Nature and scope of ethics: 

Ethics is a system of moral principles or laws.

 what is MORAL LAW ?

Lets know first what do we mean by LAW?

We have two meaning of law. By one , it is” rule of action “.promulgated by a person in a community for common good. It is called POSITIVE LAW. According to source there are two types of Positive law .1 Divine positive law : god is source here , 2. Human positive law :human common good is aim i.e. further divided in civil law , criminal law, commercial law etc.

Law in another sense is a formula expressing a constant behavior of things and  person .It is called NATURAL LAW. Natural laws are physical laws – physics , chemistry, biology; psychological laws; sociological laws.

MORAL LAW : It is exactly neither positive law nor natural law.  It includes not only general and abstract rules of action (e.g. “do good and avoid evil”), means here “ absolute should”, but also particular and concrete precepts (e.g. help the poor, obey legitimate authority, be truthful, do not kill the innocent, adultery is wrong, etc.). These particular and concrete precepts are specifications of the moral law. Thus,  moral law is particularized and concreted  data of moral consciousness in specific precepts.


Meta- ethics : it deal with the nature of moral judgement . it looks at the origin and meaning of moral laws.

Normative ethics: it looks at content of moral laws and criteria for what is right or wrong.

Applied ethics: It deals with moral questions and controversial moral issues that people actually face in their life. e.g. abortion, euthanasia ,war etc.


  1. God -based ethics – Spiritualism
  2. Human consciousness and intuition-Intuitionism
  3. A rational moral cost-benefit analysis of consequences of human action – consequentialism ,
  4. some acts are right or wrong in themselves, whatever the consequences- non consequentialism or deontological ethics ,
  5. example of good human being- virtue ethics,
  6. A desire for best for the people in each unique situation – situation ethics,
  7. Political power and ideology

Ethics and Human Interface:

Ethics comes from Greek word “ethos ” means character, habit , culture ,ways of behavior etc.

” Ethics is the systematic study of human actions from the point of view of its rightfulness or wrongfulness as means for the attainment of the ultimate happiness. “

Ethics is the science what human ought to be as the reason of what one is . It regulates and directs human life . It gives the right orientation to one’s existence

As a theory ethics provides the basic fundamental principles of moral judgement. .As a practice it is concerned about the end to be gained and the means of attaining it.

Ethics is not only general and abstract rule of action (e.g. “do good or avoid evil”), but also particular and concrete precepts ( e.g. help the poor, obey legitimate authority, be truthful, adultery is bad etc). These particular and concrete precepts comes from moral consciousness.

Ethics deals with voluntary actions of human means the actions done by human consciously , deliberately and in view of an end .

Thus, ethics is not merely set of codes. It is to help one to find what is good and how to get it .

Role of Ethics

In human behavior ethics role is to decide how human must behave . In human activity ethics role is to decide how human ought to be act. In political and social life ethics decides how human’s life and institution must organized to be moral . In economic life of human  ethics deals with those activity which are the conditions of the attainment of the highest end of life.

Importance of Ethics

  1. Self – realization = It helps a person to critically evaluate his /her actions, choices and decisions. It assist a person in knowing what he/she really is and what is best for him/her. It helps a person to decide what he/she should do for the attainment of the best. This way it deepens the reflection of ultimate question of life.
  2. Improves thinking, perspective and judgments = It improves our thinking about specific moral issues. It helps us to decide what should be correct course of actions and what should be avoided. This way improves our perspective and makes it more reflective and better throughout. This way one can clarify moral position in making judgement.
  3. Sharpen our general thinking processes = It trains our mind to think more logically and reasonably. This way one can handle moral issues with greater clarity.

Why be Moral ?

  1. Deep desire for good =  Every person want to be good . Being moral helps person to  attain what is best  for him / her.
  2. Satisfactory human life = Every institution designed for human good have some rules and regulation based on moral principles. Being moral helps a person to admire and follow rules . This way a person lives  with peace and satisfaction in concern institution.
  3. To live a better life= Morality enhances one’s life. It brings peace and satisfaction which leads human being to live life better.
  4. Sustains stability = Morality provides a common point of view. The common point of view among  people  lead to agreement among them. If a person would be moral he/she can have a agreement with other people . This way there will be stability in society and other institution.

There’s a question arise of “individual freedom “.. How far the society can go on demanding? Should it not respect the freedom of the individual? Is morality made for man or man is made for morality?

Morality is concerned about our moral health. It seeks to enhance our lives, to help us to live better lives. It tries to discover a more objective standpoint of evaluation than that of purely personal preference.

Ethics and human interface : Nature and scope of ethics [ Essence of ethics ]

We know that today there is an agreement on some general principle whether it is correct or not. So, we can say that there must be some general principles which are self-evident or first principle.

There are three types of principles-

  1. First principle – It is self-evident, intuitively known by all, and cannot be deleted from human heart.
  2. Secondary Principle- It is derived from first principles. It requires reflection.
  3. Tertiary Principle-It requires study and discursive thoughts.

All moral Principles are derived from self –evident principle. It is believed that there must be some rule or law which enforces values and that is natural to human person, intuitively known. This is called MORAL INSTUITIONISM .

Immediate data of moral consciousness cannot be denied, it is self-evident. If a human person is moral conscious he/she must feel a moral obligation of human inter-relatedness and that the norm for moral good.  This moral consciousness is an integral part of Human consciousness. Human consciousness is a process of becoming moral and aware of self.  The more person become conscious and aware he/she more becomes conscious about what he/ she should be. This leads the emergence of moral precepts or values.

Hence, moral precepts are derived from fundamental moral precepts. It is not mere logical deduction or immediate inference. It is always present and continuously developing in human consciousness.  It is progressive development of human consciousness. If it is not found in all human then it is possible with a passage of time it can evolve when a person leads in a process of self fulfillment.

Love is a basic moral activity. Love is beginning of human moral life and also the end gain. It is love for self that a person perfects himself as a human. Love is essential basis in the process of self-fulfillment.

In evolutionary visions of human consciousness morality can be static and also dynamic. It is static in completely evolved society and dynamic in more or less perfectly evolved society. . This way morality can be distinguished between absolute and

relative ethics. Absolute ethics is an ideal code of conduct formulating the behavior of the completely adapted human person in the completely evolved society. Relative ethics is the nearest approximation to this ideal according to the more or less perfectly evolved society in which human person happens to find him/her.

Moral intuitions are the slowly organized. They are results of experience received by the race. In other words an induction from experience handed down from one generation to the other ends up by becoming an instinctive moral reaction. Evolution is moving towards the emergence of the highest form of life. Happiness as the supreme end of human person is the concomitant and virtue is the condition for its attainment.

 Morality is affected by geographical, climatic and economic conditions. It is also conditioned by religion. Almost every religion faced reform movement and then it seems that changes brought by reforms are change in religious consciousness, but indeed that is the change in religiously conditioned morality.

Legal and moral are different things. It is not necessary that something legal is obviously moral. Legal means allowed by state. For example a secular state cannot promote moral belief of one section against another in a pluralistic society.

Thus human and moral consciousness is always in a process of development and is depended on physiological, cultural, social, psychological, environmental and other factor.

Now ,  in search of objective moral truth one have to carefully distinguish between Moral Relativity and Ethical Relativism .

Moral relativity is the view that different people in different cultures and civilization have different moral beliefs and what is believed to be morally right at a given time may be wrong in different time and place.

Ethical Relativism is the view that there is no basic moral principle , but what is morally right is relative to individual or group concerned.

If it cannot give reasons but simply admits that it is strictly impossible to say what is morally right and morally wrong it can be reasonably called Ethical Skepticism.

Human person’s knowledge of self is a progressive and dynamic knowledge, always tending towards a better and better understanding. In this sense human person’s knowledge of self is relative. And if this is true moral knowledge is also relative in so far as it is progressive and far from complete. However an attentive study of the evolution of human person’s self-consciousness and of moral knowledge helps one discover a certain constant progression.

Ethics and Human Interface : Morality and Ethics

 Although the words ethics and morality are often used interchangeably, morality is more precisely used to refer to the customs, principles of conduct and moral  codes of an individual, group or society. Ethics, also termed moral philosophy or  the science of morals, is the branch of philosophy that studies morality through the critical examination of right and wrong in human action.

Determinants of ethics in human action

  1. Nature
  2. A desire for living good
  3. Childhood upbringing
  4. Later life experience
  5. Religious belief
  6. Discussions with other
  7. Moral philosopher
  8. “a priori” truth, i.e. like something that we have embedded in us as “knowledge” prior to any physical or social experience.
  9. Self – oriented interest
  10. Creation of society
  11. Situation
  12. Ethical insight
  13. Consequences

Some Concepts of Ethics

This will help us to understand any book or article on ethics:

  1. Absolute Ethics: It is an ideal code of conduct formulating the behavior of completely adapted human person in completely evolved society.
  2. Relative Ethics: It is the nearest approximation to the ideal code of conduct according to more or less perfectly evolved society in which a happen to find him /her.
  3. Human consciousness: consciousness of an individual or a social being.
  4. Moral consciousness: It is integral part of human consciousness.
  5. Moral relativity: It is simply the view that different people especially in different civilization and culture have different moral belief and what is believed to be morally right at a given time and place may be wrong at different time and place.
  6. Ethical relativism: It is the philosophical theory that there is no fundamental or universal moral norm or basic moral principle but what is morally right is relative to individual or group of men.
  7. Ethical skepticism: The situation in which one can’t decide and give reason what is ethically right or wrong.
  8. Moral objectivism: It  holds that at least some moral principles and rules are objectively knowable on the basis of observation and human reasoning.
  9. Universalism: It suggests that basic right and wrong is the same for everyone,while also allowing for some variation in individual circumstances and context.
  10. Ethical absolutism:  It is the view that there exists an eternal and unchanging moral law that transcends the physical world and is the same for all people at all times and places” (Holmes, 1993). In this view, moral rightness and wrongness exist independent of human beings and unrelated to human emotions and thought. There is an absolute source of truth that transcends human rationality and choice
  11. Deontology (from the Greek “deon”, meaning “duty”) refers to an ethical theory or perspective based on duty or obligation. A deontological, or duty-based, theory is one in which specific moral duties or obligations are seen as self-evident, having intrinsic value in and of themselves and needing no further justification.
  12. Teleology (from the Greek telos, meaning goal or end) describes an ethical perspective that contends the rightness or wrongness of actions is based solely on the goodness or badness of their consequences. In a strict teleological interpretation, actions are morally neutral when considered apart from their consequences
  13. Consequentialist : Concern for outcomes
  14. Non-consequentialist :  Do not concern for outcomes
  15. Principlism:  Each principle represents a serious, though not absolute, moral duty that must be  weighed against other duties in resolving an ethical conflict or dilemma.
  16. Principle of Respect for Persons:  It maintains that human beings have intrinsic and unconditional moral worth and should always be treated as if there is nothing of greater value than they are.
  17. Principle of legal moralism: This allows society to render an act illegal on the basis of social values and judgments.
  18. Communitarian Ethics : Communitarianism refers to a theoretical perspective that seeks to lessen the focus on individual rights and increase the focus on communal responsibilities. The definition of community varies and can refer to anything from the nuclear or extended family to the political state or nation. In this approach, ethical thought is grounded in communal values, established social standards and traditions and considerations of the larger society.
  19. Welfare principle: This allows autonomy to be restricted for the benefit of others.
  20. Principle of Nonmaleficence: It states that we should act in ways that do not inflict evil or cause harm to others. In particular, we should not cause avoidable or intentional harm.
  21. Principle of beneficence: It is often simply stated as an obligation to act in ways that promote good.
  22. Veracity: It is the principle of truth telling, and it is grounded in respect for persons and the concept of autonomy.
  23. The principle of fidelity: It broadly requires that we act in ways that are loyal. This includes keeping our promises, doing what is expected of us, performing our duties and being trustworthy.
  24. Principles of Justice: requires that we act in ways that treat people equitably and fairly. Actions that discriminate against individuals or a class of people arbitrarily or without a justifiable basis would violate this basic principle.
  25. Distributive justice: This conception of justice refers to an equitable balance of benefits and burdens with particular attention to situations involving the allocation of resources.
  26. Principle of equality: It requires that all benefits and burdens be distributed equally.  The advantage to this conception of justice is that everyone is entitled to an equal share of resources; however the principle becomes problematic when not everyone is perceived as equally deserving of an equal share.
  27. Principle of need:  It suggests that resources should be distributed based on need so that those with greater need will receive a greater share. In theory, this supports the principle of equality in that everyone will end up with the same share of goods.
  28. Principle of contribution: It maintains that persons should benefit in proportion to their individual contribution. Those who contribute proportionately more to the production of goods should receive proportionately more goods in return.
  29. Principle of effort:  It recognizes the degree of effort made by an individual as the determining factor in the proportion of goods to be received.
  30. Procedural justice: It requires processes that are impartial and fair. This form of justice underlies the requirement of due process when conducting disciplinary action against an employee.
  31. Compensatory justice: It involves compensation for wrongs or harms that have been done.
  32. Virtue ethics : Virtue-based ethics does not rely directly on ethical principles in its formulation. In virtue ethics, the focus is on the role of character as the source of moral action. Human character is shaped over time by a combination of natural inclinations and the influence of such factors as family, culture, education, and self-reflection. This means that some people will be more likely to choose virtuous behavior than will others.
  33. Utilitarianism : a moral theory that defines a moral act solely in terms of the outcome or consequences of that act. This teleological perspective is based on a single guiding principle. The principle of utility, also referred to as the Greatest Happiness Principle, states that actions are right if they produce the greatest balance of happiness over unhappiness.
  34. Natural rights : These are generally held to be a gift of nature or God that cannot be taken away. Modern notions of natural rights are most closely associated with the seventeenth century British philosopher John Locke and his contention that human beings are entitled to life, liberty and property. In contemporary theory, these and other moral claims have come to be referred to as universal human rights and form the basis for establishing and/or evaluating ethical standards within the social order.
  35. Positive right :It is “a right to receive a particular good or service from others” . Therefore, a positive right assumes that someone (individual or agency) is obligated to do something for you.
  36. Negative right :It is  “a right to be free from some action by others”, so a negative right obligates others to refrain from action.

Ethics in India

Our country is one of the oldest civilizations with a rich cultural and ethical heritage. Our Constitution as well as all our religious books is full of codes and directives on high values and ethics to be followed by the state as well as the society.

‘Do not do unto others as you would not be done by ’(Atmani Pratikulani paresham na samachary), is the principle given in ‘Mahabharat’. The definition of Ethics is well concretized in this maxim. This means that we should not do anything, which is a deviation from our intrinsic humanness – Swabhav. If we are able to do this, our inner core will spontaneously manifest itself. Ethics is human conduct in the light of moral principles, which may be viewed as the individual’s standard of conduct or as a body of social obligations and duties. Our behavior outside is a reflection of our values within, which we radiate outwards thorough our action and deeds.

But, there is perceptible change in the mind-set of the people towards achieving materialistic goals and prosperity irrespective of the “means” to be adopted. Ironically, the society also respects material prosperity only because of visible glamour attached with it with little regard to higher values of simplicity, honesty, hard-work, character building etc.

There is a saying that a country gets the kind of government it deserves’. This is truly reflected in our present day society and calls for a serious introspection and concerted effort towards change in the social mind-set.

In our work situations, the organizational behavior theories of the west guide us. As is obvious, these theories and practices which deal with only one-ninth of the Indian population while the eight-ninth of the Indian population is traditional (normative). The men in the fields of India are guided by the insights embedded in the structure of Indian thoughts. Thus the western thoughts have not been able to lead us much ahead. It is important to look into our own Indian thought and find solutions therein.

Once upon a time India was known as Golden Bird (sone ki chidia) for all its prosperity and richness. The credit goes to all the saintly kings, from king Janaka to Ashoka, Akbar, Harshabardhan and the like; who had put into practice human values ideology as given in Vedanta and the other ancient Indian thoughts. It is because of these values that we could sustain ourselves through all adversities and cruelties of the earlier invaders and the British Rule.

Our leaders like Tagore and Gandhi have lived the human values like purity and holiness, non-violence and moral courage. Gandhi forcefully and convincingly demonstrated the power of spirit over material things. His greatest leverage was his command over the Indian masses. He gained such a command because the simple folk could understand that he was inspired from within. They called him ‘Mahatma’. Merely by his hunger strike, the Mahatma could control behavior of millions of people. He firmly derived his political activities from dharmic principles and refused to compromise with what was wrong.

The Indian philosophy has set the ultimate goals for humans and Indian psychology provides practical methods in graded steps to march towards these goals and ethics is imbibed in it. Thus Indian psycho-philosophy deals with both of these aspects to bring in holistic development of the individual to make him/her full of values and ethical.

Indian tradition of Ethics

Ethics (nītīśāstra) is a branch of philosophy that deals with moral values. It studies human character and conduct in terms of good and bad, right and wrong. . Ethics is primarily concerned with the moral issues of the world. A true knowledge of ethics would be attained if one practices and imbibes these moral values.

True religion lays stress on moral virtues. People are required to discharge their duties according to the moral code of ethics. In the knowledge tradition of India, ethics has its origin in its religious and philosophical thinking. From time immemorial, various religious faiths have flourished here. Every religious and every philosophical system of India has a prominent ethical component. Ethics is the core of all these systems. In every religious tradition, good moral conduct is considered essential for a happy and contented life. Without following the path of righteousness no one can attain supreme goal (mokṣa) of life. For this one has to perform good deeds and avoid wrong-doing.

 Rigveda and Cosmic order  : India has a very ancient history of thinking about ethics. Its central concepts are represented in Ṛigveda, one of oldest knowledge texts not only of India but of the entire world.  In Ṛigveda, we come across the idea of an all-pervading cosmic order (ṛta) which stands for harmony and balance in nature and in human society. Here ṛta is described as a power or force which is the controller of the forces of nature and of moral values in human society. In human society, when this harmony and balance are disturbed, there is disorder and suffering. This is the power or force that lies behind nature and keeps everything in balance.

 Dharma : In Indian tradition, the concept of ṛta gave rise to the idea of dharma. The term dharma here does not mean mere religion; it stands for duty, obligation and righteousness. It is a whole way of life in which ethical values are considered supreme and everyone is expected to perform his or her duty according to his or her social position and station in life.

In Buddhism, the word dhamma is used, which is the Pāli equivalent of the Sanskrit word dharma. The guidelines and rules regarding what is considered as appropriate behaviour for human beings are prescribed in the Dharma Śāstras. These are sociological texts that tell us about our duties and obligations as individuals as well as members of society.

In the Hindu way of life, every individual is expected to perform his or her duty appropriate to his or her caste (varṇa) and stage of life (āśrama). This division of one’s life into the four āśramas and their respective dharmas, was designed, in principle at least, to provide fulfilment to the person in his social, moral and spiritual aspects, and so to lead to harmony and balance in the society. The four āśramas are: (1) brahmacarya, stage of studentship; (2) gṛhastha, stage of the householder; (3) vanaprastha, life in the forest; and saṁnyāsa, renunciation.

Apart from this, the concept of four ends of life (puruṣārthas) is also very important. These four ends of life are the goals which are desirable in them and also needed for fulfillment of human aspirations. These are (1) righteousness (dharma); (2) worldly gain (artha); (3) fulfillment of desire; (kāma) and (4) liberation (mokṣa). The fulfillment of all of these four ends of life is important for man. In this classification, dharma and mokṣa are most important from the ethical point of view. They give right direction and purpose to human life. For instance, acquiring wealth (artha) is a desirable objective, provided however it also serves dharma, that is, the welfare of the society.

In the Bhagavad-Gītā, selfless action (niśkāma karma) is advocated. It is an action which is required to be performed without consideration of personal consequences. It is an altruistic action aimed at the well-being of others rather than for oneself. In Hinduism this doctrine is known as karma yoga.

The concept of right and wrong is the core of the Mahābhārata which emphasizes, among others, the values of non-violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, charity, forgiveness and self realization. It is only by performing one’s righteous duties or dharma that one can hope to attain the supreme path to the highest good. It is dharma alone that gives both prosperity (abhyudaya) and the supreme spiritual good (niśryas).

Similarly, the importance of ethics and ethical values is highlighted in epics and philosophical texts like, Upaniṣads, Rāmāyaṇa, darśana-śāstras and dharma-śāstras.

The darśana śāstras are philosophical texts, which provide rational explanations of the ethical issues; the universal moral problems faced by man in daily life are placed in a philosophical context.

In the dharma-śāstras, emphasis is on the social ethics. In these texts the inter-personal and social relations are placed in an ethical framework for guidance. In these texts the ethical problems are discussed in an indirect manner.

Apart from these some of the texts directly deal with ethical issues:

  1. Viduranītī: Attributed to Vidura, the great Mahābhārata character. A rich discourse on polity and dharma-śāstra.
  2. Kamandakīya Nītisāra:A Sanskrit work belonging to c. 700-750 CE.
  3. 3. Nītivākyamṛtam: Literally the ‘nectar of science of polity’ contains thirty-two discourses in simple Sanskrit prose by a Jain scholar, Somadeva Suri.
  4. Ḷaghu Arhannīti: A small manual in Prakrit verse (c. 1088-1172 CE) on civil and criminal laws by Hemachandra, a Jain scholar.
  5. Śukranītisara: An abridged Sanskrit text on polity which is attributed to Śukrācārya but believed by scholars to be a work of the early mediaeval period of history.
  6. Nītikalpatarū: A Sanskrit treatise attributed to King Bhoja, available in manuscript only.
  7. 7. Nīti Śatakam: Bhartṛhari’s hundred verses on ethics.

The Bhakti Movement

During the middle ages, the Bhakti movement arose in India. It was an all-India movement of social reform and spiritual awakening. It played a very important part in reawakening moral consciousness in India. Jayadeva, Nāmdev, Tulsīdās, Kabīr, Ravidās and  Mīra are some of the prominent saints of this movement. Most of these saints came from the downtrodden sections of society. Rejecting the distinctions of caste, colour and creed, they spread the message of human equality. They were saint poets. In their vāṇī (poetic compositions) they propagated the ideals of love, compassion, justice and selfless service. These are the ethical values which we need even today.

 Sikh Ethics

Sikhism is most recent faith in Indian tradition.It also lays great stress on ethics in Human life. Its Founder Gurunanak dev said that truth is higher than anything else. The cardinal virtue according to Guru Granth Sahib are: compassion (daya), charity (dana) contentment (santokh),  non-enmity (nirvair) and selfless service (seva). In addition to these one is morally obliged to practice the general and eternal virtues.

Jain Ethics

Jainism places great emphasis on three most important things in life, called three gems (triratna). These are: right vision (samyaka dṛṣṭī), right knowledge (samyaka jñāna) and right conduct (samyaka cāritra).

Apart from these, Jain thinkers emphasize the need for reverence (śraddhā). There are other moral principles governing the life of Jains. Most important of these are ideas of puṇya (merit) and pāpa (demerit). Such deeds are very important from the ethical point of view. Pāpa is the result of evil deeds generated by vice and puṇya is the result of good deeds generated by virtuous conduct. One should take the path of a virtuous life to lead the way to spiritual growth. Right conduct is necessary for the spiritual progress of man.

The most important thing in Jainism is practice of non-violence. It is required that principle of principle of non-violence should be followed in thought, word and deed.

The other cardinal virtues are: Forgiveness, humanity, simplicity, non-covetousness’, austerity, restraint, truthfulness, purity, renunciation and celibacy.

Buddhist Ethics

Buddhism gives primary importance to ethics. Sometimes it is called an ethical religion as it does not discuss or depend on the existence of God (the Supreme Being with form and attributes) but instead believes in alleviating the suffering of humanity. The ethical values in this faith are based on the life and teachings of the Buddha.

These moral instructions are included in Buddhist scriptures or handed down through tradition. According to Buddhism, the foundation of ethics is the pañcaśīla (five rules), which advocates refraining from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxicants. In becoming a Buddhist, a lay person is encouraged to take a vow to abstain from these negative actions.

In Buddhism, the two most important ethical virtues are compassion (karuṇa) and friendliness (maitrī). One should have deep sympathy and goodwill for the suffering people and should have the qualities of a good friend.

The most important ethical value is non-violence or non-injury to all living beings. Buddhist ethics is based on Four Noble Truths. These are: (1) life is suffering, (2) there is a cause for suffering, (3) there is a way to remove it, and (4) it can be removed (through the eight-fold path). It advocates the path of righteousness (dhamma). In a way this is the crux of Buddhist morality.

Ethics with reference to Administration

Seen with reference to Administration, Ethics is the system of moral principles/ Code of conduct, acting in the manner consistent with which is upheld as virtuous. Ethics are reflected in such right actions or deeds. Our conduct Rules also give a general rule that the Government Servants should not do anything, which is unbecoming of a Government Servant.

Ethics reflects the inner excellence of a person in attitudes, decisions and action. A good decision can benefit millions, while an unethical one can cripple future. A government servant in every situation is required to perform or act; one should not get upset by the various problems created by the systems and people around; but accept and visualize calmly the whole situations/conditions/problems around and think: ‘Given the situation what best can I do and how?’

If a public administrator is ethical and full of value, he/she would be peaceful and integrated person. This would primarily helps him/her and in course of time, goes to help others in the family, society, organization and the nation on the whole because it is the individuals who make a society, an organization or a nation.

Thus: ∑ individuals = Organization.

Value based management and administration only can save us from the adverse consequences of the present situation. Unless all the individuals who work for an organization imbibe these values, both in theory and practice, the system cannot change.

Thus, ethics in administration leads to a positive change

What are human values?

There are two approaches in defining values. One says values are an inbuilt mechanism in us , which distinguishes the right from the wrong, the do’s and don’ts of any action, even when no one is looking. It rooted in the finest part of the self from where we radiate outwards. Values are concerned with character and conduct of a person and evaluate the voluntary and habitual actions of individuals with reference to their being right or wrong.

Another approach says that this self-managing mechanism is not intuitive, but it is acquired from the environment by continuous teaching and the behavior of others, especially the superior in age and statues, as perceived by an individual. We cannot deny the impact of environment, society and family on an individual for the values he imbibes. At the same time, we cannot deny the fact that the source of values is within, which guides one in making choice in acquisition of learning from the environment.

Values refer to our intrinsic humanness. Individual or personal values vary to the extent one is conscious towards this inner source and the extent to which one tends to compromise with it in the given cultural environment and other compulsions. Thus both the source within and the cultural environment are important for inculcation of values.

Values depends upon different social environments, in which a person lives and acts- be it the family, the neighborhood, the place of work, the community or the country at large. However, at the root of all the value systems, there are certain Universal Values, which are uniformly accepted. Such values lead to the betterment of the entire humanity. In the given culture, some deviations may come in the value-system due to the compulsions of the circumstances then prevailing. Such deviations hold good in those circumstances and time only, but do not hold good forever.

