Applied Ethics

Applied Ethics

 Applied Ethics is part of ethics which attempts to analyze the ethicality of real-life controversial situations such as war, animal rights, capital punishment, euthanasia, whistle-blowing, media ethics, International Ethics etc.

We will deal with some of the issues of applied ethics in this article to equip you to handle any such case in the examination.

Environmental Ethics

  • Environment Ethics says that the environment should also be a criterion to judge the righteousness and wrongness of an action (earlier decision-makers were not using it as a criterion).
  • Ecological values are part of Indian tradition, where nature is revered for its services to humanity. Environmentalists like Baba Amte have also spread awareness about ecological balance and wildlife preservation. They believed that humans must live in harmony with nature and not by exploiting it.

Environmental Values include

Applied Ethics
  1. Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development is the development that meets the present generation’s needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their respective needs. It calls for judicious use of resources)
  2. Conservation 
  3. Co-existence 
  4. Holistic approach  

The need for sustainable development could be summarized by what Gandhi said, ‘Earth has sufficient resources for the need of man but not the greed of man.’ Thus greed will lead to the mindless exploitation of resources and compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

(2014 UPSC) Nowadays, there is an increasing thrust on economic development all around the globe. At the same time, there is also an increasing concern about environmental degradation caused by development. Many a time, we face a direct conflict between developmental activity and environmental quality. It is neither feasible to stop or curtail the development process nor is it advisable to keep degrading the environment, as it threatens our very survival.

Discuss some feasible strategies which could be adopted to eliminate this conflict and which could lead to sustainable development. (250 words)

Today, Policymakers have to look for Sustainable Development so that equilibrium can be maintained between development and conservation of the environment. To achieve high economic growth, we can’t allow the environment to degrade to such an extent that our cities become unlivable and the Earth face an existential crisis. Nor can we afford not to develop at all because the country needs to develop to eliminate poverty. Hence, the need of the hour is to grow in a way which causes minimum harm to nature.

  1. Green GDP: Growth should take into account the depletion of resources done to achieve that growth 
  2. Use the Polluter Pays Principle 
  3. Use of Green Codes 
  4. Increase the energy efficiency of appliances 
  5. Use Renewable Resources of Energy like Solar, Wind Energy etc. which are abundant and don’t cause any pollution. 
  6. Environment Impact Assessment should be done strictly, and projects should be designed in a way to make minimum impact on the environment.
  7. Go towards Organic Farming and the use of micro irrigation. 


The term “bioethics” refers to the broad terrain of the moral problems of the life sciences, ordinarily taken to encompass medicine, biology, and some important aspects of the environmental, population and social sciences.

Some of the general issues in bioethics include

  1. Clinical ethics regarding the day-to-day moral decisions confronted in caring for patients.
  2. Use of foetal tissue in Stem Cell research
  3. Euthanasia
  4. Cloning
  5. Human trials in the development of medicine

Broader theories to answer the questions in the field -of bioethics include.

  1. Utilitarian Approach: It looks at the consequences of a choice or action. Furthermore, the utilitarian view would look for the collective social benefit rather than advantages to individuals. E.g., the Utilitarian Approach would argue that human trials are good as it leads to the development of drugs that save millions of lives. ‘
  2. Deontological Approach: This approach would argue that “good consequences may have to be set aside to respect inalienable human rights”. An example would be subjecting individuals to medical research that may harm that individual while providing the potential to help others.
  3. Primum non-nocere: It is the doctors’ obligation not to inflict harm on others. Harm is to be avoided or minimized.  
  4. Justice: Distribution of healthcare and limited supplies fairly and equitably.  

Business Ethics

  • Business ethics is the system of morals and ethics followed by the business organization and individuals associated with the organization that guides their decision and behaviour. 
  • Ethical issues faced by corporations differ with the type of business operations. 

Business Ethics for various corporations

  • An e-commerce company like Amazon, Flipkart etc., involved in online operations of goods and services, must be prepared for ethical issues like the protection of data, customers’ privacy and security.
  •  A pharmaceutical company engaged in developing and manufacturing life-saving drugs would require the organization should not indulge in unethical actions like improper clinical trials, misleading advertisements, patent claims for non-innovations etc.  

Benefits of corporations following Business Ethics

  • Business ethics not only helps an organization tackle ethical issues, but it is also crucial in today’s world as it helps:
  • Builds trust among people: Ethical standards of operations followed by the company help in building a positive reputation. E.g., Tata group.
  • Provides stability to the company: Running a business in an ethical manner from top to bottom builds a stronger bond between employees and the management.
  • Improves performance of organization: A high standard of business ethics in all facets of operations makes people in an organization perform their job duties at a higher level and stay loyal to that organization.
  • Increase formal investment in the economy: A company with a foundation of ethical behaviour increases its potential to attract more investors and shareholders.  

Marketing Ethics

In a competitive environment in every product range, companies spend huge on marketing to get a competitive edge over their rivals. It is perfectly fine in an open economy. But the problem arises when they indulge in unethical practices like

  • Misappropriation of facts to misguide the people
  • Stereotyping of gender: For example, roles like dishwashing, kitchen work etc., done by female actors
  • Objectification of women: Some beauty cream and soap ads indulge in these practices
  • Use of brand ambassadors: Ambassadors endorse products which they don’t use or whose authenticity they don’t cross-check, making profits out of the public’s reverence of a person
  • Paid News: Some companies pay media houses to show their product in a positive light and swing public opinion. These are not an ad but paid news. E.g., Monsanto is frequently alleged to be paying media houses to make public opinion in favour of GMOs. 
  • Negative advertising techniques: the advertiser highlights the disadvantages of competitor products rather than their own advantages.  
  • Surrogate advertisement: It is an advertising technique to promote banned products in the disguise of another product. For example, advertising soda under the brand name of alcohol producing company for its promotion. E.g. ​o Liquor companies advertising Music CDs or pan masala ​brands advertising cardamom with celebrities.

Steps taken

  • Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, have been released to “protect the consumers” and “to ensure that consumers are not being fooled with unsubstantiated claims, exaggerated promises, misinformation and false claims”. These guidelines focus on misleading ads and ads shown during programming for children. Surrogate ads, meanwhile, have been banned completely.
  • Regulating Bodies: Advertisement Standard Council of India (ASCI) has been constituted to check on misappropriation of facts. 

