Public Service Values

Public Service Values

This article deals with the topic titled ‘Public Service Values’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.


We have already seen Core Foundational Values. Those were the uppermost hierarchy of values. Apart from them, there are many other values (secondary values)

In these values, the question asked are 

  • Define that particular value.
  • How can you form this value in yourself?
  • If you are the head of some institution, how can you form these values in your organisation )Common Answer – Give space to juniors, open to them, set an example by having that quality in yourself, use Emotional Intelligence etc.) 

Public Trust

  • Public Trust is the measure of public confidence and faith commanded by an officer or an institution. 
  • Public Trust in the civil servant enables him to take bold steps.
  • Public trust in civil services can be achieved through transparency and efficient and consistent service delivery.
  • Example: Election Commission of India enjoys high trust, which has helped it implement the Model Code of Conduct even without the Legislature‘s backing. 


  • Diligence is the quality of showing perseverance in carrying out the work.

How to teach this among civil servants?

  • By role modelling: There have been various public personalities who showed exemplary diligence in their general conduct. Authorities should try to make such personalities the role model for civil servants. e.g. M. Shreedharan, T.N. Sheshan, J.Lyngdoh.
  • Social recognition & awarding performing civil servants.
  • Giving adequate autonomy to the civil servant: freedom from political pressure will allow the civil servant to engage in his work actively.


  • It is the quality of continuing to try to achieve a particular aim despite difficulties.  
  • It is seen in people like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi etc., as they were never disappointed because of hardships or failures.
  • The single-minded focus of researchers that keep on repeating experiments for several years is an excellent example of perseverance.
  • For civil services, perseverance is a key value. The changes that policies bring, e.g. removing open defecation or improving the sex ratio in a district, are goals that cannot be achieved overnight. Many people oppose the schemes because they did not show results in one year or two years. Civil servants have to persevere if they honestly believe that the current policy/scheme is the best way to achieve desired goals. However, there may not be an immediately visible impact.


  • The act of binding oneself with a particular cause intellectually or emotionally is called commitment.  
  • Examples include : 
    • Abraham Lincoln was committed to ending slavery. 
    • Gandhi was Commitment to Non-Violence.

Courage (Fortitude)

  • Courage or fortitude means showing strong will even in the face of danger.
  • It is another feature of gutsy bureaucrats because they can take transformational steps only if they dare to accept the responsibility of failure, if there is any.
  • Civil servants work in a dynamic environment where they may be subjected to various external pulls and pressures. They must demonstrate steadfastness and commitment to values that they adhere to.
  • As Nelson Mandela put it, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it”

Courage enables people to face harsh consequences for their acts. For instance, whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden often pay a heavy price for disclosures.

  • Without courage, it is challenging to display qualities like leadership which entails laying out roadmaps for the future amidst uncertainty. For example, it is “courage” that enabled Mahatma Gandhi to demonstrate the virtue of nonviolence against the oppressive colonial regime.
  • It encourages people to take firm decisions and attempt things that they have not tried before. For instance, it takes courage to invest in novel & seemingly impractical/commercially unviable ideas like SpaceX.

Innovativeness and Creativity

  • With the rapid advancement of ICT, civil servants have to be innovative and creative to make their administrative work faster, smoother and more efficient using such technology.
  • Moreover, the administration should be ecology-based. When there are fast pace changes in ecology, the civil servants must be creative enough to match the changing environment to fulfil their duties innovatively.


Holders of the public office should act in the public interest. He shouldn’t work to gain financial or any other benefits for himself, his family, or friends. 


  • It is the ability to restrain & self-control.
  • Emotionally Intelligent Persons show Temperance as well.


  • Humility is not denying the qualities you have but not demanding special treatment and higher importance because you have specific attributes. 
  • Humility is the mother of all virtues. Being humble is essential for civil servants. They can turn arrogant because of power and authority. Civil servants should not think of themselves so big that other people look small.  
  • Humility is essential when there is extreme asymmetry of power (like civil servants and ordinary people).


  • It is a feeling of being grateful and thankful


  • It is the ability to change in order to deal successfully with new situations. 


  • It is a quality of being kind, generous and forgiving, especially toward an enemy or a rival.

This marks the end of the article ‘Public Service Values’. For the entire series on ‘Ethics’, CLICK HERE.

Social Influence and Persuasion

Social Influence and Persuasion

This article deals with the topic titled ‘Moral Influence and Persuasion’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

Attitude Change Theory 

Attitudinal change means changing someone else’s perception of what is right or wrong according to our will.

Attitudes change can manifest itself as:

  1. A person receiving new information from others or media – Cognitive change
  2. Through direct experience with the attitude object – Affective change
  3. Force a person to behave in a way different than normal – Behavioural change

Attitude change can happen through the following mechanisms.

1 . Creating Dissonance 

  • This method can be used to alter cognitive based attitude.
  • For example, a person might not have thought that not paying tax is also a form of corruption. Hence, we can change this attitude by planting an idea in a person mind that challenges his beliefs by arguing that tax evasion is the same as corruption  
  • Application for Civil Servants: In advertisements or via mass campaigns we give information to challenge the beliefs of the public.

2. Operant Conditioning

  • This method can be used to alter behaviour-based attitude. 
  • Punish when somebody does the wrong thing. He will stop doing that thing.

3. Classical Conditioning

  • It can be used to change attitude, especially of children. For example: Create phobia in children of things you don’t want them to do.

4. Social Influence

  • Explained below.

5. By Persuasion

  • Explained below.

Persuasion Theory

  • Persuasion refers to the process of changing the attitudes and behaviours of the TARGET GROUP  towards some event, idea, object, or another person (s) in the intended direction, by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination thereof.
  • It should be noted that Persuasion is a RECEIVER CENTRIC EXERCISE. It is not what the source says it is what the receiver understands.  

Persuasion involves 4 elements

  • Source / Persuader: Which is the originator of the information or message
  • Receiver / Target Group: It receives the information presented by the source 
  • Persuasive Message: Appeal issued by the source 
  • Channel / Medium through which message/information is delivered to the Receiver 

It can be summed up as – Who says, what, to Whom through what means. 

Why Public Officials are not able to Persuade the Target group?

  • The reason for this is the presence of certain barriersSemantics, Psychological and Physical Barriers. If the Public Official can overcome those barriers, only then Persuasion will be successful.
Persuasion Theory
  • To overcome these barriers, District Magistrate can use various influence tactics such as involving Sarpanch to overcome these barriers. Along with that, he/she must take feedback from the Target Audience to rectify any shortcomings.
Persuasion UPSC Case Study

Source, Receiver and Message Characteristics

1 . Source

The source will communicate the message.

It should have the following three characteristics:-

1. Expertness 
2. Trustworthiness 
1. Physical Features 
2. Communication Styl 
3.AttitudinaI Similarity 
1. Power enjoyed by 

1.1 Credibility 

  • To access credibility, we have to look into two things i.e. 
    1. Expertness (judged by the knowledge base of source). 
    2. Trustworthiness (judged by finding out whether the source has a vested interest). 
  • A high credibility source is more successful in bringing about the desired attitude change as the credibility of the source will make the Target Group listen to the message delivered by the source. 

1.2 Attractiveness

  • An attractive Source is more likely to succeed in persuasion.
  • The primary factors that decide the attractiveness of the source include 
    1. Physical Features 
    2. Communicative Versatility 
    3. Attitudinal Similarity

1.3 Power

  • Power is the potential to change the behaviour of the target group in the intended direction despite their resistance.

Power, Attractiveness and Credibility will cause behaviour change in different ways

Power Compliance
Attractiveness Identification
Credibility Internalisation

Hence, Credibility is the best way to change behaviour because it will lead internalization of values and attitudes. If all three things are present, nothing better than that.

Note:  The biggest barrier to behavioural changes in India is that the common citizen does not have an emotional connection with the chief change agent—the government. Governments are considered corrupt and inefficient.

2. Message

2.1 Message Discrepancy

  • It means the degree of inconsistency in the message the source should present to the target group. 
  • The message should be such that it should be within the zone of acceptance of the target group. 
    1. Some people have a wider zone of acceptance and they are facilitators. 
    2. Some people have a very narrow zone of acceptance and they are resistors. 
Message Discrepancy

2.2 Emotional Factor

  • The message should have emotional content in that.
  • For example, to motivate someone to stay fit or to quit smoking, one should not only cite scientific evidence to prove the point but can also convince using the fear of deadly diseases or the joy of a healthy life.

2.3 Fear Appeal

  • Mild and moderate appeals to fear generally work better than strong fear appeals. 
  • Strong fear appeals produce defensive avoidance wherein the target group insulate itself from the message.

2.4 Targeting values

  • People can manage their self-images by yielding to requests for action that fits or enhances their identities.
  • Influence professionals can increase compliance by linking their requests to the values to which people feel committed, especially when these values are prominent in consciousness.

2.5 Other factors

  • Persuasion requires a message to be presented in vivid language and backed by data.
  • The message should be such that it establishes a common ground with target people. For example- Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas Slogan used by BJP during election campaign established common ground with the public.
  • Point out the benefits: Persuader should highlight the major benefits of changed behaviour or attitude.
  • Social proof technique: People tend to follow others (bandwagon effect) more so when they don’t have sufficient information to decide on their own. This technique will involve you telling the target population that other people are getting benefits from the suggested change, with empirical evidence. For example, in campaigning against female feticide in Haryana we may invoke the examples of some female sportspersons who have won laurels like S. Nehwal in Badminton.
  • Scarcity: This involves letting people know that they stand to lose on a chance to get the benefits out of the proposed change. For example, we often see the end of the season or hoardings like Hurry!! Limited offer.

Best results are obtained when the Persuasive message has both emotional and factual element in it.

3. Receiver Characteristics

3.1 Personality factors

  • Individuals with high self-efficacy, high self-esteem, moderate level of arousal and internal locus of control are difficult to persuade but when they are presented with logical arguments supported by relevant facts, they are likely to be won over. 