Some customs were need of time like in 18th century marrying up to four women in Muslims was allowed when male population had reduced drastically due to war; caste system was allowed when there was need of professional unity etc, but these are not relevant in the modern times, but due to conditioning, they keep following the same practices. Many social evils like untouchability, child marriage at a time also become part of a value system. Thus none of the value systems is perfect in absolute terms. The nearer a value system is to the Universal values; the better it is in terms of virtues and righteousness. The deviations in the value systems only lead to conflicts and wars and are against human development.

There are certain qualities/emotions, which are accepted as Universal Human Values such as non-violence, gratitude, humbleness, forgiveness, integrity, honesty, patience, innocence etc.

Personal values are those principles, which govern our perceptions and action. For example the terrorist attack in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 shocked the world. Majority of the people who value peaceful life and non-injury would condemn the action, which has resulted in so much of damage to life and property. But the people who were behind this apparently had values of a different type. Those who are condemning the terrorist attack probably value the peace in a society, respect for life, not causing harm to innocent people as important values so that a society can peacefully progress. On the other hand, those who willfully caused the terrorist attack are derived by different set of values. Such values are condemned by humanity and are not desirable as they are purely destructive.

Thus the set of traits as are not desirable are greed, anger, envy, arrogance, vindictiveness and vanity etc. Such qualities or traits, lead to destructive actions. When practiced over a period of time, they build into habits. Desirable values derive a person to use his capabilities for positive actions, i.e. actions useful to humanity (and not self alone), while the undesirable values derive them for negative actions, which may result in his own benefit or fulfillment of desire, but are in a long run harmful to both the society and the doer. Values guide us in deciding what is to be done and also the means that should be used for such action.

Values are universal, absolute and beyond the situational, cultural, race and creed disparities. Our outer behavior reflects how far we abide by this inner value-system. We can say that whatever our conduct ought to be when we are in tune with this inner source is what we term as Ethics. The more our conduct is in consonance with the inner values, the better composed and integrated our personality is.

Strengthening of ethical and moral values in Governance

Importance of strengthening ethical and moral values in Governance:

There are certain rules, code of conduct which is followed under given compulsion. But compulsion may be broken any moment if there is a mismatch or conflict within doer. So, there is a need of inner deposition consistent with the act. This inner deposition would come by inculcating moral values. These moral values are essential for a person to become real human being. Real transformation as a human being can only bring about a sustainable impact towards Good-Governance. If a person is moral, the action outside becomes voluntary, spontaneous and self-motivated. Naturally, such actions will be much more effective, humane and wholesome in nature. Therefore, values in individual is important because organizational values always derive from individual values. Individual is the foundation of a group, a society or a country as a whole. Our great modern thinkers like Tagore, Vivekanand and Gandhi have devoted their lives to the betterment of our society. They always emphasized purity and strength of human character.

Building of human character is experiential process. Intellectual clarity is important for right kind of emotional development. The normal outgoing tendencies in a man, which tend to land him in a mess, is balanced with a harmonizing inward journey. So, there is need of efforts to blend conceptual insights with the practical issues of value-based human response in organizations.

Administration is not only Public Administration, it related with the whole Government set up and its variety of activities. Administration is required to provide all types of social, economical, and utility services to its citizens for the all round development of the people. Not only this, Administration is required to have capability of acquiring a sustained growth and to cope with new continuous change towards the achievement of progressive political, economical and social objectives, thus leading to National building.

Clean efficient and impartial Administration is necessary for the proper execution of national plans and programs. But, we find corrupt practices, low morale, and favoritism, culture of high consumerism, casteism, and nepotism all around us.

In the organization, there is stress on skills-development, which of course is required to keep pace with the changing technology and requirements. At the same time, efforts to some extent are also being made to develop positive attitude of the government officials towards the desired acts and behaviors. However, little is achieved through all the efforts made in this direction. Today, there is lot of gap between theory and practice, belief and action. This gap leads to hypocrisy. This contradiction leads to tensions and stress in the society. According to Gandhi, social development must aim at removing as far as possible this contradiction.

Now days, corruption and power abuse in administration and politics has weaken the nation. The obvious solution is better, more transparent and accountable administration. Such an administration can be trustworthy only when it is based on deeply felt human values. Unless values are inculcated within human beings, their attitude and behavior cannot be changed through superficial efforts.

The need for inculcating values has also been emphasized in the Parliamentary Standing Committees and many other Committees. If sound, positive, noble human values are nurtured within the process of human development, ethical behavior tends to become natural, spontaneous and almost instinctive. Such values only can lead to Good governance.

The involvement of civil society as educator and watchdog

In a modern and democratic society, it is vital to have the support of active and committed citizens, as well as of the organizations in which they come together to give a voice to their concerns, in order to realize political ambitions and objectives.

The economic globalization of today means that decisions are being taken further and further away from the persons affected by them. Ensuring participation of grassroots-level players, through their representative organizations, in policy-shaping and decision-making processes is therefore a key instrument to reinforce the democratic legitimacy of public institutions and their work and activities. Their involvement furthermore facilitates the emergence of a new consensus on the sense and direction of public affairs and makes it possible to shape policies and to make decisions in the general interest.

The current challenges facing the India and the growing complexity of the issues at stake are such that the involvement of civil society organizations is now more than ever of particular relevance. Through their experience, expertise and specialized or technical knowledge of the topic in question, the quality and credibility of political decision-making can be greatly enhanced. Furthermore, their participation contributes to a better understanding and acceptance by the public of the decisions, and thus to their implementation in a more effective way.

Ethics in Public administration: status and concerns

To the extent that probity and dedication are fundamental values, are there, today, objective conditions to promote these principles in the public service?

The legal framework applicable to ethical problems in the public service is already quite vast from the Constitution to the Code of Ethics although its actual implementation is insignificant. Nevertheless, public servants, in general, abide by ethical standards applicable to the public service and sanctioned by society. The gist of the problem lies in insufficient implementation.

So, it is necessary to take initiatives to reduce the punitive character of the Code of Ethics, in order to emphasize education, without an over reliance on punishment. To the extent that ethical conduct is intended to protect primarily the public service, not the individual civil servant, a sound human resources policy should emphasize professionalism, qualification, and retraining programs which should include ethical notions and principles. There is a need to take initiative to include principles of Ethics in the academic curriculum, starting in elementary schools.

By and large the civil service in India has lost its neutral and anonymous character and even though there are still some upright civil servants, they are getting marginalized in the process of governance. Reason for negative image:

(i) Increasingly, corrupt practices have become prevalent in the higher civil service and public perception of higher civil servants as a class is not edifying.

(ii)The higher civil servants – particularly, officers of the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and Indian Forest Service working in different States of the country do not have a fixed tenure in any post and hence are not able to achieve the targets fixed for them in their assignments. In the absence of any fixed tenure, these officers of the All India Services are not able to function as effective instruments of public policy and are simply wasted due to frequent transfers from one post to the other.

(iii) A majority of civil servants are not perceived as people-friendly and by and large they have lost touch with ground realities. There is a sharp decline in their field visits and inspections of field programmers. Civil servants in the States have almost given up the earlier practice of sustained tours of remote areas and night halts in those areas which are so essential to understand and redress problems of the poor and the weaker sections of the community.

(iv) There is ‘groupies’ among higher civil servants and increasingly they have been divided along sectarian lines – an extremely unfortunate development.

(v) Some civil servants develop an unhealthy nexus with power brokers and do not hesitate to resort to questionable means to get good postings in India or abroad.

(vi) The vigilance organization in States and the Central Bureau of Investigation in Government of India have created such a fear psychosis that civil servants are afraid of taking bold decisions in the public interest i.e. decisions involving expenditure of big amounts of money and important commercial decisions.

(vii) Bureaucratization has brought a paralysis to the administration, impunity to civil servants, and a generalized feeling of impotence on the part of society.

(viii) The main external cause of the negative image of the public service is a result of the biased posture of the media. The media emphasize often a distorted image of the public sector. These negative aspects include corporativism, corruption and nepotism.

There is a need of making the Civil Service responsive and citizen-friendly; transparent; accountable; and ethical in its actions and interface with the people. The reputation can be rescued by applying these steps:

(i) Integrity in public service and removal from service of corrupt officials;

(ii) Making public friendly administration;

(iii) Constitution of a high level panel comprising Comptroller & Auditor General, Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Cabinet Secretary to ensure clean and accountable govt.;

(iv) Formulation of a policy of transfer for civil servant

(v) Civil servants in the States should do tours of remote areas and night halts in those areas which are so essential to understand and redress problems of the poor and the weaker sections of the community.

(vi) Making the civil service e-governance friendly

(vii) Putting a premium on intellectual growth of civil servants.

(viii) There is a need to enforce the ‘Single Directive to protect honest officers who take bold decisions in the public interest.

(ix) There is a need of human resources policies which should emphasize professionalism, the merit system, and working conditions compatible with the public service.

(x) The introduction of basic notions of ethics and citizenship in the academic curriculum at all levels of education is necessary.

The implementation of administrative reforms recommendation is very useful in improving ethical conduct in the public service. It is important for of securing administrative continuity. This provides insights for betterments.

Ethical theories

Here are some suggestions about how some of the chief ethical theories would address various issues.  This is all pretty tentative, in part because different ethical theories tend to focus on different issues, so it’s not always easy to determine how one theory would address the issues that are the chief concern of another theory. Also, many of the categories in the table are not strictly parts of the moral theories, but rather views on other topics (such as personal identity or the nature of rationality) which seem to mesh well with a particular ethical theories.

Consequentialism Deontology Virtue Ethics
example utilitarianism Kantianism Aristotelianism
model of practical reasoning means-ends reasoning:  how do I get what I want/what’s good? how do I determine what’s rational? what habits should I develop?
personal identity (what is essential to the self?) will & reason + desires will & reason (desires are thought of as outside forces with the potential to thwart rationality) will& reason + desires + character traits
rationality getting what you want doing what reason requires (at a minimum, not having inconsistent or self-contradictory  policies) having the kinds of desires which reason determines are best
central question what ought I to do?
(act orientation)
what ought I to do?
(act orientation)
what’s the best sort of person to be?
(agent orientation)
primary object of  evaluation consequences (states of affairs) acts people (agents)

(for most consequentialists, maximum happiness or something similar)right action itself (? or possibly states of affairs brought about by right action?  or states of affairs in which people who act rightly are rewarded?)whatever results from the actions of good people?  happiness?   acquisition of goods internal to practices (MacIntyre)?the rightactions that maximize the goodBASIC NOTIONthe sort of thing a virtuous person would do in the situationvirtuebeing disposed to maximize utility (for simple versions of consequentialism, there will be just one big virtue; more complex versions might have many)positive attitude toward doing one’s moral duty(?)BASIC NOTION

(but may be analyzed, e.g. as those dispositions necessary for the attainment of happiness)

Improvement of ethics in public sector

What may be expected from the media in the development of a policy aiming at the improvement of ethical conduct in the public sector?

Press is playing an efficient institutional role in the field of ethics. Moreover, it became clear that civil servants in general are resentful of the press, in spite of the fact that virtually all major scandals were investigated as a result of denunciations by the press. This reaction seems to stem from a perception that the press is responsible for the current deterioration of the public image of the public sector.

From their standpoint, the role of the press during the past few years has been one of denunciation. Rampant competition in the media has caused irresponsible denunciations, based on insufficient investigation, unreliable sources, and distortion of facts. As a result, public institutions have been discredited, according to the prevailing opinion of the participants.

A cooperative posture of the press, although desirable, is overshadowed by its tendency to highlight negative facts and ignore positive ones whenever the public sector is concerned.

A healthy system is like the ones adopted in the United States and the United Kingdom, where freedom of the press is guaranteed, but journalists and the media are responsible for error or libel. Furthermore, since globalization and technological development are increasing, the power of the press will continue to expand.

So, the press should act as a watchdog and whistleblower but in a competent, accurate and responsible manner. Positive facts and information relevant to society must also be published. The agenda of the press and the agenda of the government must be kept separate.

And, public sector should take the initiative of divulging facts that are relevant to society through the press; Promote the Rajyasabha-TV; and effectively regulate the use and preservation of confidential and privileged information.

On the other hand, the press is a vehicle to divulge matters of interest to the public sector and to society. It is necessary to evolve norms and practices requiring proper screening of all allegations/complaints by the media, and taking action to put them in the public domain. Thus cooperation with press is desirable in improvement of ethics in public sector.

Ethical Governance

Relevance of Ethics in Public realm

Mahatma Gandhi dreamed Ram-rajya. It is commonly known that under Ramarajya both those at the helm of public institutions, as well as the public, would live by the highest moral values. In this sense it is a form of Utopia.

Moral values or ethics is simply about what we ought to do or ought not to do. That is, it is concerned with what is good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, or noble and ignoble, and how we can tell the difference. There are many different and often competing ethical frameworks, theories, and principles, and there is certainly no complete agreement about the ethical standards and behavior that should apply in specific contexts. However, it is generally accepted that the domain of ethics embraces not merely the discrete actions of individuals but also the actions of groups of individuals – whether these groups are small, such as families, or large, such as nations and the international community.

Our elected leaders (such as the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers), elected representatives (such as Members of Parliament), political staff, and public servants make policies for the development. Development means that public policy should be directed towards the goal of building the good society, or at least a better one than we currently experience.

With respect to the purpose of public policy, John Rawls (1971), have given pride of place to the quest for justice. Others have argued that the overarching aim should be to realise the common good or the public interest. Still others have invoked theological categories and argued that the role of the state is to uphold the divine will or build the Kingdom of God. And yet others, notably utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill (see Robson 1966), have emphasized the need to maximize utility, happiness, or welfare or achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. So,a good public policy constitutes ethical foundation such as justice, humanity and prudence.

Hence, ethical inquiry – or what is often called moral philosophy – is not confined to the private sphere of life; it is equally relevant to the public realm, including the decisions of those who act on behalf of the public, whether at the national or sub-national level.

Nature and Essence of Ethics

Most people learn ethical norms at home, at school, in religion, or in other social settings. Although most people acquire their sense of right and wrong during childhood, moral development occurs throughout life and human beings pass through different stages of growth as they mature. Ethical norms are so ubiquitous that one might be tempted to regard them as simple commonsense or intuition.

On the other hand, if morality were nothing more than commonsense or intuition, then why are there so many ethical disputes and issues in our society?

One plausible explanation of these disagreements is that all people recognize some common ethical norms but different individuals interpret, apply, and balance these norms in different ways in light of their own values and life experiences.

It is important to remember that ethics and law are not the same. An action may be legal but unethical or illegal but ethical. We can also use ethical concepts and principles to criticize, evaluate, propose, or interpret laws. Indeed, in the last century, many social reformers urged citizens to disobey laws in order to protest what they regarded as immoral or unjust laws. Peaceful civil disobedience is an ethical way of expressing political viewpoints.

Another way of defining ‘ethics’ focuses on the disciplines that study standards of conduct, such as philosophy, theology, law, psychology, or sociology. For example, a “medical ethicist” is someone who studies ethical standards in medicine. One may also define ethics as a method, procedure, or perspective for deciding how to act and for analyzing complex problems and issues. For instance, in considering a complex issue like global warming, one may take an economic, ecological, political, or ethical perspective on the problem. While an economist might examine the cost and benefits of various policies related to global warming, an environmental ethicist could examine the ethical values and principles at stake.

Many different disciplines, institutions, and professions have norms for behavior that suit their particular aims and goals. These norms also help members of the discipline to coordinate their actions or activities and to establish the public’s trust of the discipline. For instance, ethical norms govern conduct in medicine, law, engineering, and business. Ethical norms also serve the aims or goals of research and apply to people who conduct scientific research or other scholarly or creative activities. There is even a specialized discipline, research ethics, which studies these norms.

Ethics is important in promoting good, truth and avoidance of error. It promotes the values that are essential to collaborative work, such as trust, accountability, mutual respect, and fairness. In public life it help to ensure that officials or governance can be held accountable to the public. It also helps to build public support. It promote a variety of other important moral and social values, such as social responsibility, human rights, animal welfare, compliance with the law, and health and safety .It enhances quality and integrity.

Personal Ethics

Ethics is a system of moral principles, by which human actions and proposals may be judged good or bad, or right or wrong.”

Personal Ethics include:

  • Responsibility: Responsibility is taking care of your duties. It is answering for our actions. It is accountability. It is trustworthiness .It is a core value for living honorably. It is being accountable for our behavior. It is being dependable when we have things to do.
  • Respect: Respect means showing regard and appreciation for the worth of someone or something. It means honor and esteem. It includes respect for self, respect for the rights and dignity of all persons, and respect for the environment that sustains life. Much of the universal values and virtues that contribute to the good of the individual and society and affirm our human dignity are derived from the value of respect and the value of responsibility. We need respect to collaborate and to have a peaceful world.
  • Compassion: Desire to ease other suffering. Sympathetic awareness of another’ distress combined with a desire to alleviate it. Kindness and caring are shown. Service and generosity are ways that compassion can be demonstrated.
  • Sharing: Sharing is giving, service, love, helpfulness. Sharing is kindness, generosity, unselfishness, sacrifice.
  • Perseverance: It is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance. It is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint. It is trying again and again.
  • Friendship: Friendship is an unselfish concern for the good of another. It  is our relationship with someone we like. “A friend is someone who knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts who you’ve become, and still, gently invites you to grow.”
  • Cooperation: Cooperation is the common effort of a group for their mutual benefit. It is teamwork. It is working together peacefully.
  • Self-discipline: Self-discipline is self-control and self-restraint. It is self-reliance and independence.
  • Honesty: Honesty is telling the truth. It is straightforward conduct. It is being sincere, truthful, trustworthy, honorable, fair, genuine, and loyal with integrity. It is not being fabricate, falsify, or misrepresenting in  personal , societal and professional life. It is to not deceive colleagues, granting agencies, or the public. It is that one should not make any false claims about the skills, abilities, credentials and experience of their organization or themselves.
  • Integrity: Keep your promises and agreements; act with sincerity; strive for consistency of thought and action.
  • Accountability: The obligation of an individual  to account for its activities, accept responsibility to others  .
  • Trustworthiness: Share data, results, ideas, tools, resources. Be open to criticism and new ideas. Being reliable.
  • Social awareness: Being aware of what is going on in your society and participate in every possible aspect of your society.
  • Social responsibility: Strive to promote social good and prevent or mitigate social harms
  • Non-discrimination: Avoid discrimination against people on the basis of sex, race, and ethnicity.

  Ethical concerns and dilemmas in Public Officials:

  1. Theft & Fraud by Public Officials
  2. Improper Use of Government Property
  3. Bribery & Influence Peddling
  4. Conflict of Interest & Self-dealing
  5. Divulging Confidential Information
  6. Improper Conduct Post-Employment
  7. Immoral Conduct by Public Officials
  8. Theft & Fraud by Public Officials:One of the more serious ethical issues in government is theft of public property by public officials. Such theft can range from the trivial, such as taking home office supplies, and stealing millions of rupees from the public purse.

1. Fraud is one of the most common, and costly, forms of theft by public officials. Often referred to as theft by deception or trickery, fraud occurs when an individual deliberately deceives others in order to unjustly gain money, property, or services. There are many different ways in which public officials attempt to defraud government and taxpayers. They may, for example, submit false expense reports for costs they did not incur, or provide inflated work invoices for services they did not render. In the most extreme situations, public officials may participate in elaborate schemes of deception to divert large amounts of public funds from government programs and services into their own pockets.

2.Improper Use of Government Property: Another important issue is the use of public property by public officials for private benefit. This would include, for example, using one’s office telephone for personal long-distance calls, or using government vehicles for personal transportation. Such abuses of government property are not exactly theft. The public official is not actually stealing the office telephone or the government vehicle. Instead, the issue concerns the purpose for which the government property is being used. There is an expectation that equipment and transportation will be used only for activities associated with the performance of public duties, and not for purely personal reasons or for private benefit.

3.Bribery & Influence Peddling: Bribery occurs when a person of authority is offered, and accepts, some personal benefit in exchange for performing some action. A public official may, for example, be offered money, property, or free services. In exchange, s/he agrees to take some action that benefits the giver of the bribe, such as voting a certain way on a piece of legislation, or turning a blind eye to some illegal activity.

Influence peddling is a particular form of bribery in which a public official actively sells his/her ability to influence government decision-making. Regular forms of bribery involve a private individual or group approaching a public official and attempting to buy interests. In the case of influence peddling, however, it is the official him/herself approaching others in an attempt to sell access to government, services or otherwise.

4.Conflict of Interest & Self-dealing: Conflict of interest occurs when a public official’s private interests are such that they may influence the performance of his or her public duties. The concern here is often the same as with bribery and influence peddling. Public servants and elected officials are expected to exercise impartiality and objectivity when performing their official duties, and should act in the public’s best interests. When there is conflict of interest, however, there is a concern that the public official may favor some interest other than the general public.

Conflict of interest arises in many different situations. Self-dealing is one of the most obvious ones. This occurs when an individual’s activities in his/her official capacity involve dealing with him/herself in a private capacity, often for personal benefit. A classic example is a public official using his/her office to hire their own private company to work for the government. The concern is that the public official may choose his/her own company instead of other, better options available, simply because they desire the profits from the government contract. Moreover, s/he may be very lax in ensuring the public gets full value for its money. Concerns over conflict of interest can also arise when public officials deal with persons with whom they have close relations, such as family members, close friends, and business partners. The concern here is that the public official will place the interests of this particular individual above the greater interests of the public.

5.  Divulging Confidential Information: Public servants and elected officials are often privy to all sorts of sensitive information, such as military/security secrets or personal information about citizens (criminal records, tax information, medical histories). An important area of government ethics is concerned with the conduct of public officials in regard to this sensitive information. Generally speaking, there is often an expectation that public officials will keep this information confidential and will not inappropriately divulge what they know.

Confidentiality can be important for different reasons, depending on the situation. In the case of military secrets, confidentiality is often viewed as essential to the physical security of the nation and its people. Divulging such secrets (commonly referred to as“treason”) are considered so unethical that it is punishable by long prison terms or even execution in some countries. In the case of personal information, confidentiality is important to personal privacy and dignity. In many countries individuals have the right to keep personal information private; government officials are obliged to respect that privacy.

6.Improper Conduct Post-Employment: There are many potential issues here, ranging from conflict of interest, to improper use of confidential information, to bribery and influence peddling.

Prior to leaving office, for example, a public servant or elected official may grant favours to certain individuals or groups as a means of securing future employment.

Another concern is the activities of government officials once an individual is in the private sector. Former officials may take advantage of information s/he obtained in performing his/her public service duties, information that is unavailable to the general public. Such individuals may have confidential information about a future government policy; this information could offer the former public servant a distinct advantage in the marketplace with respect to investing, for example.

Former officials may also use their connections to gain preferential treatment or privileged access to government after leaving office. This is particularly worrisome if the former official joins a private lobby group and is able to use his/her connections to gain unfair advantages for others.

7. Immoral Conduct by Public Officials: This would cover issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination, drug abuse, and extra-marital affairs. The underlying concern here is whether the public servant or elected official is a person of good moral character and worthy to hold public office.

Governance and Ethics

What is governance ethics? What is the importance of governance ethics?

Government ethics involves rules and guidelines about right and wrong behaviors for a host of different groups, including elected leaders (such as the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers), elected representatives (such as Members of Parliament), political staff, and public servants.

These groups are faced with a variety of difficult and very unique ethical questions:

Should a public official be able to hire his/her own company to work for the government? Should elected representatives be allowed to accept expensive gifts from lobby groups? When can a public official divulge personal information about citizens? How should public servants treat their co-workers and subordinates?

Government ethics identifies what are correct behaviors in each of these situations and establishes rules of conduct for public officials to follow.

Importance of government ethics:  If we came to believe that politicians and governments were generally unethical or corrupt, we might develop a strong sense of apathy towards their democracy. This, in turn, may result in people withdrawing from democratic participation altogether. This is often heard that: “Why bother voting?

Government ethics can play an important role in ensuring this does not happen. By setting out clear rules that public officials must abide by, and by holding persons accountable when those rules are broken, we can have confidence in their elected representatives and political system. It goes without saying that there will always be scandals that violate ethics. However, we can take some comfort in knowing that when unethical behavior does occur, appropriate actions are taken to punish the person(s) responsible.

Collectively, our government at all levels is responsible for billions of rupees in taxpayers’ money and billions more in public assets and property. Moreover, governments are responsible for providing very important services to citizens, such as social services, public utilities, police services, and national security. Citizens, therefore, have a strong interest in ensuring this public money and property, as well as services upon which they depend, are managed as efficiently and effectively as possible. This requires taking precautions against activities that cause widespread government waste and inefficiency.

Government ethics, properly enforced, can be a valuable means for protecting against government waste and ensuring effective public administration. Such a code can prohibit many of the activities that lead to waste, including theft by public officials and use of government property for private gain. It can also address issues such as bribery and conflicts of interest; activities that can lead public officials to sacrifice the public interest in the administration of programs and services for private gain and benefit.

What specific steps can be taken to reduce the incentives for corruption?

  • The manner in which the laws are implemented needs to be re-structured. Knowledge about the laws among citizens has to be dealt with to bring transparency.
  • Moral deprivation in the larger perspective and increased consumerism should also be addressed.
  • Market forces with regulatory mechanism should be brought to play wherever large public enterprises, large delivery systems, high technology and foreign investments are involved.
  • Monitoring and vigil in a decentralized fashion should be introduced.
  • Shortages should be eliminated.
  • Areas which affect vulnerable sections of the society should be targeted on priority. Citizen centric services should be introduced. Outsourcing should be promoted. Delivery systems in education, health etc should be re-engineered.
  • Ministries with high risk should have in-house arrangement to review procedures.
  • Village records should be accessible.
  • Internal supervision should be the primary responsibility of the Head of the Department.
  • There should be transaction and process audit rather than concentrating on financial audit.
  • There is no accountability on the part of the auditors. The whole functioning of the CAG would have to be revamped.

How to Make Anti-corruption Institutions more effective?

