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.