Saturday, July 28, 2012

Legalism for Latecomers

In ancient China there was only one punishment for reporting late for government work - death.

This, and various other interesting facts tumbled out a book I've been reading: Paul S. Ropp's "China in World History".

During the Warring States Period (403-221BCE), the Qin 'First Emporer' of China and his brilliant minister Li Sim instituted what was to be the first built on iron-clad Rule of Law and the promotion of meritocracy over feudal aristocracy. As in the case of late reporting for work,  strict laws and punishment were based on the theory that harsher the punishment, the less it would have to be used.

This was statecraft based on a philosphy called Legalism.

The state of Qin was also the first to abolish serfdom and hand over land to the farmers. It also promoted soldiers and officials purely on merit.

Perhaps this is something to think about when one drives around central New Delhi, and sees hundreds of government officials lolling about on the lawns, chatting and sipping chai during working hours..



Ropp, Paul S (2010): CHINA IN WORLD HISTORY, Oxford University Press 2010

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