  • The State Vigilance Commissions/Lokayuktas may be empowered to supervise the prosecution of corruption related cases.
  •  The investigative agencies should acquire multi-disciplinary skills an hould be thoroughly conversant with the working of various offices departments. They should draw officials from different wings of government .
  • Modern techniques of investigation should also be deployed like electronic surveillance, video and audio recording of surprise inspections, traps, searches and seizures.
  • A reasonable time limit for investigation of different types of cases should be fixed for the investigative agencies.
  • There should be sustained step-up in the number of cases detected  and investigated. The priorities need to be reoriented by focussing on ‘big’ cases of corruption.
  •  The prosecution of corruption cases should be conducted by a panel of lawyers prepared by the Attorney General or the Advocate General in consultation with Rashtriya Lokayukta or Lokayukta as the case may be.
  • The anti-corruption agencies should conduct systematic surveys of departments with particular reference to highly corruption prone ones in order to gather intelligence and to target officers of questionable integrity.
  • The Constitution should be amended to provide for a national ombudsman to be called the Rashtriya Lokayukta. The role and jurisdiction of the Rashtriya Lokayukta should be defined in the Constitution while the composition, mode of appointment and other details can be decided by Parliament through legislation.
  • Citizens’ Initiatives: i) Citizens’ Charters should be made effective by stipulating the service levels and also the remedy if these service levels are not met.ii) Citizens may be involved in the assessment and maintenance of ethics in important government institutions and offices.iv) Reward schemes should be introduced to incentivise citizen’s initiatives. v) School awareness programmes should be introduced, highlighting the importance of ethics and how corruption can be combated.
  • Role of Media: i)It is necessary to evolve norms and practices requiring proper screening of all allegations/complaints by the media, and taking action to put them in the public domain. ii) The electronic media should evolve a Code of Conduct and a self regulating mechanism in order to adhere to a Code of Conduct as a safeguard against malafide action.iii)  Government agencies can help the media in the fight against corruption by disclosing details about corruption cases regularly.
  • Social Audit: Operational guidelines of all developmental schemes and citizen-centric programs should provide for a social audit mechanism.
  • Using Information Technology: i)Each Ministry/Department/Organization of Government should draw up a plan for use of IT to improve governance. In any government process, use of Information Technology should be made only after the existing procedures have been thoroughly re-engineered. ii) offices having large public interface should have an online complaint tracking system. If possible, this task of complaint tracking should be outsourced. iii)There should be an external, periodic mechanism of ‘audit’ of complaints in offices having large public interface.

Anti-Corruption machinery in India

Union Government: The Administrative Vigilance Division of the Department of Personnel & Training: It is the nodal agency for dealing with Vigilance and Anti-corruption. Its tasks, inter alia, are to oversee and provide necessary directions to the Government’s program of maintenance of discipline and eradication of corruption from the public services.

Other institutions and agencies at the Union level are –

(i) The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC);

(ii) Vigilance units in the Ministries/Departments of Government of India, Central public enterprises and other autonomous organizations;

(iii) the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Central Vigilance Commission: It was set up in 1964 on the recommendation of Committee on Prevention of Corruption, popularly known as the Santhanam Committee. It was accorded statutory status, consequent upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vineet Narain v. Union of India, through the Central Vigilance Commission Act. The CVC advises the Union Government on all matters pertaining to the maintenance of integrity in administration. It exercises superintendence over the working of the Central Bureau of Investigation, and also over the vigilance administration of various Ministries and other organizations of the Union Government.

Vigilance Units in the Government of India:  All Ministries/Departments in the Union Government have a Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) who heads the Vigilance Division of the organization concerned, assisting and advising the Secretary or Head of Office in all matters pertaining to vigilance. He also provides a link between his organization and the Central Vigilance Commission on the one hand and his organisation and the Central Bureau of Investigation on the other. Vigilance functions performed by the CVO include collecting intelligence about corrupt practices of the employees of his organization; investigating verifiable allegations reported to him; processing investigation reports for further consideration of the disciplinary authority concerned; and referring matters to the Central Vigilance Commission for advice wherever necessary.

The Central Bureau of Investigation: It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DSPE Act) to investigate certain specified offences or classes of offences pertaining to corruption and other kinds of malpractices involving public servants. The Special Police Establishment, which forms a division of the Central Bureau of Investigation, has three units, viz. (i) Anti-corruption Division, (ii) Economic Offences Wing, and (iii) Special Crimes Division. The Anti-corruption Division investigates all cases registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 as also cases of offences under any other sections of the IPC or other law if committed along with offences of bribery and corruption. The Anti-corruption Division investigates cases pertaining to serious irregularities allegedly committed by public servants. It also investigates cases against public servants of State Governments, if the case is entrusted to the CBI. The Special Crimes Division investigates all cases of economic offences and conventional crimes; such as offences relating to internal security, espionage, sabotage, narcotics and psychotropic substances, antiquities, murders, dacoities/robberies, cheating, criminal breach of trust, forgeries, dowry deaths, suspicious deaths and other offences under IPC and other laws notified under Section 3 of the DSPE Act.

Vigilance Systems in State Governments: At the level of state governments, similar vigilance and anti-corruption organizations exist, although the nature and staffing of these organizations vary between and across state governments. While some states have Vigilance Commissions and anti-corruption bureaus, others have Lokayuktas.

Lokpal:  The first Administrative Reforms Commission had recommended the establishment of the institution of Lok Pal. The Lok Pal Bill has been introduced several times but due to various reasons it has not been enacted into law. The Lok Pal is supposed to be a watchdog over the integrity of Ministers and the Members of Parliament. The Indian Lok Pal was intended to be similar to the institution of Ombudsman existing in the Scandinavian countries. The institution of Ombudsman has emerged ‘as a bulwark of democratic government against the tyranny of officialdom’. The Lok Pal Bill provides for constitution of the Lok Pal as an independent body to enquire into cases of corruption against public functionaries, with a mechanism for filing complaints and conducting inquiries etc.

There are so many issues with lokpal bill : : (a) composition and manner of appointment of the Lok Pal;

(b) whether its jurisdiction should include all public servants or only political  functionaries such as Ministers, Prime Minister and Members of Parliament;

(c) whether CVC and CBI should be brought under the Lok Pal to create a single independent body to deal with corruption cases;

(d) whether Lok Pal’s role should be advisory or should it have powers to prosecute;

(e) whether it should have suo motu powers to  investigate or would require a written complaint; (f) whether the Prime Minister should be exempt; and

(f) whether prior sanction should be required to initiate inquiry against an MP or Minister.

The Lokayukta: In the wake of the recommendations of the first Administrative Reforms Commission, many State Governments enacted legislation to constitute the Lokayukta to investigate allegations or grievances arising out of the conduct of public servants including political executives, legislators, officers of the State Government, local bodies, public enterprises and other instrumentalities of Government including cooperative societies and universities.

By virtue of such legislation, a member of the public can file specific allegations with the Lokayukta against any public servant for enquiry. It is also open to the Lokayukta to initiate suo-motu inquiry into the conduct of public servants.

Process followed to investigate and prosecute corrupt public servants:

  • The three main authorities involved in inquiring, investigating and prosecuting corruption cases are the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). Cases related to money laundering by public servants are investigated and prosecuted by the Directorate of Enforcement and the Financial Intelligence Unit, which are under the Ministry of Finance.
  • The CBI and state ACBs investigate cases related to corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The CBI’s jurisdiction is the central government and Union Territories while the state ACBs investigates cases within the states. States can refer cases to the CBI.
  • The CVC is a statutory body that supervises corruption cases in government departments.  The CBI is under its supervision. The CVC can refer cases either to the Central Vigilance Officer (CVO) in each department or to the CBI. The CVC or the CVO recommends the action to be taken against a public servant but the decision to take any disciplinary action against a civil servant rests on the department authority.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance Challenges of Corruption

What are the gaps in India’s anti-corruption policies and procedures when measured against international standards? What needs to be done to fill these gaps?

  • Corruption should be defined in a comprehensive manner in the Prevention of Corruption Act

The following should be classified as offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act:

  1. Gross perversion of the Constitution and democratic institutions amounting to wilful violation of oath of office.
  2. Abuse of authority unduly favouring or harming someone.
  3. Obstruction of justice.
  4. Squandering public money
  5. Corruption by private sector which is related to public utility services should be included under the scope of corruption in the PCA.
  6. The Prevention of Corruption Act should be suitably amended to include in its purview private sector providers of public utility services.
  7. Non-Governmental agencies, which receive substantial funding, should be covered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  8. Legislation on the lines of the US False Claims Act should be enacted, providing for citizens and civil society groups to seek legal relief against fraudulent claims against the government. This law should have the following elements:
  9. Any citizen should be able to bring a suit against any person or agency for a false claim against the government.
  10. If the false claim is established in a court of law, then the person/ agency responsible shall be liable for penalty equal to five times the loss sustained by the exchequer or society.
  11. The loss sustained could be monetary or non-monetary as in the form of pollution or other social costs. In case of non-monetary loss, the court would have the authority to compute the loss in monetary terms.
  12. The person who brought the suit shall be suitably compensated out of the damages recovered.

 Collusive Bribery :

  • Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act needs to be amended to provide for a special offence of ‘collusive bribery’. An Offence could be classified as ‘collusive bribery’ if the outcome or intended outcome of the transaction leads to a loss to the state, public or public interest;
  • In all such cases if it is established that the interest of the state or public has suffered because of an act of a public servant, then the court shall presume that the public servant and the beneficiary of the decision committed an offence of ‘collusive bribery’;
  • The punishment for all such cases of collusive bribery should be double that of other cases of bribery. The law may be suitably amended in this regard.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance How we can cut down the incidence of bribery?

There are different kinds of bribes. A type of bribes is that people often have to give to get what they are legally entitled to. These should be call these ―harassment bribes.‖ Harassment bribery is widespread in India and it plays a large role in breeding inefficiency and has a corrosive effect on civil society.

In India, the main law concerning bribery is a 1988 legislation called the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. According to this law, bribe taking by a public servant and bribe giving are equally wrong and, in the event of conviction, both are  punishable by anywhere between 6 months and 5 years imprisonment and they  shall also be liable to fine. For the most part, the act of giving and taking a bribe are treated on par under this law.  Giving of a bribe is treated by lawyers as abetment to the crime of bribery, and so bribe giving is covered under this section.

There is, however, an exception to the bribe giving or abetment law in the form of section 24 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988:

“Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force,  a statement made by a person in any proceeding against a public servant  for an offence under sections 7 to 11 or under section 13 or section 15, that  he offered or agreed to offer any gratification (other than legal  remuneration) or any valuable thing to the public servant, shall not subject  such person to a prosecution under section 12‖.”

However, this section has a lot of ambiguity.

Case-study:In a case of ,Bhupinder Singh Patel v. CBI, 2008 (3) CCR 247 at p. 261 (Del): 2008 Cri LJ 4396, it was ruled that this exemption would apply only if the bribe giver could  establish that the bribe was given unwillingly and in order to get the public servant trapped. But the word ―unwillingly‖ is itself so ambiguous that the use of this judgment as precedence is not easy either.

As a consequence, section 24 is increasingly becoming a clause meant for those wanting to carry out a sting operation to trap a public servant in the act of  bribe taking and seeking protection from the law. This was clear from a ruling of the Delhi High Court in the Bharadwaj Media Private Limited v. State, 2008 146 DLT 108 (Del): 2008 (1) CCR 11: 2008 (2) Crimes 244.

So, the main concern is there is a need to declare the act of giving a bribe in cases of harassment bribery as legitimate activity. In other words the giver of a harassment bribe should have full immunity from any punitive action by the state.

In other words, this would amount to a revocation of section 12 in the case of harassment bribes. In addition the law should say that once the fact of bribery is established in court, the amount of the bribe has to be returned to the person who gave the bribe.

One problem with the new law is the following. Once it is completely clear that a bribe giver has immunity from our bribery law, it is true that many more people will be willing to give bribes. However, since, every time a person gives a bribe, after that it will be in the interest of the bribe giver to expose this act of corruption (since by that not only will she not be punished but she will be getting back the money that she gave as a bribe) the bribe taker will not want to take the bribe. Since the crime of bribery cannot occur without both sides, the giver and the taker agreeing to undertake this act, the fact of greater desire on the part of the bribe giver to give a bribe under the new law will be of little consequence. The end result will be a sharp decline in the incidence of bribery.

For the sake of clarity, it is not being argued here that the (harassment) bribe giver be pardoned in retrospect. A retrospective pardon is like an amnesty; and barring rare exceptions, amnesties are not worth it. They encourage corrupt behavior by raising hopes of future pardon and corrodes a society‘s morals.

What is being argued is that the law should be changed, so that, at the time of committing harassment bribery, both parties know that the giver has immunity and that the taker not only has a heftier penalty but also has to return the bribe. If we simply grant clemency to the bribe giver after the crime has been committed, none of the benefits being talked about here will be achieved.

It is known that how citizens are often compelled to give a bribe; and by bringing such practices out of the closet, the idea is not to take away the guilt from such actions but the reverse, to discourage the very act of bribery. This legal change will simply strengthen this kind of action, by strengthening the voice of the harassed bribe giver and increasing the penalty on the bribe taker.

What is being argued here is that the legal amendments being suggested will not remove all incentives to bribery. But to the extent that it does create mistrust between the bribe giver and the taker in the post bribery situation, it means that the comfort zone within which bribery occurs in today‘s world will cease to exist and the upshot will be a decline in the incidence of bribery.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance Case-study: Challenges of corruption


Between October 2004 and April 2005, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) followed 822 driver’s license candidates, collecting data on whether they obtained licenses, as well as detailed micro data on the specific procedures, time, and expenditures involved. At the end of the process, the IFC administered an independent surprise driving test (simulating the test that is supposed to be given by the bureaucrats) to determine whether individuals who were granted a license could drive.

To understand whether and how corruption affects allocation, license candidates were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

  1. Bonus group: They were offered a large financial reward if they were able to obtain a license in 32 days (two days longer than the statutory minimum time of 30 days).
  2. Lesson group: were offered free driving lessons, to be taken immediately after recruitment into the survey.
  3. Comparison group: They were simply tracked through the process.

 The bonus treatment shows whether and how the allocation of licenses responds to willingness to pay. Is a group that is willing to pay more for licenses more likely to get them? But also, are there more unqualified drivers receiving licenses in such a group?

The lesson treatment allows to assess whether allocation decisions by the bureaucracy are at all responsive to the socially most important component of this regulatory process–one’s ability to drive.

The comparison group’s experiences already provide evidence of a distorted bureaucratic process. Close to 71% of license getters in the comparison group did not take the licensing exam, and 62% were unqualified to drive (according to the independent test) at the time they obtain a license.

The experimental results highlight how these distortions respond to private willingness to pay. While individuals in the bonus group are 24 percentage points more likely to obtain a license than those in the comparison group, they are also 13 percentage points more likely to obtain a license without taking the legally required driving exam, as well as 18 percentage points more likely to both obtain a license and fail the independent driving test. In other words, a higher willingness to pay for a license translates into an increase in the number of license getters who cannot drive.

The lesson group is 12 percentage points more likely to obtain a license than the comparison group. As a whole, the bonus group pay Rs 178 more in extralegal fees. Individuals in the lesson group continue to make extralegal payments despite being better drivers: the average extralegal payment is about the same in the lesson and comparison groups (albeit with more licensed drivers in the lesson group).

Interestingly, they found no evidence of direct bribes to bureaucrats in any of the groups. The extralegal payments are mainly fees to “agents,” professionals who “assist” individuals in the process of obtaining their driver’s licenses. These agents appear to be more than just time-saving institutions (akin to accountants embodying knowledge of tax regulations). Instead, multiple pieces of evidence suggest that agents institutionalize corruption.

To investigate this further, they designed a second experiment aimed exclusively at understanding how agents affect the licensing process. Specially, trained actors were sent to agents to elicit the feasibility of and prices for obtaining a license under different pretexts, which corresponded to bending various official rules. They found that agents can provide services that circumvent official rules. For example, agents were able to procure a license despite someone’s lack of driving skills: agents offered to procure licenses for 100% of actors who said they did not have the time to learn how to drive. However, they cannot bend all rules as easily: rules that leave a documentary trail (such as place-of-residence restrictions) appear harder for agents to circumvent.

Finally, to understand why good drivers in the lesson group continue to make extralegal payments, we studied non-experimentally the experiences of those who try to use the formal (i.e., non-agent) channel for getting a license. Examining the subset of participants who began the process by taking the driving test once, they  found  that a substantial percentage of them (about 35%) failed and must resort to retaking the test or hiring an agent. Most interestingly, this percentage is unrelated to actual ability to drive: it is constant across the lesson, bonus, and comparison groups, and it is also constant across scores on the independent driving test. One possible interpretation of these suggestive data is that bureaucrats arbitrarily fail test takers in order to induce them to use agents. This interpretation is consistent with theories of “endogenous red tape,” which emphasize that many bureaucratic hurdles might be the result of rent-seeking activities by bureaucrats.

Hence, there appear to be two paths to obtaining a driver’s license in New Delhi: the official path and the agent path. While following the agent path involves substantial extra costs, it ensures getting a license even without knowing how to drive, most likely because agents make payments to bureaucrats to bend the rules. While it is possible to obtain a license without hiring an agent, it also appears that bureaucrats may create hurdles (red tape) to encourage the use of agents. Overall, these results support the view that corruption in this particular setting goes beyond simple redistribution from citizens to bureaucrats.


Corruption in this study appears to undercut the very rationale for regulation: keeping bad drivers from getting licenses. Agents play a key role in the informal channel, as intermediaries between bureaucrats and applicants. The agent system allows bureaucrats to avoid direct bribery, and the bureaucrats may apply arbitrary failures on the driving exam to entice individuals to use agents. One interpretation of the audit results is that the verifiability of a particular regulatory requirement determines the ease with which corruption can overcome it. This suggests that the social inefficiency results would generalize most readily to other contexts where the socially useful part of the regulation is not verifiable by the bureaucrats’ principals.

The study illustrates two main points for future research in the corruption literature. First, greater efforts to collect micro data are needed to penetrate the black box of corruption. Had they  run a survey simply asking individuals who had obtained licenses by paying  bribes, they  might have concluded that there was no corruption in this bureaucratic system. Instead, the detailed questions on payments and the process of obtaining a license allowed us to isolate the central role agents play in this system. Second, this industrial organization of corruption (e.g., around the agent system) is intriguing and has been largely ignored by the theoretical literature. How do agents manage to develop their contacts with the bureaucrats? How do bureaucrats maintain their relationship with agents? Why is the provision of agents apparently so plentiful, rather than their numbers is being restricted? Does the agent system limit the ability of the bureaucrat to more finely price discriminate between time-rushed and non-rushed individuals, as seems to be the case here? These are some of the questions to explore in future work.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance (Note-1) Morality and Politics

In India Ethics and Morality is inseparable since ancient times. This ethical and moral legacy was inherited by our national leaders during freedom struggle; they demonstrated a high degree of probity and honesty in public life. Mahatma Gandhi not only preached morality in public life but also practiced it. He believed that politics without morality is a thing to be avoided.

However, in recent years there is a general feeling that all is not well with the Indian political system which is functioning under great strain. Concerns are being expressed over the general decline of values in public life. Recent trends in politics, however, appear to have created an impression as if; the capacity of our democratic system to ensure probity in public life is increasingly going down. Such a situation does not augur well for the future of democracy and needs to be arrested immediately.

Members of Parliament as people’s representatives are looked at by the people as their role models and the ones who are guiding their destiny, have, therefore, to be beyond the realm of any kind of suspicion. There should be  the ideological base and the spirit of service activated in them. The probity in the entire system should be ensured.

There may be many ways for ensuring probity in public life, but a self-disciplining mechanism, appears to be the best in an institution like Parliament.

Shri N.N. Vohra Committee:

On 9 July, 1993 this committee was appointed to examine charges of corruption involving politicians and general perception of criminalization of politics. In 1995, report was laid before both Houses of Parliament.

The Committee in its report, inter alia, pointed out that “the nexus between the criminal gangs, police, bureaucracy and politicians” had come out clearly in various parts of the country. The existing criminal justice system, which was essentially designed to deal with the individual offences/crimes, was unable to deal with the activities of the mafia; the provisions of law in regard to economic offences were found to be weak and there were insurmountable legal difficulties in attaching/confiscating the properties acquired through mafia activities.

The report suggested setting up of a nodal agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, to be handled directly by the Union Home Secretary, who would be assisted by one or more selected officers of the Ministry for the collation and compilation of all information received from different intelligence agencies.

All-Party Meeting, 1995 declaration of assets and liabilities by the Members of Parliament and Ministers:

  1. Setting up of a Parliamentary Committee on Ethics as distinct from the Committee of Privileges which would act as a guardian on the activities of members of Parliament.
  2. Adoption of a Code of Conduct at the level of political parties to ensure a cleaner public life, e.g., not to give party tickets to persons having criminal record.
  3. All political parties should have open audited accounts which must be published annually.
  4. Giving more teeth to the Nodal Group set up as a consequence of the recommendations of the Vohra Committee Report.
  5. Changes in the legal system, simplification of the procedure and dispensation of quick justice.

Birth of Ethics Committee:

General Purposes Committee of Rajya Sabha in 1997 authorized the Chairman, Rajya Sabha to constitute an Ethics Committee with a mandate to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of its members. Thus, the Ethics Committee, Rajya Sabha, the first such Committee by any legislature in India was constituted by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha on 4 March 1997, to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the Members and to examine the cases referred to it with reference to ethical and other misconduct of Members. It was provided that in all respects of procedure and other matters, the rules applicable to the Committee of Privileges shall apply to the Ethics Committee with such variations and modifications as the Chairman, Rajya Sabha may, from time to time, make.

Ethics Committee, Rajya Sabha consists of ten members, including its Chairman, who are nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha. Chairman of the Committee is from the largest party in the House. Other members normally are the Leaders, Deputy Leaders/Chief Whips of their parties/groups in Rajya Sabha.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Government ( Note-2) Status and concerns: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in Government

Decline in standard of behavior of political parties in public life and the need of controlling it:   It is mainly the responsibility of political parties to prevent persons having criminal record entering political process. Without the sincerity and the commitment of political parties, probity in public life could not be ensured. Political parties should regulate the conduct of their members.  The parameter for the selection of candidates for election by the political parties should be proven standards in public life. This would go a long way in maintaining the credibility of the political system in the estimation of the people.

  As regards disqualifying persons with criminal record or those with dubious distinction, it is a very complex issue. Under the Indian legal system, a person is presumed to be innocent unless proved otherwise. Therefore, efforts should be made to prevent persons with criminal background from contesting elections at two levels : first, at the level of political parties itself while screening the candidates for contesting elections. Second, the Election Commission or any agency as may be specified under the law may also prevent such persons from contesting elections on the ground specified under the law or by amending suitably section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The disqualifications have been prescribed under section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (R.P. Act) wherein offences have been listed which entail disqualifications. As per the existing law, a person attracts disqualifications on the ground of conviction for certain offences mentioned in the R.P. Act but unfortunately the process of conviction gets unduly delayed as a result the very purpose of section 8 of the R.P. Act gets defeated. So, Government should expedite the process of initiating major electoral reforms in order to keep criminals out of the political arena.

 Members of Parliament have not only to represent the society but have also to lead it. Therefore, they have to function as the role models and this naturally casts on them a heavy responsibility. There can be no single remedy for it. The ethical questions cannot be dealt with entirely by legislation. These are mainly matters of one’s conscience

2.Trend of cross voting by some electors going against their party line: There is the emerging trend of cross voting by some electors going against their party line, in the elections to Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils in States. It is often alleged that large sums of money and other considerations encourage the electorate for these two bodies to vote in a particular manner leading sometimes to the defeat of the official candidates belonging to their own political party.  To do not to allow big money and other considerations to play mischief with the electoral process. So, instead of secret ballot, the question of holding the elections to Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils in States by open ballot may be examined.

  1. Minimizing the role of money power in elections: There is an urgent need for considering issues of  electoral Reforms, such as, revision of ceiling on election expenses, corporate or State funding of political parties and its ramifications, foreign donations to political parties, etc in details and suggest suitable measures for minimizing the role of money power in elections. Election process involves some expenditure on the part of every candidate and every party. This expenditure has gone up manifold due to excessive role of money power in elections. It was felt that ceiling on poll expenses as provided in law was not realistic and reasonable. The fixation of ceiling on election expenses for various constituencies must take into account the ground realities. The question of corporate funding of political parties and its ramifications needs to be further examined. There is  need to incorporate suitable provisions in the existing electoral laws with a view to breaking the nexus between the money power and elections. Donations received by political parties, the source of which lies in a foreign country should be totally banned

4.Framework of Code of Conduct:  Members of parliament must hold in high esteem the Constitution, the Law, Parliamentary Institutions and above all the general public. They should constantly strive to translate the ideals laid down in the Preamble to the Constitution into a reality. Ethics Committee of India in 1998 recommended a framework of code of ethics. In the second report, the Committee had emphasized mainly on the procedural aspects of enforcing the Code of Conduct suggested in the first report. These included maintaining a register of members’ interests, declaration of interests by members, procedure for inquiry and penalties. However, the Code of Conduct, like many of them in different countries, could help in evolving certain standard norms of behavior which everyone intending to enter a legislature is expected to follow.

5.Ensuring the smooth functioning of the House: The Government too has its share of responsibility for ensuring the smooth functioning of the House. In a parliamentary set up, while the Government has its way, the Opposition should have its say. The Government, therefore, has to be more responsive and accommodating towards the Opposition in allowing it to raise matters of urgent public importance in the House and the Opposition in turn be aware of its joint responsibility with the Government to the people of this country to ensure that proceedings in the House are conducted uninterruptedly in accordance with the rules, established procedures and conventions of the House

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance:Laws, rules, regulation and conscience as a Ethical Guidance

What form and character should ethical regulations, codes and scrutiny take to effectively develop ethical practice in the public realm? Are current regulations, codes and scrutiny effective?

Leaders in most large for-profit and not-for-profit organizations are subject to some kind of ethical regulation as well as some type of code of ethics. Nevertheless there seems to be a continuous stream of reports of leaders acting in an unethical manner, bringing down not only themselves but sometimes their organizations as well.

There is a need of systematic assessment of whether senior leaders are in fact behaving ethically or leading in a way that enhances ethical culture in their organizations. Without systems or strategies for assessing (or even discussing) ethical performance and culture along the way leaders may find themselves reacting to crises due to ethical failures of leadership that could have been identified and addressed much earlier. So there is the need for improved, systematic forms of ethical scrutiny and leadership.

Case- studies: Role of Boards of Directors (to which senior leadership is accountable in publicly traded corporations and non-profit organizations in the US and many OECD countries)

Virtually all senior executives in publicly traded corporations and large non-profit organizations are subject to regulations and codes of ethics intended to assure they will act in an honest and ethical manner. These senior executives are accountable to their Boards of Directors which are responsible for reviewing and evaluating the performance of the chief executive, including hiring/firing, and setting their compensation levels (including all forms of salary, benefits, bonuses, and perks). Yet, the many high profile cases of unethical conduct by chief executives in both for-profit and not-for profit sectors, accompanied by a drumbeat of criticism about excessively high executive compensation in both sectors, leads us to question what the boards are doing to fulfil their obligation of holding chief executives accountable for ethical behavior.

