In this powerful critique of the current wave of globalization, Rich urgently calls for a new global ethic, distilling the messages of Ashoka and Kautilya while reflecting on thinkers across the ages from Aristotle and Adam Smith to George Soros.

In 1991, Bruce Rich traveled to Orissa in eastern India and gazed upon the rock edicts erected by the Indian emperor Ashoka over 2,200 years ago. Intrigued by the stone inscriptions that declared religious tolerance, conservation, nonviolence, species protection, and human rights, he was drawn into Ashoka’s world. Ashoka was a powerful conqueror who converted to Buddhism on the heels of a bloody war, yet his empire rested on a political system that prioritized material wealth and amoral realpolitik. This system had been perfected by Kautilya, a statesman and political genius who wrote the world’s first treatise on economics. Both addressed the choice between political realism and idealism, the role of force and violence in international realtions, and the tension between economics and ethics.
In Depth

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we cannot escape the turbocharged global economy we live in. Yet the very forces that link all of us have accelerated the dissolution of traditional sources of social authority and historical identity, spurring increasingly violent counter movements. We realize traditional national politics and the reorganization of all social values around markets cannot hold together the six-and-a-half billion inhabitants of this small planet—the world needs a new global order based on a common global ethic and global justice.

To Uphold the World is Bruce Rich’s deeply illuminating and thought-provoking exploration of such an alternative. His search to found a civil and international order on principles that transcend the goals of pure economic efficiency and amoral realpolitik is inspired by the writings and lives of two of the greatest figures of ancient India—Ashoka and Kautilya. Ashoka provides a unique example of a world ruler—his empire at the time was arguably the world’s largest, richest and most powerful multi-ethnic state—who tried to put into practice a secular statetate, secular ethic of non-violence and reverence for life, which he also extended to international relations. Kautilya, one of history’s greatest political geniuses, wrote the world’s first treatise on political economy, the Arthasastra, which proclaims accumulation of material riches as the chief underpinning of human society. Both addressed the questions of political realism and idealism, the role of force and violence in international relations, and the tension between economics and ethics. Through the retelling of mythical and historical accounts, Bruce Rich distills the message of Ashoka and Kautilya to help us uphold our world in the 21st century.

A unique blend of historical and political narrative combined with reflections on contemporary society and international environment and human rights, To Uphold the World is particularly timely, because it puts forth a truly original perspective and thinking on our responses to the political, economic and ethical challenges of globalization. 

Review Quotes

“The reader is drawn powerfully into a long-gone world in which an extraordinary human being dramatically changed his own life and the world around him . . .With ingenious political analysis…Rich examines the relevance of Ashoka’s approach to subduing the persistent violence and wars of our time, and also to remedying the deep inequalities and injuries that make our globalized world so badly in need of betterment….Kautilya's political an approach that, Bruce Rich argues, can importantly supplement Ashoka's vision....A highly readable book on the importance and reach of some arguments in ancient India and their relevance for global problems today....I feel very privileged to have been given the role of introducing this important and enjoyable book to the general public." —Amartya Sen, Nobel Economics Laureate

“It is often argued that the idea of democracy has its roots in the West, but by insisting that citizens be treated as equals, protected under law, and that he and those who served him should regard the people's welfare as their highest duty, Emperor Ashoka seems to have anticipated some of democracy's key ideals....To Uphold the World should serve as a source of great inspiration….I find it moving that Bruce Rich came to the very site at Dhauli in the east of [India] where Ashoka changed his mind, and that he was stirred to write and research this book.  It is my hope and prayer that readers today may be inspired by this tale of a powerful ruler, who was such a great force for good throughout ancient India, to find ways to contribute to making the world in which we live a more just and peaceful place" His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“I am in awe of what Bruce Rich does in this wonderful book—reaching back through the millennia to provide an inspiring account of the ethical consciousness so urgently needed today. A wise and profound book that could hardly be timelier.”
James Gustave Speth, former Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and former Administrator, United Nations Development Program

“Bruce Rich finds in ancient Indian wisdom the roots of a new global ethic for the 21st century. Compelling, deeply researched and insightfully argued, Rich’s is a book that deserves a wide and thoughtful readership.” Shashi Tharoor, author The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone and Nehru: the Invention of India, former State Minister for External Affairs, Republic of India, former United Nations Under-Secretary General

“In Bruce Rich’s brilliant and accessible study, Ashoka emerges as a figure from whom all political and spiritual leaders can learn much. Rich engagingly and skillfully presents ancient India’s political issues in a way that actually illumines contemporary debates. A fascinating account.”  —Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun and author of The Left Hand of God

