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

Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions

Last updated: June 2023 (Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions)

Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions

This article deals with a topic titled ‘ Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

Ethical Concerns in Public Office

Ethical Principles that should be followed in Public Office

It is important to have a look at the ethical principles that should be followed in Public Office, as they will act as guiding forces in resolving the dilemmas in public office

  1. Legality: Legality refers to whether an action is permitted or prohibited by law. Public officials have a duty to follow the law and to ensure that their actions are legal.
  2. Rationality: The concept of rationality pertains to the capacity to think logically and arrive at sound conclusions grounded in factual information and evidence.
  3. Utilitarianism: While making policies and decisions, an administrator should ensure the greatest good (happiness, benefits) of the greatest number.
  4. Accountability: Accountability is the answerability of the public official for his actions. 
  5. Work Commitment: Public officials should work with full commitment to achieve the goals set by the constitution, laws and government. 
  6. Responsiveness: Respond effectively to demands & challenges from outside and within the organization. 
  7. Compassion towards weaker & vulnerable sections
  8. National Interest 
  9. Maintain Transparency
  10. Ensure Integrity

Ethical Concerns in Public Office

Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions

1. Administrative Discretion

  • Within the rules and regulations laid down by legislation and within the prescribed procedures, there is ample opportunity for the public official to use his discretion. 
  • The problem is that selecting one path of action from among several alternatives is often made based on personal preference, political or other affiliations, or even personal aggrandizement. 

2. Corruption 

  • According to World Bank, Corruption is the use of public authority for private gain
  • Corruption can take many forms, including bribery, red-tapism, embezzlement, nepotism, and favouritism.
  • Corruption can lead to the violation of public trust, distorts the allocation of public resources and undermines national growth.

3. Administrative Secrecy 

  • Administrative Secrecy involves withholding information from the public to protect national security or the privacy rights of individuals. 
  • Although Administrative Secrecy can be necessary in certain situations, it can provide an opportunity to cover up unethical conduct and promote corruption.  

4. Nepotism 

  • Nepotism is the practice of showing favouritism towards one’s relatives and friends, thereby ignoring the merit principle and equal opportunity.  

5. Information Leaks 

  • Leaking official information at a date prior to the public announcement. Such disclosure of the information can lead to chaos, corrupt practices or improper monetary gains. 
  •  The leakage of confidential data can jeopardize national security or harm individuals and organizations. 
  • Such leaks can undermine public trust in government institutions as government acts as the custodian of data in a fiduciary capacity.

6. Other Concerns

  • Abuse of sick leave privileges
  • Extended tea breaks 
  • Violation of office rules in general.

Reasons for Unethical Behaviour of Public Servants

1. Historical Context

  • Colonial Legacy => Independent India inherited the same Bureaucratic Structure. During British rule, the bureaucracy was primarily focused on controlling the Indian population and looting resources.

2. Social Context

  • Indian society has accepted corruption and doesn’t view it negatively. It is not a social taboo anymore. 

3. Legal-Judicial Context

  • Wrt Public Services, laws made during the British time are still applicable in India. However, they had nothing in them to guide Civil Servants wrt Ethical Concerns. E.g., Indian Police Act, 1861.

4. Political Context

  • Criminalization of Politics: Due to the entry of criminals into the Indian political system, unethical Public Servants serve as their natural allies.  

5. Organizational Aspect

  • Due to the massive expansion of Indian bureaucracy, it is extremely difficult for the political executive to control it.  

6. Excessive Security

  • Excessive security, which has been provided in Acts like the Prevention of Corruption Act and Article 311 of the Constitution etc., is misused by corrupt and unethical civil servants.

Ethical Concerns in Private Sector Institutions

Ethics in private institutions refers to the ethical principles governing business activities. Business ethics is the predominant source of guidance in Private Business institutions. The ​philosophy may vary from organization to organization; however, fundamentals remain the ​same.

Ethical Concerns in Private Sector Institutions, in general, are

  1. Favouritism, Nepotism and Partisanship: Conflict of interest in appointments, especially in ​family-run companies, like the appointment of relatives to positions such as the board of directors
  2. Integrity of the Audit Process: Companies have been found to fudge their balance sheets: E.g., Satyam Case, DHFL case etc.
  3. Insider Trading and manipulation of share prices
  4. Cartelization: Big Corporations in oligopolistic markets form cartels to set the buying or selling price and make the entry of new players impossible.
  5. Lobbying with the governments for favourable policies like subsidies, tax reductions, contracts etc.