Case-1 American Red cross Society donation

Following the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010, CNN News examined the question of whether Americans should trust the American Red Cross when making their donations for relief efforts.2 The report provided reassurance that the millions of dollars donated to the American Red Cross would be well spent today, but also reminded us that a previous American Red Cross Executive Director had planned to divert donations to the Liberty Fund (intended for victims of the September 11, 2001 attack on New York’s World Trade Centre) to other purposes, meaning that donations would not be spent as the donors had intended.

Case-2 US state of Pennsylvania Vincent Fumo case

While serving in the state legislature, Vincent Fumo established the non-profit organization Citizens Alliance for Better Neighbourhoods, and for twenty years this organization funnelled resources into Philadelphia neighbourhoods…and into the pockets of Fumo. Fumo is in prison for unlawfully diverting $1.9 million for personal use and political advantage. Though, what is more interesting is that in April 2009 the Pennsylvania Attorney General filed a civil suit against board members of Citizens Alliance for failing in their fiduciary responsibility.

These cases serve as stark reminders that when senior leadership engages in unethical conduct, we must also question whether the boards of directors whom they serve have failed in their responsibility to hold these leaders accountable. There an important responsibility of boards of directors is the creation of a ‘tone at the top’ that promotes ethical conduct and results in attention to ethics permeating throughout the culture of an organization. It is necessary to deterring misconduct before it takes place is better than punishing it after the damage has been done.

Any organization can establish a code of ethics, but without its leadership promoting an ethical environment on a daily basis, the impact of such a code of ethics will be negligible. One method of achieving the ‘tone at the top’ preventative approach is for the board of directors to conduct a comprehensive annual assessment of the ethical performance of the chief executive. Key to creating an ethical work culture is to assure that leaders exhibit the highest of standards in regards to their conduct.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance: Note-4) Necessity of Principles and policies of public ethics in Government

Over the years, the face of the Indian Parliament has undergone a dramatic transformation reflecting the socio-political development of the nation as a whole. This has been so particularly in the case of the Lok Sabha, the popularly elected House, which, in effect, connotes the changing profile of the Indian electorate too. To begin with, one finds that the number of political parties represented in the Lok Sabha has been on the rise, especially in recent years. This corresponds with the proliferation of political parties and the fragmentation of mainline political parties and the emergence of regional parties. Mergers and splits of political parties have become a recurring phenomenon in India’s electoral politics.

With successive Lok Sabhas, the educational background of its members has also changed considerably. Though our Constitution does not stipulate any formal educational qualification for members of Parliament, it cannot be denied that educational accomplishments have a bearing on the behavior of a person while conducting himself or herself in a public forum and the general trend in this regard shows that electors have favoured those who have had basic education and who could thereby articulate their problems and grievances more effectively in the supreme legislative organ of the land.  The occupational background of the members has also been changing with the Lok Sabhas over the decades. In the First Lok Sabha, members with legal background outnumbered those belonging to other professions.  Now in the Lok Sabha, they were relegated to the third position behind political and social workers and agriculturists. This indeed is ample proof of a changing approach and attitude of the electorate in choosing their representatives. Their preference perhaps is indicative of the fact that they intend to send to Parliament representatives who are grassroot workers, fully conversant with their problems, and who could place them before the national Government for early and expeditious redressal.

To play a meaningful role as members, it is necessary for them to have a proper perspective of the place of Parliament in our polity. As is said, Parliament is not a talking shop. It is visualized by the Constitution as an important instrument of socio-economic change. As such, it has to closely watch the functioning of the Government and influence its performance for social good. How do members articulate their views? In our Parliament, there are a number of devices available for members to raise matters of concern and they should make full use of it. While doing so, they should bear in mind that Parliament is not the forum to raise issues that are basically the concerns of State Governments for which the Legislative Assemblies are the proper fora. The issues raised in Parliament should have a wider significance to the society and the nation at large. Members must make full use of all the available opportunities and participate actively in the legislative, financial and other business of the House, bringing to bear their special knowledge, experience and insights in the shaping of public policy and contributing their share in the oversight and scrutiny of performance of the Government and redressal of public grievances.

The image of the Parliament and its credibility as a representative institution largely depend on the role and functions of its members. The functioning of Parliament is a serious business and it ought to be conducted with a degree of dignity, decorum, and sincerity. Maintenance of order in the House is the fundamental duty of the Speaker. He is not only the moderator and facilitator of the sittings of the House, but is also the authority invested with the responsibility to help frame sound rules, practices, customs and conventions and thereby to evolve a healthy parliamentary culture.  The Speaker derives his disciplinary powers from the Rules. He may, in his discretion, intervene when a member makes an unwarranted or defamatory remark by asking him to withdraw that remark or order the expunction of any defamatory or indecent words used in the debate. The Speaker may also order a member guilty of disorderly conduct to withdraw from the House, and name a member for suspension if the member disregards the authority of the Chair and persists in obstructing the proceedings of the House in case of grave disorder.

The proceedings, at times, become noisy leading to pandemonium and turmoil. . Members should refrain from the tendency to rush to the well of the House, raise slogans and create unruly scenes. As mentioned earlier, a lot of precious time of the House is wasted this way. It is equally important that members must imbibe the etiquette of Parliament. In the heat of the moment when passions run high, members sometimes tend to use unparliamentarily language. There is, of course, a practice to expunge such remarks from records but it has to be borne in mind that with live telecasting, such exp-unction becomes in fructuous as people would have already heard it. There are several cases of this, some of them are :

Case-1  On 18 February 1963, five members of Parliament created disorder at the time of the President’s Address to members of both the Houses of Parliament assembled together. The next day, a Committee was appointed by the Speaker to report to the House of the disorderly conduct of the members. The Committee, in their report, recommended that for any disorderly conduct by a member during the President’s Address, he may be suspended from the service of the House for a period which may extend upto one year. Replying to the discussion on the report of the Committee, Pandit Nehru remarked:

            “The sole question before us is–it is a highly important one and vital one-what rules and conventions we should establish for carrying on the work of this Parliament with dignity and effectiveness… Parliament is supposed not only to act correctly but lay down certain principles and conventions of decorous behaviour.

 Case-2  In 1971, when the President started reading his Address to both the Houses of Parliament, a member of Lok Sabha interrupted him and created disorder. The Committee constituted to look into the matter held the member’s conduct improper and inconsistent with the dignity of the occasion. The Committee formulated certain guidelines for the conduct of members and maintenance of order, dignity and decorum on the occasion of the President’s Address. Over the years, on the basis of well-established parliamentary practices, certain rules of conduct, norms of behavior and conventions have developed for legislators in their functioning in the House, in Parliamentary Committees, during President’s Address, their functioning outside the House, etc.

The imperative for maintaining discipline and decorum in the Parliament can hardly be over-emphasized. Incidents of pandemonium and unruly scenes have been a matter of concern to all those connected with the working of parliamentary institutions–be it the Presiding Officers, the Leader of the House, the Leader of Opposition, Leaders of Political Parties, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Whips or members.

 In 1992, a two-day All-India Conference of Presiding Officers, Leaders of Parties, Ministers of Parliamentary Affairs, Whips, Parliamentarians, Legislators and Senior Officers of Parliament and State Legislatures was held in New Delhi to dwell on many related aspects of the functioning of parliamentary institutions such as disorders and disturbances during the President’s and Governor’s Address, suspension of Question Hour, the so-called ‘Zero-Hour’, number of sittings, training of legislators, code of conduct for members, etc. The basic and unequivocal concern of the participants was effective use of the time of the House, orderly conduct of the business of the House and ways and means to make the Executive more responsive to the grievances of the people. The Conference unanimously adopted a Resolution reflecting the consensus. The resolution inter-alia stressed that with a view to preserving the democratic and secular fabric and strengthening the parliamentary institutions, it was necessary for the members to maintain decorum and dignity at the time of the President’s/Governor’s Address; to utilise fully and effectively the Question time as a well-established device to ensure accountability of the Executive; and to observe the Rules of Procedure in order to maintain order and decorum in the House. The Resolution also emphasised that the political parties should evolve a code of conduct for their legislators and ensure its observance by them.

The Special Session of Parliament to mark the Golden Jubilee of India’s Independence, held from 26 August to 1 September 1997, unanimously adopted a Resolution which inter alia emphasizes:

            That the prestige of the Parliament be preserved and enhanced, also by conscious and dignified conformity to the entire regime of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Houses and Directions of the Presiding Officers relating to orderly conduct of business, more especially by,

            –  maintaining the inviolability of the Question Hour,

            –  refraining from transgressing into the official areas of the House, or from any shouting of slogans, and

            –  invariably desisting from any efforts at interruption or interferences with the Address of the President of the Republic.

Maintenance of discipline and decorum, therefore, is a pre-requisite for the smooth functioning of our parliamentary democracy. It is in this context that the concept of ethics and standards for parliamentarians assumes relevance and significance. In March 1997, the Rajya Sabha constituted an Ethics Committee to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the members and to examine the cases referred to it. During the life of the Eleventh Lok Sabha, a Study Group of the Committee of Privileges undertook a study of parliamentary privileges, ethics and related matters. The Report of the Study Group on Ethics, Standards in Public Life, Privileges, Facilities to Members and Other Related Matters, as adopted by the Committee of Privileges and presented to the Twelfth Lok Sabha, recommended broad parameters to be incorporated in the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha for dealing with complaints relating to the unbecoming conduct of a member or his unethical behaviour. As an elected representative of the people, a member’s status is an exalted one. While privileges are given to members to enable them to perform their parliamentary duties unfettered, these privileges also entail certain obligations. A dignified conduct is one of the primary obligations of a member of Parliament.

 All the political parties should find ways to improve the quality of member’s participation in parliamentary proceedings and to ensure that members conduct themselves in a dignified and decorous manner. As elsewhere, training is necessary for them to understand the subtleties and nuances of parliamentary democracy. There is an urgent need for imparting political education to new members, either by the political parties themselves or through some other mechanism as may be evolved on the basis of consensus. As far as procedural training is concerned, the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training of the Lok Sabha Secretariat organises Orientation Programmes in Parliamentary Practices and Procedures for new members.

In a parliamentary system of government, parliamentarians play a vital role. The image of democracy as a form of Government depends upon the Parliament and the image of Parliament, in turn, depends upon the image of its parliamentarians. Infact, the future of the democratic set-up itself depends upon the way the parliamentarians discharge their duties and responsibilities. Once elected, they are representatives not only of their constituency but of the State and the nation as a whole. Hence, their behaviour and actions inside the House as well as outside have a great bearing and impact on the national situation.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance Necessity of Principles and policies of public ethics in Government

  1. Indian Parliament reflects socio-economic development of our nation as a whole.
  2. Parliamentarian must have a proper perspective to play a meaningful role for socio-economic development of our country. The issues raised in Parliament should have a wider significance to the society and the nation at large.
  3. To maintain its credibility.
  4. The proceedings, at times, become noisy leading to pandemonium and turmoil. A lot of precious time of the House is wasted this way. It is equally important that members must imbibe the etiquette of Parliament. With live telecasting, such exp-unction becomes in fructuous as people would have already heard it.
  5. Effective use of the time of the House, orderly conduct of the business of the House and ways and means to make the Executive more responsive to the grievances of the people.
  6. Preserving the democratic and secular fabric and strengthening the parliamentary institutions.
  7. To utilise fully and effectively the Question time as a well-established device to ensure accountability of the Executive;
  8. To observe the Rules of Procedure in order to maintain order and decorum in the House.
  9. Refraining from transgressing into the official areas of the House, or from any shouting of slogans, invariably desisting from any efforts at interruption or interferences with the Address of the President of the Republic.
  10. For the smooth functioning of our parliamentary democracy.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance Decline in standards of behavior of the Members of Parliament

There can be no single remedy for it. The ethical questions cannot be dealt with entirely by legislation.  These are mainly matters of one’s conscience. Only prescribing a Code of Conduct the problem cannot be solved.  However, the Code of Conduct, like many of them in different countries, could help in evolving certain standard norms of behavior which everyone intending to enter a legislature is expected to follow.

 Apart from prescribing a Code of Conduct for members, people should also be educated not to elect persons with “dubious distinction”.  Political parties and their leaders also can play  a crucial role in ensuring probity in public life by denying  tickets  to persons who are criminals, corrupt or have anti-social proclivities.

There is a emerging trend of cross-voting in the elections for Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils in States. It is often alleged that large sums of money and other considerations encourage the electorate for these two bodies to vote in a particular manner leading sometimes to the defeat of the official candidates belonging to their own political party.  In order not to allow big money and other considerations to play mischief with the electoral process, it is necessary that instead of secret ballot, the question of holding the elections to Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils in States by open ballot may be examined.

 In order to make the electoral process transparent it is necessary for the political parties and the Government to bring about the much desired though delayed electoral reforms for cleansing public life.

This is observed that the general apathy amongst people about their elected representatives.  Behavior and activities of some of the legislators inside and outside the House have eroded the credibility of legislative institutions to a dangerous level.  The Committee emphasizes the urgent need for restoring credibility of people’s representatives and dignity of the people’s institutions.

There is a serious concern over the increasing trend of disorderly proceedings in legislatures. Behaviors of some of the members inside the House lead to interruptions of its proceedings.  Frequent interruptions of the proceedings of the House due to undisciplined behavior of some of the members put an avoidable financial burden on the national exchequer which our economy could ill-afford.

Despite the existence of a body of rules which is adequate to deal with incidences of indiscipline in the House, still there are occasions when members defy the Chair.  It is a matter of the concern in the resolution adopted at the Special sitting of Rajya Sabha on the occasion of the Fifty Years of Independence held on the 1st September, 1997 in this regard and calls upon the leaders of political parties to cooperate effectively with the Presiding Officers of the legislatures in enforcing discipline.  They should enthuse their members to faithfully adhere to the norms of discipline and decorous behavior in the House.

The Government too has its share of responsibility for ensuring the smooth functioning of the House.  In a parliamentary set up, while the Government  has its way, the Opposition should have its say.  The Government, therefore, has to be more responsive and accommodating towards the Opposition in allowing it to raise matters of urgent public importance in the House and the Opposition in turn be aware of its joint responsibility with the Government to the people of  this country to ensure that proceedings in the House are conducted uninterruptedly in accordance with the rules,  established procedures and conventions of the House.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance :Status and concerns

Issue of corruption on our polity , economy and society in general is a matter of concern and is a hurdle in the way of a strong and prosperous India. In our quest for prosperity and equity Elimination of corruption is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity for a nation aspiring to catch up with the rest of the world.

Improved governance is the need of time. Governance can be improved by non-expropriation, contract enforcement, and decrease in bureaucratic delays and elimination of corruption can raise the GDP growth rate significantly. The six perceived governance quality measures are: 1. voice and accountability; 2. absence of political instability and violence; 3.government effectiveness; 4. reasonableness of the regulatory burden; 5.the rule of law; and 6. the absence of graft.

Ethical governance is necessary. In the context of ethical governance the last two are the most directly significant: 1. ‘Rule of law’ measures whether crime is properly punished or not; enforceability of contracts; extent of black market; enforceable rights of property; extent of tax evasion; judiciary’s independence; ability of business and people to challenge government action in courts etc.

A comprehensive examination of the entire corpus of administrative jurisprudence is necessary to to rationalize and simplify the procedures. There is a perception that the public services have remained largely exempt from the imposition of penalties due to the complicated procedures that have arisen out of the Constitutional guarantee against arbitrary and vindictive action. Those Constitutional safeguards have in practice shielded the guilty against the swift and certain punishment for abuse of public office for private gain. A major corollary has been the erosion of accountability. The huge body of jurisprudential precedents has crowded out the real intent of Article 311, and created a heap of roadblocks in reducing corruption. Such a provision is not available in any of the democratic countries including the UK. While the honest have to be protected, the dishonest seem to corner the full benefit of Article 311.

Integrity is necessary. Integrity is much more than financial honesty. Public office should be treated as a trust. There are two facets to corruption: (1) the institution which is highly corrupt; (2) individuals who are highly corrupt. There is a need to work on public profiteering and also value to be attributed to the services rendered by officers. Interlocking accountability is a process by which evaluation could be done easily and accountability ensured.

Building trust and confidence in public is most desirable thing. Building trust and confidence requires an environment where there is a premium on transparency, openness, boldness, fairness and justice. Clearly, the absence of rules is not the problem. One cannot mandate honesty. The rule of law can only defeat the perverse mind. However, it cannot defeat the perversity of the heart. When the ruler himself is right, the people naturally follow him in his right course. If governance is by men who are derelict, the governed will suffer. Administrators have to keep in mind Plato’s injunction:

“The punishment suffered by the wise who refuse to take part in government, is to suffer under the government of bad men”.

Ensuring stability and harmony must be done. Good governance must be founded on moral virtues ensuring stability and harmony. Confucius described righteousness as the foundation of good governance and peace. The art of good governance simply lies in making things right and putting them in their right place. Confucius’s prescription for good governance is ideally suited for a country like India where many of our present day players in governance do not adhere to any principle and ensure only their own interests.

Confucius emphasizes the righteousness for life and character building. This is in conformity with Dharma or righteousness as taught by all religions in the world and preached in Buddhism very predominantly in its fourth noble truth. He also emphasizes that man himself must become righteous and then only there shall be righteousness in the world. This is comparable with what Gandhiji said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

So, it is a question of ethics. Ethics is a set of standards that helps guide conduct. One of the problems is that the present codes of conduct are not direct and to the point. They are full of vague sermons that rarely indicate prohibitions directly. For formulating a code of ethics, it would be useful to keep in mind the advice of Napoleon who said, ‘Law should be so succinct that it can be carried in the pocket of the coat and it should be so simple that it can be understood by a peasant’.

While it may not always be possible to establish the criminal offence of misappropriation in a court of law, the Government servant can still be removed from service for causing serious monetary loss to the State. An engineer may have deliberately permitted the construction of a defective irrigation dam or building. It may not be possible to get him convicted in court on charges of corruption but he could be removed from service on grounds of incompetence. A tax official may have connived to allow the leakage of revenue for return favours in the future. Such conduct may not provide the ingredients of a criminal offence but can lead to his exit from service.

The standard for probity in public life should be not only conviction in a criminal court but propriety as determined by suitable independent institutions specifically constituted for the purpose. We have broadly copied the British model of governance. Ministers in Tony Blair’s government have had to resign on such minor improprieties as a telephone call to the concerned person to fast track the issue of a visa for the ‘nanny’ of the Minister’s child or the grant of British citizenship to a generous contributor to a cause supported by the Government. Such principles were upheld and pronounced by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Mudgal case in which the said Lok Sabha Member was expelled by Parliament on 24th September, 1951 even when the Member volunteered to resign. The Mudgal case is often cited as the noblest example of the early leadership’s efforts at setting high standards of conduct in parliamentary life.

There is need to reverse the slide by prescribing stringent standards of probity in public life instead of providing shelter to public figures of suspect integrity behind the argument of their not having been convicted in a court. The standard should be one of not only the conducts of Caesar’s wife but of Caesar himself.

The solution to the problem of corruption has to be more systemic than any other issue of governance. Merely shrinking the economic role of the state by resorting to deregulation, liberalization and privatization is not necessarily the solution to addressing the problem. Prevalent institutional arrangements have to be reviewed and changes made where those vested with power are made accountable, their functioning made more transparent and subjected to social audit with a view to minimize discretionary decisions. All procedures, laws and regulations that breed corruption and come in the way of efficient delivery system will have to be eliminated. The perverse system of incentives in public life, which makes corruption a high return low risk activity, need to be addressed. In this context, public example has to be made out of people convicted on corruption charge and the legal process in such cases has to be expedited. This hopefully, will also address the growing permissiveness in the society, in the more recent times, to the phenomenon of corruption. In addition, with changes in economic policy regime, regulatory bodies that guide and monitor the functioning of the relevant economic agents, lay down the rules of conduct in the interest of consumers and devise such practices that help in efficient functioning of the system, will have to be established in many sectors of the economy that are now being opened up. At the same time, social monitoring through empowered autonomous and credible structures will have to be established even for the highest of the public offices. Right to information has to be the starting point for some of these changes.

The focus should be on e-governance and systemic change. An honest system of governance will displace dishonest persons. As Gladstone so aptly said, “The purpose of a government is to make it easy for people to do good and difficult to do evil”.

Blame game should be end.The executive/civil services blame interference by the political executive or legislatures and vice versa; legislators blame the judiciary and vice versa – the main problem lies in each one leaving space for others to occupy. If any of the democratic institutions leaves space, the mafia or extra-constitutional authority occupies that space. Realization of its own authority and discharging its sphere of responsibility, developing accountability and responsiveness are the real solutions to the conflicting situations of eroding democratic polity.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance : Corruption: An Introduction

Ethics is a set of standards that society places on itself and which help guide behavior, choices and actions. Standards do not, by themselves, ensure ethical behavior; that requires a robust culture of integrity. The crux of ethical behavior does not lie in bold words and expressions enshrined as standards, but in their adoption in action, in sanctions against their violations, in putting in place competent disciplinary bodies to investigate allegations of violations and impose sanctions quickly and in promoting a culture of integrity.

Corruption is an important manifestation of the failure of ethics. The word ‘corrupt’ is derived from the Latin word ‘corruptus’, meaning ‘to break or destroy’. The word ‘ethics’ is from the original Greek term ethikos, meaning ‘arising from habit’. It is unfortunate that corruption has, for many, become a matter of habit, ranging from grand corruption involving persons in high places to retail corruption touching the everyday life of common people. Corruption is so deeply entrenched in the system that most people regard corruption as inevitable and any effort to fight it as futile. This cynicism is spreading so fast that it bodes ill for our democratic system itself.

There are two, somewhat contrary, approaches in dealing with corruption and abuse of office.

  1. Overemphasis on values and character: Many people lament the decline in values and the consequent rise in corruption. The implicit assumption is that until values are restored, nothing much can be done to improve the conduct of human beings.
  2. The second approach is based on the belief that most human beings are fundamentally decent and socially conscious, but there is always a small proportion of people, which cannot reconcile individual goals with the good of society. Such deviant people tend to pursue personal gain at the cost of public good and the purpose of organized government is to punish such deviant behavior. If good behavior is consistently rewarded and bad behavior consistently punished, the bulk of the people follow the straight and narrow path. However, if good behavior is not only not rewarded, but is actually fraught with difficulties and bad behavior is not only not punished, but is often extravagantly rewarded, then the bulk of the people tend to stray from the honorable path.

Values and Institutions:  Values are needed to serve as guiding stars, and they exist in abundance in our society. A sense of right and wrong is intrinsic to our culture and civilization. But values need to be sustained by institutions to be durable and to serve as an example to others. Values without institutional support will soon be weakened and dissipated. Institutions provide the container, which gives shape and content to values. This is the basis of all statecraft and laws and institutions. While incentives and institutions matter for all people, they are critical in dealing with the army of public servants – elected or appointed – endowed with authority to make decisions and impact on human lives and exercising the power to determine allocation of resources. Public office and control over public purse offer enormous temptation and opportunity to promote private gain at public cost. Therefore, creation of institutions and designing of incentives are of utmost importance in promoting ethical conduct of public servants.

Corruption and Abuse of office: Corruption and abuse of office has been aggravated by three factors:

  1. There is a colonial legacy of unchallenged authority and propensity to exercise power arbitrarily. In a society which worships power, it is easy for public officials to deviate from ethical conduct.
  2. There is enormous asymmetry of power in our society. Nearly 90% of our people are in the unorganized sector. Quite a number of them lead a precarious existence, depending on subsistence wages with no job security. And nearly 70% of the organized workers with job security and regular monthly wage are employed by the state directly or through public sector undertakings. Almost all these employees are ‘educated’ in a largely illiterate and semi-literate society and economically even the lowliest of public servants are better off than most people in the country. What is more, their employment in government comes with all the trappings of power. Such asymmetry of power reduces societal pressure to conform to ethical behavior and makes it easy to indulge in corruption.
  3. As a conscious choice, the Indian state in the early decades after Independence chose a set of policies whose unintended consequence was to put the citizen at the mercy of the State. Over regulation, severe restrictions on economic activity, excessive state control, near-monopoly of the government in many sectors and an economy of scarcity all created conditions conducive to unbridled corruption. In addition, many state subsidies and beneficiary-oriented programs in a situation of asymmetry of power converted the public servant into patron and master and reduced most citizens into mendicants. This at once enhanced opportunities to indulge in corruption and reduced the citizens’ capacity to resist extortionary demands.

A factor which increases corruption:  Over-centralization: The more remotely power is exercised from the people, the greater is the distance between authority and accountability. The large number of functionaries between the citizen and final decision-makers makes accountability diffused and the temptation to abuse authority strong. For a large democracy, India probably has the smallest number of final decision makers. Local Government is not allowed to take root and power has been concentrated both horizontally and vertically in a few hands. The net results are weakened citizenry and mounting corruption.

How to hold authority to account in Democracy?

Every democracy requires the empowerment of citizens in order to hold those in authority to account. Right to Information, effective citizens’ charters, opportunity and incentives to promote proactive approach of citizens, stake-holders’ involvement in delivery of public services, public consultation in decision making and social auditing are some of the instruments of accountability that dramatically curbed corruption and promoted integrity and quality of decision making.

Role of state and a system of laws exist in order to enforce compliance and promote desirable behavior: Enforcement of rule of law and deterrent punishment against corruption are critical to build an ethically sound society. A detailed analysis of our anti-corruption mechanisms and the causes of their failure is necessary in order to strengthen the forces of law and deter the corrupt public servants.

Most important determinant of the integrity of a society or the prevalence of corruption: Quality of politics: If politics attracts and rewards men and women of integrity, competence and passion for public good, then the society is safe and integrity is maintained. But if honesty is incompatible with survival in politics, and if public life attracts undesirable and corrupt elements seeking private gain, then abuse of authority and corruption become the norm. In such a political culture and climate, desirable initiatives will not yield adequate dividends. Competition and decentralization certainly reduce corruption in certain sectors. But if the demand for corruption is fueled by inexhaustible appetite for illegitimate funds in politics, then other avenues of corruption will be forcibly opened up. As a result, even as corruption declines in certain areas, it shifts to other, sometimes more dangerous, areas in which competition cannot be introduced and the state exercises a natural monopoly. What is needed with liberalization is corresponding political and governance reform to alter the incentives in politics and public office and to promote integrity and ethical conduct.