Contemporary Issues in Marketing

  • Issue of legal liability of Celebrities wrt advertisements. The government is trying to bring it within the ambit of the law. 
  • Patanjali Case (2016): Uttarakhand High Court fined Patanjali ₹ 11 lakhs for misappropriation of facts in advertisements. 


  • Word ‘Euthanasia’ originated in Greece, meaning mercy killing.
  • Applied Ethics considers that death can never be good. But in the following conditions, Euthanasia shouldn’t be regarded as unethical. 
    • When a person is suffering from an untreatable disease 
    • The person is suffering from unending unbearable pain.
    • The person himself wants death. 
    • Relatives, too, consider that treatment is impossible.
    • reputed hospital should have certified that the disease is untreatable. 

Types of Euthanasia

There are two types

  • Active Euthanasia: Life-ending medication is administered to the patient by a third party, usually a doctor  
  • Passive Euthanasia: Life support is withdrawn  

Arguments against Euthanasia

  • Constitution of India: According to the Supreme Court judgement in Gian Kaur Case,1996, the Right to Life doesn’t include the Right to die.
  • Neglect of Healthcare by State: Legalized Euthanasia has led to a severe decline in the quality of care for terminally-ill patients in Holland.  
  • Malafide intention: Misusing Euthanasia by family members or relatives for inheriting the patient’s property. It was held in Aruna Shanbaug Case too. 

Arguments in favour of Euthanasia

  • Common Cause Case (2018) held that the Right to Life includes the Right to refuse treatment and Die with Dignity and allowed Passive Euthanasia and living wills.
  • Hospitals are already overcrowded. Hospitals should devote resources to those patients who can be cured.
  • Caregiver’s Burden: The caregiver’s burden is huge. Many families have gone bankrupt to ensure medical care for a terminally ill person or to keep up the treatment for an incurable disease.
  • It will help in saving the lives of other patients by encouraging organ transplantation.
  • Law Commission, in various reports, has spoken in favour of Passive Euthanasia. 

Aruna Shanbaug Judgement

The Supreme Court didn’t allow Active Euthanasia but allowed ‘Passive Euthanasia in the rarest of rare cases subject to safeguards like approval of the High Court Bench, based on consultation with a panel of medical experts. Additionally, only a hospital can make such a request.

Gender Inequality

Arguments of Applied Ethics w.r.t. Gender Inequality

  • Male and females have the same spirit. Hence, inequality is wrong.
  • The main reason for inequality is the physical power of man. But if Physical Power should be considered the main reason for the establishment of authority, then tigers should get precedence over Humans who are more powerful than Humans. 
  • If we compare males and females on mental abilities, females are more creative and have more reasoning abilities and rationality.
  • Men have outlined the social roles of females, which is morally wrong. 

Values, Ethics, Morals and Attitude

Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude

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

What are Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude?

What are  Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude

The whole of the syllabus and paper revolves around four-terms i.e.

  1. Ethics
  2. Values 
  3. Attitude 
  4. Morals 

First, we will define the terms Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude.

Why is it important to learn about these four topics? The simple answer is that attitudes, values, ethics and Morals are mental constructs that guide our behaviour. They are responsible for influencing our choices, guiding our decision making and directing our behaviour. 

How are EVMA interrelated?

Relationship between Values, Morals, Ethics and Attitude

1. Value

  • Value is the worth & importance we (as individuals or society) allocate to something.
  • They are general determinants of behaviour (i.e. they are not specific determinants of behaviour). In simple words, the value of a person doesn’t guarantee their behaviour. 
  • However, values are not tied to any specific object (e.g. value of peace isn’t tied to any object and is intangible).
  • Values help in determining the preference in life.
  • They form the basis for ethics and morality.

2. Attitude

  • When Values are objectified (i.e. tied to an object), they become Attitudes. In other words, Attitudes are values applied to specific objects.
  • It refers to a positive or negative reaction to an object/event/people or ideas. 
  • Attitudes are specific predictors of behaviour. (ExplanationIf we have a choice between knowing an individual’s values and attitude, which will we prefer to know to predict an individual’s behaviour? The answer is attitude. E.g. Sham Values peace but has Anti -Pakistan Attitude. In this case, he will not mind war against Pakistan.)
  • It determines the readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way.

3. Morals

  • Morals are values held by an individual which help him in distinguishing between right and wrong.
  • They determine the character of individuals.
  • There are two things in it.
    • They are held by an individual.
    • They help a person distinguish between right and wrong.
  • Note – all values don’t help in determining right and wrong. For example,
    • Beauty as value: If some person is not beautiful, it willn’t be considered right or wrong. Hence, the concept of morality doesn’t apply here.
    • Honesty as value: If someone is not honest, it will be considered wrong. Hence, the concept of morality applies here.
  • The fundamental force driving morals is conscience & ego-ideal.

Note: Conscience is our inner voice about ‘don’ts’. Inner voices about ‘do’s’ are called Ego-ideal.

  • Conscience: Inner voice that guides our actions and prevents us from wrongdoings.
  • Ego-ideal: Goals that are cherished and, therefore, should be pursued.

4. Ethics

  • Ethics are values held by society as a whole and help distinguish between right and wrong.
  • They determine the norms of the society.
  • What is not ethics?
    • Ethics is not religion, as many people are atheists, but ethics applies to everybody.
    • Ethics is not following the law. Law may have difficulty in designing or ​enforcing standards in some important areas and may be slow to address new problems. For ​example, marital rape is not illegal. However, it is considered unethical.
  • Something that started as moral can become ethical.
    • Example of Raja Ram Mohan Roy – His personal belief was that Sati represented a crime against women. However, the practice of Sati at that time was Ethical and societal norm. Hence, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was guided by his morals at that time. He made efforts and convinced the whole society to accept that value. Society gradually changed and accepted that Sati was wrong, making it unethical. 
  • Something Ethical can become Moral too.
    • Suppose I am a government doctor and have a moral position that I will not treat those male patients who commit atrocities against women. But ethics say that doctors must treat all persons who come to them for treatment. Hence, if I refuse to treat them, there will be complaints against me and a threat of suspension if I continue with this behaviour. Under pressure, I would start treating male patients with moral guilt each time I treated them. But gradually, I will either alter my morality or quit the job because a person can’t continue living with such moral guilt. 

However, one should not equate being ethical to whatever society accepts. An exception can occur when society or its influential section becomes ethically corrupt. For example, Nazi Germany, where the genocide of Jews was not considered wrong. Similarly, the caste system in India has continued through millennia because of the approval of influential members of society.