Ethical Concerns wrt Employees 

  • Moonlighting: It is the process of working for multiple organizations. Ethically, an employee shouldn’t work in more than one place simultaneously (in 2022, Wipro, Infosys, etc., removed workers due to moonlighting because such workers may disclose the parent company’s trade secrets or client list to other rival companies.)
  • Taking credit for others’ work: Employees often work in teams to create marketing campaigns, develop new products or fine-tune services, yet rarely does everyone in a group contribute equally to the final product. If all employees accept equal praise even though only a select few did the real work, it is wrong. Team members should insist that all employees perform specific tasks to help complete a project. 
  • Harassing co-workers (physically, psychologically or sexually): Employees often don’t know what to do if they see one of their co-workers harassing another employee either mentally, sexually or physically. Employees may worry about their jobs if they attempt to report a superior for harassment. The best way to resolve this ethical dilemma rests with the staff members who develop the company’s employee handbook. It is their job to include specific language that spells out that an employee won’t be punished for reporting the harassing behaviour or inappropriate actions of their co-workers.
  • Failing to maintain the company’s privacy policy: An employee shouldn’t give the company’s data to another company/competitor.
  • Offensive Communications: Employees shouldn’t use offensive language in the office.  
  • Other Issue
    • Utilization of organizational resources to fulfil personal needs is unethical. E.g., Making unnecessary phone calls at the company’s cost.
    • Using office hours for private work
    • Taking advantage of the travel benefit.  
    • Taking excessive leaves beyond the allowed number 

Ethical Concerns wrt Employers

  • Favouritism: Employers shouldn’t favour a particular person with regard to promotions and bonuses  
  • Sexual harassment at the workplace
  • Unnecessary delay in paying the employee’s provident fund and gratuity  
  • Hire and fire culture, i.e. firing the employees on frivolous grounds for budget management or reducing expenses. 
  • Gender Neutrality: Some organizations favour men over women due to issues like maternity leaves and other gender-associated prejudices.

Discipline generally implies following the order and subordination. However, it may be counter-productive for the organisation. Discuss. (UPSC 2017)

  • First, mention that discipline is important as it brings efficiency and helps in maintaining ethical behaviour within the organization. 
  • But too much emphasis on discipline in the form of order and subordination can be counterproductive.
    • It kills innovation. E.g. companies like Tesla give space and freedom to think beyond ordinary lines, and this has made them leaders in innovation.
    • It creates an army of sycophants, and the decision-makers of the company can’t get the real picture. 
    • Indian companies rely too much on discipline, so they have become just outsourcing destinations for Western companies. We are not able to create Indian Facebook or Google even though Indians are heading many Innovation powerhouses of the world.

Dilemmas in Public and Private Institutions

It is easy to make a  choice among actions where consequences are unambiguously right or wrong. However, an ethical dilemma arises when there is ambiguity about the goodness or badness of an act.

Ethical dilemmas or moral dilemmas  are situations in which

  1. There is a choice to be made between two or more options, neither of which resolves the situation fully
  2. There is a mental conflict between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another.

Reasons for Dilemmas

  1. Conflict of interest is the most obvious example leading to an ethical dilemma. Conflicts of interest can arise when there is a clash between an individual’s private interests and their public responsibilities, creating a dilemma for the public official or employee.
  2. Conflict between different values of Public Administration (Value 1 vs Value 2): For example, Value 1 might be the protection of individual privacy, while Value 2 might be the need for law enforcement agencies to access private data to prevent crime. Other examples include transparency versus confidentiality, efficiency versus due process, and economic growth versus environmental protection.
  3. Conflict between different aspects of the Code of Conduct: For example, a public official may be required to maintain confidentiality about certain information in order to protect the public interest, but they may also have a duty to be transparent and accountable to the public.
  4. Personal values vs government directives:  a public servant may have personal values that conflict with a government directive, such as a policy that prioritizes economic development over environmental concerns. 
  5. Professional Ethics vs Government Directive: Professional ethics are a set of standards that guide the conduct of individuals in a particular profession. They are intended to ensure that professionals act in the best interests of their clients, patients, or stakeholders. When professional ethics conflict with government directives, public officials may face a dilemma. They may feel that following government directives would compromise their professional integrity, or that following their professional ethics would conflict with their obligations to the government. 
  6. Blurred or Competing accountabilities: Public officials have multiple stakeholders to whom they are accountable, including society, government, superiors, media etc. Each of these stakeholders may have different expectations and priorities, making it challenging for public officials to balance their obligations. 

