Question.1. Kautilya states that “those in severe opposition may be quelled by punishment in secret”. What ethical principles, if any, can justify punishment in secret?
Answer. The ideology behind a ruler’s successful management against his opposition can be explained in terms of Kautilya’s work, “Arthshastra”. Thus Kautilya states that a ruler can manage his opposition by either punishing them in isolation or by projecting them as offenders to the prince’s supporting natives. Kautilya’s reasoning behind above stated action can be explained as following:
The prince should not punish the traitors or opposition in openly, this evaded the risk of possible acceptance and acknowledgement of their views by common masses
The image of prince should always ensure to be a mix of cruel for lawlessness and merciful for the needy, so strict punishments in public can affect his image.
Kautilya also prescribed that the ruler should break alliance of the oppositions with their possible supporters gradually and not letting them to sneak out to others.
As per the ethical standards of modern day, the above mentioned strategy is not ethical and should be examined as a dysfunction of political functions in administration. Although Kautilya’s view was solely biased towards effect administration by the ruler, keeping all results in favour if the prince and his rule.
Comparison between Nicolo Machiavelli and Kautilya’s views on handling opposition
As per Machiavelli, the prince should decimate his opposition and not leave any scope of a future rebellion. The prince must control the disorder caused by opposition and not leave any favouring parties for the opposition. Thus in stark contrast to Kautillya, Machiavellian approach refers to open suppression of revolt to set up a lesson for any of their proponents.