The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, May 7, 2000

The other, hidden, side of globalisation
Review by Surjit Hans
Yet another holocaust poet
Review by M.L. Raina
Social history of Lubanas
Review by Satish K. Kapoor
A blank look at 4-D world
Review by Rajesh Kathpalia
Village view of terrorism: doxa or episteme?
Bhupinder Singh writes from Patiala
Mandarins of Mauryan regime

The other, hidden, side of globalisation
Review by Surjit Hans

Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture by Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton. Stanford University Press, California. Pages 515. 15.

Capitalism at the end of the Millennium: A Global Survey. Monthly Review July-Aug, 1999, Cornerstone Publications, Kharagpur. Pages 169. Rs 70.

GLOBALISATION is a buzz word. Hyper-globalisers make it a new era. The sceptics call it a myth to point out that the world economy is "confined" to regional blocs. The transformationalists are concerned with the practicalities of the situation.

Globalisation has bruised the Westphalian model of the nation state. It was ushered in with the peace treaty of Westphalia in 1648 after the Thirty Years War. Territorial sovereignty, non-intervention in domestic affairs, consent of states as the basis of international obligations, private settlement of differences or by force, diplomatic relations but minimal cooperation, national interest above all, and the principle that might eventually makes right were its cornerstones.

Nation state is in crisis. It cannot control what happens beyond its borders. Nor can it fulfil by itself the demands of its citizens. Thus, there is a crisis of legitimacy. The sites of powers are oceans apart from the subjects of power.

Globalisation has affected all areas of human activity — goods, capital, people, knowledge, communications, weapons, crime, pollutants, fashion and beliefs. Newer patterns of exchange, power, hierarchy and unevenness have evolved. There is an invisible government of foreign banks, companies and international organisations.

International regulatory regimes from the International Civil Aviation Authority to the World Trade Organisation are encroaching on the area of nation state. In the year 1909 there were 37 inter-governmental organisations, 176 international non-governmental organisations; the figures for 1996 were 260 and 5472.

Though sovereignty has eroded, autonomy is intact. It is there to articulate and achieve policy goals. A new geography of powers and privilege has evolved.

Sovereignty is no longer a guarantee of international legitimacy. Human rights, national minorities and war crimes are both national and international concerns.

It is not the end of history. Globalisation is mediated, managed, contested and resisted by governments, agencies and people.

Trade links distant markets. As far as the West is concerned, the seasonality of fruit and vegetables has disappeared from the supermarkets. At the start of the 19th century the world exports amounted to only 1 or 2 per cent of world GDP.

Trade generally grew faster than world income through the 19th century. For the West exports rose to 5 per cent of the GDP by the middle of the century and to 10 per cent in 1880.

To make a fetish of trade is not productive. High levels of trade are neither necessary nor sufficient for growth. That trade has a significant impact on developing economies depends on whether domestic market structures are sufficiently advanced to realise the gains from trade and diffuse them throughout the economy.

In 1996 developed countries accounted for 70 per cent of world exports. In 1995 the Asian Tigers’ share of world manufactures exports was 20 per cent. Latin American exports stagnated in the 1990s. African and West Asian exports have gone down.

Primary goods made up the bulk of trade before World War II. Post-war trade has been dominated by manufactures along with increasing levels of services trade since the 1980s. The fall in demand for primary commodities had a huge negative impact on Africa. In many cases growth rates and investment levels have still not recovered.

Rather than trading different goods, the developed countries have been trading similar goods. The intra-industry trade brings domestic and foreign producers into a competition. Trade within a single industry implies product differentiation and economies of scale, thus reduction in unit cost. The production process is parcelled out leading to "slicing up the value chain". Intra-firm trade now (1995) accounts for between a quarter and a third of total trade. Typically, intra-industry trade forms only a small fraction of developing countries’ trade.

Employers in tradable industries resist social security contributions (for the working class) on the grounds of global competitiveness. On the other hand, the demand for unskilled labour has fallen by 20 per cent. There are increased demands on the welfare state while the political basis for funding it has been undermined. "Just when working people most needed the nation state as a buffer from the world economy, it is abandoning them."

Global finance is concentrated in three main centres — Tokyo, London and New York. World foreign exchange trading averages $ 1490 billion a day.

In 1870 Britain held 62 per cent of the total world foreign investment stocks; France 31.6 per cent. America made its entry with 2.1 per cent in 1900 to reach 21.2 per cent in 1938. Britan came down to 41.7 per cent; France to 7 per cent.

The gold standard was formally established in 1878. "Given the absence, or limited nature, of democratic institutions, governments could largely ignore the domestic social and economic consequences of monetary adjustments, especially deflationary adjustments." The system rapidly disintegrated as the Great Depression undermined international financial cooperation.

The Bretton Woods agreement of 1944 could not prefigure the enormous growth of global finance. The first article of the IMF charter enjoins "the promotion and maintenance of high levels of employment and real income, and the development of the productive resources of all members as primary objectives of economics policy". It was designed to ensure that domestic economic objectives were not subordinated to global financial disciplines but, on the contrary, took precedence over them.

The Bretton Woods system was a compromise between free traders desiring global markets, and the social democrats who wanted national prosperity and full employment. This "embedded liberalism" provided for the liberalisation of world trade while capital controls and fixed exchange rates helped the governments to ensure social protection and pursue macroeconomic policy.

In the developing countries the situation was quite different. They devalued more than once during the post-war period. The balance of payments crises were structural rather than cyclical in nature.

The Soviet Union deposited its dollar holdings in European banks lest the US Government should sequestrate them. European banks receiving dollars realised that instead of converting them into national currency, they could lend them out. Much of the Euro dollar business was conducted by the overseas branches of US banks. These Euro dollar funds grew rapidly to create a huge Euro currency market.

In 1971 Nixon ended the gold convertibility of dollar which signalled the demise of the Bretton Woods system. In 1973 OPEC quadrupled the price of oil, enabling the members to recycle $ 50 billion in 1974-76. From a negligible level in the 1960s, private capital flows grew so that in 1997 the total net issues of international loans and bonds amounted to $ 890 billion. The rate of growth of capital raised through banking and bond issues had outpaced the growth of both world output and trade.

The annual turnover of foreign exchange jumped from 17.5 trillion in 1979 to $ 300 trillion in 1999, roughly $ 1.4 trillion every working day. Foreign exchange is a requirement of international trade. It has grown over 10 times the world trade flows in 1979 to over 50 times today. Official foreign exchange reserves from all countries combined represent about one day’s trading volume on exchange markets.

Floating exchange rates have increased opportunities for agents to speculate on their movements. Speculators periodically take positions against fixed or managed exchange rates, effectively betting that governments will be forced to devalue. The ensuring massive flows of funds have produced notable devaluation crises, involving European currencies in 1992 and 1993, the Mexican peso in 1994, several Asian currencies in 1997, and the Russian rouble in 1998.