Promote a culture of zero tolerance of corruption: All forms of corruption are reprehensible and we need to promote a culture of zero tolerance of corruption. But some forms of corruption are much more pernicious than others and deserve closer attention. In a vast majority of cases of bribery, the citizen is a victim of extortion and is compelled to pay a bribe in order to get a service to which he is entitled. Experience has taught most citizens that there is a vicious cycle of corruption operating and they often end up losing much more by resisting corruption. Delays, harassment, lost opportunity, loss of precious time and wages, uncertainty and, at times, potential danger of loss of life or limb could result from resistance to corruption and non-compliance with demands. In such cases, the citizen is an unwilling victim of coercive corruption. But there are several cases of collusion between the bribe giver and corrupt public servant. In such cases of collusive corruption, both parties benefit at immense cost to society. Awarding of contracts for public works and procurement of goods and services, recruitment of employees, evasion of taxes, substandard projects, collusive violation of regulations, adulteration of foods and drugs, obstruction of justice and concealing or doctoring evidence in investigation are all examples of such dangerous forms of corruption. As the economy is freed from state controls, extortionary corruption declines and collusive corruption tends to increase. We need to fashion strong and effective instruments to deal with this growing menace of collusive corruption, which is undermining the very foundations of our democracy and endangering society.

Corruption is a global phenomenon:  The United Nations Convention against Corruption was adopted by the UN General Assembly in October 2003, providing an international instrument against corruption. The Anti-Corruption Action Plan, which has been signed by the Government of India, is a broad understanding to further the cause of inter-regional cooperation in the matter of prevention of corruption. The World Bank has also declared war against corruption by refusing to fund projects whose implementation is tainted by corrupt practices. At the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Singapore in 2006, a joint statement was issued with major multilateral financial institutions agreeing on a framework for preventing and combating fraud and corruption in the activities and operations of their institutions.

In India, some anti-corruption initiatives: The Supreme Court has ruled that candidates contesting elections should file details regarding their wealth, educational qualifications and criminal antecedents along with their nomination papers. The Right to Information Act, which has recently been enacted, is a potent weapon to fight corruption. The introduction of information communication technologies, e-governance initiatives and automation of corruption prone processes in administration have succeeded in reducing corruption.

The escalating levels of corruption: Much more remains to be done however, and beyond the realm of existing regulation. The escalating levels of corruption in various segments of our economy resulting in large scale generation of black money, serious economic offences and fraud, and money laundering leading even to the funding of terrorist activities against the State, have created a grave situation which needs to be dealt with severely. Benami properties of corrupt public servants need to be forfeited, as also the assets illegally acquired from corrupt practices. Whistle-blower legislation has to be put in place to protect informants against retribution. Also, we have to suitably strengthen the institutional framework for investigating corrupt practices and awarding exemplary punishment to the corrupt thereby raising the risk associated with corrupt behavior.

Ethics and governance: Ethics in governance, however, has a much wider import than what happens in the different arms of the government. An across-the-board effort is needed to fight deviations from ethical norms. Such an effort needs to include corporate ethics and ethics in business; in fact, there should be a paradigm shift from the pejorative ‘business ethics’ to ‘ethics in business’. There is need for ethics in every profession, voluntary organization and civil society structure as these entities are now vitally involved in the process of governance. Finally, there should be ethics in citizen behavior, because such behavior impinges directly on ethics in government and administration.

International standard against corruption can be understood by United Nations Convention against Corruption which lays down in Article 5, some preventive anti-corruption policies and practices. They are:

  1. Each State Party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system, develop and implement or maintain effective, coordinated anti-corruption policies that promote the participation of society and reflect the principles of the rule of law, proper management of public affairs and public property, integrity, transparency and accountability.
  2. Each State Party shall endeavor to establish and promote effective practices aimed at the prevention of corruption.
  3. Each State Party shall endeavor to periodically evaluate relevant legal instruments and administrative measures with a view to determining their adequacy to prevent and fight corruption.

States Parties shall, as appropriate and in accordance with the fundamental principles of their legal system, collaborate with each other and with relevant international and regional organizations in promoting and developing the measures referred to in this Article. That collaboration may include participation in international programs and projects aimed at the prevention of corruption.

Anti-corruption law of India is Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. It  lists offences of bribery and other related offences and the penalties from Sections 7 to 15. These offences broadly cover acceptance of illegal gratification as a motive or reward for doing or forbearing to do any official act, or favoring or disfavoring any person; obtaining a valuable thing without consideration or inadequate consideration; and criminal misconduct involving receiving gratification, misappropriation, obtaining any pecuniary advantage to any person without any public interest, or being in possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income. Attempts to commit such offences and abetment are also listed as offences, in keeping with the principles usually applied in criminal law. The accent is thus on consideration, gratification of all kinds and pecuniary advantage. But there is no direct definition of corrupt practices.

Challenges faced by India in combating corruption are:

1.Willful abuse of office : There are four type of willful abuse of office-

  1. Gross perversion of the Constitution and democratic institutions, including, willful violation of the oath of office: In some of those cases, the Supreme Court held individuals holding high office guilty of gross misconduct amounting to perversion of the Constitution. In such cases, except public opinion, political pressure and dictates of the conscience of the individual, there are no legal provisions to punish the perpetrators.
  2. Abuse of authority unduly favoring or harming someone, without any pecuniary consideration or gratification: In such cases, often partisan interests, nepotism and personal prejudices play a role, though no corruption is involved in the restrictive, ‘legal’ sense of the term. Nevertheless, the damage done by such willful acts or denial of one’s due by criminal neglect have profound consequences to society and undermine the very framework of ethical governance and rule of law.
  3. Obstruction or perversion of justice by unduly influencing law enforcement agencies and prosecution: Again in most such cases, partisan considerations, nepotism and prejudice, and not pecuniary gain or gratification, may be the motive. The resultant failure of justice undermines public confidence in the system and breeds anarchy and violence.
  4. Squandering public money, including ostentatious official life-styles: In all such cases, there is neither private pecuniary gain nor specific gain or loss to any citizen. There is also no misappropriation involved. The public exchequer at large suffers and both public interest and citizens’ trust in government are undermined.

So, to protect public interest and our democratic system all these four willful abuse of office should be classified as offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

2.Collusive bribery :  There are two types of bribery-

  1. Coercive bribery, where the bribe giver is a victim of extortion, he is compelled to pay for a simple service, because if he does not submit to the extortionary demands of the public servant, he ends up losing much more than the bribe. The delays, harassment, uncertainty, lost opportunity, loss of work and wages – all resulting from non-compliance with demands for a bribe – are so great that the citizen is sucked into a vicious cycle of corruption for day-to-day survival.
  2. ‘Collusive bribery, where the bribe-giver and bribe-taker together fleece society and the bribe giver is as guilty or even more guilty than the bribe-taker. These are cases of execution of substandard works, distortion of competition, robbing the public exchequer, commissions in public procurement, tax evasion by collusion, and causing direct harm to people by spurious drugs and violation of safety norms.

In Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988,  Section 7 makes acceptance of illegal gratification by a public servant for doing any official act an offence. Though giving bribe is not separately defined as an offence, the bribe-giver is guilty of the offence of ‘abetment’ and is liable for the same punishment as the bribe-taker. Section 24 of the Act, however, provides immunity from prosecution to a bribe-giver if he/she gives a statement in a court of law that he/she offered bribe. However, the Prevention of Corruption Act does not differentiate between ‘coercive’ and ‘collusive’ corruption.

So, it is necessary that ‘collusive’ corruption must to be dealt with by effective legal measures so that both the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker do not escape punishment. Also, the punishment for collusive corruption should be made more stringent. In cases of collusive corruption, the ‘burden of proof’ should be shifted to the accused.

  1. Sanction for Prosecution: : Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act provides that previous sanction of the competent authority is necessary before a court takes cognizance of the offences defined under Sections 7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 of the Act. The objective of this provision is to prevent harassment to honest public servants through malicious or vexatious complaints. This objective can well be served if this provision is limited to such cases where the alleged misconduct is directly connected with the discharge of official duties. But sometimes omnibus protection given under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act comes in the way of bringing corrupt public servants to justice as often the sanction is delayed or denied. So, it is necessary that  such a protection is not required for offences which are basically based on the direct evidence of:
  2. Demand or/and acceptance of bribes,
  3. Obtaining valuable things without or with inadequate consideration, and

iii. Cases of possession of assets disproportionate to the known source of income.

Sanctioning authority for MPs and MLAs: Section 2 (definition) of the Prevention of Corruption Act does not explicitly include MPs or MLAs because they are not appointed by any authority. They are elected by their constituency or by the State Assembly and takes his or her seat on taking the oath prescribed. So, there is a need to appoint the Presiding Officer of a House of Legislature should be designated as the sanctioning authority for MPs and MLAs respectively by the Constitution.

There is also the requirement of prior sanction for prosecution now applicable to serving public servants should also apply to retired public servants for acts performed while in service.

 Liability of Corrupt Public Servants to Pay Damages: While corrupt acts of a public servant are liable for punishment under the Prevention of Corruption Act, there is no civil liability for the wrong doer nor is there a provision for compensation to the person/organization which has been wronged or has suffered damage because of the misconduct of the public servant. In addition to the penalty in criminal cases, the law should provide that public servants who cause loss to the state or citizens by their corrupt acts should be made liable to make good the loss caused and, in addition, be liable for damages. This could be done by inserting a chapter in the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Speeding up Trials under the Prevention of Corruption Act: A major cause of delay in the trial of cases is the tendency of the accused to obtain frequent adjournments on one plea or the other. There is also a tendency on the part of the accused to challenge almost every interim order passed even on miscellaneous applications by the trial court, in the High Court and later, in the Supreme Court and obtaining stay of the trial.

A legal provision needs to be introduced fixing a time limit for various stages of trial. This could be done by amendments to the CrPC.  Steps have to be taken to ensure that judges declared as Special Judges under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act give primary attention to disposal of cases under the Act. Only if there is inadequate work under the Act, should the Special Judges be entrusted with other responsibilities.  It has to be ensured that the proceedings of courts trying cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act are held on a day-to-day basis, and no deviation is permitted. The Supreme Court and the High Courts may lay down guidelines to preclude unwarranted adjournments and avoidable delays.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance Challenges of Corruption:

International standard against corruption can be understood by United Nations Convention against Corruption which lays down in Article 5, some preventive anti-corruption policies and practices. They are:

  1. Each State Party shall, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system, develop and implement or maintain effective, coordinated anti-corruption policies that promote the participation of society and reflect the principles of the rule of law, proper management of public affairs and public property, integrity, transparency and accountability.
  2. Each State Party shall endeavor to establish and promote effective practices aimed at the prevention of corruption.
  3. Each State Party shall endeavor to periodically evaluate relevant legal instruments and administrative measures with a view to determining their adequacy to prevent and fight corruption.

States Parties shall, as appropriate and in accordance with the fundamental principles of their legal system, collaborate with each other and with relevant international and regional organizations in promoting and developing the measures referred to in this Article. That collaboration may include participation in international programs and projects aimed at the prevention of corruption.

Anti-corruption law of India is Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. It  lists offences of bribery and other related offences and the penalties from Sections 7 to 15. These offences broadly cover acceptance of illegal gratification as a motive or reward for doing or forbearing to do any official act, or favoring or disfavoring any person; obtaining a valuable thing without consideration or inadequate consideration; and criminal misconduct involving receiving gratification, misappropriation, obtaining any pecuniary advantage to any person without any public interest, or being in possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income. Attempts to commit such offences and abetment are also listed as offences, in keeping with the principles usually applied in criminal law. The accent is thus on consideration, gratification of all kinds and pecuniary advantage. But there is no direct definition of corrupt practices.

Challenges faced by India in combating corruption are:

1.Willful abuse of office :

There are four type of willful abuse of office-

  1. Gross perversion of the Constitution and democratic institutions, including, willful violation of the oath of office: In some of those cases, the Supreme Court held individuals holding high office guilty of gross misconduct amounting to perversion of the Constitution. In such cases, except public opinion, political pressure and dictates of the conscience of the individual, there are no legal provisions to punish the perpetrators.
  2. Abuse of authority unduly favoring or harming someone, without any pecuniary consideration or gratification: In such cases, often partisan interests, nepotism and personal prejudices play a role, though no corruption is involved in the restrictive, ‘legal’ sense of the term. Nevertheless, the damage done by such willful acts or denial of one’s due by criminal neglect have profound consequences to society and undermine the very framework of ethical governance and rule of law.
  3. Obstruction or perversion of justice by unduly influencing law enforcement agencies and prosecution: Again in most such cases, partisan considerations, nepotism and prejudice, and not pecuniary gain or gratification, may be the motive. The resultant failure of justice undermines public confidence in the system and breeds anarchy and violence.
  4. Squandering public money, including ostentatious official life-styles: In all such cases, there is neither private pecuniary gain nor specific gain or loss to any citizen. There is also no misappropriation involved. The public exchequer at large suffers and both public interest and citizens’ trust in government are undermined.

So, to protect public interest and our democratic system all these four willful abuse of office should be classified as offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

2. Collusive bribery :

There are two types of bribery-

  1. Coercive bribery, where the bribe giver is a victim of extortion, he is compelled to pay for a simple service, because if he does not submit to the extortionary demands of the public servant, he ends up losing much more than the bribe. The delays, harassment, uncertainty, lost opportunity, loss of work and wages – all resulting from non-compliance with demands for a bribe – are so great that the citizen is sucked into a vicious cycle of corruption for day-to-day survival.
  2. ‘Collusive bribery, where the bribe-giver and bribe-taker together fleece society and the bribe giver is as guilty or even more guilty than the bribe-taker. These are cases of execution of substandard works, distortion of competition, robbing the public exchequer, commissions in public procurement, tax evasion by collusion, and causing direct harm to people by spurious drugs and violation of safety norms.

In Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988,  Section 7 makes acceptance of illegal gratification by a public servant for doing any official act an offence. Though giving bribe is not separately defined as an offence, the bribe-giver is guilty of the offence of ‘abetment’ and is liable for the same punishment as the bribe-taker. Section 24 of the Act, however, provides immunity from prosecution to a bribe-giver if he/she gives a statement in a court of law that he/she offered bribe. However, the Prevention of Corruption Act does not differentiate between ‘coercive’ and ‘collusive’ corruption.

So, it is necessary that ‘collusive’ corruption must to be dealt with by effective legal measures so that both the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker do not escape punishment. Also, the punishment for collusive corruption should be made more stringent. In cases of collusive corruption, the ‘burden of proof’ should be shifted to the accused.

  1. Sanction for Prosecution: : Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act provides that previous sanction of the competent authority is necessary before a court takes cognizance of the offences defined under Sections 7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 of the Act. The objective of this provision is to prevent harassment to honest public servants through malicious or vexatious complaints. This objective can well be served if this provision is limited to such cases where the alleged misconduct is directly connected with the discharge of official duties. But sometimes omnibus protection given under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act comes in the way of bringing corrupt public servants to justice as often the sanction is delayed or denied. So, it is necessary that  such a protection is not required for offences which are basically based on the direct evidence of:
  2. Demand or/and acceptance of bribes,
  3. Obtaining valuable things without or with inadequate consideration, and

iii. Cases of possession of assets disproportionate to the known source of income.

Sanctioning authority for MPs and MLAs: Section 2 (definition) of the Prevention of Corruption Act does not explicitly include MPs or MLAs because they are not appointed by any authority. They are elected by their constituency or by the State Assembly and takes his or her seat on taking the oath prescribed. So, there is a need to appoint the Presiding Officer of a House of Legislature should be designated as the sanctioning authority for MPs and MLAs respectively by the Constitution.

There is also the requirement of prior sanction for prosecution now applicable to serving public servants should also apply to retired public servants for acts performed while in service.

Liability of Corrupt Public Servants to Pay Damages: While corrupt acts of a public servant are liable for punishment under the Prevention of Corruption Act, there is no civil liability for the wrong doer nor is there a provision for compensation to the person/organization which has been wronged or has suffered damage because of the misconduct of the public servant. In addition to the penalty in criminal cases, the law should provide that public servants who cause loss to the state or citizens by their corrupt acts should be made liable to make good the loss caused and, in addition, be liable for damages. This could be done by inserting a chapter in the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Speeding up Trials under the Prevention of Corruption Act: A major cause of delay in the trial of cases is the tendency of the accused to obtain frequent adjournments on one plea or the other. There is also a tendency on the part of the accused to challenge almost every interim order passed even on miscellaneous applications by the trial court, in the High Court and later, in the Supreme Court and obtaining stay of the trial.

A legal provision needs to be introduced fixing a time limit for various stages of trial. This could be done by amendments to the CrPC.  Steps have to be taken to ensure that judges declared as Special Judges under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act give primary attention to disposal of cases under the Act. Only if there is inadequate work under the Act, should the Special Judges be entrusted with other responsibilities.  It has to be ensured that the proceedings of courts trying cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act are held on a day-to-day basis, and no deviation is permitted. The Supreme Court and the High Courts may lay down guidelines to preclude unwarranted adjournments and avoidable delays.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance Challenges of Corruption: Corruption in private sector

Problem of corruption:

Corruption distorts markets and creates unfair competition. Companies often pay bribes or rig bids to win public procurement contracts. Many companies hide corrupt acts behind secret subsidiaries and partnerships. Or they seek to influence political decision-making illicitly. Others exploit tax laws, construct cartels or abuse legal loopholes. Private companies have huge influence in many public spheres. These are often crucial – from energy to healthcare. So it’s easy to see how corruption in business harms taxpayers’ interests.

Private sector corruption calls for a three-pronged approach:

  1. Companies can take internal steps to prevent it. They need a zero-tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption. And it must be enforced through specific anti-corruption measures.
  2. Companies also need an honest operating environment. So, governments must enforce international anti-bribery laws and conventions. This protects companies from corruption across borders and down supply chains.

Article 12 of UN Convention against Corruption, to which India is a signatory, deals with corruption in the private sector:

  1. Each State Party shall take measures, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its domestic law, to prevent corruption involving the private sector, enhance accounting and auditing standards in the private sector and, where appropriate, provide effective, proportionate and dissuasive civil, administrative or criminal penalties for failure to comply with such measures.
  2. Measures to achieve these ends may include, inter alia:

(a) Promoting cooperation between law enforcement agencies and relevant private entities;

(b) Promoting the development of standards and procedures designed to safeguard the integrity of relevant private entities, including codes of conduct for the correct, honorable and proper performance of the activities of business and all relevant professions and the prevention of conflicts of interest, and for the promotion of the use of good commercial practices among businesses and in the contractual relations of businesses with the State;

(c) Promoting transparency among private entities, including, where appropriate, measures regarding the identity of legal and natural persons involved in the establishment and management of corporate entities;

(d) Preventing the misuse of procedures regulating private entities, including procedures regarding subsidies and licenses granted by public authorities for commercial activities;

(e) Preventing conflicts of interest by imposing restrictions, as appropriate and for a reasonable period of time, on the professional activities of former public officials or on the employment of public officials by the private sector after their resignation or retirement, where such activities or employment relate directly to the functions held or supervised by those public officials during their tenure; and

(f) Ensuring that private enterprises, taking into account their structure and size have sufficient internal auditing controls to assist in preventing and detecting acts of corruption and that the accounts and required financial statements of such private enterprises are subject to appropriate auditing and certification procedures.

  1. In order to prevent corruption, each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary, in accordance with its domestic laws and regulations regarding the maintenance of books and records, financial statement disclosures and accounting and auditing standards, to prohibit the following acts carried out for the purpose of committing any of the offences established in accordance with this Convention:

(a) The establishment of off-the-books accounts;

(b) The making of off-the-books or inadequately identified transactions;

(c) The recording of non-existent expenditure;

(d) The entry of liabilities with incorrect identification of their objects;

(e) The use of false documents; and

(f) The intentional destruction of bookkeeping documents earlier than foreseen by the law.

  1. Each State Party shall disallow the tax deductibility of expenses that constitute bribes, the latter being one of the constituent elements of the offences established in accordance with articles 15 and 16 of this Convention and, where appropriate, other expenses incurred in furtherance of corrupt conduct.


The private sector in India accounts around 25 percent of the GDP. Public procurement in India takes place both at the central and state level with over 35 ministries at the central level, 28 states and 7 union territories procuring independently.

Legal framework for combating Corruption:

Important legislation exists in India, under which corruption can currently be prevented and investigated, the Indian legal framework could be substantially strengthened by the enactment of a series of new bills, including (i) the Public Procurement Bill 2012, (ii) the Company Bill 2012,  (iii) the Whistleblowers Protection Bill  2011,  (iv) the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill, 2011 as well as the amendment to existing laws to include  bribery in the private sector as a punishable offence.

How to strengthen of corporate integrity:

(i)           promoting a collaborative approach between law enforcement and the private sector, (ii) training in economic crimes for law enforcement officials, (iii) need for whistleblower programmes and external audits, especially in larger companies, (iv) clear responsibility and accountability for integrity in the top management as well as (v) code of conducts for employees as integral part of contracts.

With respect to probity in procurement, specifically the public private partnership (PPP) approach is an increasingly used procurement model. So, the enactment of the Public Procurement Bill and the draft rules on PPP would be an important step forward in regulating procurement under PPPs and thus promoting probity.

More awareness and sensitization is needed on ethical values and integrity. A continuous dialogue across various sectors of society including the Government, private sector, civil society and the media is critical. Witness protection mechanisms as well as whistleblower policies are additional important mechanisms to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of corrupt acts.

Ethics in Public Administration and Probity in Governance Challenges of Corruption

SERIOUS ECONOMIC OFFENCES: Economic Offences, called frauds in common parlance have become a matter of concern because of an increasing trend both in terms of size and complexity. The impact of some of these crimes is widespread and can cause much damage to the economy seriously affecting the public at large and sometimes even becoming a threat to national security.

These economic offences include tax evasion, counterfeiting, distorting share markets, falsification of accounts, frauds in the banking system, smuggling, money laundering, insider trading and even bribery.

There are a large number of laws governing economic offences, like Indian Penal Code (IPC), Company act, Customs act, Income tax act etc. In a large number of these Acts, investigations are carried out by the police. Some states have also established Economic Offences Wings to guide such investigations. In respect of some Central Laws, investigations are taken up by designated agencies under the law. The Central Bureau of Investigation also takes up cases by way of referral by other authorities or on directions by the government or the courts.

It is generally felt that the punishment provided under the existing laws is not enough of a deterrent; as a result these offences have become a high gain low risk activity. Economic offences are being used to fund criminal and even terrorist activities.

Legal authority to deal with economic offence:  Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO), was set up in 2003 as a specialized multi-disciplinary organisation to deal with cases of serious corporate frauds. It has experts from the financial sector, capital market, banks, accountancy, forensic audit, taxation, law, information technology, company law, customs and investigation. SFIO presently carries out investigations under the provisions of Sections 235 to 247 of the Companies Act. Its Charter includes forwarding of its investigation reports on violations of the provisions of other Acts to the concerned agencies for prosecution/appropriate action.

What can be further done?

  • To deal with this it is necessary to strengthen existing institutions.
  • Strong investigation, law enforcement and judicial systems can be effective fraud control mechanism.
  • Economic Offences Wing and the Cyber Crime wing in the bank are lending specialization and expertise in dealing with frauds/crimes related to Banking. A similar specialization and dispensation in the Judiciary will be of immense help in trying cases of frauds in the financial system.
  • There is need to define ‘Serious Economic Offence’ under a statute and prescribe deterrent punishment for it. The existing SFIO, though a positive step, can investigate offences only under the Companies Act.

Ethics and Human Interface: Elements of Organizational Ethical Culture

There are three types of Ethics related actions can have powerful influence on building an ethical culture in an organization :

  • setting a good example
  • keeping promises and commitments
  • supporting others in adhering to ethics standards

How to promote organizational ethical culture?

  • Organizations should use their ethics and compliance programs to foster a culture committed to ethics throughout the organization.
  •  organizations should focus training not only on informing employees about compliance with regulations, but also on encouraging employees to behave in a way that is conducive to a strong ethical culture
  • By identifying which Ethics related actions have a greater impact, organizations can better target training to promote a culture committed to ethical conduct in the workplace.
  • Organization can encourage leadership to set a good example of ethical behavior, establishing organizational trustworthiness in keeping promises, and helping employees to make ethical decisions
  • Upper management may need less emphasis on how to handle ethical dilemmas and more emphasis on how to engage in Ethic Related Actionss, while junior employees may need instructions on how to proceed when faced with ethics challenges.

Elements of ethical culture:

  • Communication of ethics as a priority
  • Setting a good example of ethical conduct
  • Keeping promises and commitments
  • Providing information about what is going on
  • Employees perceive that top managers are held accountable for ethics violations
  • Support employees in following organizational standards
  • Considering ethics while making decisions

Ethics and Human Interface: Ethics in private sector

As the economy has become increasingly “global,” there should be some level of control over different industries, organizations and fields (business, health and medicine, education, politics etc) with ethics standards, and, often, the ability to assess and even sanction violations of labor codes and environmental standards.

Globalization, nevertheless, has created new opportunities for companies, which now can shift their production to parts of the world where the cost of labor is cheaper, thereby increasing profit. Opportunities notwithstanding, companies are also facing new restrictions. As people have become better informed, customer concern has become increasingly focused on the ethical, environmental, and labor standards of companies that become global by writing and calling companies to complain about human rights violations, demonstrating against the companies, supporting company anti-sweatshop organizations, filing shareholder resolutions, and in some cases, boycotting products and companies that are allegedly not respecting basic ethical. These ethical violations involve but are not limited to issues concerning child labor, employee harassment and abuse, and solutions consisting of nondiscrimination laws, freedom of association, collective bargaining agreements, health and safety standards, and adequate wages and hours of work.

Customers’ rising ethical concerns have rapidly and radically reshaped the environment in which companies operate. Reputation has now become a precious asset-which not only dictates the economic success of a company, but its survival. Not surprisingly, companies in the past years have made conscious efforts to protect their reputation and reassure their customers of their adherence to a certain level of ethical principles.

Private sector ethics standards are created to respond to that consumer-based need. To do this, the private sector develops a list of obligations to adhere to human rights standards, and the beginning of what would become the Corporate Responsibility (CR) or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement.

Corporate social responsibility is the commitment of businesses to behave ethically and to contribute to sustainable economic development by working with all relevant stakeholders to improve their lives in ways that are good for business, the sustainable development agenda, and society at large.

