'The discipline of public administration is as old as the civilization itself. In the Indian context, Indian administration is one of the oldest administrative systems in the world.
The history of ancient Indian administration begins from the Harappan times and continued up to the beginning of the first millennium till the establishment of the Mughal administration.
In the earlier times, village administration gained precedence over administration of the state. Gandhian concept of village administration is rooted in the Vedic times. The epics Ramayana and Mahabharata make a mention of administrative officers and their relevant departments.
But a detailed mention of the administration of the State is found in Kautilya's Arthasastra. In ancient India, the empires were divided into provinces, provinces into districts and districts into villages and urban and rural centres.
The modern principles of Administration had their roots in ancient Indian Administration. For example, the principle of hierarchy had been given a practical shape and coordination was very much present between the departments
Ancient Indian administration is by and large, considered synonymous with Kautilya's - the most celebrated figure of Indian administrative history. His celebrated work Arthashastra is the most important work on public administration in ancient India. Kautilya's is said to have lived somewhere between the fourth and third century B.C. and Arthashastra, the oldest text on public administration of the world was written sometime between 321 and 300 B.C.
Kautilya who was otherwise known as Vishnugupta or Chanakya was the Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya (345-300 B.C.), the founder of Mauryan dynasty. According to historical sources, it was Chanakya who made Chandragupta Maurya, the king of Magadha. Through his statesmanship and diplomacy, Chanakya established the Mauryan suzerainty over the whole of northern India. The name of Kautilya or Chanakya in India symbolizes diplomacy and statesmanship. Kautilya is often compared with Machiavelli (1459-1527), whose name is considered to be synonymous in the West with political realism.