Comparison: Ethics vs Morals

Parameters Ethics Morals
What is it? Ethics are values held by society as a whole and help distinguish between right and wrong. Morals are values held by an individual which help him in distinguishing between right and wrong.
Sources External (i.e. Societal Norms) Internal (i.e. Internal Values)
Why do we follow? Because society says that it is the right thing to do. Because we believe in something being right or wrong.
What if we deviate? This might lead to social ostracization. This might lead to a feeling of guilt or remorse.
Flexibility Since it is a collective proposition, it is generally objective. Morals are highly subjective as they vary from person to person.

Note: Value and Judgement


The value will always have an element of judgement in it, but that judgement may not always be in the form of right and wrong. For example,

  1. Truth: In this judgement regarding right and wrong can be made. 
  2. Art: A person can judge whether art is more soothing or less soothing to the senses. But we can’t make a judgement about whether art is right or wrong. (MF Hussain made the same point that morality and ethics don’t come in the judgement of art because, in art, we can’t say this is right or wrong. While we can say I don’t like that art, but can’t say it is wrong art). 

Other Concepts

1. Beliefs

  • Beliefs are the ideas & viewpoints held by a particular individual or group.
  • They consist of true and verifiable facts as well as fables, myths, folklore and superstition. 
  • They are important because they give us hope. 
  • Beliefs lay the foundation of a cultural group. They are often invisible to the group that holds them.  
  • However, beliefs can be challenged, and peripheral beliefs can also be changed.

2. Norms

  • Norms are social expectations that guide behaviour.
  • Non-conforming to norms attracts punishment. Punishment may be in the form of being looked down upon, derision, boycott, imposing penance, etc. Hence, norms are a form of social control or social pressure on an individual to conform, induce uniformity and check deviant behaviour. 
  • In the later stage, when society decides to codify these norms, they become law.

Determinants of Ethics

Ethics and Morals are not universal. They vary according to region, time etc. Major determinants of Ethics are

  • Religion: Religious textbooks deal with questions about how an individual should behave and society should be. E.g., In Jainism, Non-Veg is unethical, while in Islam, there is no such restriction.
  • Culture: Values vary with cultures. Eg: Western cultures = Individualistic | Indian = Universalism and Multiplicity 
  • Law & Constitution: The law and constitution often incorporate ethical standards to which most citizens subscribe. 
  • Leadership: The leadership of a society or an organization, or a nation also helps to determine the conduct of its followers or admirers. For example, democratic, liberal, secular, and tolerant tradition has been the gift makers of modern Indian society. 
  • Philosophies: Various philosophers and thinkers subscribe to different sets of ethics. 
  • Geography: Brahmins of West Bengal eat fish (a non-veg diet) as geography dictates them to eat fish to survive
  • Economic Factors: profiteering is considered unethical in communist societies, while profit is considered ethical in capitalist societies.

Dimensions of Ethics

It should be seen from two aspects

1. Indian

  • Ashrama Dharma: According to this philosophy, life is divided into 4 Ashramas, and the conduct and behaviour of a person should be according to those Ashramas. These 4 Ashramas are 
    • Brahmacharya Ashrama: A person should focus on learning in this phase
    • Grihastha Ashrama (Family Phase): A person should focus on fulfilling familial obligations. 
    • Vanaprastha Ashrama: A person renunciates his worldly occupations. 
    • Sanyasa Ashrama: A person gives up his worldly possessions and devotes himself to spiritual matters.

Behaviours in line with this ashrama corresponding to the age of the person are considered Ethical.

  • Varna Dharma
    • The Varna Dharma states that people belonging to different Varnas should follow their prescribed duties.
    • But it doesn’t conform to the modern principles of equality and freedom. 

2. Western

  • Normative Ethics / Prescriptive Ethics: It concerns ‘what we ought to do’ and provides criteria and principles for deciding right and wrong. It is of two types. 
    • Teleological / Consequentialist: It looks at the end (consequences) for deciding right or wrong. E.g.: Utilitarianism / Hedonism 
    • Deontological: It looks at means instead of end while deciding right or wrong Eg: Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Gita’s Nishkama Karma etc.
  • Descriptive / Comparative Ethics: The study of the moral beliefs and practices of different peoples and cultures in various places and times.
  • Meta-Ethics: It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles. Metaethics does not answer the questions of right or wrong. E.g., Integrity is Ethical Principle. Meta-Ethics will look into what it means to be a person with integrity. 
  • Virtue Ethics: It is person rather than action based. According to this approach, a virtuous person always does the right thing. It guides the sort of characteristics a reasonable person should seek to achieve. These characteristics include justice, fortitude etc.
  • Applied Ethics: It is part of ethics which attempts to analyze the ethicality of real-life controversial situations such as war, animal rights, capital punishment, euthanasia, whistle-blowing, media ethics, International Ethics etc

Aligning Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude with each other and Behaviour

The main thing to note is 

  • Our Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude should align with each other.
  • Our Behaviour should be in line with each one of them. 

Why should Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitudes be in line with each other?

  • It is required that Ethics, Morals, Values and Attitude are aligned with each other. If they are not aligned, it will leave a person with immense confusion and emotional turmoil, and he willn’t be able to make decisions easily. Hence, the more aligned they are, the more peace and tranquillity a person will have. 

Side Topic: Behaviour

  • Behaviour is anything which a person does and can be observed.
  • All the behaviours are the product of heredity and the environment (in which he lives)

 B= Heredity X Environment 

Some behaviours are more hereditary and less environmental, and vice-versa.

Why should the behaviour be in line with Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude?

  If both are not aligned, it will result in 
If a person’s values are not in line with behavior  Conflict
If a person’s attitude is not in line with behavior Dissonance
If a person’s morals are not in line with behavior  Guilt
If a person’s ethics are not in line with behavior Social Isolation & Social Ostracization

All of them have one thing in common: they are Aversive States (a state which you dislike). Therefore, the effort is not to have inconsistency. 

But often, inconsistency happens if we have justification for our behaviour. If we have justification, the aversion caused by inconsistencies will minimize, and a person will continue with those behaviours. 

Explanation for Inconsistency

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Humans take their actions based on the Cost-Benefit Analysis. A person shows behaviour if its benefit exceeds the costs involved. In ordinary conditions, the costs involved in showing deviant behaviour are emotional and mental, which generally overpower physical costs. Hence, a person goes with behaviour aligned with their Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude. But when the physical costs are more than the emotional and social costs, a person shows inconsistency in their behaviour. 
  • Justification for behaviour: If somebody has justification for his behaviour, the person will show that behaviour even if it doesn’t align with his ethics, values, morals and attitude. For example, kings used to marry many women, which was immoral & unethical, but they still did. The reason was that they had justification for their behaviour, i.e. king had to marry many women to protect their subjects’ interests.

