Teacher at takshila

students used to ask Chankya, who was intwrning As teaching assitant, rapid-fire questions which he would answer in his most witty and penetrating manner with little regard for political rectitude.
‘Acharya, you’re the most learned of teachers. Why shouldn’t you become a king?’
‘Honestly speaking. I don’t mind that I’m not king. I just have a problem that someone else is.’
‘Acharya, what is the reason for secrecy in government?’
‘If citizens don’t know what you’re doing, how on earth can they possibly tell what you’re doing wrong? That’s why secrecy is essential, my boy.’
‘Acharya, why do people seem to get away with not respecting the law of the land?’
‘If we want people to have respect for the law, then we must first make the law respectable, son.’
‘Acharya, isn’t the king actually a servant of the people?’
‘Correction. In order to become master, a ruler must profess to be a servant of the people.’
‘Acharya, how can the prime minister reduce the king’s burden in times of crisis or panic?’
‘Why do that? Rulers must be allowed to panic. They need to be kept busy with lots of crises. It’s their measure of achievement!’
‘Acharya, is it the sacred duty of the king to always speak the truth?’
‘Hah! The king doesn’t need the truth. What he most needs is something that he can tell the people, dear lad. After all, a good speech is not one in which you can prove that the king’s telling the truth, it’s one where no one else can prove he’s fibbing.’
‘Acharya, which are the freedoms that should be guaranteed to a citizen by the state?’
‘Hmm… let me see. It’s well known that a hungry man is more interested in four pieces of bread rather than four freedoms.’
‘Acharya, why should Brahmins like you be involved in politics?’
‘Politics is far too serious a matter to be left to politicians, son.’
‘Acharya, is war the only solution to political differences?’
‘Wise pupil, politics is war without bloodshed and war is simply politics with bloodshed.’
‘Acharya, don’t citizens have the right to know how their tax revenues are being used?’
‘Dear me. No, no, no. People don’t want to know how tax revenue has actually been spent. Does any worshipper ever ask the temple Brahmin what happened to the ritual offering made to the gods?’
‘Acharya, isn’t good government about acting on principles?’
‘Absolutely. Government is about principles. And the principle is, never act on principle.’
‘And are principles greater than money?’
‘Remember one central tenet, lad. When anybody says, “It isn’t the money, it’s the principle”, they actually mean that it’s the money.’
‘Acharya, what’s the ideal amount of time that should be spent by the king’s council debating an issue?’
‘Well, if you don’t want the council to spend too long over something, make it the last item on their agenda before refreshments.’
‘Acharya, should a king go to war to uphold law and justice?’
‘The king should always be on the side of law and justice, as long as he doesn’t allow it to come in the way of foreign policy.’
‘Acharya, what should the punishment be for a prime minister who keeps the king ignorant of happenings in the kingdom?’
‘My son, kings are ignorant not because prime ministers do not give them the right answers but because they do not ask their prime ministers the right questions. And here endeth the lesson!’

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