Balbir S. Sihag

Publication Date



Kautilya, a 4th century B.C.E. economist, recognized the importance of accounting methods in economic enterprises. He realized that a proper measurement of economic performance was absolutely essential for efficient allocation of resources, which was considered an important source of economic development. He viewed philosophy and political science as separate disciplines but considered accounting an integral part of economics. He specified a very broad scope for accounting and considered explanation and prediction as its proper objectives. Kautilya developed bookkeeping rules to record and classify economic data, emphasized the critical role of independent periodic audits and proposed the establishment of two important but separate offices - the Treasurer and Comptroller-Auditor, to increase accountability, specialization, and above all to reduce the scope for conflicts of interest. He also linked the successful enforcement of rules and regulations to their clarity, consistency and completeness. Kautilya believed that such measures were necessary but not sufficient to eliminate fraudulent accounting. He also emphasized the role of ethics, considering ethical values as the glue which binds society and promotes economic development.



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