Shivaji – The Policy Maker


From the very advent of humanity, man has been a social animal inhabiting portions of land in groups and tribes, and later in clans, provinces, states and countries. There may not be rules for an individual, he does what he deems right. But that is known as the jungle rule. When one submits to be a part of a group of individuals, a clan or a country, one subscribes for the rules that come with it. These rules in more official or legal terms are called as “Governance” - a system which works for the development and the security of people, works towards the betterment of every person, worries about them and takes care of their self-respect.


India for eons has advocated good governance or what we all know as “Ram Rajya” which in today’s era seems a distant dream. But not very long ago, just a few centuries back to be more precise, India actually did witness the best example of good governance, during Shivaji Maharaj’s rule.


Any nation or organization cannot function without good set of policies that define its governance. It’s a constitution of acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour enforced by the law and accepted by all. Policies identify the key activities and provide a general strategy to decision-makers on how to handle issues as they arise.


Shivaji Maharaj was a just king who believed in equality and fairness to all. His policies reflect individual independence within the boundaries of discipline and fair governance. His genius lay in formulating employee policies, financial policies, military and naval policies that would make the Marathas realize their dream of “Swaraj”.


In pre Shivaji era, the recruitment of soldiers used to be on contract basis in all the kingdoms. Shivaji was the first king who hired soldiers on permanent basis. These were paid regular salaries. A rank wise order was created, with each rank being paid according to its stature.


Shivaji’s policies related farming was much more appreciated nationwide. He had the complete record of each and every farmer. The kind of soil available, the kind of crop one is cultivating, the type of irrigation one has and all.


He had a unique taxation policy. Three officers viz., Deshpande, Kulkarni and Patil of every village used to unanimously design the tax structure and collect the same. The specialty of Shivaji’s Taxation policy was its flexibility. But Shivaji used to collect taxes looking at the need, financial condition and local traditions. Forceful and illegal collection of taxes was negligible.


Shivaji Maharaj got rid of Feudalism. A landlord or watandar’s vision never went beyond his fief. Shivaji abolished this, and forbade fortifying any hill or village without his permission. The proud feudalists were drawn into the army being built by Shivaji as high ranking officers and given regular pay.


He employed members of all castes and tribes to maintain balance among them. He assigned separate responsibilities to the ministers and each of them was made responsible for his work to him. He made no office hereditary. In general he did not assign jagirs to his civil and military officers. He gave special attention towards the administration of the forts. In matters of administration, he gave superior position to his civil officers as compared to military officers. He established “Rayatwari” system in revenue administration. The state kept direct contact with the farmers.


He established a central council of ministers - the Asht Pradhan Mandal to advise him. But the appointment was purely subjected to their efficiency. He also established provincial administration. Each province was divided into several districts and villages. The village was an organised institution. The village head or Paatil ran the affairs of the village with the help of the Village Panchayat.


The Marathas followed liberal religious policies under Shivaji Maharaj’s rule. They showed respect to religious texts of all religions. During the course of a war, mosques were never destroyed and Muslim ladies and children were protected alike Hindus. Shivaji also employed Muslims in civil and military departments.


It is interesting to see how his policies were always relevant with changing times. It was for these policies that made the “Maratha Samrajya” prevail even after Maharaj’s death. Just like Shivaji Maharaj’s vision for Swaraj, his objectives and execution of his mission makes him nothing less than a modern day “management guru”, his foresight in policy framing keeps him much ahead than policy makers of today aided by researches and surveys. As they say in Marathi – “Zale bahu, Hotil bahu, Parantu Ya Sam Hach”. (Many would come and go, but he is one of a kind, he will remain unmatched)


Reference Examples & Citation:

A Paper on Comparative Analysis of Human Resource Management Policies of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Today’s Local Companies by Mr. Sumant Tekade and Ms. Richa Joseph (Professors from SP Jain Institute Of Management)

Modern World, Shivaji & Good Governance –