3.2 Intelligence

  • Intelligence refers to the information processing ability of an individual.  
  • Intelligent people because of their superior critical thinking abilities are less likely to be influenced by appeals that are illogical or not supported by relevant facts. However, when presented with appeals that have factual backing, they are likely to be convinced. 

4. Channel Factor

  • Use appropriate channel of communication (Don’t show the picture to the blind).
Digital Marketing

Cognitive Route to Persuasion – Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)

  • It is an influential cognitive model of persuasion and it suggests that attitude change can occur either through
    • Careful processing of attitude relevant information i.e. Central Route OR 
    • In a relatively automatic manner in response to various persuasion cues i.e. Peripheral Route
  • Attitude change produced through Central Route is more lasting and has a stronger impact upon the old behaviour. 
Elaboration Likelihood Model

Central Route: When the target group finds the message interesting, important and personally relevant and when nothing else prevents them from devoting careful attention to it, they are likely to examine the message in a careful and thoughtful manner evaluating the strength and rationality of the arguments made. If they find the arguments appealing, relevant and factually supported, then they are likely to change their attitude and Persuasion occurs. 

Peripheral Route: In contrast, if they find the message uninteresting or uninvolving, they are not motivated to process it carefully but still the persuasion occurs but this time through the peripheral route. If the message contains something that induces a positive feeling or the source of a message is high in prestige and status, under these conditions Attitude change may occur without critical analysis of message content. 

Attitude Change accomplished through Central Route is more desirable because

  • It lasts longer than one achieved through the peripheral route.
  • It is more resistant to later attempts at persuasion. 
  • It is more closely related to behaviour than the attitudes changed through the peripheral route. 

Culture and Attitude Change

  • In the west, people are more individualistic (not bothered about what others feel about them). But Asian Culture is different & people are more interdependent
  • The western ad should let people feel that they are free but Indian ad should be such that you will be treated positively by the community if you do something (because here what society thinks about you is more important).

Social Influence / Peer Pressure

  • Social Influence can be defined as a change in behaviour caused by real and imagined pressure from others (in the society). 
  • It plays a very important role in  
    1. Attitude formation and change. 
    2. Removal of Prejudice 
    3. Group Decision making 
  • It gets manifested through three mechanisms
Conformity Group influence in action
Compliance Making a request
Obedience Giving orders

1. Conformity

  • Involves changing one’s behaviour to match the responses of others and to fit in with those around us.
  • Why person do this?
    • Human beings, being inherently social, desire companionship or associations. For a successful and healthy atmosphere in the group, people try to blend in.
    • They change their behaviour somewhat so that they are liked.
    • To avoid social rejection and fear of being different from the group. 

Case Study of #SelfieWithDaughter

The selfie campaign showcased examples of parents around the country who were celebrating the birth child. Most people wanted to conform, and more and more parents posted selfies with their girls. Started by one proud father in a village in Haryana, the campaign went viral and #SelfieWithDaughter became a worldwide hit.

2. Compliance

  • Act of changing one’s behaviour in response to a direct request from friends, neighbours, relatives etc.
  • In this, people appear to agree with others in public but keep their dissenting opinions private.

3. Obedience

  • Obedience is a special type of compliance that involves changing one’s behaviour in response to a directive from an authority figure.
  • One reason authorities are influential is that they are often experts, and, by following an authority’s directives, people can usually choose correctly without having to think hard about the issue themselves.
  • Reasons for Obedience 
    1. Visible Badges: Badges on the dress of General is different from Captain to remind them who is IN-CHARGE. 
    2. Transfer / Diffusion of Responsibility: Transfer of responsibility in case you are ordered to do that work by your superior or person of authority and diffusion of responsibility when a person is working in a group.

Milgram’s Experiment

  • To show that how people indulge in acts of destructive obedience. 
  • Hitler was an evil dictator. But even ordinary Germans participated in atrocities against Jews. The reason for this observation was given by Milgram’s Experiment. 
  • Prof. Stanley Milgram of Yale University (1961) did this study and experiment.


  • In this experiment, Confederate (Learner / Actor) and Subject (Teacher) were made to sit in two rooms separated by transparent glass. 
    • Subject (Teacher) was asked to give a shock to the Student if he did a mistake and increase the magnitude of shock with each mistake. 
    • Confederate (Actor) was the person implanted by the Experimenter in the experiment who deliberately committed mistakes and pretended to be hurt by the shocks and scream in pain when the button was pushed.
  • 2/3rd of the participants gave shocks to a fatal level (450 volts).
  • Reason: There was a doctor (Person of Authority) who kept saying “increase the voltage, the person will not die.”
Milgram Experiment

Moral of the story

  • Ordinary people are willing although with some reluctance to harm an innocent stranger if ordered to do so by someone in authority. They did so because of (destructive) Obedience since there was 
    • Visible badge (person of authority) 
    • Transfer of responsibility (responsibility was of a person who gave order)
    • The gradual escalation of orders by an authority figure
  • This is the reason why German Officers many of whom were not even anti-Semitic killed Jews.  

How to resist Destructive Obedience 

  • Exposure to Disobedient Morals such as Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of Civil Disobedience. A person should learn to say no to things which his/her conscience won’t allow. 
  • Making the target group members realize that it is them and not authorities that would be responsible for the harm produced. 

Successful Case Studies

Successful Case Study of Changing Attitude : Swachh Bharat Mission
Successful Case Study of Changing Attitude



This article deals with the topic titled ‘Aptitude’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Aptitude?

  • Aptitude means an individual’s ability to acquire adequate training, some set of skills (like the ability to produce music, play boxing, or perform administrative functions). 
  • Aptitude is the ability to acquire proficiency in a given area and has a futuristic reference.
  • To become an officer in police, one needs mental and physical aptitude, whereas a sportsman requires psycho-motor coordination. The problem arises when one is in a profession not suited by their aptitude. A person becoming a cricketer because his father was great may not deliver the best results unless he has the aptitude required for the sport.

Attitude vs Aptitude

Attitude Aptitude
It is a person’s positive or negative feeling towards a person, object, event, idea or environment. It is an individual’s ability to acquire, with adequate training, some set of skills, like the ability to produce music or the ability to perform administrative functions.
Associated with character & values. Associated with competence & skills.
It is regarded as a predictor of one’s behaviour. It is the capacity or ability to acquire skill or knowledge on the basis of which future performance can be predicted.
It is largely a mental aspect. It involves both physical and mental aspects.
Attitude is hard to change and requires personal experience, cognitive dissonance, exposure etc. It can be changed relatively easily through learning, training and skill enhancement.

Why we want Civil Servants to be high on Aptitude?

  • If civil service machinery fails to deliver, the entire governance system is bound to fail.  
  • Also, due to the latest developments & fast-changing environment, Civil Servants must adapt to the situations rapidly and train in new skills at the fastest speed.  

Aptitude Required for Civil Servant

Three kinds of Aptitude are required from civil servant

  1. Intellectual Aptitude 
  2. Moral Aptitude  
  3. Emotional Aptitude 

Skill (Aptitude) + Value = Best Combination for Civil Servants

Value Skill For Society Type of person
Low Low Useless Minor thief
High Low Useful Honest ordinary person  
Low High Dangerous Corporate Thugs  

They should be detected & avoided from entering into civil services.

Examples of persons belonging to this category include
1. Nirav Modi: He scammed crores from banks by manipulating the system.
2. Satyam Scam: They manipulated their Balance Sheets Harshad Mehta: He was the wizard of commerce but used his knowledge for doing frauds.  
High High Most desirable Civil Services require this type of people.

For example, Persons like SR Sankaran and E Sreedharan.

‘Integrity without knowledge is useless, whereas knowledge without Integrity is dangerous.’ Comment  (UPSC Mains Question)

Foundational Values for Civil Servant


  • Value is the worth that we as individuals or society allocate to something. These are a set of standards-based on which we judge things as right or wrong. 
  • Civil Servants can use values for reaching decisions in a short period. For example: If the question arises about participation in the political rally, instead of testing his decision on various theories of ethics, they can quickly conclude not participating in it as ‘political neutrality is included in one of the foundational values.
  • There are many values, and which may be arranged in a hierarchy. In the case of conflict between the values, one tends to go with the higher value. For example, Gandhi regarded truth as the highest value, followed by non-violence.

Why do we need foundational values? / Why Civil Servants  should have high ethical standards

  • Civil Servants have extensive discretionary powers & they can misuse them unless they have a robust value system and self-restraint.  
  • Civil Servants are responsible for managing resources entrusted to them by the general public, directly or indirectly. 
  • They should always uphold the public trust, and for this, they should be a person of virtue. Foundational Values ensure this.
  • Various committees have recommended foundational values for civil services. The two prominent names are (1) Nolan committee and (2) Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC).

Nolan Committee (the UK, 1996)

  • Nolan Committee listed seven foundational values. These include
    1. Leadership
    2. Honesty
    3. Selflessness
    4. Openness
    5. Accountability
    6. Integrity
    7. Objectivity
  • Reasons, why the Indian Government didn’t copy foundational values of the Nolan Committee as such were  
    • Values are culture-specific. Civil Servants in Great Britain require the values suggested by the Nolan Committee, but the same values are not required in India. 
    • We can see that values like Compassion, Empathy, Tolerance etc., are missing, which are not required in a society like Britain as it is a rich 1st world country. But these values are needed in India. 
    • On the other hand, the value like Selflessness suggested by  Nolan Committee is not required in India because Indian Society is already a Collective Society. 

