How should one place the past in the context of the present? In contemporary India, the sheer asking of this question makes it disappear, and reappear in the form of an interminable, infructuous debate between revivalists seeking to restore an imagined past to its pristine glory, and liberal modernists who would rather junk the past in its entirety, and build the future on the premises of the European Renaissance. The timely contribution of Rajvir Sharma’s book to this conundrum consists in postulating a third way in the form of ‘critical traditionalism’.
Indian classic Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, wrote his master work Arthashastra on economics and political science about 2500 years ago. His contribution is still often ignored in presenting the intellectual history of social sciences. In the literature introducing Kautilya’s social philosophy, Professor Rajvir Sharma’s study on Kautilya’s political philosophy is a welcome contribution. Sharma concentrates on four aspects in Kautilya’s Arthashastra: theory of state, legal theory, inter-state relations and women in society.