“The only era when change was as profound as it is now was roughly 2,400 years ago, a time of defining prophets and the unification of the West, India, and China. No one then contributed more for the good than Ashoka. No one ever has brought Ashoka and his relevance so much to life as Bruce Rich in this wonderful volume.” Bill Drayton, Founder and Chair, Ashoka
“Bruce Rich’s imaginative and engaging work, linking the world of Ashoka and Kautilya to some of the fundamental predicaments of our age, has many merits, not the least of which is forcing us to rethink conventional ideas about modernity and globalization. A timely and critical contribution to the literature on global governance, the book should command considerable appeal across a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities. It will find a wide audience especially in courses in international relations and world order studies.” Don Babai, lecturer in international political economy and research associate, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

“This book will be popular in undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in international relations theory, globalization, political theory, and global ethics, among others. Rich is a master at bringing ideas to life, and placing them in both a historical and modern context. As always, his work will provoke and inspire students.” Tamar Gutner, director, International Politics Program and International Economic Relations Program, American University

"The book's message is inspiriing and wise." --Publisher's Weekly


1. Kyoto Journal
Philip Grant, "Ashoka's Dream"
"Years after an unexpected encounter with the remarkable reign of Emperor Ashoka Maurya, Bruce Rich has written an insightful meditation on the relevance of the ancient Indian ruler to our own age of global discontent. To Uphold the World is much more than a literary excavation of a legendary leader who extended his empire’s influence from Egypt to China. It is also a persuasive call for our own generation to challenge the central assumptions behind economic globalization and replace them with policies grounded in an ethics of reverence and transcendence. "

2. Economic and Political Weekly  [India's leading economic and political weekly] 
Ananya Vajpeyi, "Edicts for the Ages"

"To Uphold the World carries a Foreword by Amartya Sen, and also engages seriously with his writing, together with Martha Nussbaum, on human capabilities. Rich is similarly engaged with the progressive ideas of Karl Polanyi, Manuel Castells, Vaclav Havel, Joseph Stiglitz and a number of other contemporary thinkers and theorists, including Hardt and Negri. Gandhi too is an obvious choice, for a book about the revival of ethical and ecological thinking within a framework of civilisation, globalisation and cosmopolitanism. The Dalai Lama provides an encouraging and appreciative Afterword. The ethico-political categories available in India, from niti and dharma to dhamma and ahimsa, from artha and kama to satya and karuna, have a fascinating history that is always rewarding to revisit. Rich writes with ease, so that the complex statecraft laid out in Kautilya’s text and the conflicted personality of Ashoka shine through his accounts, as though 2,300 years had not passed since these men founded a tradition of political thought for the subcontinent.... For Rich...the silent Ashokan inscriptions speak loud and clear across continents and centuries. That is why he may pause along the roadside of eternity and read, effortlessly, the message graven on the rocks planted there for all time by an agonised king, long long ago."

3. Daily News and Analysis (DNA) India [India's sixth largest national newspaper, second largest in Mumbai]
Malini Sood, "The Ashoka Code"

"What is the relevance of Ashoka’s message and Kautilya’s teachings for the 21st century? Do they — and particularly Ashoka — offer any lessons to a world confronted by ethnic tribalism and religious fundamentalism, and faced by the ethical-political dilemma of globalisation?    In this engaging and thought-provoking book, Bruce Rich, a lawyer and international environmental advocate, examines Ashoka and Kautilya as “archetypes, metaphors and sources of inspiration for thinking about the perennial conundrums of politics, economics and ethics, which today are played out on a global scale as never before....” “We live in a Kautilyan world, but more than ever need an Ashokan ethic,” Rich writes, a conclusion supported by Amartya Sen in his foreword and by the Dalai Lama in his afterword. In To Uphold The World, Rich offers a highly readable, wide-ranging and insightful account of our contemporary world and the dilemmas we face. He also shows us how we can strive to live in a more just and peaceful world, if only we recognise the importance of transcending our immediate demands and short-term needs, and the significance of defining areas that are sacred and non-negotiable. "

4. Resurgence and The Ecologist  [UK]

Philip Grant, "Ashoka's Dream"

"To Uphold the World is much more than a scholarly re-examination of a legendary leader who extended his empire’s influence from Egypt to China. It is also a persuasive call for our own generation to challenge the central assumptions behind economic globalisation and replace them with policies grounded in an ethics of reverence and transcendence. If we attempt to do this much-needed work, the Dalai Lama writes in an afterword to this book, “To Uphold the World should serve as a source of great inspiration.”