Recommendations of 2nd ARC

  • 2nd ARC has suggested making a Code of Ethics for Civil Servants
  • Along with that, it has suggested the following values to be imparted in Civil Servants)
    1. Integrity 
    2. Objectivity & Impartiality 
    3. Commitment to public service 
    4. Open accountability 
    5. Devotion to duty  
    6. Exemplary behaviour 

List of values  mentioned in the UPSC  GS4 Syllabus


  • Integrity is the integration of one’s inner values with outer actions. There will always be consistency (keyword) in a person’s behaviour, both with time and space. 
  • Quote – Integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody is going to know whether you did it or not (Oprah Winfrey) 

Integrity includes following

  • What a person believes, what he says & what he does must be consistent. In India, what people believe is generally not in line with what they do. E.g., Corruption (all believe that it is terrible, but all indulge in it).
  • Having just 1 set of morality: In India, generally, people have two sets of morality: One based on which they judge their action and the other for judging the actions of others.  
  • The value system in itself should be rational. Examples of Rational Value Systems are Utilitarianism, Kantism etc. 

  • A person with integrity will never do the duties that his conscience doesn’t agree with. 
  • In historical figures
    • Socrates stands apart from all historical figures in integrity and is worth mentioning. He stood by his values and chose to die instead of doing something that his conscience didn’t allow. 
    • Raja Ram Mohan Roy stood for the rights of women and opposed Sati. For this, he had to face social ostracism. Even after that, he didn’t change his stance and continued to work for it.
    • Mahatma Gandhi: He ended the Non-Cooperation Movement due to violence during Chauri Chaura Incident.

(2017 UPSC: One of the tests of integrity is complete refusal to be compromised. Explain using a real-life example.) 

Types of Integrity

There are three types of Integrity

Moral Integrity Moral Consistency, i.e. consistency in applying the same moral principles to determine right and wrong. 
Intellectual Integrity Being consistent wrt one’s viewpoints and opinions.
Plagiarism, infringing someone’s intellectual property rights etc., shows a lack of intellectual integrity.
Organisational / Professional Integrity What are the organisation’s values that become the values of the person working in that organisation / Profession, i.e. Integration of Organisational / Professional Values with a Person’s values. 
It involves following the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics of the organisation.

Integrity for Civil Services

  • According to Nolan Committee, holders of public office shouldn’t place themselves under such financial or any other obligation which might interfere with their official duties.
  • As a civil servant of integrity, 
    1. You must fulfil your duties responsibly.
    2. You must make sure public money is used correctly & efficiently.
    3. You must comply with the law & uphold the administration of justice.
    4. You must not misuse your official position. 
    5. You must not disclose information to others, and this continues to apply after one leaves service.

How to inculcate integrity?

  • Training: Civil Servants are trained for this. 
  • Through Model Learning: If a young recruit is posted under an honest officer, his likelihood of remaining honest increases.  
  • Reward and Punishment: Appropriate behaviour must be rewarded to consolidate a newly developed value, while inappropriate must be punished by adopting a ‘carrot and stick’ policy.
  • Sensitivity Training: Under this kind of training, the person learns the desired value through role-playing to understand its nuances.
  • Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct: 2nd ARC recommends setting up a code of ethics for all government departments. It’ll have a broad principle- that all participants have to follow, and its reports will be given and evaluated by the departmental head.
  • Integrity testing: A random officer is selected and given a Bribe to check their integrity in integrity testing. It is different from CBI Raid. In contrast to CBI raids which are rare, Integrity Testing is done very frequently, and hence Public Officials are always afraid while taking bribes from any person.


  • Honesty is being truthful & open.
  • Honesty is a subset of Integrity. To be integral, one has to be honest, but not vice-versa.  

For civil servants, Honesty includes

  • You must set out the facts & relevant issues truthfully & correct any errors as soon as possible. 
  • You must use resources for the purpose it was provided.
  • You must not mislead ministers or others. 
  • You must not be influenced by pressure from others. 


  • It is the opposite of subjectivity. It simply means not taking any sides.
  • Objectivity means basing your decisions on empirical evidence & rigorous analysis of the issue. 
  • Being impartial, though, is very difficult. People have their biases about most things.
  • Civil Servant shouldn’t make a decision based on their values and emotions. On the contrary, it should be based only on facts and merits.

Why Objectivity is important for Civil Servants?

  • Civil Servants have large discretions (eg: during selection/ recruitment/ posting/ transfer/ promotion) . They must always take decisions based on merits and facts so that all the decisions look fair.
  • While selecting an agency for contract/tendering, they should decide objectively so that public interests are served in the best possible manner (Nolan Committee). 
  • Information & advice provided to the ministers should be objective and not based on the emotions & beliefs of Civil Servants.

How to inculcate objectivity in Civil Servants?

  • Training: In training, officers are taught to think objectively.
  • Reduce discretions: The number of discretions should be minimal. Civil servants should function based on some written rules, regulations, and laws to eliminate or reduce the discretions.
  • Provisions like Grievance Redressal Mechanism and social audit should be utilised.
  • Robust Information & data management systems: officers can take Objective decisions only if they have data and stats to arrive at a particular conclusion.
  • According to Nolan Committee, the requirement of recording the reasons behind any action or decision will ensure that decisions are not subjective.
  • Increase Transparency: For example, the right to information act. Officers will fear to take decisions based on his emotions and beliefs because, in future, they can be questioned about why they took this particular decision.

Impartiality and Non-Partisanship

  • Impartiality means to act without bias of client nature (rich vs poor) or social pressure (caste, religion etc.) solely on the merits of the case. 
  • It often requires public servants to refrain from opinions, positions or actions that demonstrate a bias toward or against a particular cause.  
  • It includes serving equally governments of different political orientations, irrespective of the civil servant’s personal opinion.
  • Impartiality requires that civil servants carry out their official work, like procurement, based only on merit.
  • It is especially required in India because our society is divided on caste and religious lines. Civil servants also come from the same community and have caste, religious and linguistic affiliations. But if he remains conscious of these affiliations, he can’t act impartially.

Political Neutrality

  • A civil servant shouldn’t be associated with any political party or ideology. The values of the Civil Servant should flow from the constitution, not from the philosophy of any political party.
  • Civil Servants in India don’t change with change in government. Hence, they are expected to cooperate with the political party in power without any bias. Civil Servants should implement the given policy as it is without any personal considerations.
  • At the same time, the bureaucrat must not hesitate to correct the politician or provide an honest opinion. Their job is not to be a ‘Yes-man’ or a ‘committed bureaucrat’.
  • Political neutrality doesn’t mean politicized bureaucracy, where the administrative system functions only to serve the narrow interest of the political party in power—for example, the functioning of the administrative system in Nazi Germany.

Political Neutrality is of two types

1 . Passive neutrality

  • Officer following Government directives even if they are against law and constitution. But in this, he may end up violating some legal/constitutional provisions.

2. Active neutrality

  • Allegiance of Civil Servant is towards Constitution and General People. Officer will do what constitution, rules, laws and office manual says, without following any particular party.
  • But sometimes, it leads to civil services activism.

Do’s and Don’ts in Conduct rules for Neutrality

Dos Serve the Government to the best of your ability no matter what your own political beliefs are.
Don’t Civil Servant
1. Must not give election funds to any political party.
2. He can vote but must not tell his preference to other people.
3. Must not display any election symbols on his personal vehicle or home.

Political Neutrality is  in danger

  • The present age is an age of corruption and nepotism. The number of civil servants following political neutrality is minuscule.
  • During elections, politicians spend crores. Hence, when they come into power, they want to earn crores. In such a situation, political bosses want Civil Servants who bend according to the needs of politicians.
  • Even within services, there is rivalry (IAS vs IPS). These ‘lobbies’ can favour the Political Party if it appears to be beneficial for their group.
  • Caste or religion-based parties prefer Officers of their group creating In-Groupism. 
  • During emergencies, Civil Servants completely neglected this principle. To quote Shah Commission, ” Bureaucrats crawled even where slight bending was required.” 

Arguments against Neutrality

  • Political Neutrality promotes Status Quoist Attitude. Civil Servants aren’t committed enough to carry significant reforms.’ 
  • In the US, President has his executive, which is co-terminus with the tenure of the President.  
  • How Indian society is structured, it is tough to be Politically Neutral. This concept works well in western cultures.
  • In developing societies, there are weaker sections that the administration must support. In this context, one of our former Prime Ministers said, “In developing countries, civil servants, to be genuinely neutral, has to take the side of the poor.”

Conclusion: Just as the absence of democracy would lead to the destruction of individual rights, similarly, a lack of neutrality would cause chaos in the functioning of public administration. Therefore, this ideal is worth pursuing.


  • The bureaucrat is supposed to 
    • Work with anonymity, i.e. they should work behind the curtain. 
    • They should avoid going to the media to air their grievances or differences of opinion.
    • They usually don’t get credit for the success, nor they are blamed for the failure. It is usually the political executive who gets applaud for success and criticism for failure.  
  • The first case which clearly defined this principle was the Mundhra deal scam (1957). Chagla commission constituted to deal with it held that Minister T.T.Krishnamachari is constitutionally responsible for the actions of his secretary (H.M.Patel).

Dedication to Public Service

  • Dedication to public service means a person should have inner motivation or passion for working in the larger public interest. 
  • It is the commitment with passion and the personal urge to do something without any external formal instrument to enforce that urge.
  • It helps him while working in adversities. E.g., If posted in a Naxalite area or far-flung rural area. 

Why is this important in present times? 

  • Today we are moving towards a consumeristic society. There is a general lack of compassion, concern & devotion for others & the community. Everyone wants to achieve their worldly ambitions & civil services are considered by many to achieve that.  
  • Without it, civil servants would find it difficult to perform their duties under challenging situations.

Note: It has been found on several occasions that while the bureaucracy responds to crises with efficacy and has admittedly made major contributions in strengthening our democratic polity, there is often tardiness and failure on its part to deal with normal situations and with citizens sensitively and responsively. One of the reasons for this state of affairs is the belief in the civil services that its authority and legitimacy are derived not from the people’s mandate but from an immutable corpus & rules that it has prescribed for itself.