When to look for ethicality or morality in Action

  • If we want to look into the ethicality and morality of any action, it must first be Human Action.  
  • For any action to be Human Action, three essential conditions must be met. 

1. There must be some human knowledge of the consequences of that action.

  • E.g., If a child dips a mobile in water, one can’t check the ethicality of action because the Child had no knowledge about the consequences of his action.

2. Action should be done voluntarily, i.e. without compulsion.

  • If work is done under some compulsion, then ethics and morality don’t come into the scene. 
  • E.g., If somebody places a gun on your forehead and asks you to do something. In such a scenario, we shouldn’t judge the ethicality of action. 

3. There should be a presence of different choices 

  • There should be several choices to choose from. 

Hence, Freedom of Will should be present in such acts.

Questions on Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitudes

1. Are they static or dynamic?

  • These are neither static nor dynamic but RELATIVELY PERMANENT
  • Explanation: Dynamic and Static represent extremes. Dynamic means fastly changing, and Static means they hardly change. These things can change, but change comes very slowly.

Why are they Relatively Permanent?

  • Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitudes are the source of one’s identity (i.e. who one is). Individuals want them to be a stable identity. Hence, the idea of rapid change in these four things is out of the question. 
  • A person develops Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) with a massive investment of time, cost and energy & to change them, one needs time, cost and energy as well. When these investments are required, people don’t change these things easily. 
  • There is guilt whenever there is a departure from the built-in ethics, values, morals and attitudes. 

Question: The environment changes very rapidly at times, but still, we find that Ethics, Morals, Values and Attitudes don’t change so rapidly. If Ethics and Morals are instruments that ensure our equilibrium with the environment, then how can we hold the belief that EVMA are Relatively Permanent, but the environment is changing?

  • Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) are the basis of our identity. But we must keep in mind that a spectrum of behaviours can be conferment to a single EVMA. This fact helps the person adjust to the rapidly changing environment as one can decide which behaviour to display in a particular environment. 
  • Depending upon the environment, we can decide which behaviour we will display. E.g., Patriotism. Patriotism as a value can be defined as a collection of behaviours directed towards nation-building. 

Each one has the value of patriotism, but they show them in different behaviours permissible under the value of patriotism. 

In the context of defence services, patriotism demands readiness to lay down one’s life to protect the nation. According to you, what does patriotism implies in everyday civil life? Explain with examples. (Upsc ) (10 marks)

2. Are they Absolute or Relative?

  • Absolute: Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) are context and situation-independent. They are always valid and apply to anyone, anywhere and anytime. E.g., honesty, integrity, justice, accountability etc.
  • Relative: Ethics, Values, Morals and Attitude (EVMA) depend on context and situation. They change with time, place and circumstances. 
Time With time, patriarchal values are losing their sheen in Indian culture.
Place If a person migrates to the US from India, they must adopt certain American values to integrate into society.
Circumstances For example, even those who are against capital punishment can support hanging in certain heinous cases. E.g., Nirbhaya Case when people across the spectrum supported the hanging of those who committed the heinous crime.
  • There is no exact answer to the above question. Some scholars believe in absoluteness, and others believe in relativeness. But the way human beings generally are, they operate in relative terms.
  • Moreover, the absolute school overlooks the need to respect diversity and the view that the consequence of an act is also a factor in deciding the ethicality of that act. Telling a lie is unethical, but in cases where ordinary Germans lied to the Nazi officials to save the life of Jews can’t be considered unethical or immoral.  
  • But relativism school can also be challenged because, in this school, there is no common framework for resolving moral disputes or for reaching an agreement on ethical matters among members of different societies.

3. Whether they are culture-specific or universal?

  • They are both culture-specific as well as universal.
  • Some EVMA are universal, e.g. love, integrity, commitment etc. People of every culture would have these.
  • But some of them are culture-specific too. E.g., Some EVMA unique to Indian culture are 
    • Familial Obedience
    • Collectivism (western cultures value Individualism) 

4. Are they Subjective or Objective?

There are contrasting viewpoints wrt the values being objective or subjective. For example,

  1. According to Plato, values lie outside the individual and are not dependent on their perception or beliefs. Take the example of beauty. According to Plato, a beautiful person will look beautiful to everyone. 
  2. On the contrary, Protagoras believes in the subjectivity of values. According to Protagoras, all values depend upon the human observer. He refuted Plato’s claims by arguing that ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.’

Conclusion: Mostly, the values are subjective as individual differences occur wrt perception, understanding and judgement. Amidst the subjectivity of the values, there have to be some objective values which bind the individuals in society and avoid chaos in the society. These include values such as integrity, compassion etc.

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance

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.

What is Conscience?

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance
  • Conscience is the intrinsic intuitive capacity to discriminate between right and wrong. 
  • The common metaphors for conscience include the “voice within“.  
  • In contrast to the law, which is an external source of ethical guidance, conscience is the internal source of ethical guidance. Conscience comes into play when the mind passes a judgement on the rightness and wrongness of a particular act.
  • Conscience is also essential as a tool of ethical conduct where the law is silent or where a person has to exercise their discretion, whether in public or private life. Additionally, when laws become outdated and require renewal, conscience helps recognize the need to initiate the process and progress toward the most suitable form. In other words, conscience comes into play when compliance and cognitive ethics fail.
  • It supplements the role of law and rules in providing for ethical governance. In the absence of conscience, one may adhere to the letter of the law but may violate its spirit with impunity. 

Limitations of Conscience

  • Conscience is not necessarily a product of a rational deduction but is something that can be influenced by the indoctrination of one’s parentage, social class, religion or culture. Hence, it is subjective and not objective.
  • Conscience often promotes social dogmas. E.g. somebody’s conscience may not allow him to allow Dalits to eat in his shop if his family values are like that. 
  • It leads to multiplicity and inconsistency. Unlike the law that is consistent and equally applied to all in similar conditions, every person’s conscience can give him a different answer when faced with the same situation.

When should we go with our Conscience?