Determining CSR agendas requires examining the role of business and the evolution of business thinking to reflect the new responsibilities globally, the market-based, regulatory/legal and societal pressures on business to protect and or promote human rights, and determining how companies decide what issues are relevant. Over the past decade, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has risen in global prominence and importance. Corporate governance scandals such as those at WorldCom, Enron, Parlamat, Daewoo, and Tyco profoundly affected major capital markets worldwide, and placed issues such as ethics, accountability, and transparency firmly on the business, regulation and policy agendas. Additionally, issues such as peace, sustainable development, security, poverty alleviation, environmental quality and human rights are becoming increasingly interlinked, and are having a profound effect on businesses and the business environment. Although not traditionally responsible for finding solutions to these challenges, it is in the private sector’s best interest to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Unfortunately, few companies, particularly in developing world,have the skills or competencies to work in this new operating environment. Strategic capacity building is imperative in educating these businesses about CSR, so they may access new markets and improve their competitiveness on a national, regional and global scale.

To protect the company reputation companies are beginning to reassure their customers by adopting codes of ethics and codes of conduct, by establishing internal monitoring mechanisms and by allowing independent auditors to investigate and report whether these companies manage to meet the ethical standards that they set for themselves.

Codes and monitoring systems are viewed as a strategy to reduce reputation risks in the marketplace. One poorly supplied can significantly damage a firm’s reputation and, in turn, its sales and stock value. Informed stakeholders view firms with suppliers in countries with labor issues. Codes of conduct and monitoring systems also offer several advantages over traditional regulatory regimes in the eyes of firms. These systems build on some of the central organizational principles of contemporary globalization – outsourcing production, monitoring, and continuous improvement – and so can advance a form of regulation that multinational firms find compatible with business strategies weak enforcement systems or poor tracking records on child labor with suspicion. These firms in turn, need independent means of establishing their “good” performance. Firms may also be advancing these programs as a strategy to preempt stricter state regulation and to undermine the legitimacy of the state in regulating.

Codes of conduct and monitoring systems are intended to perform both an internal and an external function. Ethics reforms are enacted to improve the ethical standards of firms (internal function), but these reforms are enacted to address the ethical concerns of the market (external function).

Ethics and Human Interface : Ethics in private and public life : Questions

  1. Public Understandings of Ethics and Ethical Education for Public Understandings
    What does the public understand by ethical conduct? How are we educated or socialized into what ethical conduct in public life is? What is the nature, scope and limitations of ethical education in promoting an ethical public life? To what extent does moral education promote or impede ethical thinking? How do we understand and evaluate political, cultural and educational ways of inculcating ethics in the public realm?
  2. Ethical regulations, Codes and Scrutiny in Public Life
    What do ethical regulations, codes and scrutiny offer to more ethical practice in public life? What form and character should ethical regulations, codes and scrutiny take to effectively develop ethical practice in the public realm? Are current regulations, codes and scrutiny effective? To what extent do regulations, codes and scrutiny necessarily represent the cultural character and political interests of their practitioners? How can we improve regulation, code-making and scrutiny in public life and ensure its effectiveness?
  3. Ethics in Social and Public Policy-Making: from Governance to Implementation
    What do particular nations, agencies and organizations develop ethical governance for more ethical practice in public life? What form and character should ethical governance take in informing policy and practice in the public realm? How do those involved in ethical governance ensure principles are implemented effectively in policy and practice? To what extent does governance necessarily represent the cultural character and political interests of their practitioners? How can we improve ethical governance?
  4. Intellectuals, Academia, the Arts, Culture and Ethical Knowledge
    What special issues arise from intellectuals and academics engagement with ethics in their work? How effective is the ethical governance and regulation of academia and the arts? Is all intellectual and artist work (in all disciplines and fields) necessarily subject to ethical thinking and regulation? To what extent should artists and intellectuals be exempt from ethical regulation to ‘speak to truth’? In what ways can culture and the arts be ethical regulated and yet free to express themselves?
  5. Applied Ethics in Public and Private Life
    How do different industries, organizations and fields (business, health and medicine, education, politics and whatever other areas you have expertise in) perform ethically in public life? What general lessons can we learn from considering the ethical governance and regulation of particular examples in particular nations? What different areas of public life set contemporary challenges for those who seek to inculcate ethics in public life? How can ethical guidance inform ethical practice in both public and private realms? What relationship is there and should there be between ethics in public life and ethics in private life?
  6. Ethics and Public Life: Historical Perspectives
    What can we learn from historical examples of ethical governance, regulation, conduct and practice? How far are historical writings and examples of ethical principles and practice from the past applicable to the present?
  7. Applying Ethical Theories and Ideas to Public Problems and Issues
    How useful is ethical theory in guiding ethical governance, regulation, policy and practice? How is theory applied to practice and how might it be better applied? What forms of guidance on ethical thinking do theories offer to the project of ethics in public life? What contemporary debates in ethical theory and ideas offer opportunities for better ethical conduct and practice in public life?

Ethics and Human Interface:Ethics in Public life

Public life is that vast collection of political, cultural, social and economic structures, including the workplace, which make up and underpin cohesive societies. People who are engaged in leadership positions in those organisations and who actually influence the lives of others are to varying degrees engaged in public life.

Healthy societies depend on the widespread participation by citizens in public affairs and in the institutions that make up civil society. Each of us has the obligation to contribute to the building of social capital, that is to say, to the forces and influences which bind us in community spirit and concern for each other.

Ethics in public life have to be grounded in ethics in private life. The critical examination of ‘what one ought to do’ is foundationally important because there is no universal agreement about what is right or wrong in every given situation. That is why we are called to live this examined life and to be actively engaged with the ethical dimensions of the choices we make every day.

An ethical life is one where the person engages actively and rigorously with hard choices, accepts that words and actions have consequences and makes those choices in that considered light. Such choices, as we are all painfully aware, are not just between right and wrong. They can be between two alternatives neither of which is good or desirable or right, both of which may have some bad or undesirable consequences. But no other alternatives are available. One or the other it must be. Ethics involves the attempt—always striving, perhaps never arriving—to give to you a coherent framework, embedded in decency and integrity, within which to make such choices.

The examined conscience enlivens our capacity to think richly and imaginatively about our lives. It also enlivens our capacity to think about how we treat other people, both on a day to day basis and in relation to the more challenging position of dealing with people in need and people outside our circle of family and friends.

The work community is for many people the closest it gets to participation in community life. One should always start with the principle that we treat people as an end in themselves and not as a means to an end. This reasoning informs the obligation to be open and honest with people about where they stand in the organization and how they are progressing. It is also highly informative about how people should be paid.

Decent behavior is also important in how people are developed, promoted, counseled and in some cases dismissed. How one treats people on the termination of their employment is very often the ultimate test of one’s ethical commitment to an employee. At this point the relationship is ending. It is very easy to act peremptorily and tell someone to pack their bags. It is much more difficult, more time consuming and more expensive to engage in a conversation and process which is respectful of the person’s own sense of identity, integrity and self belief.

Corporations need to ask and answer the question of ‘what they ought to do’.  We face many social, economic and environmental problems in India. The influence of business today is so pervasive that government on its own can no longer provide all the solutions. Business, particularly big business, does not act in a vacuum and its impact is felt in relation to many social, economic and environmental issues. The ethical challenge for business is to create a value chain beyond the interests of its shareholders and customers, and to contribute to the wellbeing of society at large.  This can be achieved consistently with the best interests of shareholders, including making healthy profits and the return on their capital investments

Ethics and Human Interface :Creating a culture of Ethics in Public sector

Ethics, the standards of behavior that tell us what we ought to do in our personal and professional lives, applies to all individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. High ethical standards are especially important in the public sector because they are key to credibility and lead to increased support for government agencies and political leaders.

Creating a culture of ethics in an organization can best be accomplished with the adoption of a values-based code of ethics. The ideal time to undertake the effort is when the individuals and the organization are unanimous in their commitment.

Ethics codes cannot serve as a “flu shot” to prevent a problem, nor can the codes be used as an “antibiotic” to cure an ethics problem. Once established, the code must apply to everyone including elected and appointed officials, professional staff, and commissioners, as well as volunteers, vendors, and contractors.

The simple adoption of a code will not ensure success. There are five keys to building an ethical organization:

  1. Leadership: Public policy makers and top administrators call for ethics as a priority and demonstrate that in word and deed.
    2. Commitment: All involved make the time, budget the money, plan the program.
    3. Collaboration: All the stakeholders work to develop consensus and design the program.
    4. Implementation: The program includes a strategy for making ethics an integral part of the organization.
    5. Reflection and Renewal: Ongoing assessment includes annual re-adoption of the code and exploration of ways to communicate to new employees, vendors, residents, and members of the media.

Ethics and Human Interface : The ethical Principles of sustainability

An ethic of sustainability must address a number of specific principles, which help fill out the most important values of sustainability in relation to social, economic, and environmental concerns. Obviously, not all ethics of sustainability will be identical in relation to these issues. They will develop divergent positions on these issues, rank them in different orders of priority, relate them to each other differently, and add additional points. However, an adequate and complete ethic of sustainable must deal, in some way, with the following principles.

  1.  Justice and obligations to future generations: According to Aristotle , Justice is the mean between two different kinds of injustice: the injustice that takes too much and that which takes too little. Building on Aristotle, classical Western ethics has come to define justice as ensuring that each receives his or her due – neither too much nor too little. Aristotle and subsequent philosophers have identified several specific types of justice: procedural (or formal) justice–which entails fair processes in governance–criminal justice, and other social practices and institutions, including the allocation of resources.

 Procedural justice establishes rules and standards by which these decisions are made, which is necessary to ensure both political democracy and the rule of law. Standards procedural justice are crucial for sustainability since a society cannot be sustainable, many argue, when it is characterized by unjust political systems, lack of openness and transparency, limited access to participation in decision-making, an individualistic rule – all evidence of failures of procedural justice.

 Distributive justice is concerned with the fair or correct distribution of goods in a society. For an ethic of sustainability, attention would have to be paid not only to social and political goods such as housing, health care, food, and political power, but also to environmental goods such as clean air and water and perhaps access to recreational or wilderness land.

 While distributive justice is concerned primarily with the relative allocation of goods, substantive justice refers to absolute quantities. While distributive justice might insist that a small amount of food be shared equally among starving people, for example, the principle of substantive justice would seek to provide those people with an absolute amount of food adequate to their needs, not just with a fair share of an inadequate amount. Substantive justice has traditionally been less important in Western liberal philosophical and political traditions than formal and distributive justice, but it enters into many discussions of sustainability. A society that distributes an inadequate amount of food equally among all its members, for example, will not be sustainable, although it may be just (through distributive justice). A sustainable society must meet the principles of substantive justice by ensuring that people’s basic material and economic needs are met.

2.In relation to economic ethics, the most important principle for sustainability concerns the regulation of markets in order to address the true costs of pollution and other social and environmental harms. This issue is sometimes summarized as the polluter pays principle, which states that the individuals, communities, or businesses that create pollution must pay for the cost of removing it rather than passing the cost of cleaning up that pollution to consumers or to society overall.

 The polluter pays principle reflects the values of larger ethical and political frameworks known as “natural capitalism” and “full cost accounting.” While these two models are not identical, they both seek to create a more sustainable society through a free market system. These revisions would reduce or eliminate “perverse subsidies” that help make environmentally or socially unhealthy products inexpensive. Perverse subsidies are especially widespread in agriculture, though they exist in energy production and many other industries as well. Full cost accounting would not only cut perverse subsidies but also would eliminate the public funding of clean-up for polluting industries. Were businesses to lose perverse subsidies and pay their own clean up costs, they would no longer be able to offer certain goods for low costs, including certain types of produce grown thousands of miles from where it is consumed, beef, and gasoline, among others. When unsustainable goods became expensive, market principles would dictate that people would seek out goods that are “truly” inexpensive, because they do not have previously hidden costs. In a full cost  system, for example, people would find food from small local farms much cheaper than food that is mass-produced far away because fuel and other costs of transporting food across country would no longer be subsidized. Eventually, a society with full cost accounting will become more sustainable as unsustainable goods become prohibitively expensive and fade away.

Some economic principles relevant to an ethic of sustainability go further in their revision of the market. The social mortgage is a Roman Catholic concept that asserts that all property, regardless of ownership, is part of a divine creation that was intended by God for the good of all people. If people use their private property only for private benefit, without concern for (or perhaps even to the detriment of) the common good, the larger society may call in the social mortgage. This means, first, that people are obliged to help the poor and needy and, further, that if such help is not forthcoming, and if a person is in extreme necessity, “he has the right to take from the riches of others what he himself needs.” The notion of a social mortgage places a much more severe constraint upon the market and private property than does the notion of full cost accounting.

 3.A number of principles from environmental ethics must also be taken into account in an ethic of sustainability. One of the most important environmental principles for sustainability is the precautionary principle. In its simplest and most general form, the precautionary principle states that in the absence of a strong scientific consensus that an action or policy will not cause harm to human health or the environment, caution should be used in implementing that action or policy. Strict adherence to the precautionary principle would prevent the use of pesticides whose wider ecological effects are not understood, for example. It might also restrict damaging use of certain resources or landscapes – such as mining or grazing – if there is no certainty that the damage can be reversed.

The precautionary principle places the burden of responsibility on those who would act rather than on those who must, after the fact, suffer from or attempt to reverse harm done by new or unproven scientific procedures. Like the polluter pays principle, it reflects larger ethical claims. It assumes that progress or innovation is not an absolute value; that individuals and organizations are responsible for the possible, not just likely, effects of their actions. The precautionary principle also reflects a particular understanding of the relationship between knowledge and morality, insofar as it identifies as immoral actions that are taken without full knowledge of their possible outcomes. The precautionary principle has been widely affirmed by environmental groups and is central to sustainability.

Related to the precautionary principle is the reversibility principle, according to which scientists or policymakers should not proceed on a potentially harmful course unless its consequences can be reversed. People should not make decisions, other words that cannot be undone by future generations. A primary example of an irreversible action is the extinction of species. Again, this principle reflects larger ethical claims: that people owe obligations to future generations (and perhaps to non-human nature) and those immediate desires or interests should not be satisfied at the expense of the interests of future generations.

As central tenets of sustainability, the polluter pays, reversibility, and precautionary principles all assert that those who are responsible for implementing technologies must be prepared to address the possible consequences of their implementation. They also require decision-makers to consider as many different options as possible before acting and to consider as fully as possible not just the likely but also the possible outcomes of those actions. They assume, further, that scientists, policy makers, and other citizens must consider both future human generations and non-human nature as part of their deliberation. Individual human interests, even the collective interests of a particular group or generation, are not absolute; they are significantly limited by obligations to other people, including those not yet born, and even to non-human nature. As specific statements of some of the major values of sustainability, then, these principles add concreteness to some of the more general guidelines for ethical decision-making.

Ethics and Human Interface:Characteristics of Ethics of sustainability:

An ethic varies according to culture, context, and a host of other factors. But it is possible to outline some of the key features that an adequate ethic of sustainability should possess to some degree.

First, it should be theoretically coherent. This means that the grounding assumptions, the form of argumentation, definitions of key terms, and goals should be consistent throughout, and the use of evidence persuasive.

Related to this, an adequate ethic must be both clear and consistent with regard to its philosophical foundations about issues such as the definition of humanness, the source of value (transcendent, natural, or other), and the philosophical scope or aims of the ethic itself.

An ethic of sustainability must also have clear and coherent interpretations of key foundational issues. Further, since the goal of sustainability is by definition oriented toward the future, an ethic of sustainability must take into account the relations between present and future generations (both human and non-human).

An ethic of sustainability, like any social ethic, should address the question of rights or interests. A deontological ethic is more likely to assert that people (and perhaps non-human animals, plants, or places) have rights, while a Utilitarian ethic speaks of the interests that people or animals have in, for example, avoiding pain or seeking pleasure. In both cases, individuals and groups may incur duties or responsibilities in relation to the rights and interests of others. A coherent ethic must be clear about the foundational grounds for asserting the existence of rights or interests, the reasons for speaking of one or the other, the particular ethical claims that will be met, and ways of adjudicating between conflicting rights or interests.

Finally, an ethic of sustainability should be feasible or practical. The purpose of an ethic of sustainability is to help guide people in their efforts to address real world problems and to build more socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable institutions, practices, and societies.

Ethics and Human Interface : Social dimension of Ethics

Social ethics is a sub-field in both philosophical and religious ethics that is primarily concerned with the ethical foundations, dimensions, and consequences of collective decisions, attitudes, and actions. It is social both because it looks primarily at decisions and actions that are collective rather than individual and personal, and because it is concerned with goods that are collectively defined and achieved.

 In contrast, personal or individualistic ethical systems may be concerned with actions that do not directly affect larger groups of people, such as personal choices about sexual identity or behavior. Certainly even the most apparently personal of decisions have larger implications, if only for the people close to the individual concerned.

 Further, even intensely personal moral decisions are made in a larger social context and on the basis of values and attitudes that are the result of social learning, social experiences, and social relations. Thus the line between personal and social ethics is never hard and fast. Still, it is possible to distinguish between moral issues that are primarily personal and those that have immediate and unavoidable social implications.

Social ethics give attention to the values that are explicitly or implicitly upheld in a given position or practice and to the moral consequences of collective decisions and actions. It addresses not only individual values and issues, but also social costs and benefits.

Social ethics may also be concerned with what vision of a good society is implied in or supported by a particular instance, or which social groups might benefit or suffer the most, or which collectively-shared goods might be advanced or reduced.

Some analyses can be conducted on a wide range of contemporary issues: How should the traditional just war requirement to minimize civilian casualties be modified in light of new weapons technologies that make it impossible, often, to avoid civilian deaths? Who will benefit and who will be harmed by agricultural innovations such as genetically modified crops or new pesticides? What moral duties does a society have in relation to new immigrant groups, and vice-versa? The examples are endless, and the important point is that social ethics raises and answers distinctive questions about distinctive concerns, sources, and criteria.

Economic ethics is a sub field of social ethics. Economics by definition involves collective decisions and processes. Even individual financial decisions are made only in relation to and subject to the influence of larger economic forces. Economic ethics is concerned with the moral foundations, characteristics, and consequences of economic activities and institutions. Economic ethics may look at specific business practices or industries or at broader issues such as the moral values, implicit or explicit, that under-gird economic policies and practices.

 When considering the ethical dimensions of economic systems, institutions, and decisions, a number of significant questions related to sustainability must be taken into account. One question concerns the definition of economic goals such as productivity, efficiency, and security. Efficiency, for example, is usually defined as the maximization of output in relation to certain inputs, and is a primary goal of many economic practices, systems, and institutions. The inputs at stake can vary, and depending on which ones are selected – e.g., labor time, energy, or capital investment – judgments of economic efficiency will vary.

 Economic and social goals are intertwined. Decisions about economic processes and institutions inevitably favor one social good or another, which can ultimately favor one social class over another.

Ethics and Human Interface:

Secular Philosophical Ethical Traditions

The secular tradition in Western ethics begins with the classical Greek thinkers, especially Plato and Aristotle. Social ethics, and more specifically the characteristics of a good society, is the central moral problem for these thinkers. Plato and Aristotle asked explicitly what the good life is for humans and provided answers that continue to influence both scholarly and popular thinking about ethics. Their reflections began with the notion that humans are social beings whose good is only fulfilled in community. Their work does not display much interest in the issues that preoccupy many popular discussions of morality, but rather focuses on problems of public virtue, right relationships, and good leadership.

One of the most important classical philosophical themes is justice – one of the most important virtues discussed by Aristotle. Justice involves giving to each his or her due, which implies a careful weighing both of what is possible and what is deserved, as well as comparisons among different relevant cases. For Aristotle, justice is both procedural – concerned with fairness in decision-making and other social processes – and substantive – concerned with the proper distribution of actual goods. Both kinds of justice are central for sustainability today since a sustainable society requires both just political institutions and mechanisms, on the one hand, and distribution of necessary goods that avoids extremes of poverty and social inequality on the other.

Immanuel Kant (1724- 1804), the father of deontological ethics defines good practices as those that identify and follow the correct rules or uphold correct duties. For deontological ethics, the likely consequences of actions do not matter in moral decision-making, and the actual consequences do not affect evaluations of the moral worth of an action. Rather, ethical judgments are based on the moral actor’s intentions and adherence to duties or rules.

Kant insisted that human reason was competent to determine ethics, and that ethics should be based and critiqued on rational grounds. Kant articulated his ethical thesis in the form of several “categorical imperatives,” moral statements that are objectively and universally true because of their intrinsic qualities (rather than because of their source or consequences). The most famous articulation of Kant’s categorical imperative is to “Always act according to that maxim whose universality as a law you can at the same time will.” (Means an ethical action must be able to be made universal: if it is not good for all people to act in this way, it is not good for a single actor to act in this way.)

Kant’s deontological model has strongly shaped theories about rights, one of the most important concepts in modern political and social ethics. Kant argues that persons have intrinsic value that is independent of their instrumental use to others. The assertion of intrinsic value is necessary to declarations of human rights, which assert that simply by virtue of being human, persons have rights to such things as freedom from torture or access to clean water, for example. Other persons then have the duty to abstain from torturing or polluting water (and perhaps, in some models, to protect others from being tortured).

Rights theories are also important in relation to the ethics of human relations to nonhuman animals. A number of philosophers and activists have asserted that non-human animals have certain rights, such as the minimum right to avoid unnecessary suffering and untimely death.

The other major model in Western philosophical ethics is consequentialist or teleological ethics. In consequentialist or teleological ethical systems, decisions about what to do and subsequent evaluations of the morality of an action are based on the expected or actual consequences of a behavior (from the Greek telos, meaning end). The most prominent consequentialist model is Utilitarianism, first articulated by English philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). They gave “greatest happiness principle” which focus on good is happiness and the ultimate goal of ethics should be to create the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Mill divided pleasure into two parts : higher pleasures (intellectual) and lower pleasures (sensual). He believed that higher pleasures should be what are ultimately promoted over the lower pleasures. This led to Mill’s effort to instill a moral education in the public sphere that would teach people how to value and promote the higher pleasures or good in society.

The other tradition is pragmatism, a school of philosophical ethics that originated with the work of American philosophers C. S. Peirce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey (1859-1952). Pragmatists assert that knowledge and meaning emerge from practical experience and that, in regards to ethics, value must be judged by practical consequences rather than intentions or relations to abstract goods: it is strongly empiricist, meaning that it asserts that knowledge, meaning, and values arise from practical actions and experience. For many social and environmental ethicists and thus for people concerned with sustainability, pragmatism is appealing because it represents an effort to achieve concrete, positive results without the need to find consensus about abstract philosophical issues in advance (or ever).

While both pragmatism and Utilitarianism emphasize practical consequences as the measure of moral worth, they differ in their understanding of what defines the good and how people can know it.

Ethics and Human Interface :

Western Religious Ethical Traditions :

Probably religious tradition is earliest way of thinking about ethics.

 Western religious traditions:

Religion involves ritual, symbol, community life, institutions, doctrines, and many other factors, but moral values are a central aspect of religious identity for both individuals and groups. Through religion, people think about what it means to be a good person and what a good society would entail; they find resources, support, and guidance in their efforts to live up to these values and to improve their communities.

Religious values in the modern West are predominantly informed by biblical traditions. Most important is the biblical emphasis on social justice. Some important ethical guidelines include hospitality, protection of the weak from the strong, forgiveness of debts, and prohibitions on usury. Christian scriptures (commonly referred to as the New Testament) continue these emphases, adding Jesus’ particular concerns with social groups on the margins of mainstream society, such as lepers. For both Hebrew and Christian scriptures, individuals and societies are judged in large part based on how they treat the poor, the sick, and the outcast.

The biblical emphasis on social justice rests, in part, on a social view of human nature: people are related to and dependent upon one another and thus responsible for one another’s well-being. Christian ethics insist on just distributions of social goods, especially to needy groups. For this tradition, a good society is one in which no one falls through the cracks, well-off people take care of those in need, and cries for help are answered promptly, generously, and without rampant self-interest.

Contemporary environmental ethicists and theologians highlight issues such as the importance of agriculture and “the land” for biblical societies and the inclusion of animals and other aspects of the natural world in visions of divine fulfillment. Perhaps the most important biblical principle with regard to non-human nature is the recurring injunction to be good stewards of the land and non-human animals.

A stewardship ethic begins with the premise that God has created the natural world for the benefit of all people. Humans are not the owners of this world, but rather are caretakers who have both special responsibilities and some special privileges with regard to created goods. Stewardship is intended as both a social ethic, to ensure that all people have their just share of created goods, and an environmental ethic that helps to preserve God’s creation.

Another contemporary western religious tradition is Roman Catholic social thought . U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 1986 pastoral letter on the economy.1 In their pastoral letter, the bishops assert that economic decisions and institutions should be judged on whether they protect or undermine “the dignity of the human person.” This dignity, they add, “can be realized and protected only in community.” People are social beings, and their most important goods require collective support and enactment, which are the responsibility of all people, of all social groups and classes. This responsibility can be fulfilled only with widespread participation in both the economic and political processes, which must be equitable and open. Finally, the bishops assert that all members of society, and especially the most powerful, have a special obligation to “the poor and miserable.” This obligation can be understood, in part, as the demand to fulfill  the basic human rights of all people to food, clothing, shelter, and other economic and material conditions for human dignity, as well as political and civil liberties. The economic values outlined in “Economic Justice for All” build on centuries of Catholic social thought and are reaffirmed in Catholic statements today, not only in the U.S. but globally.

Both non-Catholic Christian – Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and other – and major Jewish and Muslim organizations emphasize social justice and care for the poor and vulnerable as the major ethical principles that guide their positions on concrete social problems. Serious differences exist, certainly, on issues such as the role of government, the responsibility of individuals and families, the moral status of capitalism and other economic systems, and a range of other matters, including sustainability. Still, major Western religious traditions largely agree on the centrality of justice, equality, fairness, and charity as the most important principles for evaluating specific social decisions, institutions, and processes.

Increasingly, contemporary religious thinkers and leaders are taking environmental concerns into account when discussing social and economic ethics. A wide range of religious groups have issued statements on the environment, some of them very general, such as Pope John Paul II’s calls for “ecological conversion” and his naming of Francis of Assisi as the “Patron Saint of Ecology.” Other religious statements address specific problems, such as climate change, a topic to which American Evangelical Protestants have recently given a great deal of attention. For many Christian, Muslim, and Jewish thinkers, the guiding principle behind environmental concern is the “integrity of creation,” or the notion that because God created the natural world as well as humans, nature has its own intrinsic value and is not meant only to serve short-term human interests.

Ethics and Human Interface : Ethical Traditions

There are different approaches in Ethics:

One approach says, ethics is about individual conduct or character, and thus defined by questions such as “How shall I live?” or “What does it mean to be a good person?”

Second says ethics refers to universal values and thus poses questions such as “What is the Good?” or “What rules can rightly apply to all moral actors or agents?”

Another focuses on the process of moral decision-making, the characteristics of a good society, or the relationship between human goodness and the divine, among many other issues.

These differing approaches depend in part on varying foundational assumptions about, for example, whether goodness stems from a transcendent power such as God or whether the source of value is nature, human conscience, or reason.