5. Times of India  [India's leading English language national daily]

Gautam Adhikari "Rediscovering the Emperor Ashoka

"Rich says that the emperor relied substantially on the Kautilyan system but went beyond by infusing it with a different ethic. Ashoka's core doctrine was a reverence for life, which went beyond the role of just treatment by human beings of one another because "reverence for life means upholding the world". Writes [Amartya] Sen, in a foreword to Rich's volume, that an "underlying concept of fairness is based on Ashoka's basic belief, influenced by his conversion to Buddhism, in the fundamental value of all life. It is a shared reverence for life that can, according to this approach, make everyone behave spontaneously in a responsible and considerate way, without the compulsion of forced good behaviour." In other words, Ashoka's idea of good governance rested on a strong institutional framework of Kautilyan political economy but was well-tempered by a sense of fair play, justice and human rights. Which is what liberal democracy today is all about."

6. Tribune [sixth largest English language Indian national daily]

Kanwalpreet, "Contemporary Kautilya"

"This book tries to find alternatives to uphold the strife-torn world. Bruce Rich finds his answers in the thoughts and practices of Kautilya and Ashoka, " ...unquestionably two of the most extraordinary and, at least in the West, unappreciated figures in world history...." We recognise the contribution of Emperor Ashoka and have given him due regard by making the Ashok Chakra part of the National Flag, while Kautilya remains unsung. Rich is, however, convinced that it is the views of these luminaries that can offer solution to various problems faced by India and the world at large....The beauty of Rich’s work is how he connects the views of Kautilya with the problems we face today....Ashoka, the great ruler who won wars yet found himself defeated after the bloody conquest of Kalinga, possessed an empire, but realised that sovereignty over the mind is more important to be achieved.....Kautilya and Ashoka were two far-sighted people because the solutions they offered are waiting to be reinforced—control over our wants and unlimited appetite and a world order based on justice and fairness. Establishment of a strong welfare state, protection of environment, a system of an effective administration, where each and every individual is included, and the spiritual enlightenment need to go side by side to achieve true globalisation."

7. Indian Express  [a leading Indian national English language daily]

Samundra Gupta Kashhyap, "Wildlife, environment protection in India dates back to Kautilya, Ashoka’s time"

"During Ashoka’s time, the focus was on a clean environment, and burning of farm chaff after harvest was banned, US-based environmental attorney and author Bruce Rich said." "India has a rich history and tradition of wildlife conservation. While Chandragupta Maurya was a great patron of conservation, his minister Kautilya had not only authored detailed procedures of wildlife conservation, but had also prescribed severe penalty provisions for those found guilty of cruelty to animals,” Rich said at the two-day Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum convention organised here by the Balipara Foundation...."
He added, “The first veterinary hospitals in the world were probably set up by Ashoka. Fa Hien, the Chinese traveller who came to India during his reign had written about veterinary hospitals in Pataliputra.”

8. Lion's Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time [American Buddhist magazine]

Gaylon Ferguson, "Gods and Kings for Modern Times"
"What is the relevance of this ancient king for our own time? Rich notes that “after September 11, 2001, more thoughtful observers began to link the violent eruption of fundamentalist terror with growing disjunctures in the global system.” Philanthropist George Soros calls our attention to “an overarching message from 9/11 that world politicians still are mostly ignoring.” Here is Soros’ succinct geopolitical diagnosis and cure: “We have global markets but we do not have a global society. And we cannot build a global society without taking into account moral considerations.” Ashoka faced a similar dilemma. On the one hand, there were advocates for an amoral, ruthlessly efficient political economy; on the other hand, there was the clear necessity for a humanely ethical basis for society. Rich is critically realistic in his assessments yet unwaveringly optimistic about the enduring value of Ashoka’s reconciling aspiration"

9. India Tribune [US based English language weekly for Americans of Indian descent, published in Chicago, New York, and Atlanta]

Ajay Ghosh, "US attorney reiterates relevance of Ashoka, Kautilya to 21st century"
10.The Bihar Times [regional paper in Bihar state, Inidia, birthplace of the Buddha]

Indra R Sharma, "Relevance of Chanayka, Chadragupta, and Ashoka"
"During my last US visit I could get a wonderful book by Bruce Rich ‘To Uphold the World- A call for a New Global Ethic from Ancient India’, distilling the timely message of Ashoka and Kautilya."

