For the second time in December, students at the Banaras Hindu University were asked in an examination to write about the Goods and Services Tax as described in Maurya-era scholar Kautilya’s book Arthashastra and about Manu’s concepts of the “role of a king”. Manu is the Hindus’ mythical “first man”.

The questions appeared in a political science question paper on Indian and Western political thought for BA students. The questions were: “Discuss the GST as described by Kautilya Arthshastra (sic)“, and “Discuss the power and functions of a king as presented by Manu”.

Earlier this month, similar questions appeared in an exam MA political science students took. At the time, the professor who set the paper, Kaushal Kishore Mishra, claimed the Arthashastra – written at least two centuries before Christ – had hinted at the current concept of the Goods and Services Tax.

“The concept of the GST primarily says ‘the consumer gains the most,’” he said. “The meaning of GST suggests that the country’s finances and economy be unified and uniform. Kautilya is one such thinker who propounded national economic integration – ekikaran.