Empathy is the ability to understand & share the feelings (emotions) of others. It is the power of entering into other’s situation & imaginatively experiencing other person’s feelings. Empathy is to blur the line between self and others. 

  • Earlier, philosophers believed that man is a rational animal and humans make decisions based on rationality (as shown by Aristotle’s statement – “Man is a rational animal “)
  • But present belief is that Man is a Social & Emotional animal (along with Rational Animal). They describe the man as Homo Empathicus and believe that emotions have a role to play in human decisions. 


  • Sympathy is based on belief and cognitive aspects
  • Example: If some beggar comes to you and you give him some money without feeling anything. You just thought that since he is begging and poor, you should give him some money to eat food (without any emotional feeling at all).


  • It has both cognitive and emotional aspects (emotion can be because you have faced that situation, or you can imagine another person’s situation even if you haven’t encountered such a situation in the past). Simply put, empathy means putting yourself in their shoes & feel what they must be feeling in the circumstances they are facing. 
  • It is not just knowing what poverty is, but the power to enter into a poor man’s situation to experience how hard his life is. 
  • Empathy is a better indicator of behaviour since it is a stronger attitude than sympathy.
  • Empathy is one of the many bases of pro-social behaviour and altruism. 
  • Note – Empathy is associated not only with sad feelings but happy feelings as well. Celebrating the festival with people of other religion/ culture is such an example.
  • We talk about empathy most commonly as a single attribute. But a close look reveals three distinct kinds, each important for leadership effectiveness:
  1. Cognitive empathy— the ability to understand another person’s perspective;
  2. Emotional empathy—the ability to feel what others feel;
  3. Empathic concern — the ability to sense what others need for someone.


  • Altruism is always related to ‘action’.
  • Altruism is one step ahead of Empathy. In Empathy, you can understand other’s situations, but in Altruism, you know as well as working to improve other’s conditions. 
    • You recovered from cancer and feel pain for other cancer patients; that is Empathy.
    • Subsequently, if you build a charitable cancer hospital, that is Altruism.
  • Empathy is one of the bases of Altruism, but there are many more. A person may be doing charity to avoid tax. 


  • It is one step ahead of empathy.
  • Compassion means “to suffer together”. It is not just how poor man’s family sleeps without eating food at night but desire to help them come out of poverty (it is possible that you don’t work on that even after having desire. It would still be considered Compassion). It is about intention.
  • If we rank them: sympathy < empathy < compassion. Hence, Compassion is a better predictor of behaviour than empathy
  • Empathy means understanding another person’s pain/feeling. It can be for everyone higher or lower than you. But Compassion is targeted towards weaker beings.
  • Examples of Empathy  
    • Mother Teresa left her own country to serve the poor in Kolkata.
    • Buddhism teaches the practice of Compassion, called karuna.
  • Civil servants are the agents of change. Therefore, Compassion is ranked as one of the great virtues for civil servants, which has a bearing on the functioning of the administration and society. Compassion drives the civil servant to help people and ensure the welfare of people.

Why Indian Civil Servants should have Empathy as Foundational Value?

During the British Raj, those deployed in Indian Civil Services (ICS) were among the sharpest and intelligent brains within the whole Empire. But ultimately, what they left on the eve of independence was a trail of misery and famine caused deaths. Indian Administrative Services was just a continuation of ICS, but we wanted them to help the poor implement various welfare schemes. Therefore, empathetic officers were the need of the hour in modern-day administration targeted towards inclusive growth. Imparting Empathy in them is essential in such a situation.

This is the reason why Empathy has been one of the foundational values of Civil Servants. Empathy will trigger altruistic behaviour and, they will try to help the poor.

How to teach empathy?

  • Sensitivity training: Role-playing games that involve putting on another person’s shoes.
  • Open conversation: Interacting with people of different sections of society in a relaxed environment.
  • Following the Indian philosophy of Sarvadharma Sambhav like celebrating festivals of different cultures or religions.
  • Art and literature: They can also sensitize people about the conditions of some specific group of people.
  • Cultivation of interest in other cultures means extending our knowledge of unfamiliar ways of life and appreciating the underlined ethical values.
  • Using art, theatre, cinema and literature: People living in Cities don’t know about the hardships of people living in a remote tribal village in Jharkhand. In such a situation, these mediums can help to portray their miserable condition. E.g., Pathar Panchali movie beautifully depicts poverty in Villages. 
  • Celebrate the festivals together like Eid, Diwali etc. 


Some of the attributes of a leader are

  1. Motivate others
  2. Enrol others in their vision 
  3. Persuasive 
  4. Visionary 
  5. Communicator (so that he can communicate his vision to masses) 
  6. Lead by example 
  7. Courageous (in decision making & actions) 
  8. Consensus building ability 
  9. Emotionally Intelligent

Example of leadership 

  • Singapore’s rapid success from a poor island to the most developed country in the world was possible due to the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew.
  • Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi are examples of leaders who enrolled others in their vision of independence for their respective nations and led by example and courage.


  • Tolerance is a fair, objective & permissive attitude toward those opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation etc., which differ from one’s own.
  • Tolerance means a fair and objective outlook towards those whose lifestyle differs from a person. 
  • Tolerance, as an essential attitude, usually develops under the following conditions:-
    • Awareness of plural truth claims. 
    • Spiritual autonomy or inner freedom.
    • Awareness of distinction between subjective & objective truth.
    • Respect for other minds or persons.
    • Capacity for empathy.
  • In Jainism, tolerance is captured in the ideal of Syaadavaada, which means that every view is correct from its perspective, but no particular view is right.

Why is it needed?

  • A tolerant society is a sine qua non for the lasting peace of the community. 
  • Tolerance encourages freedom of expression, which is necessary for the perusal of truth and progress. Without it, one cant express differing views freely, and thereby the society would become status-quo and decadent, where new inventions can’t occur.
  • It is necessary to uphold the moral worth of every individual, as according to J.S. Mill, all individuals have equal moral worth, and therefore should be allowed to express their views without any constraint.
  • Human development is possible only when we allow everyone to express their views and pursue their interest.
  • In a diverse society like ours, civil servants are required to serve all the sections equally well, which is not possible if they are not tolerant.

Compassion towards weaker section

  • Compassion means “to suffer together.” 
  • Compassion is the feeling that arises in person when he observes another person’s suffering and feels motivated to remove suffering.
  • Compassion is different from empathy. Empathy means the ability to feel other’s emotions, while compassion means when those feelings include the desire to help. 

Why should we practice compassion? 

  • Employees working under compassionate leaders are more committed to their work and organisation.
  • Compassionate acts activate the pleasure circuits of the brain and rejuvenate the person.
  • Compassion helps in making better relationships.
  • Persons high on compassion are socially adept and less vulnerable to isolation.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

This article deals with ‘Emotional Intelligence.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles on Ethics, you can click here.

What are Emotions?

  • Emotions are feelings inside the person. They influence person’s reaction to events and  direct his/her attention to important events .
  • They are biologically given and a result of evolution because they provided good solutions to ancient and recurring problems that faced our ancestors. Therefore, they are the essential constitute of human mind.
  • There are 8 Basic Emotions 
Types of Emotions

All other emotions are combination of these emotions . For example: Happiness and Anticipation together results in Excitement.

  • Emotions have positive side as well as negative side  
    • Negative : Emotions during stage performance  can result in “Stage Fright”. On the other hand, emotions such as hate can damage the relationships.
    • Positive : Emotions are important for survival. Humans live i groups due to the emotional bonds of love and care.
  • Quote
    1. Anyone can become angry —that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way —this is not easy.  (Aristotle)
    2. When dealing with people, remember that you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with the creatures of emotion. (Dale Carnegie)
    3. Give me that man that is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him  In my heart’s core.  (Hamlet to his friend Horatio)

What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

  • According to Goleman, EI is the capacity to recognize our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships . (If asked in exam what is Emotional Intelligence, write this definition)
  • Emotional Intelligence consist of two words
    • Emotions: Discussed above
    • Intelligence: Information processing ability of an individual
  • Hence, Emotional Intelligence is ability to reason with emotions and use emotions in the reason
    • Reason with Emotions: Try to find the cause of emotion that is generated.
    • Use Emotions in Reasoning : Use emotions to facilitate thinking . Common perception is emotions block the ability of man to reason but person must use emotions to reason in better way.
  • EI can be seen as head working with heart . It is unique intersection of both without overpowering other.
Emotional Intelligence
  • In earlier philosophies, emotions were seen negatively and opposite to reason . It was advised to suppress or get rid of them  to enjoy the fruits of life. But now emotions are seen in different way. We have come to realise that , emotions are here to stay & we cant get rid of them . Hence, it is better to manage our emotions .
  • It involves
    1. Identify & access (understand) your emotions
    2. Manage your emotions
    3. Identify  & access (understand) other’s emotions (like your wife or team member’s emotions)
    4. Manage their emotions

Hence, it involves not only managing your emotions but emotions of other’s as well.

History of Emotional Intelligence


300 BC Aristotle was first to talk about this when he said, “Anyone can become angry —that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way —this is not easy.”
1989 John Mayer and Peter Salovey talked about Emotional Intelligence and gave their Ability Model.
1995 Daniel Goleman popularised the term Emotional Intelligence for the workplaces.
2013 UPSC introduced Ethics in the Mains exam and Emotional Intelligence was part of this.

Domains of EI given by Daniel Goleman

Domains of Emotional Intelligence

1 . Self-Awareness

  • Self-awareness means  recognizing your own emotions and ability to hear your inner voice
  • It is critical for psychological insight, self-understanding, and self-acceptance.
  • People who are certain about their emotions are more adept at managing their lives and having a more certain sense of their true feelings about various decisions: what job to take, what relationships to invest their time in, what activities to undertake, and what goals to set.
  • Aristotle has also said that Self Awareness is the beginning of all wisdom.