Deregulation of financial markets in developing countries has often led to high levels of speculative activity, largely fuelled by short-term capital inflows. Short-term capital inflows generate a high degree of volatility and systemic risk within global capital markets.

The balance between private and public power in the domain of financial market has shifted radically in favour of the former, to the extent that "a significant victory has been scored for the interests of internationally mobile capital".

National macro-economic policy is vulnerable to changes in global financial conditions. Speculative flows can have immediate and dramatic domestic economic consequences. Comtemporary financial globalisation has altered the costs and benefits of different national macroeconomic policy options, making some options prohibitively expensive. These costs and benefits, moreover, vary between countries and over time in a manner that is not entirely predictable.

The former socialist countries can neither look to the past nor dare to face the future with a clear conscience. A Polish graffiti read: "We wanted democracy but we ended up with the bond market."

The pointers are that systemic risk is a structural feature of the contemporary global financial system.

In 1998 there were 53,000 multinational corporations worldwide with 450,000 foreign subsidiaries which had global sales of $ 9.5 trillion. The 100 largest MNCs control about 20 per cent of global foreign assets, and account for almost 30 per cent of total world sales of all MNCs.

MNCs are central to the process of economic globalisation. They account for two-thirds of world trade, with upto one-third of world trade being intra-firm. They account for 80 per cent of world trade in technology.

Foreign direct investment accounts for only approximately 25 per cent of total investment in international production — in the foreign affiliates of multinational corporations — since MNCs raise investment capital from a variety of sources. Accordingly, "the weight of international production is considerably larger" than FDI flows indicate.

For most of the post-war period stocks and flows of FDI have grown faster than world income, and sometimes trade. The turnover of the largest 500 companies has grown faster than world output. MNCs now account for a good part of world’s exports, while sales of foreign affiliates exceed total global exports.

In the late 1980s developing countries (Asian Tigers) were home to 3,800 indigenous MNCs; by the mid-1990s this had more than doubled.

For most of the post-war period FDI among OECD (developed) economies has grown faster than that to developing countries so that FDI stocks (as opposed to flows) remain significantly concentrated in the former. By 1960 two-thirds of stocks were located in developed countries, roughly the reverse of the pre-war picture. Since then the developed countries’ share has grown to around three-quarters.

Africa has become more marginalised with the decline of FDI in primary production. Latin America has declined in relative terms. The most dramatic rise has been in East Asia, although this is unlikely to be sustained in the aftermath of the regional economic crises. In 1994, China accounted for around 15 per cent of the total inward FDI stocks, and over a third of total inward flows to developing countries.

Although initially British MNCs’ investment were concentrated in the Commonwealth, since the 1970s, in particular, investment has become concentrated in OECD countries.

Until quite recently foreign MNCs accounted for a negligible proportion of national output in a significant number of developing economies, including India. Only around 10 per cent of Korean and 20 per cent of Taiwanese manufacturing output is accounted for by foreign MNCs. The share for Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand is also similar. In Malaysia foreign MNC’s account for over 40 per cent of value added in manufacturing.

Even where exports are produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, distributing and marketing arrangements with MNCs are often crucial in securing access to world markets. Given MNC’s knowledge of global markets, their competitive advantages as processors of market information and organisers of markets may have increased relative to their advantage as organisers of production.

MNCs can borrow abroad when domestic interest rates are high, and conversely take advantage of low domestic interest rates to borrow to fund projects overseas. This clearly compromises the effectiveness of national monetary policy.

Transfer pricing involves the under- or overcharging by MNCs through internal transactions so as to artificially boost profits in low tax countries and reduce them in high tax ones. The multinationals have the ability to minimise tax liabilities. Nevertheless, countries and regions continue to be drawn into a "beauty contest" by competing on tax incentives.

Yet, among OECD states in particular, the magnitude and economic significance of FDI and MNCs in relation to national economic activity are such that the needs of multinational capital cannot be ignored.

If the production technology is developed in such a way that it is operable by low paid workers, the globalisation of production would contribute to widening wage differentials between skilled and unskilled workers within and between countries. Michelin in France, for example.

Both quantitative and qualitative evidence indicates that pre-existing institutions and infrastructures are central to capturing spillover benefits from inward FDI but such benefits are often small. This suggests that FDI generally plays a significantly positive role in those countries that have already achieved a prior level of development.

The important question for India is to ensure that globalisation is something more than a mantra.

In "Capitalism at the End of the Millennium" the articles on sub-Saharan Africa by Saul & Lay and the one on the USA by Doug Henwood are gems of writing.Top


Yet another holocaust poet
Review by M.L. Raina

Poems of Paul Celan translated from German by Michael Hamburger. Persea Books, New York. Pages 358. $ 15.95

THE Holocaust was a watershed in the 20th century. The systematic destruction of nearly six million Jews by the Nazi war machine was perhaps the ultimate in human bestiality whose parallel may still not be available today in spite of numerous post-war genocides in Asia, Africa and most recently in Kosovo. Perhaps the enormity of the Nazi crime made Adorno wonder whether poetry was possible after Auschwitz. George Steiner, endorsing Adorno’s despair, thought language itself was incapable of accommodating the magnitude, the degradation of what he called the "shoah". Franz Lanzman, in his film "Shoah" was similarly sceptical about ever rendering the crime into a truthful expression.

In "Bluebird’s Castle" and at other places Steiner raised the question: "What kind of rationality, what kind of ordered logic of the human social and psychological circumstance, what processes of rational analysis and causal explanation, are available to language after the cancer of reason, the travesty of all meaningfulness, enacted in the Shoah?"

There is an element of hopelessness in these words aggravated by the fact that there have been many survivors of the carnage who have remembered and who continue to remind us that the Holocaust must not be forgotten because it signals the total breakdown of human rationality in the face of overwhelming evil.

Writers on the Holocaust have seen this evil as total and unamenable to explanation. Hence the calls to silence, to suffer the inexpressible and be the living embodiments of the unspoken and the unspeakable. Hence also the relevance of poets such as Paul Celan.

Though historians and theologians have found evil inexpressible in logical terms, poets and artists have found their own means of expressing it. Elie Weisel, a distinguished writer and survivor, has proposed that "poetry exists so that the dead can vote". Bertolt Brecht even went so far as to assert in reply to a question whether "there will be singing in the dark times": "Yes, there will be singing/about the dark times". In spite of Eliot complaining that words are inadequate to express the intensity of feelings, poets have spoken of the Holocaust in varying ways. Surprisingly it is the poets rather than novelists and dramatists who have come to grips with the Nazi terror in a manner that is unique and distinctive. Not surprisingly, though, it is the post-war German poets who have expressed the urgency in which the language dilemma brought on by the Shoah becomes the dilemma of the German language itself.

