Going by the question paper, set for MA Political Science students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), GST isn’t a 21st-century concept and globalisation dates back to times of Manu, the legendary author of the Sanskrit law code – Manu-Smriti. The Political Science students of BHU were left baffled on Monday after they were asked ‘the nature of GST in Kautilya’s Arthashastra’ and Manu being the first thinker of Globalisation, in their question papers. These questions were asked to the students in their paper for the subject ‘Social and Political Thought of Ancient and Medieval India’ in the ongoing M.A. (first semester) exam.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Professor Kaushal Kishore Mishra, who set the question paper, claimed that this will the make students proud of Ancient India and they will know that ancient wisdom is not useless. “It was my idea to introduce these examples to students. So what if these are not in the textbook? Isn’t it our job to find newer ways to teach,” Mishra said. On the other hand, the students said that the topics were not a part of their course of ‘Social and Political Thought in Ancient and Medieval India’. “Sir had dictated the answers, and specifically told us that we would get these questions. They are not part of our textbooks but we took down notes,” a student was quoted saying by The Indian Express.
Explaining the answer to the question, Mishra said, “Kautilya’s Arthashastra is the first Indian book which hints at the current concept of GST. The concept of GST primarily says that consumer gains the most. The meaning of GST suggests the country’s finances and economy be unified and uniform. Kautilya is one such thinker who propounded national economic integration — ekikaran… In fact, Kautilya had specified in his time that taxes on house construction be 20 per cent, gold and other metals 20 per cent, border tax 20 per cent, gardens 5 per cent, singers, dancers and artistes 50 per cent.”
It must be noted that Mishra, a professor of Indian political system and Indian political thought at BHU’s Faculty of Social Sciences, admitted that he is an RSS member. However, he cleared that the questions asked in the paper were in no way related to his political inclinations. Meanwhile, the head of the department, R P Singh, has denied that the questions were out of syllabus saying, “It is the prerogative of the teacher to set the paper according to his area of specialisation. No teacher sets a paper out of his area of expertise and what he has taught.”