To avoid the above limitations, Conscience can be divided into different types

True Conscience Which is in line with rational morality
False Conscience Which isn’t in line with rational morality 

We should go with our conscience only when we know it is ‘True Conscience’. Although it is advisable that whenever you hear an “inner voice”, you must hear it. But because of inherent deficiencies, you must not blindly follow that inner voice. Think about it and evaluate it rationally. If the answer is yes, you must follow your conscience and act according to that. 

Crisis of Conscience

  • When conscience fails to guide an individual in any specific situation due to a particular experience, it can be called a Crisis of Conscience. Individuals lose the ability to determine right and wrong.
  • It happens in a situation which is ambiguous in terms of the values involved and their consequences. As a result, an individual cannot resolve an ethical dilemma using his moral sense.
  • For instance, an IPS officer is given the duty to regulate the peaceful protest by farmers against corporations. Things were under control, and nobody indulged in violence. But, suddenly, the officer is asked to resort to strict measures, including firing at the protestors. The officer in such a situation can face a crisis of conscience as the situation is ambiguous.

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

Role of Family Society and Educational Institutions in Inculcating Values

Role of Family Society and Educational Institutions in Inculcating Values

This article deals with the topic titled ‘Role of Family Society and Educational Institutions in Inculcating Values .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

Concept of Socialization

To set the context for the article, we will first deal with the concept of socialization.


What is Socialization?

  • Socialization is the process by which a person develops values to live in society as a productive and participative member. 
  • It is a lifelong process (from coming out of the womb to going to the tomb) of shaping an individual’s social tendencies so that he becomes and remains a useful and productive member of his society. 
  • It is a process by which a nascent biological infant becomes a sharing and participating member of his society. 
  • It is a process by which culture is transmitted from one generation to the next.
  • But why are we reading this? The answer is – If a question comes about how you will develop this value/attitude, this is the way out.

Agencies of Socialization

Values are developed by the following agencies 

Agencies of Socialization

Mechanisms of Socialization

Mechanisms of Socialization
  • Observational Learning: The process of learning by watching others is known as Observational Learning. It occurs through social role models like parents, teachers, friends, siblings etc.
  • Conditioning: It is a deliberate effort to socialize individuals by attaching rewards and punishment to encourage and discourage the behaviour.
  • Role Playing: It is the process of imagining and visualizing oneself as someone else and acting like him. While playing such roles, the individual is able to get a feel of others and suitably modifies his response. 
  • Trial and Error: It is based on self-learning and experiences. 

Important Points

  • Socialization is the story of involving these agencies and mechanisms to develop certain individuals’ values. (by extension: if a person is showing those values/attitudes which are making him a liability to society, we can use this process to mould his values/attitudes accordingly) 
  • Implicit in the idea of socialization is individual will have some discretion about which values he wants to imbibe and which he doesn’t want to imbibe. 
  • Also, when an individual imbibes values, it is upon his discretion in which way he will behave to show that value. E.g. individual has imbibed the value of patriotism but now how he will show that value in his behaviour is upon his discretion.  

Role of Family in the Socialization of Children

  • It is the informal agency of socialization. 
  • Family is a network of relationships marked by cooperationcontinuity and emotionality not duplicated in any other system.

How Parents help in the formation of values?

There is close contact between the parents and children. Parents are more accessible to the child than other members of the family. The minds of children develop in a major way through the process of non-formal education at home. Home is often said to be the first school, and parents are the first teachers.

How Parents help in the formation of values? 

As far as Value development is concerned, the family is one of the agencies in forming values. The same mechanisms are at play here, i.e. Observational Learning, Conditioning, Role Modelling and other family-specific things.

  • Observations: The child develops values by observing people who are significant to him. Since a child spends maximum time around their parents, it is natural that they observe them keenly and start to inculcate values shown by their parents.  
  • Conditioning: Those values which are rewarded by the parents become strong, and which are punished become weak. Hence, parents, via this, help in the formation of values in children. 
  • Role of Customs and Traditions: Customs and traditions taught by the family help the children to be disciplined and organized. But at the same time, if the female members of the family do not have freedom or if they are not allowed to work outside, children would develop the same patriarchal mindset.
  • Ensures smooth integration into society: Family inculcates the values which conform to societal norms and thus ensures value consensus to integrate the child into society. 
  • Emotional Experience: If children grow among secure individuals, they start to trust people around them & their thinking becomes positive.
  • Democratic decision-making: The family should allow the child to participate in decision-making and let children put their views and thereafter take decisions. It helps in inculcating democratic values. 
  • Helping children with good reading: Parents must encourage children to read good books and learn from them. Additionally, telling stories about the life of great persons can also help in this regard. 

Further, we will discuss the ‘role of the family in socialization’ under 3 headings.

Role of Family in the Socialization of Children

1. Styles of Parenting

  • It is the behaviour displayed by parents to discipline their children and inculcate values in them.
  • Parents translate their love and affection for their children into different styles of parenting. 

Depending upon the style of parenting, it can be classified into three types.

1.1. Authoritarian

  • They believe in restricting the autonomy of their children. 
  • They impose their value system on their children. Hence children of Authoritarian parents are generally. 
    • Either over-compliant or hostile  
    • Less cooperative 
    • More Self Centric 
    • Less Compassionate 
    • Less Empathetic 
    • Biased or partial 
  • In India, most children receive Authoritarian Parenting. The reason for this is the huge power difference between different family members. There is a clear hierarchy of power enjoyed by parents and children.

1.2. Democratic

  • They deal with their children in a rational & issue-oriented manner.
  • Unlike authoritarian parents who rely on physical punishment to discipline their children, democratic parents use the threat of withdrawal of love as a principle mechanism to discipline their children. 
  • Democratic parenting requires two outstanding qualities, i.e. (1) Patience and (2) Tolerance. People are very low on these qualities even if educated. It is the reason why democratic parenting is rare, even in the case of educated parents.
  • If they make use of physical punishment, they explain to their children why they were given physical punishment. 
  • They also provide positive re-enforcement on the display of desired behaviour. 
  • Democratic parenting will develop the following values
    • Objectiveness 
    • Impartiality
    • Cooperativeness
    • Tolerance
    • Patience
    • Empathy 
    • Compassion

1.3. Permissive

  • Permissive parents provide their children with as much freedom as is consistent with the child’s physical survival.
  • Their parenting will be characterized by neglect, apathy and non-involvement.
  • Parents have indifferent behaviour towards their children, and as a result, children will develop the following values. 
    • Avoidance
    • Non Involvement
    • Indifference 
  • There is a tendency among children that they will identify themselves with negative role models and develop negative values. The reason for this is that parents have the least watch over their children due to complete indifference towards their children.

