the consumer, encouragement to the trader, help to the agriculturist,
protection of the destitute and the disabled, attention to public hygiene,
measures against epidemics, and finally, mental and moral welfare of all its
subjects—all came within the purview of the state. The significance of the
Mauryan administration was supposedly seen in ushering in a new form of
government, that of a highly centralised government, which marked the first
successful experiment in imperial government by the Indians. The Mauryan
organisation left its legacy for the Mughals and the British also.
Fresh Evaluation of Mauryan State Recent advances made in the study
of Asokan inscriptions have, however, been instrumental in the historian’s
fresh evaluation of the nature of the Maurya state. The much cherished notion
of a monolithic politico-administrative organisation of the Maurya realm,
constructed mostly on the basis of the Arthasastra, has undergone significant
changes and modifications of late. The Maurya empire is now supposed to
have consisted of three units:
    • The metropolitan area around Magadha;
    • The core area embracing the territories of the erstwhile
        mahajanapadas; and
    • The outlying areas.
Uneven Development That there was an unevenness and imbalances in the
socio-economic, political and cultural developments in these dispersed zones
have now been taken note of. The picture of the Maurya empire as an ancient
welfare state is questioned, as there was little change in the material
conditions of the Deccan, in spite of the prolonged Maurya occupation. In
fact, the Maurya rulers seem to have been primarily interested in the mineral
resources of the Deccan and appropriation of these resources to enrich the
metropolitan area. A number of Asokan edicts are actually found from
around the diamond and gold mining areas in the Deccan. That the Maurya
period also witnessed the earliest mining and production of zinc has also been
suggested by some.
Importance of Central India The discovery of new Asokan edicts from
Aharaura (near Chunar in UP) and Panguraria in MP, in addition to the
previously discovered edicts from Rupnath (near Jabalpur) and Sanchi, points
to the importance of central India to the Maurya rulers (with their base in