Herein lies the significance of Paul Celan. Only he, amongst a galaxy of significant post-war poets, gives "the apocalypse of the inhuman" its calendar as well as its hallucinatory clarity. "Hallucinatory clarity" might sound contradictory to the common ear. But to those who have lived through the dark days, this is precisely how it must have felt when the shadow of death and gas ovens were the only certainties the victims could know. It is in this sense that Celan’s poetry is both a poetry of extremity and a poetry of witness, often together and simultaneously. As Steiner says with Celan in mind, "as to speech about God, what forms can it take...after the death camps?"

Celan’s is a poetry of extremity in the sense that extreme situations like war, exile, violation of language take on an abstract purity, a disembodied generality whose effects do not depend on the sufferings of individual victims. Here he differs very much from American confessional poets such as Lowell and Berryman. The absence of the personal "I" from the most anthologised poem "Death fugue" distances the experience described from immediate circumstance. "Black milk of daybreak we drink it at evening/we drink it midday morning/we drink it at night/we drink and we drink/we shovel a grave in the air/there you won’t lie too cramped."

In one sense this in an Auschwitz poem (a reply to Adorno that poems after the event are possible). In another sense the cold horrors of the camp never cry out for attention in the way overtly confessional poets cry out to us. The repetitiveness of phrases (we drink it, for example), and the surrealist nature of the imagery in much of the poem combine with the intricate musical structure implied in the title to remove the poem from immediate historical events and convey it to that realm where history becomes a larger human concern than a simple event. Short of becoming transcendent in any mystical/mythical way, it continues to resonate through epochs and periods wherein similar experiences have occurred.

The extremity of its theme is preserved in the iterated reminders of death ("death is a master from Deutschland") as well as in the silences and absences so palpably impressed between stanzas. Compared with the poetry of a fellow German, Johannes Bobrowski who retains a lyrical core within the evocations of present-day horror, Celan in this poem continues to focus on the present, particularly its strange illusions in the midst of outrage. The particular pathos and power of the poem are revealed in the partly hidden and partly evident balance the poet is able to maintain between what is undoubtedly the most unpoetic material and the pure poetic form towards which it tends.

Celan is a witness poet apart from being the poet of extremity. As a Romanian Jew settled in France and writing poetry in German, he has been a witness to both the destruction of his native country by the Nazis, and to the defiling of the language of his composition by the lies and contaminations of the Nazi propaganda. He has heard the "shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells" (Wilfred Owen). In Owen the dead are mourned not by praying relatives but by the cacophany of new technologies without the healing comfort of religion. For Celan the attacks on Jews conflict with the illusion (or shall we say actual belief) of being the chosen people. He has been a witness to the systematic and efficient project of elimination of his people, but his response is not the shrill cry, but a silent refusal to accept the divinity of God who can allow such practice.

In a poem titled "Psalm", he refuses to call God by his name but refers to him as "No-one": "No-one kneads us again out of earth and loam/No-one bespeaks our dust./No-one? Praise unto thee, No-one? For love of you will we bloom? Towards/Against you."

The no-one God is an analogue to the no-one Jew whose collective and individual extinction is the burden of this remarkable poem. The extinction of the Jew is for Celan the extinction of the human race itself. Yet the Jewish nothingness is "in bloom", is not to be written off permanently. Reading these lines you at once make connections with Yeats’s "terrible beauty" which is both destructive and beautiful, a phoenix-like emergence from the ashes.

In most of the poems in this splendid selection by Michael Hamburger, himself a poet of considerable merit, we move not through verifiable statements but through lived parables and animated metaphors. The fact that Celan wrote in the language of his murderers (itself a defiance of Adorno’s despair), and the fact that he committed suicide in 1970, long after the Holocaust, hint at one thing and one thing alone: the urgent need to confront the weapons of his poetry against the battering realities of language’s limitations and the choking inadequacies of the language itself.

In poem after poem in this selection — "The lock gate", "Coagula", to name only a few — there is a sense that language itself is insufficient for the particular poetic ends to which Celan has consecrated himself. This adds further pathos to a poet who seeks pure form that would hold the impure realities of his experience.

Celan’s critics — and there are many — berate him for aspiring to a sanitised hermetic form. In a sense this is true. But the hermeticism of his formal mission is like the supposed hermeticism of Joyce’s language. Both aspired towards a form that entailed the cracking, the splitting and the fragmenting of the available resources of language in order to accommodate their peculiar epic visions. It is true that Celan is not accessible either to summary analysis or to easy appropriation by critics with a palpable design of ideology over his work.

To retain his individual sanctity against the dialect of the tribe, Celan, again like Joyce, rifles through his language, tilts the music of his rough diction against the false sonorities of accepted music, chops and stretches words and syntax to throw away its dead worn commonplaces. All in the service of a muse that is restless, itinerant and always on the lookout for fresh meanings: "With all my thoughts I/went out of the world: and there you were/you, my quiet, my open one/and you received us./Who says everything died for us when our eyes broke/? Everything awakened, everything brightened."

It is at this point that Celan’s "flurrying metaphors" and "landscapes with urn creatures" come up to greet and challenge us into thinking.Top


Social history of Lubanas
Review by Satish K. Kapoor

The Lubanas in Punjab: Social, Economic and Political Change (1849-1947) by Jaswant Singh. Murabia Publishers, Begowal (Kapurthala district). Pages 260. Rs 225.

"LAVANIK" is the Sanskrit word for a salt merchant. The Lubana (also spelled as Lobana, Libana and Lebana) community is said to have derived its name from this word because its members traded in salt. But Lubanas did not deal in salt alone but other goods as well including gur, grains, oil seeds, and petty ornaments like ear trinkets and brass rings. In that case they would not have become known after one trade item to the exclusion of others.

Linguistically, the word "lubana" is more in propinquity with the Sanskrit lubhana or lubhavana, meaning that which pleases, attracts or gratifies. The community was once known for continuing the ancient tradition of mimicry through wayside shows; hence the name bahurupia (from bahu, many and rupa, forms) tagged to it. The mendicant actors of the community entertained people by assuming different forms and characters both playfully and derisively.

The historical course of the community did not, however, follow a single track. Many Lubanas assumed the role of carriers of goods from one part of the country to another.

Due to their nomadic life-pattern and their indulgence in trade activity of minor nature, they came to be called banjaras. Their lineage has been variously traced to Chauhan or Raghuvanshi Rajputs, to Gaur Brahmins and even to Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi Kshatriyas, perhaps because of the changing nature of their activities at different places and at different periods of time. Although a vast majority of them came from the Hindu stock, there were some who claimed affinity to the Turks.