2. The role played by Mother

  • There is an emotional bond between the child and his caretakers. This bond is significant because it provides security to the child to explore his environment & becomes the basis for a future inter-personal relationship. 
  • By the time they are one year old, all babies get attached to the mother. But the nature and quality of attachment differ. Based on the demandingness and rewardingness of the mother, attachment can either be secure or insecure. 
    • Secure attachment is characterised by
      • A warm relationship between the mother and child 
      • When mothering is consistent, and the mother presents herself as a rational role model to the child, then the mother-child relationship is characterised by trust and mutuality. 
    • Insecure Attachment: When a mother is
      • Impervious to the needs of a child 
      • Places unreasonable demands from the child 
      • The mother-child relationship is characterised by neglect or indulgence, or excessive indulgence. 
  • Secure attachment is important because 
    • It will produce a value of empathy, tolerance, patience, impartiality, cooperation etc., in the children.  
  • The insecure attachment will result in the following things in children.
    • Absence of bold and confident behaviour
    • Lack of trust, self-belief and cooperation
    • Poor achievement orientation & high dependency orientation
    • Avoidance of responsibility assumption

Hence, Insecure attachment provides none of the values demanded from civil servants like trust, transparency etc.

In most cases in India, the relationship is of an insecure type. The reason for this is that due to the patriarchal setup of society and the dependence of the mother on the males for resources, the mother herself is very insecure.

3. Role of Fathers

  • Like the mother, the father also influences the child’s value development through Observational Learning & Conditioning (reward and punishment).
  • Boys, through their identification with their fathers, acquire gender-appropriate values and behaviour. 
  • Likewise, girls, through the identification with their fathers, learn to make heterosexual adjustments. 

UPSC (2017): “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference- the father, the mother and the teacher.” – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Analyse.

Role of School

  • School is the formal agency of socialization.
  • It steps into the life of a child when a child is 4-5 years old. 
  • It helps children in the development of 
    • Cognitive Skills: Through Curricular Activities
    • Social Skills: Through Extracurricular Activities 
    • Interpersonal Skills: Through Extracurricular Activities
    • Psychomotor Skills: Through Curricular Activities 
  • The school acts as a bridge between family and society and prepares the child for adult life.
  • The school helps the child to interact with those who are neither your friends nor your kin.

Agents that are at play in value development at School

1. Teachers

  • Teachers are great role models, and their action greatly impacts children at their impressionable age. 
  • The main mechanisms used by them include
    • Observational Learning 
    • Operant Conditioning (reward & punishment) 
  • Through their unbiased treatment of the class, they help generate Impartiality.  
  • Through their commitment, diligence and timeliness, they generate values of hard work, keeping commitments and observing punctuality. 
  • They help to inculcate the value of rational and objective thinking and scientific temperament.
  • A teacher can help develop learners’ self-attributional patterns through judicious use of reward and punishment. 

2. Curriculum

  • The curriculum should provide culture-specific inputs that facilitate the child’s adjustment to his socio-cultural milieu. 
  • The curriculum should use anecdotes (storytelling) which can inculcate certain values in children. E.g. Stories of Panchatantra or stories of patriotism of freedom fighters etc. 

3. Extracurricular Activities

These are important to inculcate values of

  1. Teambuilding 
  2. Cooperative behaviour 
  3. Responsibility assumption
  4. Commitment  
  5. Tolerance
  6. Patience 

Side Topic: Schools as agents of socialization is failing because 

  • There is a huge divide between text & context. The content is not in sync with the socio-cultural milieu. What is taught at school is challenged at home and vice versa. Hence, when the curriculum is designed, policymakers should be aware of the socio-cultural milieu of the child. Along with that, parents’ reorientation should occur parallel to children.
  • The scheme of evaluation is rotten, with more focus on fact memorization and reproducibility, and not on practical knowledge.
  • There is a lack of scientific temper in the content, which is driven by ideological colourization.

Role of Social Influence and Peer Pressure 

  • Social Influence can be defined as a change in behaviour caused by real and imagined pressure from others (in society). 
  • Peer Pressure involves interaction between coequals (in the above cases, the interaction wasn’t between equals).
  • The importance of peer group is at its peek during adolescence. It is the phase where an individual goes through emotional, physical and cognitive changes. Hence, adequate intervention by family and school is required to prevent any negative socialization.  Peer group influences our life goals, occupational goals, behaviour etc.
  • The most effective social influence attempts to succeed in changing a person’s attitude and behaviour. But changing someone’s attitude is not necessary for social influence to occur; all that is required is behaviour change. 
  • But the thing is, although social influence doesn’t require a person to change his Values and Attitude, he does change that gradually because if he is working against his values, that process will make him pass through Mental turmoil and conflict each time he does that. Gradually, to avoid this, he alters his values and attitude. 

Categories of Social Influence

1. Conformity/Peer Pressure

  • It involves changing one’s behaviour to match the responses of others and to fit in with those around us. 
  • Why person do this 
    • To make a person socially acceptable 
    • Avoid social rejection
    • Fear of being different from the group 

2. Compliance

  • Act of changing one’s behaviour in response to a direct request from friends, neighbours, relatives etc.

3. Obedience

  • A special type of compliance that involves changing one’s behaviour in response to a directive from an authority figure
  • Obedience is a good & easy way of behaviour change because People usually accept their directives without giving much thought to what they are saying. 

Other things related to when a person works in a group

  • Social Loafing: When a person works in a group, he tends to put less effort than he puts when working individually.
  • When a person is part of a mob or group, he loses his individuality), and he is at the mercy of the group, whether good or bad. These things result in mob violence because he dares not speak against what others are saying. 
  • Group Think: The mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony in decision-making in a group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. 

Role of Media

  • Media is the mode of communication. When this media appeals to the masses, it becomes a case of mass media. Hence, mass media is the entire family of technological devices that makes communication with the masses possible. 
  • It is known as the ‘fourth pillar of democracy’ as it helps in ensuring the transparency and accountability of the government. Moreover, it acts as the linking pin between the government and the people. 

How Media helps in Socialization

  • It helps in shaping the perception by educating the masses.
  • It is also the source of observational learning to inculcate values. 
  • It provides us with topics for discussion. 
  • Media influence our aspirations. The media has increased the aspirations of people for quality of life. 

