This is in continuation of  my previous post, about what factors a  government keeps in mind, while formulating policies. An idea gaining importance currently is, that improving the quality of life of citizens is desirable. The government should  not just focus on increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This is not really a new idea, at least not in the Indian context.

In the Mahabharata Vidura advises  Dhritarashtra to levy only that amount of taxes as his subjects could easily pay.

यथा मधु समादत्ते रक्षन् पुष्पाणि षट्पदः l
तद्वत् अर्थान् मनुष्येभ्यः आदद्यात् अविहिंसया ll

Just as a Bee gently extracts honey from  flowers without destroying them, so must a ruler take only that amount as taxes from the people, as will not cause them harm.

What a great guideline for levying taxes!

Elsewhere in the Mahabharata, Narada questions the newly coronated Yudhisthira

कच्चित् राष्ट्रे ताडागानि पूर्णानि च बृहन्ति च l
भागशो विनिविष्टानि न कृषिर् देवमात्रुका ll

‘The crops in your land do not solely depend upon the rains, do they?  There are large lakes/reservoirs, filled with water and dug at numerous places, aren’t there?’

Narada well knows how fickle the monsoon rains could be, and he suggests to Yudhisthira the necessity of having alternate sources of water supply.

Kautilya in his Nitishastra underscores the importance of a ruler setting a good example for his subjects. He says-

राज्ञि  धर्मिणि धर्मिष्ठाः पापे पापाः समे समाः l
राजानमनुवर्तन्ते यथा राजा तथा प्रजाः ll 
 
If a  ruler acts according to Dharma, so will his subjects. If he does not, neither will they. If a ruler does not differentiate between Dharma-Adharma or virtues and sins, the citizens will not do so either.
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As the ruler does, so do the citizens of his country.
 
This is advice that today’s leaders would do well to remember!
 
Kautilya also explains the proper way in which a nation may increase its riches. He says-
 
मूर्खा यत्र पूज्यन्ते धान्यं यत्र सुसञ्चितम् l
दम्पत्ये कलहो नास्ति तत्र श्री स्वयमागता ll
 Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth herself, will come to reside in a land where ignorant persons are not honoured, where there is proper storage of foodgrains, and where there is harmony between husbands and wives. In short, where the people are content!
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There are many more examples it would be possible to mention. But since I am quite aware that most of my blogging friends must be finding it tedious to read this, I will stop here!

 Many thanks to those who read this entire post!

 After reading the news reports I mentioned in the previous post, I did want to mention that the idea of ‘maximizing well-being of citizens’ or of ‘elevating quality of life’ is not new to Indian society.

 Rulers in this country since ancient times kept this in mind while formulating policies.

Present leaders in positions of power in our country seem to have forgotten this though!