FOREIGN POLICY The nature of foreign policy expounded by Kautilya was greatly based on logical thinking and practicality. His outlook on interstate relations and discourses holds relevance till date. It is, however, essential to note that Kautilya’s discourse on Foreign Policy is theoretical, meaning; he addresses the foreign policy of a state as a concept and not ascribing to the interests and needs of a particular state. Hence, considering Kautilya’s understanding of the King’s interests as the interest of a nation in today’s context is not incorrect.
Moreover, the King was perceived as the State in his times. Some of the aspects of his foreign policies have been delved upon. I.
Guiding Principles For Foreign Policy:-Certain principles have been laid down by Kautilya which would guide the ruler while formulating his foreign policy.1. DEVELOPING ONE’S STATE:A King is required to develop his state by developing the available resources and expanding his territory by carrying out conquests in the right time. There are two stages under this principle: firstly, a policy of non-intervention is adopted. This doesn’t imply complete inaction. Kautilya has stated that adopting such an outlook and policy has its advantages, for instance, it allows a king to enjoy the benefits from previously carried out campaigns, instead of losing those in futile foreign interventions.
Secondly, a foreign policy which aims at achieving more power by expanding the territorial boundaries of the State is followed. This active nature of the policy takes the welfare of the people into consideration as well.2. NECESSITY OF ELIMINATING AN ENEMY –According to Kautilya, a rival or an enemy was considered as the ruler’s important neighbour because the elimination of such an enemy was primarily result in probable consequent absorption of the territory. There is a presumption that every king would have a Natural Enemy with whom maintaining peace of a permanent nature is unlikely.
Hence, it is essential for the king to be alert and seize every opportunity of the enemy’s destruction. Kautilya has further categorized these enemies: Aribhavi(Hostile), Bhirtyabhavi(Vassal) and Mitrabhavi(friendly).3. IMPORTANCE OF ALLIES:Kautilya regards a king’s allies with great importance and considers it as a constituent element of the State. The main role of an ally is to assist or to provide aid. A hostile state can be an ally too, provided it is willing to help.
A declared ally, after changing sides once, can be brought back into the alliance. However, the same level of trust cannot be maintained again.4. PRINCIPLE OF PRUDENCE:Kautilya’s thought operates on the principles of pragmatism and prudence. Extreme kind of nature, for instance, ‘spineless submission and foolhardy valour’ should be avoided. Considering the principle of Prudence, Kautilya has placed maintaining peace at a higher pedestal vis-à-vis waging a war, as the latter results in greater loss of life and resources.
5. GREATER PREFERENCE TO PEACE THAN WAR:Kautilya has mentioned certain situations where it is preferable to maintain peace than to wage a war. In situations where the opponent is equally strong or more powerful, it is advisable to maintain peace since a deadlock would ensue in the former while there is a probability of defeat in the latter. He recommended waging a war only when the opponent is weaker.6.
BEING JUST, IN VICTORY OR DEFEAT:Kautilya laid great emphasis on being just such as, by waging war against an unrighteous king than a righteous king, by never seizing the ally’s land and by behaving respectfully towards the vanquished ruler.