A further source of divergence is the question of whether it is possible to identify a universal, absolute good or if, to the contrary, values are inevitably subjective or relative in nature.

Differences in ethical frameworks also emerge from divergent attitudes toward rationality, emotion, and science, among other matters.

What unites different schools of ethics is a conviction that it is both possible and worthwhile to identify good, or at least better, ways of acting and being in the world.

These approaches can be divided into Religious tradition and Secular tradition.


Sustainability is commonly understood to require the balanced pursuit of three goods: ecological health, social equity, and economic welfare. It is grounded on the ethical commitment to the well-being not only of contemporary populations but also the well-being and enhanced opportunities of future generations.

Sustainability is now a well-known and commonly accepted framework for guiding a wide variety of choices. Sustainability suggests that, in the decision making process, societies that have a good quality of life have an obligation to ensure both future societies and contemporary, less well off societies are also able to achieve a standard of living in which their basic needs are met.

Communities are applying sustainability to solving energy problems, addressing waste disposal issues, developing greenspaces, planning urban areas, and reinvigorating the local economy.

 Companies are using the concept of sustainability to expand the measure of success for their endeavors from the financial bottom-line to a triple bottom line that adds social and environmental performance to economic performance.

 Universities are applying sustainability to guide changes to their campuses, curriculum, governance, investments, procurement policies, and relationships to their local communities.

In short, sustainability is a framework upon which can be built specific strategies for guiding decision making. For example, The Natural Step, developed in Sweden, is a sustainability-based strategy for making decisions about resources utilization and disposal. Numerous other strategies that have sustainability as their core concept have emerged and are being applied to guide decision making in the private and public sectors.

The future is becoming ever more complex and it is increasingly difficult to safely navigate through the maze of issues that confront us. Humanity faces a future of much more costly energy, potentially catastrophic consequences due to climate change, shortages of potable water, the blowback of effects from the vast array of synthetic chemicals developed over the past half-century, and depleted fisheries, to name but a few. And this is occurring in the face of still rapidly increasing numbers of humans and rising per capita consumption. New technologies abound, from genetically engineered seeds, to nanobots, nuclear fusion reactors, powerful antibiotics, autonomous robots, and a vast web of wireless systems interconnected by data highways. Deploying these technologies has been driven by a cost-benefit calculus that, in light of the consequences of many of these technologies, must be considered obsolete. Sustainability can provide many of the answers to how best to treat new technologies and how to change the basis of decision making such that technological benefits far outweigh the risk, for both the short and long term and for present and future societies.


 Brundtland Report: sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Thus, responsibility of contemporary society for the quality of life of today’s population plus the preservation of resources, the environment, and other ingredients needed for future populations to also experience a good quality of life. This is an enormous and daunting task and requires enormous changes in thinking, policy, and basic assumptions about the economy for its full implementation and basic assumptions about the economy for its full implementation.

For the present, it would mean that wealthier, more technologically sophisticated societies would have to contribute materially and through a wide range of assistance programs to increase the wealth of poorer nations, to aid them in developing the capability to provide the basic needs of their population.

For future generations it means ensuring the availability of a wide range of resources: natural, cultural, mineral, educational, food, clean air and water, genetic diversity, and numerous others that support a good quality of life.

Everyone on the Earth has a right to having their needs for food, shelter, and clothing met. Present people have an obligation to future generations to provide them an intact and functioning  planet in at least as good state as they received it. And we are all interdependent, present and future generations, but it is the present, wealthier countries that control the fate of everyone else, present and future. The application of the sustainability framework therefore requires a better understanding of the ethical concepts which support it.

Among these ethical concepts are the Precautionary Principle, the Chain of Obligation, the Distributional Principle, the Land Ethic, asnd the Rights of the Other Specie. Through a better understanding of the ethics of sustainability, it becomes clear why the sustainability framework is not only an approach to addressing and solving the many difficult problems facing us, but why it is in fact the right approach, the right thing to do.

Ethics and Human Interface : Concept of sustainable development

Sustainable development: In essence, sustainable development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development; and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.

Our common interest: There are three type of country – developed, developing and underdeveloped. To promote common interest in sustainable development one has to neglect of economic and social justice within and among countries. And we know that this is not fair. Hence, there is a difficulty in promoting common interest or equity for sustainable development.

 Strategic Imperatives: This will require policy changes in all countries, with respect both to their own development and to their impacts on other nations’ development possibilities.

  • reviving growth;
  • changing the quality of growth;
  • meeting essential needs for jobs, food, energy, water, and sanitation;
  • ensuring a sustainable level of population;
  • conserving and enhancing the resource base:
  • reorienting technology and managing risk; and
  • merging environment and economics in decision making

The strategy for sustainable development aims to promote harmony among human beings and between humanity and nature. The pursuit of sustainable development requires:

  • a political system that secures effective citizen participation in decision making.
  • an economic system that is able to generate surpluses and technical knowledge on a self-reliant and sustained basis
  • a social system that provides for solutions for the tensions arising from disharmonious development.
  • a production system that respects the obligation to preserve the ecological base for development,
  • a technological system that can search continuously for new solutions,
  • an international system that fosters sustainable patterns of trade and finance, and
  • an administrative system that is flexible and has the capacity for self-correction .                                                                                                                            These requirements are more in the nature of goals that should underlie national and international action on development. What matters is the sincerity with which these goals are pursued and the effectiveness with which departures from them are corrected.

Ethics and Human interface : The Ethical Dimension of Sustainability

The United Nations had struggled to find a way to address global environmental problems. The industrialized countries had proposed international treaties and action, but the developing nations had prioritized the need for economic development, with little interest in environmental regulation. The commission provided the conceptual framework for coordinated action, proposing that all nations have a stake in fostering economic development, but of a new kind: sustainable.

 The World Commission on Economic Development brought the idea of sustainability to the global stage in 1987. The United Nations sponsored this study of the relationship between economic development and the environment, published as “Our Common Future,” also known as “The Brundtland Report.”

“The Brundtland Report.” :  It proposed sustainability as an integral framework, in which economic development, social equity, and environmental protection are seen as inseparably related goals.

The Brundtland Commission advanced public understanding of the link between economic growth of the poorer nations and global environmental protection. The commission argued that poorer countries must have the opportunity to develop economically – if they are denied this opportunity it will be much harder to convince all countries to support practices that can be sustained over time – but richer countries must foster policies to favor environmental conservation with economic development. Then Brundtland Report provided a deceptively simple definition of sustainability: “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” The official U.N. definition of sustainability has 3 dimensions, or 3 pillars, also known as the “Three Es” of sustainability. These are environmental protection, economic development, and social equity.

Sustainability provides a positive vision for the future of the human. From a motivational perspective, few people are inspired by the notion of “being less bad” in their environmental impact. In contrast, sustainability provides a framework and markers for making positive change.

 Social equity : This pillar of sustainability has  a clearest ethical component , that of socio-economic fairness or social justice. The lifestyles of the richest and poorest members of the human family pose the greatest threat to the integrity of our Earth’s life support systems, but for different reasons. The wealthiest consume vastly more than their fair share of resources, more than the planet can provide for everyone.

The poorest 1/3rd of human society, those living on less than $2 per day, have no alternative but to use resources in a short-sighted way, for example, cutting down trees for firewood before they are able to grow to their full height. The wealthiest countries have the capacity to make choices for a more sustainable lifestyle, while the poorest members of the human family generally do not. Thus, sustainability is built upon the practice of solidarity with the poor; fostering economic development for them will enhance sustainability. The social equity dimension suggests that sustainable development is an inherent moral good, but its consequences are likely to be ethically positive as well.

 Ethical concern to future generations : . Sustainability challenges present day humans to consider the well-being of future generations, to view their needs as worthy of our moral concern. Modern humans are not accustomed to considering future generations, but the power of our markets and technologies threaten their quality of life. We can express a moral concern for the future by restraining our consumption of non-renewable resources today. Note that some resources, such as minerals, are essentially finite. Other resources, such as wind and plants, because they draw their energy from the sun, can be managed so as to provide a continuous source of goods.

An ethical approach to sustainability suggests that society has an obligation to restrain wasteful uses of resources among the affluent, but it also has a special obligation to foster economic development for the poorest of the poor, all while maintaining environmental resource protection. When referring to sustainable development, one needs to define what is to be sustained, for whom, and for how long. Sustainability is not an absolute condition, but always partial. Sustainability, like justice, occurs along a continuum, and making progress along this is necessarily incremental. Restraint is its price.


  1. What could you contribute to the transition to a more sustainable society?
    2. What kind of ethical arguments could best persuade various sectors of society to assume an obligation for the well-being of future generations?
    3. Many people only perceive two of the pillars of sustainability: environmental protection and economic development. Why do you think it is more difficult for people to recognize the role of justice / social equity?

Ethics and Human Interface : Dimensions of Ethics

 There are distinct levels or dimensions of ethics .

  • Personal Ethics
  • Organizational Ethics
  • Societal Ethics
  • Ethics for future world i.e., a parallel world ethics

 It is impossible, in the connected world of the early 21st. century, to contemplate one without recognizing the influence on and by the other two. Personal ethics cannot be separated from the organizational context in which most of us are destined to spend the majority of our lives, be it working for a multinational corporation, a government department or agency, a not-for-profit organization or simply volunteering at the local pre-school. Humans are gregarious by nature and seek out the company of other humans in communities that are increasingly focused around the workplace. Similarly, organizations have to be sympathetic to the values and expectations of the wider societal context in which they are embedded.

The fourth dimension belongs to tomorrow’s generations and consists of our ethical accountabilities to those who cannot speak for themselves. It includes what’s left of the natural world as well as the health of the economic, social and spiritual orders bequeathed to them. Surely we have a duty, an ethical responsibility, to patrol the boundaries of the society we are custodians of for our children and our children’s. There must be a philosophy of passing the baton from leader to leader. There must be ethics to protect precious flower for the next generation. World endured for over a century of change because of that philosophy and the culture remained intact for several decades. This responsibility to future generations is often referred to in the notion of inter-generational equity. In the context of sustainability it is used to describe the responsibility of present generations to safeguard the interests of future generations and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines sustainability as forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Ethics and Human Interface : GOD as determinant of Human Ethics: views and criticism

Divine Command Theory: Morally good actions are good because they are commanded by God. Means:

  • The source of morality is God.
  • Something is good because it is God’s will.
  • If one wants to lead good life one should do what is God’s will.

Now the question is why does God command those morally good actions ?

 Socrates’ answer is that God commands them because they are good. But if this is so, DCT must be wrong, because then there must be an independent standard of goodness that God uses to decide which actions are good.

 Plato concluded that God desires a thing because it is good. God’s will doesn’t make a thing good – the thing would be good regardless of God.

But what if we instead say that there is no such independent standard – that God’s will determines which actions are good: the good ones are good because he has commanded them?

If we will avoid the problem of independent standard for morality , it will invite three new problems :

  1. The problem of arbitrariness: According to divine command theory [ DCT]  there is no any standards on the basis of which god is deciding his will. So , his decision seems arbitrary and he must be commanding on his whim. In general, commands issued on a whim and for no good reason do not generate moral obligations. Why think we have reason to follow the arbitrary commands of a whimsical God?
  2. The problem of triviality : As DCT  claims, God’s will is the source of goodness, to say God is good-willed is just to say that God’s will is as he wills it to be. But that seems (at least close to) tautologies – it seem like an empty claim.
  3. The problem of abhorrent commands: As DCT says god is source of morality and there is no independent moral standard.  DCT seems to entail that God could have commanded us to rape, murder, and pillage, and then those actions would have been good. But that seems clearly false – those actions, surely, could never have been good.

Hence , it seems like once we fix all of an actions “natural” properties – how much pain it causes, and who commits it, and why, and when, and whether any promises were broken, etc., that should be enough to determine its moral properties: whether or not it’s good. It doesn’t seem like a good action might have had all the same natural properties but might not have been good. But DCT seems to contradict this: DCT suggests that had God willed differently, the same action that is in fact good might have been bad, despite having all of the same natural properties.

  The proposal that God doesn’t command according to an independent moral standard needn’t entail his commands are arbitrary – e.g., perhaps he commands as he does out of love; and a loving God might not have been capable of issuing abhorrent commands. And perhaps a divine command theorist could hold that if God had not loved, his commands would not have given rise to moral obligations…? (But why think this, if not because we think only a loving God’s commands would live up to independent standards of goodness?

Knower-doer split: A lesson from Swami Dayananda

Impact of “Values vis-à-vis our actions” on development of our personality:

When we ignore general ethical standards we create knower-doer split in our self. For instance, when one person lie, he/she become a speaker: speaking is an action, so as a speaker he/she is an actor-a doer. At the same time, he/she knows what he/she  is saying. He/she is aware that what he/she is saying is something contradictory to truth. Therefore, as the knower, he/she is in one position and as the doer, he/she is in another position. By speaking lie , he/she  create a split, a division, between the knower and the doer.

Everyone has a few lies . When one makes a series of lies he/she creates a split in them self, the knower being one and the doer another. He/she not integrated. He /she is divided into an ‘ideal’ knower who values one course of action and the ‘actual’ doer who does something else. It creates a conflict within a personality. This is harmful. The knower condemns the doer. So, in this situation one cannot enjoy anything and the quality of life suffers.

Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance

Can Administrative Ethics Be Taught? 

What are public administration ethics? There is reasonably broad agreement about what administrative ethics are not. They are not vague, “feel-good” exhortations about an undefined public interest, and they are not simply the general ethical principles that typically guide personal, moral choices .Just as the legal and medical professions have codes of ethics tailored to their professions, public administrators have adopted ethical principles for public stewardship.

By focusing on new challenges of the evolving nature of governance, a main premise is that: Can Administrative Ethics Be Taught? Code of Ethics implicitly commits public administrators to adjust their frameworks for decision making in a way that reflects the changing nature of the public, and—by extension—the public interest. Indeed, this Code requires public administrators “to exercise discretionary authority to promote the public interest” and further recognizes that the Code of Ethics is “a living document”.

Today population is broader and more diverse than those in the past.  For example, today’s “governance” features new entities and new relationships that may be subject to new conflicts of interest —ones that previously had not existed. As a result, it is necessary to be familiar with the administrative Code, but the utility of ethics codes can only be realized after one learn how to recognize circumstances (old and new) that pose ethical dilemmas, and acquire a broader understanding of the approaches to ethical decision making. One way to grasp and prepare for the evolving challenges is to discuss events, preferably local ones that pose ethical dilemmas. It also is important to develop a “system” for considering ethical dilemmas. Thus, the teaching ethics is important to reflect on the broader implications that are inherent to any decision brought on by the changing nature of governance.

Status and concern: Trust in government

The changing nature of the public sector brings new challenges to governance and ethical decision making.  The evolving nature of the sector reflect the complexity of moral reasoning that is required to maintain adherence to ethical principles, when processes lead to conflicts between deeply held value systems.

Trust in government — or the lack thereof — has become a subject of considerable concern. India is developing country so, central and state governments at all levels have assumed additional responsibilities. Therefore the need for public administrators to function as ethical and trustworthy managers of our public regulatory agencies also has grown. Whatever their political ideologies, most Indians want government to discharge its duties competently and in a manner consistent with our Constitutional values.

Today we must rely on government agencies to ensure that our water is drinkable, our aircraft flyable, our roads passable, and much more. But it is difficult to trust our government agencies to discharge these and other similar functions in a competent and ethical manner. When India is going through a time where government seems inept or corrupt, as we periodically do, that confidence is shaken, and our skepticism and distrust affect more than just the political system. This is because trust in our governing institutions inevitably sets the tone for our confidence in all institutions. When we perceive that our government is not trustworthy, that perception infects the entire society.

Ethics is the counter-force to administrative efficiency, and a key reason for having ethical standards is to prevent moral hazard. Administrative moral hazards arise when managers take inefficient actions, often because their individual interests do not align with the public interest — a form of cost less, unethical behavior for the administrator that has a significant cost to taxpayers.

In short, the ethical goal of administrators is to prevent inefficiencies and building trust in government.  Rawlsian (1971) notion of basic rights and a social contract between citizen and government is relevant today. The idea that public servants are obligated to provide and defend “core public values” also has been developed in recent literature.

Professional competence and HOLISTIC COMPETENCE

Professional competence is based only on development of skills and do not take care of means and thus the results are more visible and immediate, but are short lived as the approach is not holistic. As against these, when the skills combined with values are used in wholesome manner, they result in long-term gains, though for a short-term it may be painful or more demanding. Skills, which are not value-based may often be misused. Thus in a long-term they are the failure. One has to chose between ‘short-term gain and long-term pain’ or short-term pain and long-term gain’. In value based skill development, we expand the definition of success, making it long-term, sustainable and wholesome. Such value-based skill development leads to ‘Existential or Holistic Competence’.

Thus, skills development leads to Professional competence and skills &values development leads to Holistic competence.

Value based actions also help in conservation of energy; whereas the actions based on negative values dissipate our energy. The modem education and training both formal and informal, take care of professional competence only and there is no scope for development of existential competence

Development of such existential competence was imparted in natural way in the family, society and educational institutions. With increase in materialism, we have started chasing the worldly things, thus withdrawing our attention from consideration if our actions are morally sound or not. Moral education has slowly been taken away. That is why today many of the successful persons are apparently successful, but are not real winners within themselves. Existential competence ensures both the success outside and survival within.

Enhancement of existential competence and effectiveness can be done by (a) developing sensitivity to human values and (b) imbibing those values.

All our efforts towards clean administration and good governance can bring about the long term improvement only if the individual functionaries are derived from within to take right actions. This goal can be achieved through all the effort on self (I) only.

‘Together’ is a good Western expression, which shows an intuitive appreciation of the problem of ’split’. When ones universal values is only half values, they will always have the potential of destroying ones ‘togetherness’ producing a ‘split’ in them, when they yield to some immediate situational value.

Our outer behavior reflects how far we abide by this inner value-system. The more our conduct is in consonance with the inner values, the better composed and integrated our personality is.

The better composed and integrated personality can work and give their best in any organization or field such as administration.

How can we inculcate the Human Values and how can they be put into practice in the organizational set up?

We can inculcate human values and they can be put into practice in organizational setup by purification of mind. Values emerge spontaneously and effectively only from a purified mind. The basic Indian goal of self-transformation towards a more refined spiritual consciousness and purer mind with its many paths and practices are more pertinent to many of the issues and problems of Indian Administration than the current western models.

There is a need for the encouragement of personal rectitude, for purifying individual character, are therefore not irrelevant in the context but are vitally connected with our hopes in respect of national affairs.

Meditation provides us an opportunity to withdraw for a time being from the outer world and be with inner source of values, the highest and the finest part of our own self. It also gives  a chance to introspect our own acts and deeds and rectify them by changing our thought process, withdrawing our mind from the vicious thinking and applying it in accordance with this higher source of values. This leads to purification of mind. This is journey towards imbibing values (and not only discussing them). It is based on ancient Indian classical work in the area of philosophy and psychology. The deep philosophical outputs are dealt with psychological experiences, which help the seeker to internalize them. They enable the learner to learn how to put into practice these rich thoughts so as to enhance practical effectiveness.

Thus the effort to apply right thought for right actions in the organization can only slowly go to improve our administration. Such an effort then goes to have a multiplier effect.

Philosophical system and Ethical system

A philosophical system is a consistent set of values and criteria that apply to a wide variety of issues. We have examined four systems:

Idealism: Reality is basically spirit or idea. Knowledge is gained through the mind. Value is measured by conformity to ideals.

Realism: Reality is basically matter or the physical universe. Knowledge is gained through the senses. Value is measured through conformity to nature.

Pragmatism: Reality is process or experience. Knowledge is gained through trial and error. Value is measured by what is of practical benefit to society.

Existentialism: Reality is self-defined. Knowledge is gained through personal decision making. Value is measured by responsible individual choice.

Ethical Systems

An ethical system is a consistent set of beliefs which can be applied to a wide variety of ethical dilemmas. Some widely argued systems include:

Virtue: Ethical behavior is that which develops moral virtues. Focus on attitudes, intentions, and character traits which enable humans to develop their potential.

Utilitarian (Bentham, Mill):  Ethical choices produce the greatest good and the least harm. Focus on consequences of actions.

Human Rights (Kant): Human rights are interests and activities which we must respect and protect as a civilization. Every person has the fundamental right to be respected and to be treated as a free and equal rational agent. This implies other rights, such as privacy, truth, and freedom from harm. Focus on actions which do not use people as instruments toward a goal.

Fairness/Justice (Aristotle): Treat people consistently the same, unless there are morally relevant differences between them. Focus on fairness and consistency of actions to distribute benefits and burdens among all members of a group.

Common Good (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero): Society is a community joined in a shared pursuit of common goals. The good of the individual is inextricably bound to the good of the group. Ethics advances the common good.

Importance of the strengthening Ethical and moral values in Public Service

Ethics involves cultivation of an attitude of moral obligation and personal responsibility, as part of public service.

It is important in exploring public administration and policy in the context of the Constitution, government institutions, laws, and regulations.  The legitimacy of public service rests on the Constitutional principles of equality, fairness, representativeness, responsiveness, and due process.  An appreciation for ethical issues, within the context of a changing professional environment includes new and sometimes daunting challenges.

Specifically, today’s public administration we must know the ethics of a profession that is just beginning to grasp the complexities of administration in an ever-more diverse polity, where there are so many challenges. We must know the ethical issues that arise in the context of emerging globalization. Even more challenging is that we must know an ethic of public life at a time when the very definition of “public life” is undergoing radical redefinition, because the lines separating public from private and nonprofit have become increasingly blurred by outsourcing, privatization, public-private partnerships, and a variety of other mechanisms that have collectively given us the term “governance” in place of the former, more recognizable, “government”.

Nowadays moral reasoning became important because of globalization and increased cultural and religious diversity, as well as by sectoral blurring .One have to consider how individuals from different religious backgrounds (Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Muslim) might view issues of sexual discrimination, whistle-blowing, and stealing. The point is not to opine about the values of these faiths, but to make aware that perspectives and levels of sensitivity on these issues can vary. One should consider how they might handle these conflicting objectives (as opposed to how they would handle them). A key objective of strengthening ethical and moral values is to develop an appreciation for the evolving complexity of public sector decision making.

Thus importance of the strengthening ethical and moral values in public service includes:

  1. Developing an awareness of ethical issues and problems in the field;
  2. Building analytical skills that can address those problems when they arise;
  3. Cultivating an attitude of moral obligation and personal responsibility as part of public service
  4. Developing an understanding of the diverse perspectives of moral philosophers
  5.  Understanding how to frame the ethical dilemma in a model that allows discussion from diverse perspectives and
  6.  Developing skills necessary for playing out the conflicts that arise, so that students can measure the extent to which they have fulfilled the manifold and conflicting moral obligations they have identified.

Ethics and human interface

Honest, upright, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the distribution of their personal data.” Do you agree or not? Give at least three reasons for your position and one reasonable objection to it.

Information considered as personal is financial, medical and national identity related information.

Article 21 of the constitution guarantees every citizen the fundamental right to personal liberty which includes right to privacy and by extension private data not available in public domain. This right extends to data in electronic forms and information technology act 2000 in which there is a provision of punishment for violation of privacy, so it facilitates protection of such data.

Since independence broad technological changes have taken place. The ability of organizations to collect, store and process personal data has increased. Not many digital technologies are designed to obtain detailed logs of their usage by individuals, which are then accessible for surveillance and marketing purposes.

Online activities are particularly closely monitored. Even where users are not required to provide personal data when accessing services on the Internet, individuals can be identified through the Internet Protocol (IP) address of their computer, and often through digital ‘cookies’ or electronic identifiers left on their browser by Web sites.

Internet communication and browsing tends to leave logs of Web pages visited, email and instant message senders and recipients, voice over IP callers, goods examined and purchased, advertisements viewed and searches.

What is more, this development is widespread, not only on the Internet. Cameras are used for surveillance. Mobile phones sending location information to the network providers enables contextual advertising and mapping. Debit and credit card payment systems record amounts spent and stores visited. Store loyalty cards enable databases of purchases to be compiled. Biometrics, measurements that uniquely identify individuals, such as fingerprints and photographs, nowadays also include DNA matching, and face and voice recognition. The rise of ‘Web 2.0’ technologies, allowing user-to-user contact, has resulted in sites for sharing pictures, videos and movies on Web logs (blogs), and last but not least, the nowadays enormous global social networks.

Data mining tools have been developed to find patterns in large collections of personal data, to identify individuals and to attempt to predict their interests and preferences. Companies use these technologies to obtain large customer bases. Governments are increasingly analyzing and exchanging information on their citizens. Individuals are shopping online and using social networking sites to share information about themselves and their family, friends and colleagues.

Overall, collection, storage and usage of personal data have become a part of everyday life at all levels of society.

So, nowadays it is a necessity of disclosing personal information:

  1. Disclosing personal information is an increasing part of modern life

2.The government asks for more and more personal information

3.Nowadays one needs to log into several systems using several usernames and passwords.

4.There is no alternative than to disclose personal information if one wants to obtain products or services

5.Disclosing personal information in return for free services online, such as a free email address.

But there are so many risks factors also:

  1. Your information being used without your knowledge and information being shared with third parties without your agreement.
  2. Your identity being at risk of theft online.
  3. Your information being used to send you unwanted commercial offers.
  4. Your information being used in different contexts from the ones where you disclosed it.
  5. You can become a victim of fraud

Ideally it is correct that an honest man should have nothing to fear because he has done nothing wrong. However, digital information is easily transferred – threats exist and accidents happen. Perhaps an honest man does have something to fear.

“When in Rome do as Romans do”? – Explain it in the context of ethical relativism.

Sometimes we say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” implying that this sort of acting is morally correct. We can call views of this sort Cultural Ethical Relativism (CER).

According to views of this sort: Moral appraisals are essentially dependent upon the standards that define a particular moral code, the practices and norms accepted by a social group at a specific place and time.

It implies, among other things, that:

* “Right” means “socially approved by a give culture or society.”

* We should choose moral principles by following what our society approves of.

* Such terms as “obligatory”, “required”, forbidden”, “good”, “bad”, “virtuous”, etc. can be defined in an analogous way.

One can support this because:

  • Morality is a product of culture and nothing which is such a product can be objective or universal.
  • Cultures and societies disagree widely about morality.
  • It is simply good when we have a variety of cultures

One can be against this because:

  • It is hard to define a culture. Without such definition, we do not know what CER implies.
  • Sometimes an action takes place within more than one society. In such a case, would an act be right or wrong or neither or what?
  • If it is true, then moral decisions are either too easy or too difficult.
  • If it is true, then moral progress or reform is impossible. Also, we cannot learn from other cultures.