This book provides and interesting historical account of the Lubana community of Punjab known for its dexterity, simplicity, religiosity, courage of conviction and loyalty to the Sikh Gurus and to the Sikh ethos. It takes into account the ethnographic, social, economic, political and cultural facets of the community, throwing fresh light on many neglected aspects. It places the community on a broader canvas of the history of greater Punjab, specifically during the British period, with a view to evaluating its role and contribution and exploring the aspects of social mobility, cultural renaissance and political awakening among its members.

The analytical mode of a sociologist leads him from cause to effect; that of a historian from effect to cause. Jaswant Singh coalesces the two approaches to provide varying dimensions of the complex phenomena of social, economic and political change among the Lubanas. The metamorphosis of the community from that of "gymnosophist" traders or carriers of daily commodities to peasant proprietors, and from nomads to settled people is an odyssey of great historical and sociological importance.

The dynamics of social change among the Lubanas lay both in endogenous and exogenous factors. Change, a value-neutral concept, occurred in a gradual way in the community, affecting at times the quintessentials of its sociocultural system. But the change was not born of a sense of alienation or defeatism. It was positive and natural under the exigencies of circumstances. The more or less acephalous character of the community also helped it to imbibe values and norms of other (cultures) without any fear of deviational sin.

The first prominent Lubana to be fascinated by the Sikh way of life was Saundhe Shah who came in contact with Guru Angad Dev. He was followed by many others like Baba Hasna and Baba Takht Mal who served the fifth and sixth Sikh Gurus. Another Lubana Sikh, Baba Dalipa, is said to have preached the Sikh doctrine in the Jalandhar doaba during this period. Makhan Shah, the wealthy trader who discovered Guru Tegh Bahadur from among the impostor Gurus at Bakala, and Lakhi Shah who along with his son Nagahia, cremated the headless body of the ninth Guru by burning his own house, were Lubana Sikhs.

The Lubanas served in the armies of Guru Gobind Singh, Banda Bahadur, the misldars and Maharaja Ranjit Singh and distinguished themselves by their fearlessness and sincerity. Many among them took to agriculture as a result of the agrarian policy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which entrusted waste land to them on a nominal rent. Gradually, they became peasant-proprietors in some districts.

The Lubanas numbered nearly 50,000 as per the 1881 census. In the next 50 years they showed a demographic increase of 14 to 16 per cent. Jaswant Singh describes how and why the number of Sikh Lubanas surpassed that of Hindu or Muslim Lubanas in the 19th century, and in what way the change in the occupation of members of the community affected their geographical distribution.

Jaswant Singh delineates the social customs and religious beliefs and practices of the Lubanas in a masterly way. He takes note of the expensive and supercilious customs governing birth, marriage and death which underwent a change for the better as a result of western education, interaction with enlightened members of other communities through military and civil services, the ‘‘vihar sudhar lehar’’ of Sant Prem Singh and the pristine form of Sikhism as presented by Singh Sabhas.

Gradually, the polytheistic Lubanas worshipping mother goddess, snake, samadhi, tree or some such object came to abhor the traditional religious practices. Adoration of the pipal tree almost disappeared. The role of purohits or religious mendicants also diminished in their socio-religious life. The use of sacred thread, smoking the hukkah, opium and intoxicating snuffs became a taboo for members of the community. The Lubanki dialect of the Lubanas lost its credibility and use, and with it faded away the obsolescent aspects of their culture.

The political consciousness among the Lubanas was as much the consequence of the administrative policies of the British as of the socio- cultural resurgence brought about by the Singh Sabhas. They acted both as collaborators and opponents of the Raj which is evident from the fact that while they served the British cause during the two world wars, they also participated in Akali morchas and Congress movements.

The book having four useful appendices (on the Lubanki dialect, Lubana establishments, eminent Lubana personalities and Lubana villages) detailed glossary, bibliography and index is a pioneer work of great merit.Top


A blank look at 4-D world
Review by Rajesh Kathpalia

Surfing through Hyperspace — Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons by Clifford A. Pickover. Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Pages 239. Rs 395.

THE President of the United States of America has been abducted and taken into fourth dimension — 4-D. Is it a typical tale of American obsession with their Presidents? No, here 4-D is more important than the President. It is just a "guest disappearance" of the President in the book. Otherwise, the book by a New Yorker is an attempt to stretch our "three dimensional" mind into a possible fourth dimension or "hyperspace" and to see what lies there. It is also a story — a fictional dialogue between two futuristic FBI agents much like in the acclaimed TV serial, "The X-Files". And why not? As D. Michio Kaku says, "Hyperspace is where physics, mathematics and science fiction collide!"

For the uninitiated, the term hyperspace is popularly used while referring to higher dimensions though "hyper" is the correct scientific prefix for higher dimensional geometries. Current thinking in theoretical physics postulates the existence of not just four spatial dimensions (one being fictitious), but 10 physical dimensions of space and time. The author mostly concentrates on the physical aspect of knowing four dimensions, even four-dimensional beings and what mischief and good they could do in our three-dimensional world.

We live in a "prison of the obvious". Space for us is so obviously three dimensional that we don’t bother "imagining" other dimensions. But "space is a learned, not an inherent, concept", said 19th century German physicist Herman von Helmhaltz. His studies of human "vision" led him to believe that our sense of vision created our idea of space and given the correct input data, we could visualise the fourth dimension.

But there are differing opinions on the plausibility or otherwise of a fourth dimension. And experiments in this field are difficult to even conceive of not to talk of their practicability. We do not know exactly what to expect and what to verify! Conjectures remain conjectures!

Light bends as it passes by a star, suggesting that pockets of our space are curved in an unseen dimension beyond our spatial comprehension. Albert Einstein argued that gravity itself was the result of the curved space nearby the mass, and the orbits of the planets are just straight lines (to put it in 4-D language), and not elliptical. Riemann, the great 19th century geometric expert, believed that not only gravity but electricity and magnetism were caused by crumpling of our 3-D universe in an unseen fourth dimension.

But then there are others! "A simple proof that the world is three-dimensional", a paper by Tom Morley, began this way: "The title is, of course, a fraud. We prove nothing of the sort. Instead we show that radially symmetric wave propagation is possible only in dimensions one and three." Simply put, this means it may be difficult to have radio, television and rapid global communication in higher dimensional worlds.

Kant also discounted the possibility of higher dimensions. He took the case of gravity which moves through space like an expanding sphere — that is, its strength varies inversely with the square of the distance. Kant then poses a problem for God. If God chose to make gravity move through space, varying inversely with the cube of the distance, only then He would have required a space of four dimensions. Kant, I believe, was very naive in his reasoning. God can do anything!