Types of Ethical Dilemmas

1. Personal Cost Ethical Dilemmas 

  • Arises from situations when compliance with Ethical Conduct results in a significant personal cost to the decision maker 
  • These are easy to solve (at least in the case of studies) because one option is definitely incorrect, although if we go with the other option, we have to pay a personal cost. 
  • These personal costs include jeopardising held positions, missing opportunities for material or financial benefit, and injuring valued relationships. 

2. Right vs Right Ethical Dilemmas 

  • Arises from situations of two or more conflicting sets of bona fide ethical values 
  • E.g., 
    1. Transparency vs Secrecy: Public Servant’s responsibility of being open and accountable to citizens versus that of adhering to the oath of secrecy/confidentiality 
    2. Justice vs Mercy: A public official may have to make a decision between enforcing the law strictly and punishing a wrongdoer or showing mercy and granting leniency to the wrongdoer in light of extenuating circumstances.

3. Conjoint Ethical Dilemmas 

  • In this public servant finds himself in a situation that is a combination of the above-indicated ethical dilemmas, i.e. problem consists of both Right vs Right & Personal Cost Ethical Dilemmas. 

Note – In solving the case study of Ethical Dilemmas, in the introduction, one can mention in which category this case study comes out of above mentioned Ethical Dilemmas. 

Principles to be used in Solving Dilemmas

  1. Objective Analysis: To solve dilemmas, one should always act objectively based on rational thinking & facts and figures. 
  2. Follow the Rule of Law: Act should always be within the rules of law. Hence, if competing choices are such that one is within the ambit of the law and the other outside law, then one must go with the law. 
  3. Follow Code of Conduct: Always follow the Code of Conduct in such cases because the main aim of giving an exhaustive Code of Conduct is to resolve these situations in the best way. 
  4. Society above Personal Interest: In solving these dilemmas, one should place society and nation above personal interests
  5. Choose the higher value among competing values: In case the dilemma involves competing values, choose the higher value. E.g. Openness is a higher value than secrecy (unless the Security and Integrity of the nation are at stake) 
  6. Use Gandhi’s Talisman 
  7. Use Conscience: But conscience is not always correct and often leads us in the wrong ways. 

Acts of Double Effect

Some actions have two effects—good and bad. How does someone decide the morality of such actions? Ethicists provide a few general principles to help decide the morality of acts of double effect. According to these principles, it may be morally permissible to perform an action that has both good and bad consequences if certain conditions are met. They are:

  1. The action itself must be either good or neutral— that is, not intrinsically wrong. 
  2. The good effect must be immediate—that is, not obtained through the evil effect. 
  3. The intention or purpose must be good.
  4. There must be a proportionately good reason or cause for performing the action in the first place.

This marks the end of our article on Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions.

Role of Family Society and Educational Institutions in Inculcating Values

Last Updated: June 2023 (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.

Human Values

Human Values

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


  • Although value systems depend upon society, religion, geography etc., certain values are common to all humans. These values are found in all value systems and cherished by all humans. These are known as Human Values.  
  • Freedom, Creativity, Love & Wisdom form the core of human values, and all other values revolve around them.  
  • These are universal; i.e., even if we go to the earliest recorded human societies, we will find their existence. Hence, human values have played an important role in the evolution of human societies. 
  • In simple words, ‘They remain static and never change with time or region.’
Human Values

1. Freedom

  • Freedom is something fundamental in every living being. Every living being who has come on Earth wants to remain free. They always dislike bondage and restrictions. 
  • Our history is full of the quest for freedom of individual & this has been a guiding principle of human civilization. Entire human civilization is based on this constant endeavour for freedom

