Thursday, January 11, 2007

did the commercial corporation actually originate in ancient india?

jan 11th, 2007
this is the implication of a new paper that i just glanced through, thanks to a friend.
i don't have a URL but i have a pdf file. the paper is from the u michigan law school:
'the economic history of the corporate form in ancient india', by vikramadiya s khanna, 2005
the author suggests that 'sreni', a form of trading entity, was close to a modern corporation in style, objective and setup. he also quotes widely from the arthasastra about the interesting tension between the raja and the sreni -- they needed each other, but neither wanted the other to become too powerful. as the raja's manual, the arthasastra is ingenious in suggesting ways in which to keep the sreni independent enough to generate tax revenues, but controlled enough that they did not become a power center and a threat. fascinating stuff.


bly243001 said...

Here is URL where paper is available


Ghost Writer said...

Interesting - I have not read the paper - hence take this comment for what it is worth (drivel perhaps....)..

It would be interesting to see how important (or vital) the profit-motive was in this corporate form. I must say that the modern corporation is against the Hindu instinct (this is not a denigrating "Hindu Growth rate" rant). The idea of collective ownership of business for the purpose of profit driven by the consumption impulse - does not really have a Hindu touch and feel to it.

I would suggest that collective ownership for the general good perhaps may better describe it. The more I think about Ancient India the more I am convinced that it was based on volunteer-ism. From building grand temples, to defending kingdoms, to generation of wealth by the householder to 'subsidise' the intellectual and scientific (anyone remember Bhiksha given to the Brahmin student) - all have a feel of collectivism. However, this collectivism does not seem to be based on the consumption impulse.

That said it may have been a case of the inheritance-based power (king) vs. the merit based power (the alleged corporate form).

virat0 said...

Ghost Writer, the definition of corporation is different in that paper.

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