And God has given the power of imagination to us! Let us use that. The commonest analogy for imagining shapes in high dimensions is to move objects perpendicular to themselves. Moving a zero-dimensional (0-D) point, we generate a line, a 1-D object with two end points. A line if moved perpendicular to itself along a plane will generate a square with four corners. A square moved perpendicular to itself forms a cube with eight corners.

Next stop? It is, of course, difficult to visualise but we can predict that if we are able to move a cube perpendicular to all its edges, we would generate a hypercube — a 4-D object. The book gives representations of higher dimensional cubes, even eight-dimensional cubes, generated through computer graphics. Ever thought of higher dimensional chess!

Imagine 2-D creatures existed somewhere. "Flatland", a scientific-sociological fiction by Abbott, written over a century ago, described this. The creatures were totally unaware of the existence of a higher dimension around them. Until some day! Abbott was the first person to explore what it would mean for 2-D creatures to interact with higher dimensional world. Indeed 3-D creatures like us would have awesome power compared to 2-D creatures.

We would be able to look down on a 2-D universe and to see inside every structure at once. Two-dimensional beings will have no privacy. We would shorten any distance by twisting the 2-D plane suitably. But ditto for any 4-D being (hyperbeings) vis-a-vis us! They would see inside any 3-D object or life form or reach into a solid object without breaking the outer surface. What about a surgery without even pricking the skin?

But is this all academic! Why have we not got any conclusive proof? For one, it has been suggested that fourth dimension was different from others because it was curled up like a circle; and the size of the circle was so small that it could not be seen directly. What an anticlimax!

Anyway, the book by a staffer at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Centre, is an entertaining work, even if it puzzles you with some abstract mathematics. The appendices discuss a number of interesting problems like the four dimensional version of Rubik Cube, 4-D mazes and hyper computer programmes, for computer junkies and evolution of four-dimensional biologies, even 4-D speech writing and art!

After going through the book your knowledge of the fourth dimension will remain vague, as the author himself warns us. "Imagery is at the heart of much of the work described in this book," he says. And, well, we can imagine a 4-D commandment to 3-D beings: Thou shall not use your 3-D common sense here!Top


Health system not kind to the poor
Review by Anuradha

Private Health Care in India: Social Characteristics and Trends by Rama V. Baru. Sage Publications, New Delhi. Pages 184. Rs 295.

LAST decade witnessed intense globalisation and privatisation in every sphere of life in all developing countries. Health care is no exception and has not escaped this proliferating rush. Our country had adopted a planned approach to the development of health services, with the state playing the pivotal role in training personnel for as well as management of health services. Simultaneously, the state had not only accommodated the private sector but also protected private interests in the health sector. By the mid-1980s, the government began to openly accept its incapacity to fully meet the health needs and began to allow a substantial role to the private sector in health care and the delivery system.

The national health policy document was issued in 1983 which mainly laid stress on peripheral services and the preventive aspects of health. It became a hoax, more or less like the "Health for all by 2000 AD" slogan. Now we are in 2000 AD and nobody is talking about that goal. Although major health issues have been implemented from time to time, the national health policy has not been revised till date.

Our country today follows a mixed policy to health services with the growth of the private sector being closely linked to the public sector at different stages. This nearly two-decade-old policy has not been reviewed although there is a clear shift towards the private sector. Except a few socialist countries like Cuba where the state is the sole provider of medical care, most of the developed and developing countries have a two-track health services policy. The erstwhile socialist bloc was capable of providing free health services to all people and the collapse of the system is proving how the health care when sold to the private hands will jeopardise the system itself at the national level.

The growth of welfare state in the developed as well as the developing countries acted as a counter-magnet to the communist appeal and hence the governments were keen on giving free and top class medical and other facilities to the working class. The unipolar world with the USA as the sole chieftain, there is no compulsion for a pronounced pro-working class stance and countries can openly shift to the private sector and wink at its profit motive. Welfare state has become a meaningless word. In India, where a significant section of the population lives in poverty, the additional burden of paying for medical care in private hospitals will lead to further pauperisation.

This book makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of the interface between technology, society and public health. Rama V. Baru is among the pioneers who have taken up the challenge of analysing the process and impact of privatisation of medical care on health services. The work is basically based on her PhD thesis and is very relevant today. She begins with the Bombay Plan of 1945 when the seeds of privatisation were sown in our country. Her discussion covers the period up to the mid-1990s.

This creative study explores not only the trends in privatisation of health care and delivery system during the past five decades but also its socio-economic basis. Rama Baru analyses the emerging patterns of medical care in the private sector in a historical and global perspective mainly on the basis of a study of private hospitals in Hyderabad city. She has investigated the role of medical professionals, particular social classes and the flow of international capital, all of which have shaped privatisation.

The book also lucidly explains the links between the public and private sectors and the complex social processes through which these interests have got concentrated.

The uniqueness of the book is that the author has examined the social basis of privatisation. Dr Baru has clearly demonstrated through her in-depth study of the background of medical entrepreneurs that there has been a movement of capital away from agriculture and industry into the medical sector. She shows how the growth of the private sector has had a negative impact on the public sector. At the same time she raises pertinent questions about the quality of health care, the efficiency of health services and the social responsibility of medical professionals.

The book is broadly divided into five parts and each is a complete chapter in itself. The first chapter deals with an overview of privatisation of health care at the national and international levels and describes the basic theme of the book. This chapter is a lucid summary of the book.

The second chapter deals with the concept of mixed economy in the health care delivery system. It is a review of the government policy framed for the private sector and offers a detailed reading of the reports of various committees constituted from time to time and other relevant studies. The growth of private practice in India from the pre-independence period up to the mid-1990s is described in detail. The debate over the Bombay Plan versus the People’s Plan, when the seeds of private sector were sown in the mid-1940s, is imaginatively covered. The approach of the first Five Year Plan reflected the views of the authors of the Bombay Plan by clearly stating the place of the private sector in planned development. After that in every Five Year Plan, the share of the expenditure on health has decreased and now it is less than 2 per cent of the GDP.

A careful perusal of the various committee reports indicates that the policy followed by the government vis--vis the private sector can best be described as a laissez-faire approach where the state exercises no control. Over the years the private sector has grown and diversified and the present policy of liberalisation has added to the momentum. An important point that needs to be kept in mind while studying the growth of the private sector in India is that it is not independent of the public sector as it seems to be. The state, through its investment in training human resources and creating institutional facilities, has provided the base for the growth of the private sector. Even within the public sector one finds that a large percentage of doctors practise privately and private interests in pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries play an important role in formulating public policy.

It is also important to study the trends, characteristics and distribution of private medical enterprises at the national and state levels. The third chapter deals with the structure and utilisation of private enterprises. It basically looks at the composition and functioning of the private sector in relation to the public sector in rural as well as urban areas across the country. The empirical basis of this chapter is provided by the relevant survey reports published by the Central Statistical Organisation and the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This is important because the distribution of the private institutions relative to the public sector determines the availability and therefore can explain the utilisation pattern across the states.