11. Blogs:

a. Dr. K.M. Rao, Ancient Philosophy and Literature

"A relook at the Organizing principles of the society for a new World order based on enduring values of life"

"The sudden collapse of the communist Governments of USSR and Eastern Europe and the near-collapse of the capitalist financial system  in the first decade of the 21st century –  both based on acquisitive instincts of human beings – have turned the attention of some of the leading intellectuals to take a relook at the organizing principles of societies in the 21st century.Bill Joy a leading scientist and business man,  said in an article “ why  the  future  doesn’t lead  us”  in the magazine, WIRED, where he called for alternative social goals, “ beyond the culture of perpetual economic growth” before it is too late.  George Sores, the billionaire hedge fund investor observes, “we have global markets but we do not have a global society. And we cannot build a global society without taking into account moral considerations “.  It is this context the book “ To UPHOLD THE WORLD : THE MESSAGE OF ASHOKA AND KAUTILYA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY  BY Bruce rich ( Penguin Books Pvt.Ltd, Pages.326, price Rs. 495/-) becomes essential reading for all people who are concerned with the future of the world."

b. Sense, Non-Sense and Common Sense

MDKini, "Ethical Society of Ashoka & Kautilya - A model for 21st century?"

""It is no exaggeration to view Ashoka as a forerunner of a number of modern concepts of human rights. He proclaims the right to due process, equal protection of the laws, and religious tolerance. He establishes administrative mechanisms to investigate and rectify violation of rights, and seeks to improve conditions in prisons, expressing special concern for due process for prisoners condemned to death (establishing a three-day review period before execution). There is a very modern concern with the importance of the individual.." writes the author."

Ariticles and Essays on To Uphold the World by the Author

These articles and essays, along with links to pdfs, can also be found under the articles tab, Ashoka, Buddhism and Globalization sub-section, on the home page

A. Tikkun  [a leading American political, cultural and religious magazine]  [N.B. This is the best article that summarizes  the book's arguments that I have written] 

"To Uphold the World: What Two Statesmen from Ancient India Can Tell Us about Our Current Crisis"

dowloand pdf: Uphold the World_ Tikkun_March12011.pdf

"The global economy is in desperate need of a global ethic. The world economic system is driving a significant number of all living creatures to extinction. It is a world order — or disorder — that is increasingly undermining the biological foundations of long-term human civilization. In the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the 2011 Davos World Economic Forum, the global economy has become a “global suicide pact.”How can we imagine alternatives? Are there historical precedents for a global ethic of care, and has any government ever tried to put it into practice?"

B. Tricycle  [Tricycle is a leading American Buddhist magazine]  pdf also attached
"To Uphold the World"

"The Catholic theologian Hans Küng observed that “a global market economy requires a global ethic.” Yet at the very moment when the need for just such an ethic is more urgent than ever, our national and global systems of governance seem effectively paralyzed in moving toward it."

C. Political Bookworm--Blog of Steve Levingston, Non-Fiction editor of the Washington Post

"BP and a Global Ethic"

"Bruce Rich looks far from our own world for solutions to the great problems facing civilization. His quest takes him back to ancient times where he finds virtue in an ethical system developed by an Indian emperor called Ashoka in the third century B.C. In his book “To Uphold the World: A Call for a New Global Ethic From Ancient India,” Rich shows how in our day of globalization and multicultural tensions we have much to learn from Ashoka’s policy of nonviolence and compassion. Here, he argues that the BP oil spill makes the need for a global ethic all the more pressing. Rich is a D.C. attorney who promotes environmental and social standards for international finance."
"Like Ashoka, we are living in a Kautilyan age and must find a new global ethic to preserve our civilization. Thinkers from Ashoka to Adam Smith to Amartya Sen all see that if human society is to survive, economic activity has to be embedded in a framework of common ethical values. We need a global consensus for an ethic to guide national and international economic activity.  Some global lenders have set standards to mitigate the social and environmental impact of their projects. This is a small beginning in a universal consensus but not near enough. The need for a universal ethic is crucial. The BP disaster, coming in the wake of the global economic crisis, is yet one more wake up call. How many more are needed?"