2. Self-Management

  • Through self-awareness, you come to know your emotions. Now you  can regulate & manage  ones own emotions which comes under self management.
  • This means soothing ourselves, and controlling anxiety, depression or anger. People who fail in this ability are more prone to feelings of distress & depression.
  • Mastering the management of our emotions allows us to recover quicker from setbacks, upsets, and failures, and to move on towards our goals.

3. Social Awareness

  • Try to know about emotions of  others (and hence coming to situation that those can be channelised and used in next stage).
  • It includes Empathy ie our ability to feel what others feel, to understand what others have to say, and to get attuned to subtle social signals about what others need or want. This is a must-have ability for everyone in the caring professions, in education, sales or management.

4. Social Management

  • It means managing the emotions of  others.
  • It comes under Relationship Management.
  • This is the task of leadership, popularity, and interpersonal effectiveness. It  involves  guiding them and channelising their emotions constructively.
  • Person with high emotional intelligence becomes a force multiplier, he can extract max work out of the team members – he knows how to motivate people. Gandhi became good leader because he had high EI.
  • Hence, person who can manage emotions of others will be affective in following works:-
    • Influence
    • Leadership
    • Developing Others
    • Communication
    • Change Catalyst
    • Conflict Management
    • Building Bonds
    • Teamwork and Collaboration

Ability Model

The model proposes that individuals vary in their ability to process information of an emotional nature  . Those who have high ability have high EI.

Ability Model of Emotional Intelligence

EI is calculated on basis of Four Abilities wrt Emotions

1 . Perceiving Emotions

  • The ability to detect  emotions in faces , pictures & cultural artefacts  including the ability to identify one’s own emotions.
  • All individuals have different ability to perceive emotions.
  • Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of EI as without it any further action in this regard is not possible.

2 . Understanding Emotions

  • The emotions that we perceive can carry wide variety of meanings. The observer must try to interpret cause of that emotion. One having more ability in this regard can interpret correctly the cause of emotion & vice versa.
  • If someone is expressing angry emotion, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger & what it might mean.
  • For example:  if your boss is  angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work or it could be because he got a speeding ticket or he might be fighting with his wife. One having high EI will have high ability to understand what is the cause.
understanding emotions

3. Managing Emotions

  • Emotional intelligence involves an ability to manage our own emotions and those of others. 
  • People who are emotionally intelligent have an ability to amplify or restrain emotions, depending on the situation.

4. Using Emotions in thought

In thought process, persons use Emotions  to enhance thinking, decision-making, channelizing  emotions  for  constructive  purpose,  like  making appropriate  decision  or solving  some  problem.

Indian Philosophical Thought and Emotional Intelligence

Indian philosophical thought also speaks about Emotional Intelligence. Bhagavad Gita refers to  the  emotionally  intelligent  person  as  a ‘Sthithapragnya’ (the emotionally  stable  person).  A  ‘Sthithapragnya’,  according  to  Lord  Krishna  is  one  who remains  unperturbed  in  the  face  of  calamity,  and  takes  good  or evil  with  equanimity.  He has the  power to  emotionally  attach  or detach  from  any  situation,  at  his  will.

Side Topic: Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Measurement

  • It is ratio of person’s mental age to chronological age
    • Above Average Intelligence = Mental Age > Chronological Age
    • Below Average Intelligence = Mental Age < Chronological Age
    • Average Intelligence = Mental Age = Chronological Age
  • Formula to calculate IQ = Mental Age / Chronological Age X 100
    • 10 year old child who does as well as Average 10 year child has IQ of 100
    • 8 Year old child who does as good as 10 year child has IQ of 125
  • If
    • IQ > 130 = Genius
    • IQ < 70 = Mentally Retarded. 

IQ vs EQ

General Intelligence Emotional Intelligence
Concentrates on memory, learning , puzzle solving, reasoning Concentrates on emotional aspects like  Intuition, Conscience, Perception, Intention etc
Aim is to increase mental power Aim is to ensure increased influence of individual on group 
Its presence increases the possibility of success in professional life Its presence ensures success in professional life as well as personal life
No relation with morality Its application can be seen at the level of moral development

What is more important- EQ or IQ?

What is more important- EQ or IQ?
  • EQ is believed to be a better indicator of success at the workplace. People with high EQ usually make great leaders and team players because of their ability to understand, empathise, and connect with the people around them.  David Goleman in his book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why EI matters more than IQ’  has concluded that “The success of a person depends more on EI i.e. ability of person to manage emotions than IQ i.e. cognitive ability.” According to Goleman, success at workplace is about 80% or more dependent on EQ and about 20% or less dependent upon IQ.
  • As a result, many persons, high on IQ, may not be successful in life, while contrary to this, most successful people are high on EQ.
  • Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Ones IQ can get him into college, but it’s the Emotional Intelligence that manages the stress and emotions when facing final exams or during an interview. EQ, on the other hand, is the ability to effectively use IQ and all other potentialities that an individual possesses to the greatest advantage.
  • Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price. Hence, instead of exclusively focusing on conventional intelligence quotient, one should make an investment in strengthening his/her EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

Attributes of Emotionally Intelligent Person

According to Goleman, Emotionally Intelligent person has following characteristics

Self Awareness

  • Self Awareness means knowledge about oneself ie one’s strength and weakness.
  • Benefit : Person will set realistic goals and hence chances of goal accomplishment will be higher. Hence, they have history of positive goal discrepancy.

Self Motivation

  • Such people have high stress management skills and can recover from setbacks rapidly.
  • Because of self motivation, sustained action is possible.

Self Regulation

  • They are able to produce measured response to the emotionally surcharged events . This becomes possible because they don’t allow themselves to become prisoners of their own feelings.


  • Understand the perspective of others and feel the things like others do.
  • Empathy can be further categorised into three types
    1. cognitive empathy—the ability to understand another person’s perspective;
    2. emotional empathy—the ability to feel what someone else feels;
    3. empathic concern—the ability to sense what another person needs from you.

Better handling of relationships or social skills

  • The social skills that enables the individual to manage relationship effectively includes Tolerance, Patience, Tactfulness , Good social memory, sense of humour and high sense of self-efficacy.
  • Person having high EI has the ability to enrol people in his vision.
  • Person having high EI has the ability to convert challenges into opportunities and create win-win situation for all stakeholders.


  • It is believed that creativity is facilitated by  the positive emotions. On the other hand, EI enables one to manage their stress levels, and be optimistic in the face of adversities.

Applications of EI : Why to develop EI?

To become good leader

  • It was Daniel Goleman who established the  link between EQ and leadership. In leader-follower relationships, the leader is an  “emotional guide” who navigates the  course of uncertainty, threat, clarity, assurance and work.  It is also the fundamental task of leaders to create  resonance; resonance being “a reservoir of positivity that frees the best in people”.
  • Leadership is intrinsically an emotional process in which leader recognise follower’s emotional state , attempt to evoke emotions in followers and then seek to manage follower’s emotional state accordingly . Person with high emotional intelligence becomes a force multiplier, he can extract max work out of the team members – he knows how to motivate people. Gandhi became good leader because he had high EI. He know how to inspire people, how to rally them for freedom struggle , how people will react etc

To build better Relationships & become more acceptable

  • Intelligence Quotient (IQ) will help person to work better because person will have more skills but EQ will help person to have better relationships. If you have high emotional intelligence, you can recognise your own emotional state and emotional state of others and engage people in a way that draws them near you. It will help person to be accepted by public . 

Channelize own emotions constructively

Since Emotions are here to stay so one cant get rid of them but one can channelize his/her emotions in constructive way. Unregulated emotions damage your mental and physical health.

  • Depressed person may become suicidal
  • Aggressive person may become insomniac.
  • Unregulated Emotions leads to clouded judgements.


  • Whether you are dealing with trading partner , competitor , customer or colleague , being able to empathise (put yourself in other’s shoe or thinking from other’s perspective) can be used to arrive at finding win-win solutions.  

Emerge from setbacks and depressions easily

  • Improve your performance and help to pass through depressions & setbacks easily. Emotional Intelligence  can be used for internal motivation which can reduce procrastination , increase self-confidence and improve our ability to focus on goals. Along with that, it helps the person in leading a healthy life as accumulated and persistent stress leads to the various cardiovascular diseases.

Become more employable

  • U.S.  Department of Labor conducted a survey  which looked at what employers were looking for in entry level positions.  The results showed that  the list was  dominated by emotional intelligence factors.

Social Harmony

  • Emotional intelligent people can understand other outrage or outburst thus avoid violent conflict and preventing communal issue.

Use in Governance and Administration

  • Dealt below

Emotional Intelligence used by famous personalities


  • Gandhi became good leader because he had high EI. He know how to inspire people, how to rally them for freedom struggle , how people will react, how to select symbols that will resonate with the common public etc.
Mahatma Gandhi and Emotional Intelligence

Jawahar Lal Nehru

  • During  the  seventeen years  he  was  the  Prime  Minister,  Nehru  strode  the  Indian  political stage  like  a  colossus.  But  he  never  imposed  his  political  will  and  always  had  an  ear  for what  others  had  to  say.  Though  not  in  favour  of  linguistic  states,  he  adhered  to  popular wishes.  He  did  not  choose  chief-ministers  but allowed  the  party  organisation  at  the state-levels to  elect  their  leaders.

Martin Luther King

  • Some of the greatest moments in human history were fuelled by emotional intelligence. When Martin Luther King, Jr. presented his dream, he chose language that would stir the hearts of his audience. He promised that a land “sweltering with the heat of oppression” could be “transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.” Delivering this electrifying message required emotional intelligence—the ability to recognize, understand, and manage emotions. Martin Luther King demonstrated remarkable skill in managing his own emotions and in sparking emotions that moved his audience to action. King delivered “a perfectly balanced outcry of reason and emotion, of anger and hope. His tone of pained indignation matched that note for note.”