The fourth chapter deals with the social roots of private medical care based on a study of Hyderabad. The heterogeneity of the private sector and its inter-relationship with the public sector is presented in detail in this chapter. At the beginning of this chapter, the history of the allopathic medical service in Hyderabad has been elaborated. The administrative structure of the hospitals as well as the characteristics of growth of nursing homes and hospitals between 1991 and 1997 are also described. The nature of assistance provided by the state to private nursing homes for family planning and immunisation services and the link with other national health programmes are clearly brought out.

The fifth chapter deals with some of the factors that have contributed to the growth of the private sector in medical care based on an in-depth study of private institutions in Hyderabad, which applies to other cities as well. In addition, some of the recent debates on the implications of privatisation of health service planning are discussed by studying the experience of some developed countries.

Medical care in the developed countries like the UK and the USA has been discussed and compared to the Indian situation with regard to issues like mixed economy in medical care, the rise of corporate medicine and the role of multinational corporations, both medical and pharmaceutical, in promoting curative, specialist and high-tech services across the world. The impact of these factors on the planning for future health care services has also been elaborated.

As a ready reference a list of abbreviations has been given in the beginning of the book. Statistical figures are given in a tabulated form to make it easy for everyone to understand the subject. The foreword of the book has been written in a lucid way by Prof Imrana Quadeer giving revealing details about the book. There is a bibliography and the list of references is very helpful as a source of further reading.

Although the book has been published in 1998, it is silent on the implications of the GATT/WTO/WB/IMF on our health care delivery system. Some of the developments which have been examined surfaced during different rounds of GATT negotiations and privatisation started in almost all fields. Now the Union Government has amended the Indian Patents Act, 1970, to provide patent to the process as well as the product. This will hit the drug industry making medicines more costly and ultimately placing the health care delivery system beyond the reach of the common man.

The book is also silent on a way out of the effects of privatisation. The cost of the book, Rs 295, takes it away from an ordinary reader and it may be mainly purchased by libraries as a reference book.

The author concludes that in a country where a big section of the population lives below the poverty line, the additional burden of paying for medical care will result in further pauperisation of the masses. With its new insights, this book is of immense interest to the health professional and policy maker and to all those involved in public health, medical sociology, health economics and management and development studies.Top


Village view of terrorism: doxa or episteme?
Bhupinder Singh writes from Patiala

THIS refers to Surjit Hans’ flattering review of "Terrorism in Punjab", a survey report authored by Prof Harish Puri and his two colleagues at Guru Nanak Dev University (The Tribune, April 8). Apparently, the book describes what the village folk, or rather the select respondents in select villages, felt or believed to be true about different aspects of recent Sikh militancy in the state.

Unfortunately, however, we are never told by the reviewer who the respondents were or when and how the information was collected. Such a disclosure could qualify the merits of the survey in important ways. For all of us know how the popular perception of militancy varied and changed in response to the vicissitudes of the movement. Recall, for example, the progressive appearance and disappearance of the saffron turban or of the flowing beard in this context.

Be that as it may, it is not at all clear how the uncritical recording of public opinion (doxa) can throw light on either the genesis and course of militancy or its eventual decline. In the history of social theory, no major thinker has ever relied on public opinion for the understanding or explanation of social facts. Marx never interviewed industrial workers or collected information about their social background, motivation and behaviour for uncovering the law of motion of capital. Nor did Durkheim attach much significance to popular beliefs in his classic studies of division of labour, suicide and religion. As Levi-Strauss was to clarify later, conscious models held by people are very often attempts at justification and camouflage rather than disinterested explanation. The view is shared by Freud and in his own way by Husserl as well.

Let me address, for example, the specific issue of motivation of those who joined the violent stream. According to the respondents interviewed by Harish Puri et al, at least 38 per cent joined for fun; 12 per cent for loot; 5.26 per cent for Khalistan, and so on.

For one, it is never easy for a person even to know his own mind; how can others be so sure about what really appeals to him? For another, individual intentions hardly ever account for objective social processes. As early as 1897, Durkheim had statistically demonstrated that suicide rates in a given society could not be understood in terms of the disparate intentions of the victims. Much more to the point would be the notion of political unconscious (Jameson) or that of habitus (Bourdieu) for probing the deeper springs of human action in the social context, but I shall not press this point for the moment and instead would recall a parallel from Sikh history to drive home my point.

In his useful work "The Sikh Gurus and Sikh Society", Niharranjan Ray states: "At the time of Guru Hargobind the masands .. were also directed to collect arms and horses for the standing army. That he was determined to build up and was actually doing so by recruiting among others, mercenary Pathans, deserters from the Mughal army, highway men and sometimes even robbers and criminals, is very clear from available evidence" (p 25). Given their background and motivation, where would the Guru’s recruits stand in public esteem? And would this esteem exhaust the truth and reality, or meanig and value, of the compact or alliance between the Guru and his recruits?

Nicos Poulantzas, a structuralist Marxist, once talked of the flawed problematic of the subject: "According to this problematic, the agents of a social formation, ‘men,’ are not considered as the bearers of objective instances (as they are for Marx), but as the genetic principle of the levels of the social whole. This is the problematic of the social actors, of individuals as the origin of social action: sociological research leads .. to the search for finalist explanations founded on the motivations of conduct of the individual actors."

In a similar vein, Maurice Godelier, the well-known French anthropologist and economist, wrote: "The scientific conception of reality does not ‘arise by abstraction from the spontaneous or reflected conceptions of individuals. On the contrary, it must destroy the obviousness of these conceptions in order to bring out the hidden internal logic of social life." Of course, both Godelier and Poulantzas were putting a gloss on what Marx had said in The Capital (Vol 3): "Science would be superfluous if there were no difference between the appearance of things and their essence."

It seems to me that Prof Puri and his associates have succumbed to appearances, to the problematic of the subject, or more plainly, to a naive empiricism found wanting by Marxist, "post" theorists (followers of Heidegger and Neitzsche) and critical realists alike. Opinion surveys, as the members of the Frankfurt School noted long ago, "tended to stop at producing quantified facts and did not go deeper towards genuine sociological interpretation. They simply recorded opinions held by individuals without asking why they held them."

May I remind reviewer Surjit Hans, who is either a poet or a historian but never the two together much against the advice of Aristotle and Jacob Burckhardt, that from the Greeks to Husserl and after, public opinion (doxa) has never been equated with knowledge (episteme), much less with wisdom (sophia). As far as I can judge, "Terrorism in Punjab" takes off with no significant hypothesis and arrives at no generalisation (except if it be that the poor peasant youth exemplify "rural idiocy" and barbarism!). At the best, the survey can yield some useful information which has to be critically appropriated and placed in perspective.