D. Environmental Forum [policy journal of the Environmental Law Institute, Washington DC]
"The First Habitat and Species Laws" 

"We like to think that environmental protection is a recent invention, and that the United States has been a pioneer, establishing national forests and parks more than a hundred years ago, then the Endangered Species Act 37 years ago. But in India in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. there were arguably more advanced provisions for habitat and species protection than anything in the U.S. until the 1970s....Ashoka’s Fifth Pillar Edict is nothing less than a species and forest protection law. It lists all of the kinds of animals declared as exempt from slaughter — including turtles, bats, ants, ducks, geese, swans, doves, porcupines, squirrels, deer, lizards, rhinoceroses, and pigeons. In fact, all four-footed animals “which are not eaten and of no utility” were to be protected. He promulgated what we would call measures for habitat protection, declaring that “forests must not be set on fire either wantonly or for the destruction of life,” and that the chaff in fields “must not be set on fire along with the living things in it.” On numerous fixed days other kinds of animals may not be destroyed and elephant forests and fish ponds are not to be harvested...." Kautilya also advocated the creation of protected reserves “where all animals are welcomed as guests and given full protection...." Beyond the protection of specific species, Kautilya prohibits cruelty to animals, forcing the offender to pay fines and money for the treatment and recovery of the injured beast."

F. Essay in Book Anthology, "The Best Buddhis Writing 2012," "To Uphold the World," editor Melvin McLeod and the editors of the Shambhala Sun (Shambhala: Boston and London, 2012),  pp. 159--167.

"A treasury of the most notable, profound, and thought-provoking Buddhist-inspired writing published in the last year."
The Best Buddhist Writing 2012 includes:
 • His Holiness the Dalai Lama on cultivating a universal ethic of kindness     • Sharon Salzberg on getting your meditation practice started     • Pema Chödrön on how to smile at fear     • The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi on analyzing global problems through the lens of traditional Buddhist teachings     • Bruce Rich on the enlightened model of government of the Buddhist monarch King Ashoka     • Thich Nhat Hanh on fidelity in loving relationships    • Barry Boyce’s fascinating survey of the life and teachings of the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche     • Michael Stone and David Loy on the basic questions raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement     • Diane Ackerman on living with her beloved husband’s Alzheimer’s disease     • Yangzom Brauen’s moving account of her grandmother and mother’s escape from Tibet following the Chinese invasion 


Interviews where I discuss the book

A. Religion Dispatches  [an independent award-winning online magazine on culture, politics, and religion] 

"What Can Ancient India Tell Us About Our World"

Question: What’s the most important take-home message for readers?

"I examine the lives and writings of Ashoka and Kautilya as archetypes, metaphors and sources of inspiration for a reflection on what many contemporary thinkers view as the overarching challenge of our age: a global world system and a global economy require a global ethic. Thinkers as diverse as George Soros and Hans Kueng, the great Catholic theologian, all talk about the need for common fundamental values that will apply to a global society. Today we live in a Kautilyan world, but desperately need an Ashokan ethic."

Question: Is there a book out there you wish you had written? Which one? Why?

"One in particular has evoked a special resonance, Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Travels with Herodotus. As a young foreign correspondent in the 1960s he found no better guide to understanding a globalized humanity than the father of history, Herodotus, who lived 2500 years before. He cites T.S. Eliot who warned of the growing view that life’s problems could be solved in terms of engineering, of 'a new kind of provincialism… not of space but of time,' one for which history is merely a scrap heap.'To project myself from this temporal provincialism,” Kapuscinski concludes, 'I set off into Herodotus’ world, the wise experienced Greek as my guide. We wandered together for years.'"

B. Verve (India) [an important life-style and culture magazine in India]  

"Three diverse international writers, masters in their fields, talk about their inspirational trysts with India"

"Ashoka Rediscovered"

"Winner of the prestigious United Nations Environmental Program ‘Global 500’ award in 1988, of the World Hunger Media Award (second prize) for his book, Mortgaging The Earth, Bruce Rich has Amartya Sen writing the Foreword and the Dalai Lama contributing the Afterword to his latest book To Uphold the World: The Message of Ashoka and Kautilya for the 21st century. Rich, who is proficient in over six languages and has visited India 20 times, uses Ashoka and the first economist in recorded history, Kautilya, as archetypes, metaphors and sources of inspiration for reflecting on contemporary dilemmas."

"Question: What do you like to take back from India?

"Visiting India is a great personal and intellectual adventure, with her almost limitless reasure chest of history, culture and landscape. As always, I hope to take back a greater knowledge of the world, of human adventure, and of myself."

