“It has been established by three testimonies and recovery of goods from his house that farmer Hirendaya is indeed the thief who raided house of merchant Ajankhay. He is hence sentenced to three years in prison and all of his land will stand confiscated” magistrate of the court pronounced the verdict.
Chandragupta Maurya was relieved. It had been a long day as lot of cases had been tried. However all of state business was finally over. Being king of such a vast empire was exhausting and he so wanted to retire to his chambers. As he yawned, stretched and was getting up to leave, he realized that Acharya had been silent throughout the proceedings. Also now he was still seated, frowning, while all the other courtiers were standing up as a gesture of respect for the departing king. He knew this frown. This wasn’t good.
“Acharya, shall we walk together towards my quarters. I have something to discuss with you.” Chandragupta interrupted his guru’s thought train.
Chanakya came back to the moment with a start. He gave the King a weak smile as he got up to walk with him.
“O King we must release this farmer on some pretext. We should not punish him as also we must return his lands to him after a while”.
Always a staunch advocate of justice and equity, Chadragupta was stumped by this contradictory assertion of his life mentor, master strategist and chief minister.
“What are you saying Acharya. How can we release a criminal ? Wouldn’t such incidents lead to breakdown of law and order in the kingdom and erosion of trust towards justice”.
“Have you noticed Rajan, that our jails are becoming fuller. The crime rate in the kingdom has started to climb”
“Yes it is the handiwork of those lords who are still loyal to the Nanda’s whose dynasty I overthrew under your guidance. They are instigating trouble.”
“I would have agreed with you however escalation in crime rate is accompanied by some other symptoms. My sources tell me that schools in the kingdom are shutting down and wherever they are functional, student drop out rates have increased. Also violence in public as well as private life is increasing.
Brawls in local breweries are spilling to streets as well as domestic spats are becoming increasingly vocal. Also health of population in general seems to coming down with more deaths being reported as also long ques in the outer chambers of healers and pharmacists.”
“Are you trying to tell me something Acharya. Do you see any underlying pattern here” Maurya dynasty founder wanted to know.
“Yes I do. Public health, human capital and social trust are all eroding through out the kingdom. These three, my king taken together, are symptoms of a social structure which is breaking down. It means that cohesion in society, which is a Kings Dharma to uphold, is getting affected by our economic policy.”
“Economic Policy” Clearly that was the last thing king expected to hear.
“Income inequality amongst the population is getting higher. Rich are getting richer while poor are getting poorer and these are the symptoms of that systemic flaw.” The writer of Arthshastra opined.
“Is there some way to fix this inequality of incomes amongst people.” the king asked, stopping in the foyer to his bed room.
“We will have to implement economic policies which will narrow this gap and redistribute income in entire society. This means taxing rich more and running additional welfare programs for poor. The nobles at court and other rich merchants are not going to like this additional burden and might rebel.
Thus sleep well tonight dear, for tomorrow you have some hard decisions to take. Meanwhile I will spend the night thinking about details of these new policies and on handling of their consequences”.
So saying, the cleverest of political sages of ancient India, left his tired king to rest and refresh for new battles ahead.
Adults are kids who were hugged often. They learn to pass those embraces forward.