Modern World, Shivaji and Good Governance
Special on Hindu Samraiya Diwas
Ever since humans started living together in groups, the role of government whether it meant managing small groups or a big country came into existence . And continuation of democracy to make a good government- a system which works for the development and the security of people, works towards the betterment of every person, worries about them and takes care of their self respect was considered necessary. But the truth also is that from early days till today what government is and how it should be is always hidden like a pit inside a mango.
In India when we say good government and governance, we actually refer to Ram Rajya. Because it is the example of the best government we have till date. But unfortunately we don’t have proper details of this government with us. In our near past if we have any example of good government, it was during the great Maratha king Shivaji’s rule. The brave warrior was a torchbearer of good governance and his economic and trade policies inspire us till date. While unveiling Shivaji’s statue in Surat, then the chief minister of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while appreciating his model of governance had tweeted that, “Chhatrapati Shivaji’s policies benefitted people of all castes and religions, and that he fought for the pride of India, not to grab power.”
Though the details about Shivaji’s rule is mostly described and provided by contemporary travellers from around the world which include businessmen, military officers and historians. It is said that the great warrior believed that good governance is no substitute for independence and sovereignty. For good governance it is imperative that the key person be it the President or the Prime Minister is a good decision maker. His decisions should be transparent, certified and non-partisan. It is seen, most rulers make mistakes in these areas and that in turn gives birth to “bad governance”. So when we say Shivaji was a torchbearer of good governance it also reflects that he was a good decision maker.
In his entire lifespan, Shivaji never made errors while taking decision. He never got influenced or affected by any instant event, by the colour of the skin, or, by any other external pressure while taking decisions, and always recognised the true talents, relied on them and got the best out of them and reached his goals. He was sagacious and his prowess in judging people was exemplary. Back in history to crush shivaji’s revolt, the kingdom of Bijapur had sent their seasoned commander Afzal Khan to defeat Shivaji. Instead of initiating a war, Shivaji pressed Afzal Khan to meet and settle the matter amicably. The commander took this diplomatic meet as an opportunity to kill Shivaji- He asked him to carry no weapons and be accompanied with only two bodyguards who too would not be allowed to carry weapons. The prudent Shivaji settled his army in the foothills of Pratapgadh which was the perfect cover for the war strategy his soldiers had mastered. So before the Mughal commandant could attack the Maratha, he and his bodyguards beheaded him. And this historic win came to be known as the Battle of Pratapgadh.
The second best sign of good governance is prudent financial management, whether it’s about managing taxes or everyday expenses. And Shivaji was said to have great command over these matters which do not easily come to any big guns of government in today’s scenario. In Money Banking field once the Britishers proposed Shivaji to do the coins (mudra) production themselves and suggested him to replace his currency (Hone) by pounds or sterling but, Shivaji denied it by saying that, if they (Britishers) will produce our coins (Mudra), we will lose our control over it. When the other country’s currencies invaded his estate’s market, he said “The strength of the market will decide which currency will rule.”
In India for last 65 years the maximum mistakes have been made in the department of finance management and this has harmed our country quite like the way our body is harmed by polluted blood and weak nervous system..A good government keeps the army away from internal affairs and security system, and trains them to guard the borders of the country. Shivaji clearly stated in his mandate (Agyapatra) that the soldiers should not be involved in local or domestic administration, and asked them whenever they spend on things like food or any other comfort; they should always pay by cash.
The great Maratha worked with only handful soldiers when he had started ruling but, he left thousands of horses, millions of soldiers and unlimited canons and arms behind him. A good government likewise should keep the security system up to date and should have all the latest equipments, intelligence and machinery.
India is an Agricultural country; agriculture should be the first priority. During his rule, Shivaji formed a group of local respected citizens and government officers in every village to look after the land administration; to buy and sell products and gave people the authority to take decisions on their own. After agriculture, trades and industry are the main areas. Shivaji made some rules and regulations to encourage local business. The salt which was coming from Bardesh (today’s Goa, was ruled by foreigners at that time), was affecting local salt production and the salt was becoming costly. So Shivaji imposed extra taxes, which is called production tariff in today’s market. It is because of bad governance models markets get filled by foreign products. If today’s Indian market is totally hijacked by Chinese and Taiwanese products, it is a result of bad export-import policies.
A good government therefore should always be recognised by its governance style and not by the oratory skills of its ministers. And history is replete with Shivaji’s good governance model to learn from and, it time the young leader too utilize these learning to walk India towards progress.
– Anil Madhav Dave (The writer is Rajya Sabha MP and has written a book on Shivaji)