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Kautilya's Advice for Modern Day Rookies

This article explores the relevance and application of Principles and Strategies discussed in the 3rd Century BC treatise, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, in Today’s Corporate World.

India today has over thousand management institutions. With the Indian economy opening up, and foreign direct investments (FDI) flowing in, there is a lot of demand for the students who come out of these business schools.

Once recruited, the students feel they have achieved their goal. However, the real challenge is yet to start. The management student, who has now become a management trainee, is yet to show the results for which he has been recruited.

How does one work in an organisation which is an all-new environment for the new recruit?

Kautilya advices,

                         “Under the supervision of the officer, he should carry out the task assigned with special zest” (1.18.4)

No management trainee should consider himself superior because of the course that he has just completed. He might have a theoretical base; however, he has to go a long way to understand its practical applications.

A guide/ mentor is required who can show him how to get things done. These can be the seniors who have acquired knowledge and skills by gaining years of working experience. The senior may not necessarily be as qualified as the pupil; yet, the new recruit has approach him with humility in order to learn and benefit.

Steps for on-the-job training;


The insights provided by a supervisor are invaluable. They have gone through their jobs the hard way to master themselves in that particular stream. The trainee should accept his senior as his new teacher. Every teacher is happy to teach a willing and obedient student. At the end the benefit will be thousand fold.


Whatever tasks the senior assigns should be carried out. No work should be considered small or mediocre. It is only when one does small things perfectly, that one will be able to handle big responsibilities. Completion of any given assignment within the given time frame should be the first objective of a trainee.


While carrying out the work, it is the attitude that matters the most. It has to be positive -with extra zeal. The enthusiasm, with which the trainee does his job, shows a lot about his mind set. The eagerness to learn, and the passion to get going, will determine where he will be placed in the future, or what new responsibilities will be given.

The training period is the toughest part. However, it is only a good student who will become a good teacher. After all, only a good subordinate will ultimately become a good boss.

A chartered accountant was hired by a successful businessman to manage his finances. The senior businessman was not even a graduate. Initially, the accountant used to rebel inside, “This person is not even as qualified as I am. Oh! I have to work under such a person”

One day it suddenly stuck him. “Who pays whom?”

This boss has the ability to hire more qualified than himself, to work under him. The charted accountant got determined, “Until and unless I learn all the skills that he possesses for running a business, I will not leave this company.”

That should be your attitude.

Contributed by  - Radhakrishnan Pillai

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