Problems with using media as a Source of Socialization

It has increased

  1. Commodification
  2. Consumerization
  3. Increased feeling of relative deprivation
  4. Disinhibition of various anti-social behaviours 
  5. Blurred the distinction between illusion and reality 
  6. Aspiration explosion
  7. Paid News: Mass behaviour is not shaped by something neutral but by somebody who is controlling media with money power 
  8. Sensationalising of news may promote communal hatred.
  9. Desensitization to violence 
  10. Advertisements shown on TV sometimes promotes Stereotyping (E.g., Fair and Lovely Ad) & objectification of woman.

Role of Religious Institutions

  • Religion can be defined as the collection of belief systems and world views intending to give meaning to life through various symbols, narratives and sacred histories.  

Significance of Religion

  • Children’s level and type of religious socialization depend upon parental religious participation. It is observed that children raised in religious homes have more religiosity in their life. 
  • It is an integrative social force. Religious rituals like weddings, funeral ceremonies etc., promote group solidarity and cohesion. 
  • Provides us identity: Identity increases the sense of security in a person due to belonging to a collective.
  • Causality: We need religion to explain the causality of things where it is hard to find a scientific explanation of those things. But in cultures where the domain of Supernatural to explain cause is more, there is a low level of education and scientific temper. 
  • Religion also plays a prophetic function. It provides authentic and time-honoured standards upon which institutional norms can be evaluated. 
  • Religion provides society with a positive framework to manage frustration and miseries.  
  • Entertainment: Religion is one of the most important sources of entertainment for people. 
  • Religion helps man to know his creator, thus satisfying man’s intellectual nature. 

Overall, religion plays an important role in social cohesion, keeping the crime under check and upholding the moral fabric of the society.

Role of Workplace

  • Work is important for a person because it provides a person with an identity. Most researchers have concluded that occupational identity is the most critical identity for an individual. 
  • The workplace provides job satisfaction which has an impact on interpersonal & social relationships. 
  • The workplace provides individuals with work culture, i.e. ethos & values, wrt work. If the work culture is compatible with the individual’s socialization, job satisfaction will be higher. E.g., a Boss or Group leader has to provide Paternalistic touch to his team because Indians are socialized to live in such a society. 

Values a person develops from Workplace are

  • Commitment
  • Diligence (persistent work)
  • Excellence
  • Team Spirit
  • Appreciation of  Diversity

How Workplace can develop certain Value in the Employees?

  • Reward: It is a good method to change attitude and behaviour but with three conditions attached 
    • Saliency: Reward must be visible
    • Valiance: Reward must be something which person wants (don’t give chocolate to diabetic person)
    • Contingency: Person must know what he should do to get the reward

Poor work culture in organizations is because of the absence of saliency, valiance & contingency in the reward system.

Laws as Sources of Ethical Guidance

Laws as Sources of Ethical Guidance

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


Laws and Conscience also act as sources of ethical guidance for all humans living in society. They can be broadly classified as

Laws It is the outside actor of Ethical Guidance 
Conscience It is the inner actor of Ethical Guidance (discussed in the next article CLICK HERE)

What is Law?

  • It is the codification of mutually agreed values
  • In modern democracy (not authoritarian regimes), it can be said to be minimum ethical conduct that society decides for itself through elected representatives.

Characteristics of Law

1. Common Good

  • Law must result in the common good of society.
  • E.g., Outlawing murder & thuggery – There is the common good of society if we punish this by law. Hence, this law results in the common good of society.

2. Compliance

  • Law should be implementable. 
  • E.g., Although there is a common good in outlawing lies, it cant be implemented. Hence, no such law is made.  

3. Create minimum Morality

  • Law creates minimum morality in public life. 
  • Hence, we can say that law represents the minimum morality/ethics that society wants in its members. A citizen can have more than that in himself, but lower than that will land him in jail. 
  • It is desirable and practicable that we make laws for minimum morality only because if laws cover every aspect of our behaviour, they will become so cumbersome that they can’t be implemented. 

Law vs. Ethics

Law Ethics
It is the codification of mutually agreed values Ethics are values held by society which are used in deciding right & wrong. 
It has legal backing.  It has societal backing. 
Breaking laws has legal sanctions. It is voluntary in nature. If you do unethical work, you will not land in prison (although you can face social ostracization).
There may be many areas where the law does not exist or is silent. Ethics has a wider scope.
Law is the same for all people. Ethics may vary from person to person.
Laws need to be specifically changed by the legislature. Ethics change automatically as society matures.

Whether law guides ethics or ethics guide law

  • Ethics usually guide the laws, as the law is the minimum ethical conduct the state wants each person to uphold. For example, in the highest form of ethical conduct, we shouldn’t take anything that isn’t rightfully ours. It includes something we have found by chance, like a ₹500 note lying on the road. But as minimum ethical conduct, the state wants that person shouldn’t indulge in theft. A person is punished if he indulges in such activity.  
  • Sometimes the law can be more progressive than ethics, and in that case, the law guides ethics. E.g., the Sati Abolition law when William Bentinck enacted it. In that case, the law guided ethics and made society more progressive. 
  • But some of the laws have nothing to do with Ethics. For example, the law prescribes driving to the left (in India, England etc.) and the right (in the US, Canada etc.). Although these laws prevent chaos on the roads, it has nothing to do with ethics. 
Laws as Sources of Ethical Guidance

Exception: Law can be Immoral or Unethical

However, not all laws can have moral or ethical sanctions. Even in a democracy, a majority can take over the legislative process and frame a law that may not be just for every section of society or may undermine the dignity of some. A law that caters to most at the cost of a few is unjust. And according to St. Augustine, an unjust law is no law at all. Mahatma Gandhi also argued that an unjust law is itself a species of violence. In the present context, the following examples could be seen in this light:

  1. Criminalizing Homosexuality: Many countries, including India, have recently criminalized the LGBT community for their sexual orientation.
  2. Adultery: Until recently, only a man in India could be prosecuted for adultery under Section 497 of IPC.  
  3. Historically, laws related to apartheid in South Africa and racial discrimination in the US were ethically corrupt. 

Therefore, these laws were withdrawn after widespread opposition and resentment by the population.

Question: Describe some acts which are ‘ethical but not legal’ and ‘legal but not ethical’.

Ethical but not legal

  • Starting the pension, if some old age person doesn’t have age proof but it is clear that he is a senior citizen.  
  • Stealing medicine to save somebody’s life
  • Breaking signal to save a life.