One can apply to the findings of what are known — not without reason — as opinion surveys, the judgement on public opinion in general formulated by Hegel in his "Philosophy of Right": "It deserves to be respected and despised. Respected, because even ideologies, the necessarily false consciousness, are an element of social reality, with which anyone who desires knowledge of the reality itself must be acquainted. But despised: that is their claim to truth criticised. Empirical research becomes an ideology itself as soon as it gives public opinion absolute status."

Over to you Prof Puri and your friends, including Hans. Now, it is between you and Theodor W. Adorno, the critical theorist, whom I quoted above.

References to Poulantzas and Godelier are from Blackburn’s "Ideology in Social Science," while Adorno’s remarkable piece on "Sociology and Empirical Research" appears in Paul Connerton’s "Critical Sociology". The remaining quote is from "The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology".Top


Mandarins of Mauryan regime

This is extracted from "Governance in Ancient India’’ by Anup Chandra Pandey and published by D.K. Printworld, New Delhi

THE Mauryan period witnessed the end of several important trends set in motion during earlier periods. The assertion of political supremacy of the Magadhan kingdom, which started during the days of Bimbisara in the sixth century BC, reached its fruition by the time of Chandragupta Maurya who presided over an all-India empire. As a result of its expansionist policy, Magadha annexed to it the small republican and monarchical states to transform itself into a vast empire. Chandragupta Maurya’s victory over Seleucus led to the annexation of a great part of Afghanistan and Baluchistan to the Mauryan empire which now touched the boundary of the Syrian empire. The common border of the Indian and Syrian empires was bound to influence each other in many respects.

Economically also, the Mauryan period witnessed great changes. The greater use of iron in the manufacture of agricultural implements during the previous ages had already led to the clearing of forests and reclamation of more and more land for agricultural purposes. The attitude of the Brahmanical religion towards marriage as a mandatory social institution and the insistence on many sons and daughters led to a gradual growth of population, augmenting the manpower of each family which was put to effective use in economic and vocational pursuits. Large families were bound to occupy new areas. Greater manpower, better tools of agriculture, familiarity with new lands, commercial contact with the outside world, which were gradually developing more and more since the days of Persian and Greek invasions, emergence of money economy as early as the sixty century BC resulting in the appearance of numerous trade centres and urban habitats, had combined to create great socio-economic problems for the Mauryan state. The widening gulf between the poor and the rich, between the employees and the employers, between landlords and labourers, and between free men and slaves must have led to socio-economic tensions by the time of the establishment of the Mauryan empire.

The Buddhist call to the people to renounce families and join the Buddhist order for the sake of individual salvation must have threatened numerous families with the loss of their bread-winners, spelling all round social disorder. Thus, the growing cult of renunciation before the Mauryan period also called for state intervention to regulate the social behaviour of the people.

This way the Mauryan state was confronted with an unprecedented situation and the age-old political system, which had well-served the needs of smaller kingdoms, reached its limitations and demanded innovations. It must be said to the credit of the Mauryas that they were aware of the requirements of their times and gave a completely new orientation to their policies and a new dimension to Indian polity. This explains why the Mauryan state and government were very different from their counterparts in the past in the matter of structural organisation and implementation.

The Mauryas organised a bureaucracy which had no parallel in the preceding and following ages in northern India. Caste numbers mentioned by Megasthenes, in fact, referred to Mauryan civil service consisting of all high civil and military officers. Kautilya’s long list of officers also indicates its high number and power. As before, in the Mauryan period also, the word amatya denoted the civil service as a whole.

Though the world is as old the Rigved, its nature, scope and functions kept on steadily widening. A karika on Panini explains the formation of the word amatya from the root ama with tyap pratyaya added to it. The root ama is understood to mean "near" or "with". Thus, the amatya would be that body of officials which would always be near or with the king.

Though the word amatya is frequently used in Arthasastra of Kautilya, it is conspicuous by its absence in the Asokan inscriptions. Instead, they use the word purusa which may not designate a particular class of officers, as suggested by some scholars, but the whole civil service. This point of view is further supported by the fact that Asoka had classified purusa in three groups — ukasa (superior), majjhima (middling) and gevaya inferior — in the way Kautilya had classified amatyas in three groups. It is again illogical to identify the purusas of Asoka with gudhapurusas of Kautilya. In fact, purusas were the rajapurusas who constituted the civil service since the days of the epics.

Incidentally, Kautilya makes a difference between amatya and mantrin when he makes the following observations: "Having divided the sphere of their powers and having definitely taken into consideration the place and time where and when they have to work, such persons shall be employed not as councillors (mantrins), but as ministerial officers (amatyas)."

Obviously, Kautilya held mantrins much more important than amatyas. However, most of the Indian works, including Amarakosa, have used the words mantrin and sachiva as synonyms. In Arthasastra the word sachiva stands for adviser, in general, ministers as well as non-ministers.

Kautilya was against one-man rule. Even a small kingdom, not to say the huge Mauryan empire, could not be run by a king. Kautilya very clearly says that, "kingship is possible only with the aid of assistants; a single wheel cannot run a chariot". He envisages the cooperation and coordination of the king and the civil service in the management of the affairs of the state. Hence, he shall employ ministers (sachiva) and hear their opinion. The word sahaya does not mean an ordinary assistant. It has been used for the amatya or mantrin in earlier literature as well.

All undertakings were rooted in the amatyas. To quote Kautilya: "amatyamulah samarambhah." They were responsible for executing all schemes of the government and ensuring the integrity and prosperity of the state. He regarded the king (svami) and civil service (amatya) as the first two of the seven limbs of the state.

Since the amatyas constituted the backbone of the administration, great care was taken to appoint the right type of persons as amatyas. According to Kautilya, they should possess the following qualifications: A native of the soil, high-born, influential, well-trained in arts andcrafts, far-sighted, wise, of retentive memory, intelligent, skilful, bold, eloquent, sweet in speech, good debater, full of enthusiasm and energy, self-controlled, of amiable nature, firm in royal devotion, free from qualities exciting hatred and enmity, of tested honesty, possessing an attractive personality.

It is clear from the above statement that though high birth of a candidate was of consequence, no mention has been made of his heredity. It may indicate that the civil service in the Mauryan period had not become hereditary.

While the Mahabharata speaks of five upadhas (tests), Kautilya mentions only four — namely, dharmopadha, arthopadha, kamopadha and bhayopadha which an amatya was subjected to. Generally, those who got thought the dharmopadha were appointed as judges. Those who passed the arthopadha were appointed as high functionaries in the revenue department. The candidates who cleared kamopadha were put in charge of the king’s pleasure gardens and harems. Those who proved their fearlessness in the bhayopadha were recruited as the king’s bodyguards.

