It is unfortunate that those who dream of a mythical Rama Rajya have little appreciation of that native tradition of economic and strategic thinking rooted in
#1 – limited role for the State in economic activity
#2 – freedom and autonomy to local community/government in economic choice
#3 – enlightened pursuit of self interest
While we we commonly associate this tradition with Kautilya’s Arthashastra it does appear to be of even older vintage.
Here are some verses from the Ramayana highlighting the same.
Rama on the enlightened pursuit of self interest Ayodhya Kaanda, Chapter 1 – verses 26, 27 and 28
satsaMgrahapragrahaNe sthaanavinnigrahasya cha |
aayakarmaNyupaayajJNaH saMdR^ishhTavyayakarmavit ||
He knew the ways and means of getting income as well as the system of spending, as perceived by economic sciences.
shraishhThyaM shaastrasamuuheshhu praapto vyaamishrakeshhu cha |
arthadharmau cha saMgR^ihya sukhatantro na chaalasaH ||
Rama could obtain great skill in the groups of sciences along with their subsidiaries. He was interested in enjoying comforts only after understanding the economic realities. He never remained inactive
arthii yena artha kR^ityena sa.mvrajati avicaarayan |
tam artham artha shaastraj~naH praahuH arthyaaH ca lakSmaNa ||
Those well versed in Arthashastra or economics and the other financially well-off people say that with which aspirational activity an aspirant unhesitatingly scurries and achieves it, that achieved target alone is lauded to be worthwhile, or, as real wealth
On Taxation and the contract with the State - Aranya Kaanda Chapter 6 verse 11
adhaarmaH sumahaan naatha bhavet tasya tu bhuupateH |
yo haret bali SaD bhaagam na ca rakSati putravat ||
Oh! , very great a-dharma, wrongness, will occur to that king who takes the sixth part of the country’s produce as cess, but does not safeguard his subjects like his own sons
On Taxation and the contract with the State - Ayodhya Kaanda Chapter 75 verse 25
bali SaD bhaagam uddhR^itya nR^ipasya arakSataH prajaaH |
adharmaH yo asya so asya astu yasya aaryo anumate gataH ||
“May the guilt of a king, who taking the sixth part of the revenue of his people fails to protect them, be fallen on them with whose counsel my elder brother went to exile.”
Vasishta on Commerce, Private Property and the Rule of Law – All of Chapter 67 Ayodhya Kaanda
Verse 22. araajake= in a ruler less; janapade= land; vaNijaH= traders; duura gaaminaH= who go to distant places; bahuvaNya samaachitaa= along with several merchandises; na gachchhanti= can not travel; kshhemam=safely; adhvaanam= on the path.”
“In a rulerless land, traders who go to distant places, carrying with them several merchandises, cannot travel safely in their voyages.”
Verse 31 – araajake= in a rulerless; janapade= land; na bhavati= there is no; svakam= one’s own property; kasyachit= for any one; naraaH= persons ; nityam= always; bhakshhyanti= eat away; parasparam= each other; matsyaah iva= like eating fishes .
“In a rulerless land, there is no one’s own property for any one. Like fishes, persons always eat away each other.”