Thus, Ethical Relativism holds that each situation must be judged according to its own merits, and that universal standards cannot be applied to judge the morality of a decision. A relativist believes in ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’.

 What are Case Studies?

Case studies are a tool for discussing scientific integrity. Although one of the most frequently used tools for encouraging discussion, cases are only one of many possible tools. Many of the principles discussed below for discussing case studies can be generalized to other approaches to encouraging discussion about research ethics.

Cases are designed to confront readers with specific real-life problems that do not lend themselves to easy answers. Case discussion demands critical and analytical skills and, when implemented in small groups, also fosters collaboration.By providing a focus for discussion, cases help trainees to define or refine their own standards, to appreciate alternative approaches to identifying and resolving ethical problems, and to develop skills for analyzing and dealing with hard problems on their own. The effective use of case studies is comprised of many factors, including:

  • appropriate selection of case(s) (topic, relevance, length, complexity)
  • method of case presentation (verbal, printed, before or during discussion)
  • format for case discussion (Email or Internet-based, small group, large group)
  • leadership of case discussion (choice of discussion leader, roles and responsibilities for discussion leader)
  • outcomes for case discussion (answers to specific questions, answers to general questions, written or verbal summaries)

It should be noted that ethical decision-making is a process rather than a specific correct answer. In this sense, unethical behavior is defined by a failure to engage in the process of ethical decision-making. It is always unacceptable to have made no reasonable attempt to define a consistent and defensible basis for conduct.

Leading Case Discussions:

For the sake of time and clarity of purpose, it is essential that one individual have responsibility for leading the group discussion. As a minimum, this responsibility should include:

  • Reading the case aloud.
  • Defining, and re-defining as needed, the questions to be answered.
  • Encouraging discussion that is “on topic”.
  • Discouraging discussion that is “off topic”.
  • Keeping the pace of discussion appropriate to the time available.
  • Eliciting contributions from all members of the discussion group.
  • Summarizing both majority and minority opinions at the end of the discussion.

How should cases be analyzed?

Many of the skills necessary to analyze case studies can become tools for responding to real world problems. Cases, like the real world, contain uncertainties and ambiguities. Readers are encouraged to identify key issues, make assumptions as needed, and articulate options for resolution. In addition to the specific questions accompanying each case, readers might consider the following questions:

  1. Who are the affected parties (individuals, institutions, a field, society) in this situation?
  2. What interest(s) (material, financial, ethical, other) does each party have in the situation? Which interests are in conflict?
  3. Were the actions taken by each of the affected parties acceptable (ethical, legal, moral, or common sense)? If not, are there circumstances under which those actions would have been acceptable? Who should impose what sanction(s)?
  4. What other courses of action are open to each of the affected parties? What is the likely outcome of each course of action?
  5. For each party involved, what course of action would you take, and why?
  6. What actions could have been taken to avoid the conflict?

If consensus is not possible, then written or oral summaries should reflect majority and minority opinions.

Is there a right answer?


Most problems will have several acceptable solutions or answers, but it will not always be the case that a perfect solution can be found. At times, even the best solution will still have some unsatisfactory consequences.


While more than one acceptable solution may be possible, not all solutions are acceptable. For example, obvious violations of specific rules and regulations or of generally accepted standards of conduct would typically be unacceptable. However, it is also plausible that blind adherence to accepted rules or standards would sometimes be an unacceptable course of action.

Ground Rules for Discussion of Case- studies on Ethics

  1. The reasoning which leads to an opinion is important, not the opinion itself.
  2. When discussing a case study, do not change the circumstances or the story of the study.
  3. Apply structured techniques to formulate and clarify thinking.
  4. Identify the ethical component of an issue (what part of a dilemma requires an ethical approach?
  5. Identify the Subject related component of an issue (what part of the ethical component is unique to subject?
  6. Distinguish between positive arguments (do this) and negative arguments (don’t do this).
  7. Distinguish between personal and professional ethical positions.
  8. Distinguish between the requirements of logic, of law, of institutional policy, of personal preference, of social convention, and of ethics.

Some Techniques of Ethical Analysis in Case studies:

Ethical analysis tries to identify the participating parties, their respective stakes and responsibilities, and the essential issues.

After this groundwork is in place, various ethical guidelines (rules of conduct) and principles (philosophical systems) are applied to the problem.

Most discussion revolves around understanding the intent of the guidelines and principles when applied to a particular case.

When addressing an ethical dilemma or a case study, try to answer these questions:

  1. What is the ethical issue? Is something morally wrong? Is the issue deeper than personal or institutional concerns?
  2. Who are the involved parties (the people and the organizations affected)? Who has an important stake in resolving the issue?
  3. What are the obligations between the parties?
  • Fidelity (a promise or a contract)
  • Reparation (making up for a wrong)
  • Gratitude (thanking for a right)
  • Justice (comparative merit)
  • Beneficence (helping a deserving person)
  • Non-injury (avoiding harm)
  1. What would each party consider to be the preferred course of action?
  2. Generate several courses of action (at least three, two extremes and a compromise). Identify broad filters which might constrain the choice of options for action.
  3. For any choice of action, determine the impact on each of the parties:
  4. Are any ethical guidelines violated?
  5. What are the best-case and worst-case outcomes? Are they tolerable?
  6. What benefits and harm will be caused? Does the good outweigh the possible harm?
  7. Are there rules or principles which invalidate a choice of actions?
  8. List the consequences, risks, and costs.
  9. Choose a course of action, and identify which philosophical system it aligns with:
  • Ethical egoism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Human Rights
  • Ethical Relativism
  • Fairness and social justice
  • Common good
  1. Which alternative actions produce the best overall consequences? Which respect the moral rights and dignity of all parties? Which treat people fairly, without favoritism or discrimination? Which advance the common good? Which develop moral values? Which recognize the cultural context? Which are the most consistent?
  2. Do different ethical systems generate different courses of action? Are there issues to which none of the ethical systems apply? Which system is most compelling for resolving the particular issue?
  3. Finally make a clear and definitive decision about a course of action. Suggest policy changes which will prevent the problem from recurring.

Summary of Ethical Analysis

  1. Specify the FACTS.
  2. Define the DILEMMA.
  3. Identify the PARTIES and their interests.
  4. Clarify the VALUES and PRINCIPLES at stake.
  5. Formulate the possible ACTIONS.
  6. Identify the potential CONSEQUENCES.
  7. Make a clear DECISION.

Case Study# 1 Sexual harassment

You have been working with your team for almost a year. One of your subordinates Mr. A is very effective and hard working, he takes responsibility and gets things done. However, you have heard that Mr. A makes loose comments about women. Mrs X who is working under A, comes to you, she is visibly disturbed. She tells you that Mr. A has been making undue advances towards her and has even asked her to go out for dinner with him. She wants to give a written complaint seeking action against Mr. A. what would you do and why ?

I will listen respectfully complain of Mrs. X. I will assure her that I am not unsympathetic and dismissive in her case. If it becomes known in my team that I am approachable on issues of sexual harassment, I will be much more likely to learn about instances of it, so that I can act on them. I will respond her proactively. I will not under any circumstances let the problem languish.

A woman has the right to earn a living, advance in her profession and pursue a career without being treated as a sexual commodity by superiors and co-workers. Sexual harassment is not that it is wrong for men to like and appreciate the physical attributes of women or for women to do the same regarding men. It is that when these impulses are acted upon in the workplace to such a degree that it threatens an employee’s comfort level, self-esteem, status, dignity, and prospects of advancement, it is wrongful conduct that must be recognized, acknowledged, and stopped. If a person believes  that regarding and treating women as if their sole purpose on earth is to give pleasure to men violates basic ethical principles like respect, fairness, kindness and caring.

Now, I will see with whom I can work to resolve the case. If there is sexual harassment prevention officer of human resource management of my institution I will inform him or I will make a recommendation to make such a post in my office to deal with such type of cases so that problem can be handled by an expert.

Mr. A is effective, hard-working and responsible person and he is very worthy for my team but off-color jokes or derogatory comments that are disrespectful to women are unacceptable in the department. But before taking any action on it I have to be sure that this is indeed a case of sexual harassment.  Behavior that is not sexual harassment may nevertheless be objectionable. It may be proscribed by employee work rules or the applicable code of professional ethics and actionable under one of these. It may be a personnel problem that requires my intervention or that of someone in management. It may be antisocial behavior pure and simple, requiring me to address it in whatever way I deem appropriate. I must sort this out.

Once I have determined that this is indeed a case of sexual harassment, I will let the administrators who are responsible for this to conduct the investigation of the complaint. While I need to maintain relationships with Mr. A and Mrs. X. I will be careful not to take sides with one or the other party to the complaint.

Whatever my role in the initial processing and oversight of a sexual harassment complaint, I will make sure that treatment of the case is informed throughout by the following three principles:

  1. I have to observe due process, in order to forestall possible future legal problems, and also to minimize the harm that can come of another possibility, that of a false accusation.
  2. I will preserve confidentiality, in order to protect the interests of the accused as well as to protect the complainant from retaliation. Assurance of confidentiality, it should be noted, can be key to the willingness of a harassed individual to complain or others who may have been previously harassed by the same person to testify.
  3. I will document all conversations and courses of action in which I engage, even if this documentation is merely in the form of notes to me that I keep in a file.

I will stay solution-oriented, to what is likely to put an end to the harassment.

Exercise# 1 Case Study: Sexual harassment

Case Study 1

Mr. A sometimes makes comments to his administrative assistant Miss. X, about how attractive she is. She never says anything when he makes these comments.

One day, Miss.X requests a raise. Mr.A says that he will consider her requests, and suggest that the two of them go for drinks and to dinner after work. Miss.X  makes it clear that she wants to keep their relationship purely professional and would therefore prefer not to go out with him. Mr.A says that he understands.

Two weeks later, Mr.A informs Miss.X that he has denied her request for a raise.

She asks Mr.A for an explanation, and he says that if she would be more “cooperative” with him, then her chance for a raise would improve. Miss. X asks what does cooperative means. Mr.A smiles and says “You figure it out”. What would Miss. X do and why ?

Case Study 2

Pam, an attractive female employee, likes to wear blouses with a plunging neckline, short tight skirts and high heels. When she walks down the hall in the office, many times her male co-workers and some females stare at her, some with a knowing smile, others just shake their heads.

Occasionally, one individual silently acts as if he is having a heart attack. She has repeatedly indicated to her co-workers that their conduct embarrasses her, and has asked them to stop, but without much success. Some of her female co-workers have mentioned that she causes her problems by the way she dresses. What do you think? Is Pam has not any right to dress the way she like?

Case Study 3

In a recent highly publicized case a professor at the University of New Hampshire, who was found by a hearing committee to have harassed female students for many years, was suspended and required to obtain psychological counseling. The hearing committee said it would lift the suspension only when the counselor notified the school administration that the professor was ready to return to the classroom.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is opposed to mandatory counseling. Some university administrators, on the other hand, defend the practice, comparing it to the widespread employment relations practice of requiring employees with substance abuse problems to enter assistance programs. Under this practice, the administrators note, employees with drinking or drug problems are characteristically not allowed back to work until the program certifies them as ready.

Is mandatory counseling a morally acceptable measure to use in the case of faculty found to have engaged repeatedly in sexual harassment? If so, why? If not, why not?

 Some Questions on Ethics and Human Interface

  1. Answer  any two the following in about 250 words each: ( 2×25)

(i)            “When in Rome do as Romans do”? – Explain it in the context of ethical relativism.

(ii)           Honest, upright, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the distribution of their personal data.” Do you agree or not? Give at least three reasons for your position and one reasonable objection to it.

(iii)        State the differences between deontological theories and teleological theories of moral reasoning.

  1. Answer the following in about 150 words each: ( 5×10)

(i)           State two problems with consequentialist theories.

(ii)          What are the two main kinds of deontological theory?

(iii)        Explain the positive and negative concept of liberty?

(iv)         Name and describe the theories of right action.

(v)          What is moral autonomy?

3.Discuss the statements. You should include different and supported point of view and personal point of view. (10×10)

(i)           “Children are a gift not a right”.

(ii)          “Religious people should never be wealthy.”

(iii)        “Justice is more important than peace.”

(iv)        “It is better to starve than to earn money immorally.”

(v)         “If Hinduism is right, all religion must be wrong.”

(vi)        “You should always stand up for unjust government.”

(vii)      “We can treat animals in any ways we wish”

(viii)     “Only god has the right to take the life.”

(ix)        “It is duty of religious people to encourage contraception to avoid world become overpopulated.”

(x)         “Putting people into prison is waste of money”.

4.Globalization raises many concerns in terms of market failure and sustainable development. Discuss.(25)

5.Define ethics and emphasize its need to the contemporary society.(25)

Exercise#2 Ethics Questions

  1. Our ethical decisions are merely the result of social conditioning. Discuss.
  2. Critically assess the claim that people are free to make moral decisions
  3. God knows the ethical decisions we will make.’ Discuss
  4. The weaknesses of Virtue Ethics outweigh its strengths.’ Discuss

Guidelines for Facilitating Solutions to Ethical Dilemmas in Professional Practice

Step 1: Determine the facts in the situation – obtain all of the unbiased facts possible
Step 2: Define the Stakeholders – those with a vested interest in the outcome
Step 3: Assess the motivations of the Stakeholders – using effective communication techniques and personality assessment
Step 4: Formulate alternative solutions – based on most complete information available, using basic ethical core values as guide
Step 5: Evaluate proposed alternatives – short-list ethical solutions only; may be a potential choice between/among two or more totally ethical solutions
Step 6: Seek additional assistance, as appropriate – engineering codes of ethics, previous cases, peers, and reliance on personal experience, prayer
Step 7: Select the best course of action – that which satisfies the highest core ethical values
Step 8: Implement the selected solution – take action as warranted
Step 9: Monitor and assess the outcome – note how to improve the next time


Exercise#3 Case Study on Morality

Moral dilemmas are posed often by conflicts of moral values which can be represented as either conflicts between different moral principles, or issues that are raised by the application of one moral principle (conflicting applications of a given moral principle, or questions concerning whether a principle applies at all). In each of the following, consider which of the principles that we have considered in class (honesty, promise-keeping, nonmaleficence, beneficence, autonomy, and equality) apply in these cases, and how they help to define the moral issues at stake. (Note: the task here is not to solve the moral dilemma, but to define the dilemma in terms of relevant moral principles). I would suggest that you write down your answers. Then check your answer according to analysis given in side:

1. Melinda’s father is suffering from a gradually worsening dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. She has a deep respect for her father, a man who has always felt a deep sense of personal responsibility and has valued his independence and sense of self- reliance. He still insists on making his own decisions, but lately he has suffered from significant memory loss, and this has caused Melinda to be concerned about his welfare. She is considering whether she should take greater responsibility for making important decisions about his treatment and his living situation, despite his father’s protests that he can take care of himself. The ethical question concerns primarily a conflict between the principles of autonomy and beneficence. Autonomy normally requires that we respect that decisions that individuals make concerning their own welfare, but in cases where someone clearly is unable to take care of themselves, the duty of beneficence would take precedence. This is a case of the “grey area,” where it is not so clear whether the father’s growing dementia is severe enough to justifyoverruling his own decisions for the sake, of his welfare.
2. Jason is a lawyer who is currently representing Company Y in contract negotiations with Company X. The crucial meeting is today: if final agreements are not reached, Company X has said that they will end negotiations. Another client calls–a customer is suing her company for marketing a harmful product. She needs to talk with Jason over legal strategies in the case. Jason cannot help both client’s today, although both client’s clearly need his help. Jason weighs his obligations to both clients. This is a case of conflicting loyalties. The loyalty we have as moral agents based on special relationships to others, such as, in this case, professional-client relationships, can be understood as based in the principle of promise-keeping: we make explicit or implicit promises to our family, friends, business or professional associates, clients, etc., that we will faithfully work with them to achieve common ends and come to their aid in time of need. Such explicit or implicit promises may come into conflict, such as in this case. Another principle that can apply at such times is the principle of beneficence: if Jason’s help will aid one of his clients more significantly than the other, then that can be the basis for deciding where the stronger obligation lies.
3. Milly Thompson works for a charity organization that provides funds for inner city projects that help the poor. She has been talking with a potential donor who is willing to give a very large sum of money to the charity, but this donor is deeply prejudiced against Hispanics, and is not willing to give any money to projects in Hispanic neighborhoods. The potential donor asks Milly directly whether any of the money that he would donate would go to such projects. Currently the only projects that the charity is funding are projects in Hispanic neighborhoods, and Board of Directors of the charity has stipulated that all current donations must go to these projects. Times are hard, and very few donations are currently coming in. In fact, without this donation, many of the current projects will have to be canceled. Milly considers what she should do: lie to the donor or tell the truth. Clearly the principle of honesty applies in this case: this principle would require that Milly tell the donor the truth. On the other hand, the principle of beneficencewould suggest that Milly should do what it takes to secure the donation for the sake of the good this will do for the poor. Complicating the issue is the question of whether a charity should take money from donors who place stipulations born out of personal prejudices on their donations, stipulations that may require in the future that the charity make decisions as to who they benefit on the irrelevant basis of the ethnic heritage of the beneficiaries. This involves a consideration of the principle of equality.
4. Mary James, a state representative, has just received confidential information that a Company X, that has a chemical processing plant in James’ district, has not taken proper safety precautions to assure that the region around the plant is protected from dangerous contamination. There are some 300 residents in the area, and there is a significant danger that their health may be jeopardized if the situation continues. On the other hand, Company X has been threatening to close the plant in James’ constituency, which would put some 6,000 people out of work. If James releases the information, this would surely lead Company X to close the plant. James is considering whether she has the moral responsibility to release the information or not. The primary issue involves a conflict in the application of the principle of nonmaleficence: releasing the information will harm the employees of the plant who will be out of a job, but failing to release the information will mean that local residents will receive no warning of a potential danger to their health, which may result in their being harmed. The principle of honesty also is involved. If James does not release the information, and James makes no statement to the effect that there is no danger, then James, of course, will not be lying to anyone. But James’ constituents might have the expectation that any public official who had information concerning a public health risk would warn the public, which would mean that although James does not lie, she may be thought at least to deceive the local residents by her failure to offer a warning.
5. In the summer of 1945 Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, had a difficult decision to make. While it was quite clear that Japan would eventually be defeated, the Japanese were showing no sign of surrender. It appeared likely that to defeat Japan, an invasion Japan would be necessary. However such an invasion would take a devastating toll on both sides: estimates of losses on both sides ranged into the millions, and an invasion would surely mean a long protraction of the war. Due to the success of the “Manhattan Project” there was an alternative: dropping an atomic bomb on Japanese territory might convince the Japanese generals of the futility of their position. A drop on an unpopulated area might be tried, but because the Japanese military had shown an obstinate willingness to fight to the last, it was believed that such an act would not be likely to lead to a surrender. If dropping the bomb was to be successful, it was thought, it would have to be dropped on a populated area of some strategic importance to the Japanese. But this, of course, meant certain death for tens of thousands of Japanese. The historical and ethical issues of the case are complex, and still hotly debated, but two moral principles that clearly apply in this case are the principles ofnonmaleficence and beneficence. Dropping the atomic bomb on a populated area meant killing tens of thousands (a violation of the principle of nonmaleficence). On the other hand, it had the potential of saving the lives of many thousands of U.S. soldiers as well as tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians who would be lost in an invasion of Japan (principle of beneficence). In this case, as in other cases of international relations in war and peace, a conflict between the principles ofpromise-keeping and equality (justice) applies as well. The President has a responsibility to safeguard national interests, a responsibility that can be understood to stem from a promise that the President makes to the nation upon the assumption of power. This responsibility would endorse, in this case, a greater concern for the welfare of U.S. soldiers over the welfare of the Japanese. On the other hand, there are limits to such favoritism based on the principle of equality, which, applied strictly, would require an equal consideration of the welfare of all people, regardless of national status. One such limit long recognized in the history of warfare is that noncombatants in a conflict should not be targets of direct attack, which they surely were when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even if such action would achieve military objectives. Although this prohibition was violated many times during WW II, by all sides, this provides no valid basis for the claim that it may be ignored in this case.
6. David, a single father, has promised his seven-year-old son that he would attend his son’s baseball game on Saturday. On Saturday morning, however, a close friend, John, calls. John, who has been unemployed for six months, has just been asked to interview for a new job, and if he doesn’t show up today he loses his one firm prospect for employment. John’s wife is away on a trip, and he needs someone to look after his infant daughter. He tells David he’s tried everyone he can think of, and David is his last hope. David does not want to disappoint his son, but he knows he couldn’t attend the baseball game if he takes care of John’s daughter for the day. This case involves a conflict between the ethical demands of promise-keeping and beneficence. As in case two above, we might understand this case as involving a conflict of loyalties based on the explicit promise that David made to his son against the implicit promise to render aid in time of need that in part defines the ethical basis of David’s friendship with John. The question is, which promise is more significant? The principle of beneficence would require that David help out his friend John, but this does not mean necessarily that David’s prima facie obligation to John is stronger than his obligation to his son. When one action is supported by two ethical principles and an alternative action is supported by one principle, this does not necessarily mean that the first action defines our obligation. Some consideration of the nature and importance of the prima facie obligations themselves is required.
7. Tom and Steve are fellow foot soldiers fighting a war. They are part of a major offensive against the enemy in a conflict, an offensive that is failing–their division is being forced by the enemies counteroffensive to retreat. Tom and Steve become separated from the rest of their division when Steve is hit by shrapnel from an exploding mortar round. Steve is apparently gravely wounded, but is conscious and appears lucid. Believing that he is about to die in any case, Steve urges Tom to leave him and retreat to safety. Tom believes that he might have a chance to save Steve if he can carry him to safety in time, but knows that this will involve a grave risk to himself, and might very well be futile. He wonders whether he should respect the wishes of Steve, or take the risk to himself and attempt to save Steve’s life. This case raises prudential and ethical issues that are interconnected. Tom must consider the risk that he would face in his attempt to save Steve. This is a prudential issue, but it has implications with respect to how the principle of beneficence applies in the case. The principle of beneficence would require that Tom save Steve, but only if the risk to Tom’s personal safety is not extreme and the prospect of saving Steve is not hopeless (the factual issue of risk pertains crucially to the moral issue of obligation here; if the risk is great, Tom’s attempt to save Steve would be praiseworthy on moral grounds, but not required–in other words, it would be a supererogatory act). Complicating the issue is Steve’s insistence that he should be left to die. If Steve is lucid enough to make a competent judgment, then the principle of autonomy would suggest that his wishes should be respected. But here the factual issue of competence is the key–is Steve’s assessment of the situation a reasonable one, or is it born out of foggy thinking and a sense of hopelessness caused by his wounds?
8. Mark Thompson, a single man of 25, is employed as a clerk in a bank. His boss approaches him with a problem: there has been a confusion in the records of several of the depositors, which had the effect of crediting too much interest to some accounts and not enough to others. Mark immediately realizes that he was the cause of the error: he wasn’t terribly careful the other day, thinking about the vacation he would take. He fears for his job if his boss discovers the truth. His boss asks Mark if he caused the confusion, and Mark considers whether he should lie about the whole thing This is actually not a moral dilemma, although it may be a personal one. The principle of honesty applies to the case, requiring that Mark tell the truth, but this principle is not in conflict with any other principle representing a moral value that is pertinent to this case, although the principle is in conflict with a prudential concern of Mark’s: saving his job.Note: We will consider in this course one ethical theory that might be applied in this case to suggest that a moral question is at stake–ethical egoism. But as we will see, ethical egoism is a problematic theory that conflicts strongly with common moral intuitions.
9. Cheryl is a public health official for a local government. She has just been informed that a number of people at a local office building have become suddenly ill. Upon investigation, she finds that their is a highly contagious virus that is being that is making people in the building ill, and she wants to keep the virus contained so that others outside the building are not contaminated. She considers the option of quarantining everyone in the building, but wonders whether a quarantine, which would confine the occupants of the building for days or weeks, is justified by the threat that the virus poses to public health. This case involves a conflict between beneficence and autonomy. A quarantine would severely restrict the lives of the people within the building (violating the principle of autonomy), but this action is supported by the principle of beneficence, since it would safeguard the health of the general public. [One might be tempted to appeal to the principle of nonmaleficence in this case: if Cheryl does not impose a quarantine, she is thereby allowing the public to be harmed by the virus. But typically failing to prevent harm (rather than directly causing harm) is understood by ethicists as a violation of the principle of beneficence.] Finally, the principle of equality is involved, since Cheryl must consider the interests of each occupant of the building and each person outside the building who might be in danger of being infected by the virus on an equal basis.
10. David is a state trooper on highway duty. He observes a car racing down the highway at 20 miles per hour above the legal speed limit. He gives chase, and pulls the car over. When he comes over to the driver’s side to give the driver a ticket, the driver explains that her husband is having a heart attack, and needs to get to a hospital. David’s has the responsibility to give the driver a ticket. On the other hand, he determines that the medical emergency is real, requiring immediate attention, which would preclude taking the time to fill out a ticket. The principle of equality would require that everyone living in a certain jurisdiction should be subject to the same laws, and the laws should apply equally to everyone who violates those laws. But in this case, the principle of beneficence suggests a reasonable exception: in order to safeguard the health of the driver’s husband, David should forget about the ticket and escort the couple to the nearest hospital.Actually this moral dilemma could be avoided without sacrificing the moral values of equality or beneficence: David could escort the couple to the hospital and then, once the husband has received medical attention, he could give the driver a ticket.

MAIN QUESTIONS topic- ethics and human interface :

  2. Explain Absolute Ethics and Relative Ethics.
  3. How are love and moral precepts related?
  4. How do the concepts of love and moral percepts help to build an ethical
  5. What is the notable difference between Aquinas and Saurez’s idea of
    self-evident or moral principle?
  6. Define Ethics and its importance.
  7. What are sources of ethics and their ideals in Indian tradition?
  8. What are Hindu ethical ideals in Indian tradition?
  9. What do you understand about the uniqueness of Buddhist morality?
  10. Explain about the sources and foundation of Jaina Ethics
  11. What is the common principle in Epicurus’, Thomas Hobbes’ and
    Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy?
  12. Briefly explain Aristotle’s views on virtues.
  13. What are the seven norms proposed by Bentham for the measurement
    of pleasure?
  14. Brief Durkheim’s materialist explanation of religion.
  15. Explain Kant’s views on moral obligation.
  16. Explain Thomas Aquinas’ views of moral philosophy.

3 thoughts on “GS PAPER 4”

  1. Thank you very much ” Namma KPSC” for all your value information at this peak hour of our exam.But I wish we could get comprehensive notes for all GS papers or the pdf format of this for downloading purpose?

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