Experiments regarding Emotional Intelligence

Experiment 1: Marshmallow Experiment

  • Experiment was conducted on 1,037 children who were born in single year of 1970s in Dunedin town of New Zealand.
  • To know about the will power and ability to control the emotions of these children, psychologist Walter Mischel performed Marshmallow Test on them. He gave them choice between eating one marshmallow right away and getting two by waiting 15 minutes.
  • Only 1/3rd of the children were able to resist for 15 minutes while 2/3rd took single marshmallow right away. Years later, when the children in the Dunedin study were in their 30s and all but 4% of them had been tracked down again, the researchers found that those who’d had the cognitive control to resist the marshmallow longest were significantly healthier, more successful financially, and more law-abiding than the ones who’d been unable to hold out at all.
Marshmallow Experiment

EI in Governance  & Administration

All Governance is people governance and all service is public service . Relationships are the DNA of governance. If the public functionaries fail to develop trusting relationships with other people , there can be no governance.

  • Guided by Max Weber’s idea on bureaucracy, it had been assumed that effectiveness and efficiency would be harmed if human emotions influence the rational actions of public administrators. Therefore , impersonality and de-humanisation were regarded as the specific virtues of bureaucracy because it was believed that they would remove the danger of irrational behaviour by individual bureaucrats and the organization as a whole.
  • Likewise, FW Taylor’s Scientific Management Approach modelled on the idea of time and motion waste was primarily concerned with maximizing output and efficiency. Worker’s emotional issues like boredom, disaffection, frustration etc were dismissed as negligible terms.

Weber’s and Taylor’s ideas were substantial to the bureaucratic management for most of the last century.

However, in the second half of last century, the notion that the government and administrative processes might be improved by looking at the emotional content in the relational work rather than focussing solely on rationality and science came more and more to the forefront. One of the most prominent contributor in this direction was Elton Mayo who for the first time recognized that the formal organizational properties don’t satisfy the needs of the individuals and that the individual form informal groups . Through their Hawthorne studies , Elton Mayo et al. demonstrated that the most significant factor affecting organizational productivity was the inter-personal relationships developed on the job and not the pay and working conditions. Mayo saw the development of informal groups as an indictment of the society that treated human beings as insensitive machines and were concerned with only economic self interest. Mayo’s work resulted in human-relation movement in industry and it’s impact was felt in working of government and administrative machinery.

Mayo’s work was followed by the works of Mayer, Salovey and Goleman and their efforts resulted in the development of understanding that governance encompasses developing trusting relationships between the government and citizens . Hence, concept of Emotional Intelligence has become very valid .

It is increasingly being recognized that  public functionaries must know how to deal with circumstances that include emotions.   Administrative success and failure today is not based on technical proficiency alone but more so upon how effectively can Public Functionaries display their Emotional Intelligence skills to manage interactions with the people around them and as well as the public effectively.

EI helps Civil Servants to take correct decision in complex situations

  • Indian Civil Servant works in complex situations like
    • Scarcity of public resources vis a vis expectations of public.
    • Unreasonable demands by different sections of society .
    • Political pressure on bureaucrats to deliver.
    • Pressure of media to act in public interest and to meet targets timely even when resources arent sufficient.
    • Handling of mass protest and riot like situation.
    • Management of subordinates.
    • Blatant use of ‘transfers’, ‘postings’ and ‘extensions’.
    • Public agitation

In these situations person must hold his nerves and control his emotions and shouldn’t lose temperament. This is possible using Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence in Governance

Managing work family conflict

  • We have observed that Civil Servants are not able to balance their professional and personal life and even go to extend of committing suicide. EI is the way out in this regard.

Helps administrator to become better leader

  • Emotionally intelligent administrator will be a better leader because he has ability to
    • Enroll people into his vision (both people and his workforce).
    • Understand & empathise with different positions
  • It improves social capital. Social capital refers to the bonds of mutual respect and care among the members of the collective . EI allows up for building up of Social Capital with Peers, Media, Citizens, Superiors, Subordinates, General Public and other stakeholders .

Use of EI in Crowd Management

  • When person is charged with emotion after particular incident , he will be at the lowest level of his reasoning eg after Riot against particular community, people of that community will get emotionally charged with anger and may try to kill others. At this time , it is the emotion of anger that is driving them and not reason. Civil Servant placed to control at this situation will have to manage the Emotions of Crowd instead of going into reason .

Sample Question

Question : “Emotion can lead to our worst decisions or our best ones: The difference is emotional intelligence.” In light of the given statement, illustrate how emotional intelligence is critical in decision making. How can it help a civil servant in taking prudent decisions?                      

  • Almost from the beginning, the decision-making experts encouraged to make decisions through rational process involving facts and analysis. However, in reality in many instances, the real driver of our actions are our emotions.  Many experts and empirical studies warn decision-makers about the perils of making decisions when one is emotionally aroused. Reason for this is, there is inverse relationship between Emotional Arousing and Rational Thinking. If person is more emotionally charged, he will act under emotions ignoring the reason and can do unethical & revengeful acts.
  • Hence, best course of action in such situation is to control one’s own emotions and don’t get swayed by them. Civil Servant should be high on EI and should be able to control them so that he can take rational decision.

It can help civil servant in taking prudent decision can be illustrated by following example :

  • Take example of law enforcement agencies. When faced with hostile environment, they may commit revengeful acts. If some terrorist has killed members of agency, in anger they can take decision of revenging the death of their colleagues and go to site unprepared without doing home work. This can result in huge collateral damage.
  • At the same time, if officer is having high EI, then he can manage his own and his junior’s emotions and at the same time can channelise their anger into inspiration for eliminating terrorism. They can make proper plan , arrest those terrorist and take out information from them to bust their whole organisation

How to develop Emotional Intelligence?

Cognitive  intelligence  (IQ) does not change with  age or  experience.  However, with  EQ, this is not the case.  Emotional competencies are learned and can be taught.  The mastery of EQ skills evolve over a lifelong growth.

  • Emotional  quotient  is best  inculcated  from  an  early  age  by  encouraging  qualities  like  sharing, thinking  about  others,  putting  oneself  in  another  person’s  shoes,  giving  individual  space  and the  general  principles  of  cooperation.  There  are  tools  like  toys  and  games  available  to improve emotional  quotient,  and  children  who  do  not  do  well  in  social  settings  are  known  to  perform significantly  better  after  taking  SEL  (Social  and  Emotional  Learning)  classes.
  • Using  Yoga: Person can take help of exercise such as control over breathing to increase self awareness and self management.
  • Person should be open to the inputs from others.
  • Make groups where they can freely tell each other what they feel as we can’t know who we are until we hear our self speaking the story of life to whom we trust.
  • Emotional literacy: Person should improve his emotional literacy because if person can’t label his emotional state correctly, he can’t manage his emotions.
  • Non-verbal communication: Person should learn to interpret non-verbal communication such as facial and body gestures.
  • Develop empathy

Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence

  • Leaders can use emotionally surcharged speeches to rob the capacity of person to reason and use people to achieve their nefarious goals. For Example: Hitler who used his emotionally surcharged speeches to encourage common germans to attack and kill Jews.
  • Person can use Emotional Intelligence to disguise his/her true feelings.
  • Person with high EQ can also use his capability to manipulate others.
  • In the jobs with low emotional demands, high EQ can prove to be liability rather than asset. Eg: Mechanics, Accountants etc.

But it has to be accepted that people  aren’t  always  using  emotional intelligence  for  nefarious  ends.  More  often  than  not,  emotional  skills  are  simply  instrumental tools for goal accomplishment.

Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence

Sample Case Study

You are the Officer Incharge of  a  very  important  railway  junction,  which  is  an  artery  of  trade  and  commerce.  A  peasant  disturbance  has  been  brewing  in  your  district  for  the past  few  weeks.  Their  discussions  with  the  political  and  district  leadership  has  borne no  fruit  and  it  has  come  to  the  stage  that  now  they  are  protesting  by  organizing  a  sit-in  on  the  railway  tracks  near  the  station.  They  have  thereby  succeeded  in  blocking movement  of  all  trains.  This  disruption  is  causing  significant  harassment  for  the passengers  waiting  at  the  platform  as  well.

  1. What  will  be  your  course  of  immediate  action?
  2. How  can  emotional  intelligence act  as  a  tool  in  handling  this issue?
  3. What  steps  will  you  take so  that  such  incidents  are not repeated  in  the future?

Being  an  officer  in  charge  of  the  railway  station  it  is  my  duty  to  ensure  that  the railway  operations  do  not  get  affected  by  the  ongoing  protest.  I  will  make  sure  that  the railway  tracks  are  cleared  by  using  persuasion,  warning  and  all  other  legal  means available.  I  will  also  seek  help  from  district  administration  to  ensure  that  smooth functioning  of  the  critical  railway  junction  is  not  hampered.  Additionally,  I  will  ensure that  the  passengers  face  minimum  inconvenience  by  providing  timely  communication to  the  passengers  about  the  current  situation,  ensuring  basic  amenities  like  water, medical  aid  etc.  at  the  station.  Safety  of  the  passengers  at  the  station  will  also  be  taken care  of.

Emotional  intelligence  is very  crucial  to  handle  the  above  situation.

  • Emotional  intelligence  is  helpful  in  keeping  oneself  calm  and  composed. Coordination  at  many  levels – district  administration,  angry  protesters,  passengers- in  such  situation  is  likely  to  generate huge  mental
  • The  officer  should  empathize  with  the  emotions  of  the  crowd  and  win  the  trust  of angry  peasant  protesters  who  are  full  of  doubt.  The  officer  must  base  arguments on  huge  economic  loss,  inconvenience  to  general  public  and  the  legal consequences  to  convince  them  for  dropping  this  method  of  protest  and  engage  in meaningful talks with the  political leaders.
  • Some  passengers  may  have  urgent  reasons  to  travel  and  the  current  situation requires  that  the  emotions  of  passengers  showing  regret  with  the  current  service needs  to  be  understood.  The  officer  must  show  emotional  maturity  in  dealing  with such  passengers.