There are different perspectives on freedom

1.1 Individual Freedom

  • By individual freedom, we mean 5 types of freedoms. 
    1. Personal Freedom of the Individual: Every person wants to live his life in his way.
    2. Societal Freedom: Freedom to do the type of work one wants to do, marriage partner one wants to have, a lifestyle one wants to have etc 
    3. Political Freedom: Every individual has the freedom to think about the political system one wants to live in. One can have his political ideology, political likes and dislikes, and nobody should be compelled to think on a particular line. 
    4. Economic Freedom: Freedom to do the type of business, choose the type of livelihood and job.
    5. Religious Freedom: Freedom to have religious beliefs of his own, including the freedom not to believe in god. 
  • The liberating concept behind individual freedom is the uniqueness of the individual, i.e. every individual is unique.  

1.2 Intellectual Freedom

  • It is the freedom of mind and knowledge, the freedom to question the old ideas and create new ones, the freedom to think unthinkable, the freedom to explore the unexplored, and the freedom to reach unreachable. 
  • Tagore has also written about Intellectual Freedom, i.e., “Where the mind is without fear, where streams of human reason are not lost in the sand of dead habits, in that light my country awakes.”
  • Intellectual Freedom helps the person to question the status quo, thus the road to development. Hence these intellectuals are always thought to be a threat to the rulers. Because of this reason, when the Pakistani army stormed East Pakistan, they targeted first Dhaka University. 
  • Good rulers like Akbar, Chandragupta etc., patronized the scholars and intellectuals. Any society grows with the ideas and philosophies of these intellectuals. 

1.3 Freedom of Will

  • Freedom of will denotes the freedom to choose between alternatives, achieve self-defined goals & bring changes for the betterment of the world. 

1.4 Freedom from & Freedom to

  • Freedom from includes
    • Freedom from Gender discrimination 
    • Freedom from Economic exploitation
    • Freedom from Mechanization of life  
    • Freedom from Environmental pollution etc 
  • Gains of ‘Freedom from’ are immense. Entire human civilization and progress rest upon ‘Freedom from’. It gives a real sense of comfort to human life in various ways, but it is very important to have a second type of freedom as well, i.e.’ Freedom to’. 
  • ‘Freedom to’ gives positive content. It includes the freedom to think, freedom to decide, freedom to be creative, freedom to actualize own potential, and freedom to live a good life. 

Hence, the process which started with ‘Freedom from’ and is accepted now in all countries must be taken to the level of Freedom if we want to achieve real human progress. 

Side Topic: Freedom vs Discipline

  • We always want freedom. In the name of freedom, we want that we should be free to do anything without any condition. 
  • But freedom comes with certain restrictions. Even our constitution agrees with this concept. 
  • Freedom is not absolute and always comes with the cost of discipline. Hindi word for Freedom is Swadheenta which is the combination of two words, i.e. Swa, meaning Self and Adeenta, meaning control. Hence, Freedom is a thing in which a person is under self-control (not in control of others but not absolutely free).
  • Hence, freedom and discipline can be said to be two sides of the same coin. Freedom and discipline are correlated; one can’t exist without the other.

2. Creativity

  • It is important because, through creativity, civilization can grow, and it is the unique endowment of human beings. 
  • Freedom & creativity are interlinked because no creativity can take place without freedom. 

Creativity is of three categories

2.1 Intellectual Creativity

  • It involves the creativity of mind.
  • It is at play when scientists give new theories and axioms.

2.2 Artistic Creativity

  • Artistic creativity is more of creativity of the heart.
  • It is expressed through poetry, drama & other forms of literature and different art forms like painting, sculpture, music and decorative art. 

2.3 Practical Creativity

  • Man has always been in search of creating something useful for humanity that should bring prosperity and comfort to the life of people. 
  • It is expressed when engineers and scientists invent new creations with practical use (like cars, tractors, computers etc.)

The civil servant needs to be creative because the civil servant is expected not only to solve the problem but to anticipate the problem as well. 

3. Love

Human Love is the binding force that unites one individual with another individual or with a group of people.

Categories of Human Love

3.1 Parental Love

  • Usually comes in the form of the mother’s love and the father’s love for the child.
  • A mother’s love for the child is totally unselfish; hence, it is the noblest kind of human love.  

3.2 Love between man & woman

  • In Indian society, love between man and woman can only be legitimized through the union of marriage. 

