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Varanasi
Thursday, October 21, 2021

Feedback/criticism by those closest is important for a ruler

Amongst common subjects, it is very likely most feedback will be either praise or allegations. But it is the criticism/feedback of the closest that is important to a ruler. It is a principle that has been recognized from ancient times in our land.

In the Mahabharata, we see multiple instances where Bhima, the yuvaraja and most important minister, offers strong criticism of Yudhisthira’s moves. In one instance, he mocks the King for delaying the giving of charity and insists that Dharmakarya must be done without delay

In another instance, he overrules the King’s wish to give money to Dhritharashtra to perform Shraddha. Says money from treasury must not be given to such causes. The King agrees to him.

This principle is recognized and documented centuries later by Kautilya. In the Arthashastra, he says,

“maryādāṃ sthāpayedācāryānamātyānvā yainamapāya sthānebhyo vārayeyuḥ chāyānālikāpratodena vā rahasi pramādyantamabhitudeyuḥ”

“Those teachers and ministers who keep him from falling a prey to dangers, and who, by striking the hours of the day as determined by measuring shadows, warn him of his careless proceedings even in secret, shall invariably be respected”

It was therefore the duty of the King to appoint such ministers who do not shy away from criticizing the King’s policies when appropriate.

In case one wondered whether Kautilya’s recommendations were ever considered seriously, we find a similar dictum in the 12-3th century work of the Hoysala King Someshwara – the Manasollasa.

He says,

अमार्गे वर्तमानस्य नृपस्य प्रतिकूलगाः | बोधयन्तः प्रियैर्वाक्यैः सचिवाः स्युर्नृपद्धये ||

“Ministers must be such that they correct the King when he is on the wrong path, and must be able to correct him with nice words.”

Sri Narendra Modi ji – your most valuable critics ought to be your closest ministers and party seniors. What we see though is the exact opposite!

There are ministers who cannot post a single social media message without offering tributes to you. Even if the topic is unconnected to you.

We have seen ex ministers and party seniors who raise “Hail Modi” slogans publicly.

We see powerful party leaders praise your return from US after attending a few meetings as “return after amazing victory”

PM Modi ji – you can improve the feedback you seek by (a) asking all ministers and leaders to stop the sycophancy; (b) establishing a culture of open feedback (not public of course) during government/party discussions.

Your popularity with the public has not been due to the praise showered by your ministers. Therefore, there is no value served by it. You making it clear that only performance will fetch rewards may put an end to this practice.

To end this, I would only say that criticism coming from your supporters and more so those close to you – are the most productive and safe. Please make space for it.

(This article has been compiled from the tweet thread of @maatarishva)

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