Steps that can be taken to prevent this in future:-

  • First,  I  would  ensure  that  those  who  are  involved  in  blocking  the  railway  lines  get adequately  punished.  This  will  dissuade  anyone  in  future  to  attempt  the  same.
  • Additionally,  I  will  create  public  awareness  about  the  legal  aspects  of  such  actions which  will  educate  the  public  and  will prevent  such  incidences. While  protesting  for  certain  issues  is  not  wrong  but  the  mechanism  to  be adopted should  be  peaceful  and  within  legal  means.  In  any  case,  illegal  means  of  protest  like blocking  railway  lines  is  not  acceptable  in  a  democracy  where  various  avenues  of staging  dissent  are  available.

Previous Year Questions

  1. What  is  ‘emotional  intelligence’  and  how  can  it  be  developed  in  people?  How  does  it  help an  individual in  taking  ethical decisions?  ( 2013 )
  2. Anger  is  a  harmful  negative  emotion.  It  is  injurious  to  both  personal life  and  work  life. 
    1. Discuss  how  it  leads  to  negative  emotions  and  undesirable  behaviours. 
    2. How  can  it  be managed and  controlled?  ( 2016 )
  3. How will  you  apply  emotional intelligence  in  administrative  practices?  (2017)
  4. “Anger  and  intolerance  are  the  enemies  of  correct  understanding.  “Mahatma Gandhi  ( 2018 )
  5. Emotional  Intelligence  is  the  ability  to  make  your  emotions  work  for  you  instead  of against  you”.  Do  you  agree  with  this  view?  Discuss. ( 2019)

Previous Year Case Studies

  1. A  private  company  is  known  for  its  efficiency,  transparency  and  employee  welfare.  The company  though  owned  by  a  private  individual  has  a  cooperative  character  where employees  feel  a  sense  of  ownership.  The  company  employs  nearly  700  personnel  and  they have  voluntarily  decided  not  to  form  union.  One  day  suddenly  in  the  morning,  about  40 men  belonging  to  political  party  gate  crashed  into  the  factory  demanding  jobs  in  the factory.  They  threatened  the  management  and  employees,  and  also  used  foul  language. The  employees  feel demoralized.  It  was  clear  that  those  people  who  gate crashed  wanted to  be  on  the  payroll  of  the  company  as  well  as  continue  as  the  volunteers/members  of  the party.  The  company  maintains  high  standards  in  integrity  and  does  not  extend  favours  to civil  administration  that  also  includes  law  enforcement  agency. Such  incident  occur  in public  sector also. (20  Marks)  (250  Words)
    1. Assume  you  are  the  CEO  of  the  company.  What  would  you  do  to  diffuse  the  volatile situation  on  the  date  of  gate  crashing  with  the  violent  mob  sitting  inside  the  company premises?
    2. What  can  be  the long  term  solution  to  the  issue discussed in  the  case?
    3. Every  solution/action  that  you  suggest  will  have  a  negative  and  a  positive  impact  on  you as (CEO), the  employees and  the  performance  of the  employees. Analyse  the  consequences of each of  your suggested  actions.

Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding

Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding

This article deals with ‘Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.


  • International ethics is a set of universal values that governs the actions and behaviours of nation-states. These include protection of human rights, prohibition of genocide, prohibition of attack on civilians during the war etc.
  • In International Relations, the state is called an Actor. Hence, 
    • All decision should protect and further the national interests of the State (Machiavellian Ethics) but  
    • It should also be seen as ethical.  
  • Examples where International Ethics played a role. Eg 
    • Sri Lanka objected to Nuclear Plant at Kudankulam as it is situated very close to the coast. India took their concerns into notice. 
    • India and China were initially against any quota on them in Climate Change negotiations. But, later they accepted the quota for the sake of whole humanity and people living in Small Island nations.
  • However, world powers try to mould International Governance in a way that their interests are protected. For instance, the US at World Bank, World Trade Organisation etc. 

Three Perspectives of Ethics in International Relations

Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding

Realistic Perspective

  • There is anarchy in International Relations with no world government. Hence, the state is the most important actor. 
  • Peace is created by DETERRENCE. For instance, Proponents of the Realistic Perspective are of the view that the third world war hasn’t happened because of Nuclear Weapons).

Liberal Perspective

  • There is no world government.  
  • The state is an important actor but cooperation between states is possible. For instance, Mutual Cooperation in form of WTO, UN, IMF, World Bank, UNSC etc.
  • Peace & Stability is established via Cooperation.

Ideal/Cosmopolitan Perspective

  • They see the world as a single entity. 
  • Rather than citizens, all are humans. Hence, they are proponents of Universal Brotherhood.

Principles which should guide International Relations

In the international forums, countries negotiate based on their perception of what is good – economically or strategically. This approach ignores the larger ethical framework to make decisions that may be good in the long term for all and short term good for a few. A broad ethical framework that can ensure this includes:-

  • Equity, Justice and Human Dignity should form the bedrock of international negotiations.
  • Equally important is transparency, making decisions more acceptable. 
  • The international community is responsible for assisting the state to fulfil its primary responsibility of protecting its citizens (as envisaged in the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in UN resolution).  

Ethical Guidance Principles in India’s Foreign Policy

  • Non-Violence i.e. solving International Issues peacefully. 
  • Mutual Respect for each other’s sovereignty. 
  • Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
  • Universal Brotherhood  
  • Protecting Human Rights (For Example: Helping Bangla, Baluch and Tibet Cause).
  • Equality at all International forums & break the hegemony of few. 

Some Ethical Issues at International Level

Human Rights Violations

  • Political interventions frequently lead to Human Rights Violations.
  • Terrorism: States use Terrorism as a tool of foreign policy and indulge in human rights violation. (eg: Pakistan (supporting LeT, JeM), Iran (supporting Hezbollah)). 
  • Refugee Issue: European nations are closing their borders to refugees fleeing war-torn areas.

Climate Change

  • International Equity Concerns: Countries that are least responsible for climate change and have the least economic capacity to fight the effects of climate change are the most affected ones. For example Marshall Islands.
  • Issue of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities: There are issues in defining and differentiating the responsibilities between present and future generations as well as developed and developing countries.
  • Climate Sceptics don’t consider climate change to be real.


  • Cause of disarmament at the international stage is being promoted by those states, which have massive reserves of nuclear armaments, missiles etc.
  • Countries like the USA impose economic and other sanctions on countries like Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. How it is ethical for a country to impose sanctions on others without discarding their own weapons.


  • The developed countries are depriving the poor countries of accessing the new technologies (even life-saving drugs) by the restrictive clauses of IPRs. It is essential to determine whether it is justifiable for a country to defend its IPRs on commercial grounds, or it should share technology for the greater interest of humanity.

Global Commons

Global commons are defined as those parts of the planet that fall outside national jurisdictions and to which all nations have access. International law identifies four global commons, namely the High Seas, the Atmosphere, Antarctica and the Outer Space. Some of the issues wrt global commons are as follows:-

  1. Zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 
  2. Greenhouse gas emission
  3. Governance and conservation of Arctic 
  4. Overfishing  
  5. Accumulation of plastic waste
  6. Accumulation of Space debris

Global Poverty

  • Rise in insensitivity: Global poverty as Kaushik Basu argues largely remains out of sight for those who are not living it. This enhances insensitivity amongst the well off nations.  
  • Whom to prioritise?: The states being a stakeholder in the global fight against poverty, face an inherent dilemma, that whether they should prioritise citizens or non-citizens for the allocation of the resources.  

Power Asymmetry at United Nations

  • UN is not democratic with Veto power given to 5 Permanent members. The organisation which is formed to protect democracy and led by the US and UK which calls themselves the defenders of Democracy in the world are heading institution in an undemocratic way. 


Genocide is a crime against humanity and the world has signed the ‘UN Convention on Genocide’ to end this. Even after that, Genocide does happen in the present world. Some of the notorious genocides include the Jewish Holocaust in Nazi Germany (1933 to 1945), Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire (1915 to 1923) Rape of Nanking by the Japanese Empire (1937), Rwandan Genocide (1994), Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka, Rohingya Genocide in Myanmar etc. Ethical aspects related to this include:-

  • Right to Protect is vague. As a result, either the international community acts very late or doesn’t at all against the genocides carried out by the states.
  • The international community also faces a dilemma that whether it should intervene on its own or arm the group so that persecuted section can protect itself.
  • The narrow definition of Genocide: The definition excludes targeted political and social groups. It also excludes indirect acts against an environment that sustains people and their cultural distinctiveness. 


Most of the countries of the world are affected by terrorism. But there are some ethical issues in this, such as

  • Good Terrorist vs Bad terrorist: States differentiate between Good Terrorists and Bad Terrorists based on their interests. This reveals selective and self-serving nature. For example, Pakistan differentiates between ‘Good Taliban’ and ‘Bad Taliban’. 
Good Taliban and Bad Taliban
  • Conduct of states during the anti-terrorist operations: States such as the USA and Australia, which present themselves as the ‘the saviours of the human rights are often alleged to violate human rights and mass killings. For examples, (in 2021) Australian soldiers were found guilty of killing innocent Afghans during their operations to eliminate the Taliban in Afghanistan. Apart from that, during Vietnam War, US soldiers were alleged to have committed war crimes epitomised by the My Lai Massacre (1968).

Issues with World Trade Organisation, IMF & World Bank

  • Western First World Countries have asymmetric voting rights in these bodies. 
Asymmetric voting rights in the World Bank

International Funding

  • Explained in detail below.

Ethics and International Funding

Foreign aid means the transfer of money, goods or technical knowledge, from the developed to the under-developed countries.

Why Funding of Countries is done

1. Philosophical Explanation

  • Humanitarian Concern: We might have drawn artificial boundaries to create a nation-state but we belong to the Human race.  
  • Historical Burden: Past Colonial nations like the UK, France etc. developed by exploitation of other nations in Asia, Africa, South America etc. To compensate for that, they give grants and soft loans to their earlier colonies 
  • Principle of Sacrifice: It is the duty of well off to sacrifice some of their wealth to protect those who can’t protect themselves. 