The candidates passings all the four tests were regarded as most suitable and were given posts of mantrins (ministers). The candidates who showed general fitness in one or all the tests were absorbed in jobs away from the king or the capital, such as those as superintendent of factories, mines, elephant forests, etc. All these amatyas were classified under three grades: (1) the top one; (2) the middle one; and, (3) the average one. The first one was endowed with all good qualities required of an amatya. The other two were wanting in one-quarter or half of those qualities respectively.


Top-ranking officers of the Mauryan government have been designated as tirthas by Kautilya. They constituted the top brass of the Mauryan civil service:

The list of the 18 tirthas is headed by mantrin. This proves two things: first, the king depended heavily on his councillors. In fact, he could not take any important decision without holding consultatioons with them. All actions of the state were rooted in their counsel. Second, the state was under the control of the civil authorities as represented by mantrin and not by the military authorities led by the senapati who has been given the third ranking in the list of tirthas.

Mantrin, in this list, perhaps means the prime minister, who was assisted by his colleagues in the cabinet as well as in the council of ministers. His role during the illness and death of the king and in facilitating a smooth take-over by the heir-apparent has been described by Kautilya as follows: "The minister (here the prime minister) shall thus avert the calamities in which the king is involved long before the apprehended death of the king, shall, in concert with his friends and followers, allow visitors to the king once in a month or two (and avoid their visits on other occasions) under the plea that the king is engaged in performing such rites as are calculated to avert national calamities or are destructive of enemies or capable of prolonging life or of procuring a son.

"...having gradually placed the burden of administration on the shoulders of the heir-apparent, the minister may announce the death of the king to the public."

"He had his headquarters at the capital to be always available to the king and other functionaries of the state on all times."

Besides the prime minister, there were other ministers (mantrins) as well. As stated earlier, those who got through all the tests (upadhas) were appointed as mantrins. Since mantrins were the most important part of the government structure, a lively debate had been going on in ancient India as to who should be entrusted with the coveted job of mantrin. Kautilya has quoted the opinions of his predecessors in this regard. One of them, Bharadvaja had observed that the "king should employ his class-mates as his ministers, for they can be trusted by him in as much as he has personal knowledge of their honesty and capacity".

However, Visalaksa differs from Bharadvaja saying that they had been his play-mates also and, therefore, would despise him. He would, therefore, want the king to employ such persons as his ministers whose secrets he shared. Pisuna had yet another point of view. He thought that devotion alone was not enough, if a minister was wanting in intelligence.

Kaunapandata laid down the principle of heredity in matters of appointment. One whose father and grandfather had held the ministerial post deserved to be appointed as minister. "Such persons by virtue of their knowledge of past events and of established relationship with the king will, though offended, but never desert him." Vatavyadhi tended to believe that hereditary persons in ministerial jobs developed vested interests. So new persons should be appointed as ministers on the basis of their proficiency in polity. "He shall employ as ministers such new persons, who will regard the king as the real sceptre-bearer and dare not offend him".

Bahudantiputra makes his point in the following manner: "A man possessed of only theoretical knowledge and having no experience of practical politics is likely to commit serious blunders when engaged in actual works. Hence, he (the king) shall employ as ministers such as are born of high family and are possessed of wisdom, integrity of purpose, bravery and loyal feelings in as much as ministerial appointments shall purely depend upon proper qualifications and merit for the job."

Kautilya has endorsed the point of view of Bahudantiputra when he avers that, "This is satisfactory in all respects, for a man’s ability is inferred from his capacity shown in that work."

Secrecy of deliberations was regarded as the root of success of the state undertakings. With a view to ensuring it, one of the political thinkers of ancient India, Bharadvaja, went to the extent of saying that the king should not deliberate with any minister, and the latter their own. This successive line of ministers, he believed, led to the leakage of secrets.

But Bharadvaja had few to support his gospel of despair. Almost all ancient Indian political thinkers had it that the king should never take a decision without consulting his ministers. To quote Visalaksa: "No deliberation made by a single individual will be successful. The king should despise none and hear all." Pisuna also advised the king to consult capable persons. Kautilya was of the opinion that the king "shall consult three or four ministers... A single minister proceeds wilfully and without restraint. In deliberating with two ministers, the king may be overpowered by their combined action. But with three or four ministers he will arrive at satisfactory results. With ministers more than four in number, he will have to come to a decision after a good deal of struggle, nor will he have to come to a decision after a good deal of struggle, nor will the secrecy of counsel be maintained without much trouble."

Three or four ministers should enjoy the utmost confidence of the king and constitute his inner cabinet. These ministers who met the king daily in the morning in the fourth hall of the palace. They also accompanied the king to the battlefield and filled the army with greater enthusiasm. They also chose spies for specific purposes. They formed the highest deliberative body and formulated the policies of the government. The king could consult all, even one of them, as per the need, or even take decision by himself. To quote Kautilya, "desakalakaryavasena tvekena saha dvabhyameko va yathasamarthyam mantrayet."

The ministers were expected to express their opinion freely even if it was not to the liking of the king. This explains why the king was enjoined upon not to lose his temper while deliberating with his ministers. Though the king was free to accept or reject the opinon of his ministers, generally he went by the majority decision (bhuyistham).

There was another body to execute these policies. This was the mantriparisad or the council of ministers which was different from themantrin referred to above. Kautilya makes a clear distinction between the two. While the mantrin held consultations with the king daily, the council of ministers was convened only in an emergency (atyayika karya). The number of mantrin was three or four, but the council of ministers could have any number in accordance with the requirements (yatha samarthyam). While the salary of each minister was 48,000 panas per annum, that of the member of the council of minister was 12,000 panas.

The mantri parisad seems to have been an old institution. The Jatakas mention it as paritha. Later if finds mention in the Asokan inscriptions as parisa. An Asokan edict informs us that the council instructed yuktas in particular, in regard to the inspection of personal accounts of the people. It seems that the king was constrained to pass oral orders at times. But they too had to be debated by the council of ministers and its opinion was known to him before the king took a final decision about their implementation. This explains why Asoka wanted debates of the parisad to be known to him immediately at all places and at all times.

It can safely be inferred from these allusions to the parisad that the king consulted it even when in an emergency, sometimes he could not attend its meetings, so its decisions were conveyed to him. In case a member of the parisad was not in a position to attend, he could send his opinion in writing.

Thus, whereas the mantrin were a policy-making body, the mantriparisad was the implementing body. It was its responsibility to start the work decided upon, to complete the work which was in progress, to improve the completed work and to see that the orders were strictly followed. Though inferior to the cabinet, it played an important role in the governance of the kingdom. It was, in nature, the Mauran counterpart of our modern secretariat.