inadequate.

Practical implications

There will be no need for current endless negotiations if countries commit themselves to Kautilya's policy of import promotion.

Originality/value

The paper provides insights into trade patterns during the ancient times.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Balbir S. Sihag

The purpose of this paper is to present Kautilya's principles of taxation during the fourth century BCE.

1728

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present Kautilya's principles of taxation during the fourth century BCE.

Design/methodology/approach

Modern tools of economic analysis are used to present Kautilya's principles on income taxation.

Findings

Kautilya implicitly suggests a linear income tax. He emphasizes fairness, stability of tax structure, fiscal federalism, avoidance of heavy taxation, ensuring of tax compliance and subsidies to encourage capital formation.

Research limitations/implications

According to Kautilya, some linkage between the ability to pay (i.e. provision of a safety net to the poor, old and the sick) and the benefit principle may be better than the current approaches, which treat the ability to pay and the expenditure side of the taxation separately.

Practical implication

Ensuring tax compliance and avoidance of heavy taxation are the most important ingredients of a sound fiscal policy.

Originality/value

The paper presents the very first growth‐oriented fiscal policy along with a provision of a safety net.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Balbir S. Sihag

The purpose of this paper is to establish Kautilya as a genuine contender to be a forerunner of the neoclassical price theory.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to establish Kautilya as a genuine contender to be a forerunner of the neoclassical price theory.

Design/methodology/approach

Rational reconstruction approach is used to present Kautilya's understanding of several most basic concepts in economics.

Findings

Kautilya's understanding of the law of diminishing returns is at par with the classicists. His applications of concepts like opportunity cost, and of demand and supply framework, are closer to those of the neoclassicals. His understanding of the rules (axioms) of comparison and consistency and the exploration of substitution possibilities is way ahead of the classicists.

Research limitations/implications

The current research in the history of economic thought concentrates too heavily on the exploration of Western history of economic thought.

Practical implications

Kautilya's Arthashastra is a new source of knowledge and the profession should encourage the exploration of other ancient contributions outside of Europe.

Originality/value

The paper revises the history of economic thought.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 February 2007

Balbir S. Sihag

Both researchers and policy makers have increasingly focused their energies in exploring the sources of economic growth. The purpose of this paper is to explore the very…

Abstract

Purpose

Both researchers and policy makers have increasingly focused their energies in exploring the sources of economic growth. The purpose of this paper is to explore the very first ideas on the sources of economic growth of Kautilya during the fourth century BCE.

Design/methodology/approach

Kautilya's non‐technical statements on economic growth are presented as a formal model of economic growth.

Findings

Kautilya believed that institutions are a prerequisite to economic growth and good governance, knowledge, ethical conduct and economic growth are interdependent. That is, Kautilya believed in the virtuous cycle of economic growth.

Research limitations/implications

Kautilya's model of virtuous cycle implies that Kaufmann and Kraay specify an incorrect model to test the virtuous cycle model of economic growth.

Practical implications

Although it is a challenge to empirically estimate Kautilya's model if estimated appropriately, it could help in partitioning the Solow residuals into contributions made by technical progress and good governance towards economic growth.

Originality/value

The paper amounts to rewriting the history of economic thought.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 November 2007

Balbir S. Sihag

Since the mid‐1980s focus has shifted from stabilization to economic growth as a national goal. A large number of studies have been undertaken to explain economic growth…

1024

Abstract

Purpose

Since the mid‐1980s focus has shifted from stabilization to economic growth as a national goal. A large number of studies have been undertaken to explain economic growth. It is intended to show that the current debate between those who claim only institutions matter to economic growth and others who claim that only governance matters is totally unproductive.

Design/methodology/approach

Econometric methods are used to evaluate the recent empirical studies on linking the quality of institutions or governance to economic growth.

Findings

It is shown that the empirical model specification as well as the estimation methods used by important studies are inappropriate.

Research limitations/implications

Future research needs to incorporate not only the institutions, and governance but also the desire to save, invest and innovate to explain economic growth.

Practical implication

The existing theories of economic growth do not fully capture the complex process of economic growth implying that these theories should not be used as a guide to the screening of developmental aid to the developing countries.

Originality/value

The researchers need to change direction away from data mining and towards developing a better understanding of the growth process. Policy makers should be careful in crafting their policies.

Details

Humanomics, vol. 23 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 20 February 2009

Masudul Alam Choudhury

372

Abstract

Details

Humanomics, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0828-8666

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