2. Economical Explanation

  • Export of Capital: Western Countries have an excess of capital that need investment in lucrative developing countries. 

Types of Aids

1 . Military Aid

  • It is the worst form of aid as it can destabilise the whole region.
  • The objective of this kind of aid is to garner new military allies or to strengthen the military capability of their respective allies. 
  • Eg: the US used to give huge Military Assistance to Pakistan.

2. Technical Assistance

  • It aims at providing technical know-how instead of equipment and helps in capacity building.
  • It is the least expensive with big benefits. 
  • Eg: Pan African e-Network Project by India in Africa.

3. Economic Aid

  • These are economic loans given at very nominal interest rates which are to be repaid over a long time. 
  • Such loans can help in the economic development of a nation by setting up the infrastructure.

4. Humanitarian Assistance

  • Humanitarian aids are the actions designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies.

Issues in International Funding

State vs Non-State Actors

  • Through which actors Funding should be done? – State Actor or Non-State Actor. 
    • If funds are given to the Government of Donee Country, most of the times they are inefficient in spending them. 
    • NGO and UN organisations can utilise the funds effectively than Govt Organisations. 
  • But if rich countries give funds directly to Non-State actors, there is an issue that it erodes the sovereignty of the nation.  

Conditions on Funds

  • Most of the funds that developing nations receive have a large number of conditions attached to them. These include 
    • Receiving nations can’t use it for their most pressing needs but only on projects which donor country or agency allow. 
    • Highly-paid observers have to be hired which make the overall cost very expensive. 
  • World Bank and IMF Grants come with large conditions like Opening markets for the world. This can therefore be viewed as a continuation of colonialism by other means.

Other aspects

  • The proliferation of Monoculturalism: These programmes are often aimed at inculcating certain form of culture and have low regards for indigenous culture in the targeted nations.
  • Modern technologies are preserved for-profit motives and ‘Obsolete Technologies’ are transferred instead of advance, to the developing nations. 
  • Corruption: Only one per cent of humanitarian fund reach the affected population. For Example, It was seen in West Africa during Ebola Crisis.  
  • Dependency on foreign aid: The state starts to lose its independence and relies on foreign aid for socio-economic policies.
  • Indirect benefits to rebel groups: The rebel groups might derive considerable financial benefits from humanitarian operations by imposing charges on transports, levying taxes on imports and employees’ salaries, and collecting rent for warehouses, offices and residences.

Problems in Funding Institutions

The key problem of the major funding institutions of global governance is that of unilateralism of Economic powerhouses like the US, EU, Japan and lack of democracy in their working.  

Main Problems of Major Funding Institutions 

  • Democratic Deficits:  Voting shares are in favour of the US, EU and global north. Countries like China and India are showing discontent
  • Global Response to Regional Problems: Response concerning problems of developing nations are untimely.
  • Issues of Accountability and Transparency due to large back door diplomacy. 

Limit of Sovereignty

Responsibility to Protect

Important ethical concern in International Ethics includes what is the limit of Sovereignty? When large scale Ethnic cleansing & Genocide is taking place (eg in South Sudan or Myanmar), can a country protect its actions in the garb of sovereignty?

What is the limit of Non-Intervention by the International Community? 

  • For this, there is an initiative of the UN called the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Initiative. 
  • It states that Nations have sovereignty but subject to Human Rights. If human rights are violated, then International Community can unilaterally act against that nation. 
  • The idea was invented in the aftermath of the Nazi execution of the Jews to protect such crimes from happening which ‘shocked the conscience of mankind’. 
  • But weaker and smaller states fear that the garb of Responsibility to protect developed nations will undermine their sovereignty.

Just War Theory

What is a valid justification to start the war, if war has started which type of actions are justified during the war and what are the steps that country should take after the war?

Just War Theory

Principles of Jus ad Bellum (Just Recourse to War)

  • Last resort: All non-violent options must have been exhausted  
  • Just cause: The purpose of war is to redress a wrong  
  • Legitimate authority: Lawfully constituted government of a sovereign state can declare war, rather than a private individual or group.
  • Right intention: War must be prosecuted on morally acceptable aims rather than revenge  
  • Reasonable prospect of success: War should not be fought in a hopeless cause 
  • Proportionality: Any response to an attack should be measured and proportionate.  

Principles of Jus in Bello (Just Conduct in War)

  • Discrimination: Force must be directed at military targets only because civilians or non-combatants are innocent.
  • Proportionality: Force should be proportional.
  • Humanity: Force must not be directed ever against enemy personnel if they are captured, wounded or under control (prisoners of war). 

Post War

  • Reconstruction: Postwar reconstruction should also be done.
  • Reconciliation: There should be efforts of reconciliation after the war is over.   

It should be noted that the theory is not intended to justify wars but to prevent them, by showing that going to war except in certain limited circumstances is wrong, and thus motivate states to find other ways of resolving conflicts.

Similarly, Mahabharata outlines the principles and contours in the conduct of a just war. Some rules propounded were armies were allowed to collect bodies, personnel could meet for negotiations etc.

Ethical Issues around Nuclear Weapons

Ethical Issues around Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapons have the potential to destroy the entire ecosystem of the planet. However, a handful of states insist that these weapons provide unique security benefits, but reserve the sole right to possess them. Hence, the possession of nuclear weapons leads to numerous moral and ethical dilemmas.


  • The fact that there has not been a war between nuclear-armed states due to fear of mutually assured destruction implies that deterrence has prevented the aggravation of conflicts. Eg: USSR and the US didn’t fight during the period of the cold war.   
  • It has indirectly saved millions of lives as conventional wars have not happened. Pakistan and India are less likely to attack each other because both are nuclear states.
  • Nuclear statesmanship: Possession of nuclear weapons engenders a sense of responsibility and a strong bias against adventurism. 


  • The first question is whether nuclear weapons are moral or immoral in themselves. According to ethical theories, since morality cannot be attributed to non-human things, hence nuclear weapons in themselves are neither evil nor good. The question of Morality comes when it goes in hands of the person who will use it. Till Nuclear Weapons are available, there is always a possibility that Terrorists can get hold of them and use them.
  • According to proponents of nuclear weapons, these weapons create deterrence and stabilize the world order
  • From the utilitarian perspective, while nuclear weapons give a sense of security to the nations, which possess them, but it instils fear of destruction in the mind of billions. Even the citizens of nuclear-armed states cannot be sure of their safety. Hence, on the touchstone of ‘maximum good to maximum people’ nuclear weapons falter. 
  • Similarly from a deontological perspective, which believes that means to achieve peace should also be pure. Means to avoid war should not be fear of destruction but values of humanity, peaceful co-existence etc
  • Another dimension could be whether the money used for the production of nuclear weapons can be put to better use. Spending on social upliftment is more moral than spending on weapons 
  • The possibility that nuclear-armed states may go rogue, collapse, or fail to prevent their arsenal from falling into the hands of terrorists, cannot be ignored.

Hence, it can be concluded that although the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons worked during the bipolar ‘first nuclear age’, it is far less reliable in the less stable, multi-polar circumstances of the ‘second nuclear age’.


The response of countries to asylum seekers has been xenophobic


Against giving Asylum 

  • It leads to drain on the (scarce) economic resources of the country.
  • Giving asylum leads to fear of job loss.
  • It also leads to the entry of extremist elements into the country. For instance, the Indian government fears that a large number of Rohingya coming to India makes India prone to Islamic extremism and terrorism.
  • Rebirth of Extreme Right-Wingers playing on Xenophobia. For example, far-right political parties such as Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany and National Rally in France are gaining ground playing on this card.
Xenophobia in Europe

Favour of giving Asylum

  • Every human being has an equal right to the resources of the earth. 
  • The principle of non-refoulment (to which a large number of countries except India are signatory) states that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruelty or any other irreparable harm.

Sample Questions

Developing countries are often very vulnerable to exploitation by multinational corporations. They support industrialization but lack of infrastructure is a major limiting factor. Further, without suitable laws and regulations, developing nations are ill-prepared for such endeavours. In their efforts to attract business, these nations often overlook the health and safety violations by the corporations doing business within their borders. Drawn by low-cost labour, new markets, and lower operation costs, corporations have little incentive to address environmental and human risks once they are entrenched. In this situation, there is an imminent threat of disaster.

Discuss some feasible strategies to balance economic development and safety and security of people at large in developing countries with special emphasis on India

Governments of developing countries often compete fiercely for attracting Multinational Corporations (MNCs) in the expectation of the advantages they will bring to their economies, often prioritizing economic goals over fundamental human rights and environmental conservation. The fierce competition leads to defective policies by these governments, which are the reason for disasters in many countries. The Bhopal Gas tragedy of 1984 was a consequence of defective policies of the government and the exploitative character of the MNCs. To prevent a “second Bhopal” from happening, developing countries need to rethink their strategy & to balance the economic goals and their repercussions on the environment and human welfare. 

Strategies to control the exploitative character of MNCs can be classified under two broad categories namely at the National and Global level. 

National Level

  • Corporate Governance norms should be strengthened.
  • Regulatory institutions should be strengthened.  
  • Compliance towards Corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be ensured. 
  • Environment Impact Assessment & Social Impact Assessment
  • Mock drills – fast response in case of any industrial disaster. 

Global Level

  • A global industrial watchdog must be instituted. 
  • International best practices should be documented and widely disseminated.

Previous Year Questions

  1. At the international level,  bilateral relations between most nations are governed by the policy of promoting one’s own national interest without any regard for the interest of other nations.  This led to conflicts and tension between the nations.  How can ethical consideration help resolve such tensions?  Discuss with specific examples. (2015)
  2. Strength, peace and security are considered to be the pillars of international relations. Elucidate. (2017)