C. The Hawaii Independent  [I was on a book tour in Hawaii where To Uphold the World had a surprising resonance--Hawaii has the highest percentage Buddhist population of any American state]

"A Lesson for Hawaii's Modern Society"
"Many a social science teacher has admonished students to study the past lest we repeat it in future. Bruce Rich would agree. Over 30 years as an environmental attorney, Rich has promoted environmental and social standards for international finance lending by The World Bank. Often that took him to India where he became fascinated by Indian history, and in particular, by the third century BC Buddhist emperor, Ashoka. That historical figure is now the subject of Rich’s latest book, To Uphold the World: A Call for a New Global Ethic from Ancient India.

"Long before we in Hawaii (or the rest of the United States) wrestled with basic social, environmental, and sustainability issues, Rich says Ashoka united an area bigger than today’s India by promoting a collective ethic and government policy based on non-violence for all sentient beings. That included medical services for humans and animals, creating protected ecological sanctuaries, and regulating the harvesting of animals and crops....

"Hawaii could and should be different, he says, if it can look into its long ago past and simultaneously, into its long term future. Unlike other states, Hawaii possesses deeply layered cultural capital. "The whole concept of pono—and I know everyone talks about it but may not put it into practice—is like the South Asian concept of dharma: A view in the context of the whole society and its relation to nature, what is the right thing to do, the correct thing to do in a certain situation to uphold the harmony and cohesion of society. Look to Hawaii’s motto: 'The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness.'"

"I know, you’re shaking your head ... did we really need a visitor to tell us this? Guess so."

Other Essays

A.  Modern Research Studies: An International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Vol 2, Issue 2, 322-332  [Indian academic journal]

" Perspectives of Kautilya’s Foreign Policy: An Ideal of State Affairs Author/s: SATISH KARAD"

"American scholar Bruce Rich compared Kautilya's geopolitical analysis in modern perspectives, with the concept of groupings of civilizations by Samuel Huttington and Brzvenski’s explanation of the changing geo strategies of world powers, especially Eurasian. In his view he explained, after cold war world politics is divided among nine geopolitical groups, lie the elements of Mandala in Kautilya’s theory. And on this basis we would be able to analyze the current problems at international level. “A number of treatise on post cold war geopolitics published in 1990’s and in early 2000’s,uncounsciously evoke Kautilya’s anlysis, except that the entire planet is now the arena of play for the Mandala of states rather than as in Kautilya’s time, the Indian subcontinent” (Rich 2008, 125)"


Video--With Amartya Sen, A New Global Ethic from Ancient India, Moderator: Homi Bhabha, Harvard Humanities Center.

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What can ancient Indian thinkers Ashoka and Kautilya tell us about how to think about the dilemmas of globalization in the 21st Century? What are the ethical limits to use of force and to prioritizing the economy? What kind of global ethic do we need for a globalized world? Amartya Sen talks in the first 12:34 minutes, minute 12:34 to 41:48 is my talk, then 25 minutes or so of questions and discussion with the audience, Amartya Sen, Homi Bhabha and myself. The event was sponsored by the Harvard South Asia Initiative.

Video--Ashoka and Kautilya--The Legacy of Forgotten Leaders, Aspen Institute, India, "Ideas India"

From Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Sarojini Naidu, B R Ambedkar, and even before them, Raja Ram Mohan Roy—the Indian independence struggle yielded a rich diversity of leaders with different points of views, different orientations and ideologies. Indeed, the founders of the modern Indian republic looked back at Mauryan times and invoked the legacy of Ashoka and chose Ashokan symbols for the Indian state seal and flag. Has the legacy of these leaders been forgotten in India? What lessons can we learn from these great leaders that would be applicable to modern India? Moderator: Kishan Rana Former Indian Ambassador to Germany Panel:  Sugata Bose Gardiner Professor of History and Director South Asia Initiative, Harvard University; Bruce Rich Author, "To Uphold the World: The Message of Ashoka and Kautilya for the 21st Century; Akeel Bilgrami Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University.

Video--Universal Healthcare in Ancient India

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In To Uphold the World: A Call for a New Global Ethic from Ancient India, author Bruce Rich contemplates the rule of the Indian emperor Ashoka over 2,200 years ago, whose philosophy of tolerance, conservation, nonviolence, species protection, and human rights still have much to teach us today. One of the many programs established by Ashoka was a system of universal health care for people and animals which, once established, served the Indian empire for close to a millennium. Rich discusses Ashoka's health care system in this video.

Penguin Books editions of To Uphold the World

1. To Uphold the World: The Message of Ashoka and Kautilya for the 2st Century (2008)

To purchase in India:

To purchase in the UK:



2. Ashoka in Our Time: The Question of Dharma for a Globalized World (2017)

To purchase in the U.S,:

To purchase in India:  or