Kautilya’s views on training of civil servants

RELEVANCE- UPSC MAINS – Public Administration
PAPER II- Indian Administration
1.  Evolution of Indian Administration:
Kautilya’s Arthashastra 

Training of the highest level officers of the government attracted Kautilya’s mind the most, as this was the only issue that was given explicit and exclusive in depth treatment by the author of Arthashastra. His ideas on the need and importance of training can be properly traced and understood through Book 1, on the topic of ‘Training’ containing
500 sutras, 21 chapters and 18 sections.

Kautilya deals with several aspects relating to training of the officials like the selection of the right persons with right aptitudes and the contents to be transferred or remitted to them. In a way he emphasised on the training only of the trainable, that is, training should be open not for everyone, but to those who are willing to improve and reform their thought and actionable capacities and capabilities.

Therefore, Arthashastra maintains that such
candidates only should be chosen for training, who had the desire to learn and were endowed with the qualities of a good listener apart from the qualities of retention, reflection, understanding, rejection of the wrong or the false and intentness on truth and
not on any other person. The focus on the desire to learn underlined the quality of inquisitiveness and motivation to add to his previous knowledge and expertise.

It would be pertinent to note here that Kautilya was not for the training in theory alone; he was interested in imparting practical training as well. Kautilya seems to have emphasised purposive training in the sense of inculcating discipline among the civil
servants. In other words training was considered by him as a fit instrument to promote discipline in an organisation.

Even in the modern management era, it cannot be denied that training will produce the desired results if the candidates for training are chosen cautiously with a view to bring about a change in the psychological, professional, and cultural personality of the chosen ones. The organisational efficiency and culture would only then be affected and productivity will improve.

Kautilyan principles of training are relevant in the present context of administrative development for making a difference to the wellbeing of the people/subjects. Strangely, the training needs of the lower level employees did not receive much attention in Arthashastra; it was mainly concerning the prince, the King, and the other high officials.