TEACHING ETHICS TO CIVIL SERVANTS
Why in news?
The arrest in Chennai of an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer on probation, for cheating during the civil services examination has raised questions on future recruitments to the All India Services and the training of officers.
Ethical issues involved
- Wider Malaise: This instance of misconduct by a public official, chosen on merit is symptomatic of a wider malaise and a worrying trend of growing accounts of dishonesty among public officials.
- Civil Service Training: The incident throws doubts over the quality of inputs aimed at character-building in civil service training academies.
- Dent on Moral Integrity and Public Faith: Civil servants are revered as agents of transformation and leaders in the society. Such instances reflect badly on the reputation of civil servants in society.
- Economic Cost of Misconduct: The misconduct on the part of public servants leads to loss of precious resources which were meant to support the economic and social development of the nation.
- Perceived leniency: There is a public perception that double standards are applied when punishing criminality in high places and this is further reinforced when services are terminated only on departmental enquiry without prosecuting in court of law. Prior Sanction is also emerging as means to protect tainted public officials and defy the very intent of anti-corruption legislations.
Causes of declining values among civil servants
- Tolerance for Social Evils: Society has developed tolerant attitude towards degenerated values of cheating, fraud, nepotism, corruption and crony capitalism etc.
- Growing competition for government jobs which increase pressure on youth to perform which may lead them astray, treading towards unethical behavior.
- Materialism: Spread of materialistic values in society in general and among civil servants in particular especially with the advent of globalization, liberalization and privatization.
- Lack of role models among senior civil servants as well as among the political leadership sometimes dissuade youth from staying morally upright and thus making them part of status quo rather than as agents of change.
- Institutional Apathy: Post recruitment very few senior officers take interest in instilling the right values in trainees. This is because of low importance given to responsibility of monitoring training and declining moral standards of senior police officers themselves.
Ways to inculcate ethical values in civil servants
- Recruitment level: Selection process must ensure selection of those individuals who not only possess an aptitude for administration but also those who are genuinely public service oriented. Various committees such as the 2nd ARC have detailed specific reforms required in the recruitment process for the same.
- Training level:
o 2nd ARC: The composition of governing bodies of the national training institutions and also the State Administrative Training Institutes should be broadened by inducting eminent experts.
o Every government servant should undergo a mandatory training at the induction stage and also periodically during his/her career. Successful completion of these trainings should be a minimum necessary condition for confirmation in service and subsequent promotions.
o A monitoring mechanism should be set up for overseeing the implementation of the National Training Policy (1996).
- Post training
√ Hota Committee recommended amending Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to protect honest civil servants from malicious prosecution and harassment.
o It also recommended that a Code of Ethics should be drawn up for civil servants incorporating the core values of integrity, merit and excellence in public service.
o Senior civil servants must engage in guiding new recruits towards the path of ethical behaviour.
√ 2nd ARC: A National Institute of good governance may be set up by upgrading one of the existing national/state institutes. This institute would act as a platform to disseminate best practices, conduct training programmes, thus setting high standards for ethical governance.
THE VIRTUE AND PRACTICE OF TOLERATION
Why in news?
It is increasingly felt that we are moving towards a fiercely conflict-ridden world in which toleration is needed. Thus a better understanding of tolerance is indispensable in Indian society.
- Toleration is understood as a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc. differ from one's own. It accords high respect for human rights, especially freedom of conscience and freedom of thought.
- On the other hand intolerance stems from an assumption of the infallibility and truth of one’s beliefs and their superiority over others, which leads to forcible imposition of one’s ideology on others, often resulting in violence.
Tolerance as an attitude and Social practise
Toleration as an attitude of Individual and as a social practice manifests in following ways:
- Negative Toleration: means refraining from interference in the activities of others despite one finds them morally reprehensible and has the power to do so.
- Positive Toleration: While in negative toleration others are reluctantly accepted against a background of prior hatred, positive toleration is essentially a virtue sustained by love, friendliness, fraternity and an admirable stance for others.
- Toleration due to balance of power: wherein two groups refrain from interfering because the cost of the ensuing conflict is far too high.
- Toleration as an attitude of indifference: This is toleration as an attitude of live and let live, a feature particularly of post-industrial, individualist, liberal societies.
Tolerance as an ancient practice in India
- Emperor Ashoka in his edicts asked his subjects to practice non-violence and respect all faiths and sects in India.
- Kautilya said that a victorious king must respect the conquered country’s practices customs and its family traditions.
- Jainism laid great stress on the ideas of non-violence and tolerance through the concepts of anekantavada (the validity of the plurality of assertions) and syadvada (the doctrine of the perhaps).
- Akbar passed laws to abolish the jazia and convened assemblies in which the representatives of every sect and religion could exchange ideas.
- Bhakti Poets like kabir denounced all manifestations of intolerance among Hindu and Islamic scholars, seeing them as pretentious and ignorant.
- Gandhi’s doctrine practised the idea of tolerance and non-violence in the political arena through satyagraha to win the freedom for India.
Ways of Cultivating Tolerance in Society
- Education should ensure that virtue of tolerance must be inculcated at all levels and prejudices and stereotypes are not perpetuated.
- Promoting Role models for tolerance through awards (e.g. UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Award for tolerance) and distributing literature regarding their contributions to society.
- There should be an equal focus on countering intolerance through Legal measures, enforcement of human rights, access to information and press freedom, and individual awareness.
- The press must unequivocally condemn instances of intolerance, without fear of consequences and incessantly preach the message that no group or body has the monopoly of truth and morality.
- Along with this every citizen should take a resolve to promote tolerance in our multi-religious, multi-cultural nation and thereby strengthen and enrich our pluralist democracy, which is the pride of our nation.