Legal but not ethical

  • Removing slums because they are not legal owners of property without giving them any shelter
  • It is ethical not to give capital punishment as it is against the dignity of human life. Still, according to the law, it is correct (mainly for heinous crimes) to maintain law and order. 
  • Old apartheid laws of South Africa
  • Marital Rape
  • Suicide

Law as a source of Ethical Guidance

Law and ethics overlap considerably. The law is the minimum acceptable standard of behaviour backed by legal sanctions. But laws can’t cover every possible ethical issue.

Hence, it can be said that 

  • Law is the minimum morality that is placed on all the members of society. Whether a person wants or not, he has to possess that much morality in himself. Hence, by this notion, it is clear that laws indeed act as a source of ethical guidance. 
  • But we must remember that morality and legality aren’t identical. Morality (or ethics) is much more than legality, and it is expected that the person’s moral standards should be higher than Legal Standards. But the tragic plight is that we have started to equate Morality & Ethicality with the letter of the law. The old adage “if it isn’t illegal, it must be ethical” is deeply flawed in the context of modern society.
  • Outlawing something takes back the legitimacy of that action. E.g. banning alcohol by law is easy, but it is challenging to implement it. But even after this limitation, banning it takes the legitimacy of drinking back.
  • Laws command both action and inaction: Some laws lay down what should not be done, e.g. murder, whereas others lay down what should be done, e.g. registration of motor vehicles.

Disobeying the unjust laws / Philosophy of Civil Disobedience

In earlier Authoritarian and Colonial Regimes

  • Historically, most of the regimes were authoritarian and colonial and didn’t consist of the people’s elected representatives. They made laws to increase their control over people’s lives and protect their own financial and commercial interests. We also have to remember that they didn’t have any moral sanction to rule people since people did not elect them. Those were despotic governments. 
    • Taxing salt production may have been just for the financial convenience of the British Indian administration; it was totally unjust for the millions of Indians. 
    • Slavery laws were made to benefit a few landed magnates and justified the exploitation of millions. 
  • Hence, disobeying those unjust laws without any doubt wasn’t wrong. Gandhi advocated the moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws through non-cooperation and civil disobedience.

Modern Democracies

  • But the real issue is whether one should go for breaking the law in the case of Modern Democracies. We have to keep the following points in mind while going to conclusions. 
    • First of all, these laws are made by elected representatives of the people. People have given them moral sanctions to make laws. 
    • Secondly, people can change the government in the next elections if the government is formulating anti-people laws.
    • Still, some government actions may be considered grossly unjust and unfair to a large section. In such situations, peaceful protests and pressurizing through the building up of popular opinion should be resorted to. 
  • Resorting to Civil disobedience should be avoided because: 
    • Resort to unconstitutional methods could be justified in past as there was little rule of law or adherence to constitutionalism. In the present, we must hold to the constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. 
    • It may result in anarchy: While disobedience may be helpful to some, it may spiral out of control soon, undermining peace and benefitting none. 

Martin Luther King also provided a template for opposing unjust laws. He said that one who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. There should be acceptance of the penalty of imprisonment to arouse the community’s conscience over its injustice. 

Work Culture

Work Culture

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

What is work culture?

  • Work culture refers to how rules/regulations, policies, traditions/rituals, shared values, beliefs and practices contribute to an organization’s unique social and psychological environment.  
  • The work culture decides how employees interact with each other and how an organization functions.

Important Note: There are two concepts in the syllabus.

  • Work Culture: It is concerned with the interaction between workers within the organization and between workers & organization
  • Service Delivery: It is concerned with the interaction between the organization and outsiders.

Why work culture is important?

  1. Sense of identity and belongingness: Employees (including Public Servants) obtain a sense of identity and understand that they belong to a larger community with a sense of commitment to achieve something more significant than their individual interest.  
  2. Acts as a regulating mechanism: Organizational culture shapes attitudes and behaviour by providing the necessary incentives and sanctions. These ensure that the behaviour of the employees is aligned with the organization’s values.
  3. Attracting talent: It helps attract and keep talented staff as workers prefer to work in an environment where they enjoy spending time.  
  4. Promotes efficiency: A collaborative environment in the organization encourages the employees to work diligently and inspires people to demonstrate the values of responsiveness and efficiency. It creates satisfied employees and increases productivity.

The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission states that poor organizational culture has led to the degradation of values and corruption in administration in India.

Characteristics of a Healthy Work Culture

Work Culture - UPSC GS 4
  1. Employees are cordial with each other.  
  2. Each employee is treated as one. Partiality leads to demotivated employees.  
  3. Management should appreciate the top performers. But motivating the low performers is essential.  
  4. Healthy work culture encourages discussions at the workplace. Each one should have the liberty to express their views.  
  5. The organization must have employee-friendly policies and practical guidelines. Expecting an employee to work till late at night on his birthday is simply impractical. Rules and regulations should be made for the benefit of employees.  
  6. Promote team-building activities to bind the employees together.   
  7. The “Hitler approach” does not fit in the current scenario. Instead, bosses should be more like mentors to the employees.

Traits of (Healthy) Work Culture of Government Organizations

  1. Administrative Hierarchy: There should be a clear-cut division of work wherein each level assigns responsibilities to the level beneath it, while each lower level is accountable to the level above for fulfilling those assignments. 
  2. Rules and Procedures: Decisions taken by bureaucrats should be governed by a consistent system of rules, regulations and procedures, which are written, rational and impersonal. 
  3. Communication and consultation: Bureaucratic structure should ensure the free flow of information among all departments and levels in the organization horizontally and vertically regularly.
  4. Process Simplification: There should be a constant endeavour to move towards process simplification. E.g. adoption of web-based single window clearance systems.
  5. Inclusiveness: Work culture should be able to inspire and motivate people coming from different cultural backgrounds to achieve organizational goals. 

Methods of Improving Work Culture

Work culture can be improved in a number of ways:

  • Objective Role Assignment: The role assigned should be as objective as possible
  • Remove Role Ambiguity: Role ambiguity should be totally removed.
  • Reinforcement in the event of creative expression of the given role.
  • Improving communications between management and staff in both directions
  • Providing adequate rest breaks to prevent the build-up of fatigue  
  • Be fair but firm in dealings with subordinates. 
  • Take an active interest in the personal and family needs/problems of subordinates
  • Take immediate action in cases of indiscipline and do not condone indiscipline in any form and at any level
  • Ensuring that jobs that pose a risk and cannot be completely eliminated are rotated so that no individual spends long on that task. 



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.