3.3 Love of God

  • Bhakti saints such as Mira, Surdas, Chaitanya etc., were so filled with the love for God that they left everything to attain their beloved. 
  • This love is based on total devotion & complete surrender 

3.4 Love among Equals

  • It is the basis of friendship and helps establish perfect harmony in society.

3.5 Spiritual Love

  • A spiritual person sees everybody in himself and himself in everybody. 

4. Wisdom

  • It is related to the mind (as love is related to the heart).
  • The full flowering of both wisdom & love is necessary for becoming great. The good life is that which is inspired by love and guided by wisdom. 
  • Wisdom doesn’t come automatically with the accumulation of knowledge. What is required is that there has to be an element of the experience.  
  • The government doesn’t post newly recruited to IAS as head of the department, although he is more energetic. The reason is that a senior person is more experienced and hence wiser than newly recruit. 
  • Wisdom helps us make the right choice when we are faced with two options that can’t be termed wrong, i.e., wisdom helps us make decisions when facing ethical dilemmas.
  • Wise persons have emotional maturity, aren’t overwhelmed by success and are depressed at failure. This is important in civil services because if a civil servant succeeds, he mustn’t be overjoyed. If he fails, he analyses the causes of failure and tries not to repeat the same mistake. 

Ethics in Private and Public Relationships

Last Updated: June 2023 (Ethics in Private and Public Relationships)

Ethics in Private and Public Relationships

This article deals with a topic titled ‘Ethics in Private and Public Relationships  .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

Ethics in Private and Public Relationships

Ethics in Worklife

  • Every employer wants his employees to work efficiently, honestly and at their full capacity. It is a rightful expectation for an employer because he pays a salary to workers & in return, employees must also reciprocate. 
  • The employee must develop loyalty to the organization. Loyalty to the organization means an employee should always work in the organization’s interests over his self-interests. 
  • The organization should also look into the grievance redressal of the employees. Hence, a good organization must have a good grievance redressal mechanism. The grievance can be against salary, work conditions etc.
  • The employee must have a sense of responsibility. When a person is promoted, it means that the person’s responsibility has increased. But the irony of the situation is when a person is promoted, he only looks at the salary & authority and forgets responsibility. 
  • The arrogance of power should be guarded against. Whenever we rise in an organization, various powers and authorities are vested in us. Typically, people develop arrogance of power in this process. Hence, this is the one area that one should look into. 
  • Senior members should also display honesty and integrity because they are the torchbearers of the organization and act as role models for their juniors. 

Worklife also has some minor virtues, which include

  1. One should be cheerful.
  2. One should be polite. 
  3. One should be courteous. 
  4. One should be punctual. 

Ethics in Public Relationships

  • It refers to the moral principles that a person may follow when interacting with others and conducting business in their professional life.
  • Public life has to be in an ethical framework. When somebody enters public life, whether as MLA or MP, i.e. through the election system or as Civil Servant, i.e. through Selection System, he can’t say that they will conduct their life normally. There has to be some special ethics for such persons. Hence, a special ethical framework is prepared for the people in public life. They are supposed to be strictly guided by that ethical framework.

Principles in Public Relationships

  1. Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in the public interest. 
  2. Integrity: Holders of public office shouldn’t obligate themselves in any way, whether financially or otherwise, to outside individuals or organizations
  3. Objectivity: Public officials should take decisions based on merit
  4. Accountability: Holders of public office should be accountable for their actions taken by them.
  5. Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible
  6. Honesty: Holders of public office must declare any private interests relating to their public duties 
  7. Loyalty to the Organization 
  8. Spirit of Service
  9. Fairness & Justice  

But in previous years, moral erosion of public servants has been observed. Reasons for moral erosion are 

  • Lack of accountability and responsibility: If anything goes well, there is no shortage of people to claim that they are behind that. But if anything goes wrong, nobody is ready to take responsibility. 
  • Sacrificing ethics, values, integrity and spiritualism: These things are sacrificed in comparison to materialism & worldly success. 
  • Social Acceptance: Society as a whole has started to accept corrupt people.  
  • Failure on the part of family, schools, society and institutions to inculcate values
  • Mega Administration, slow methodology and decision-making delay: Each department and institution has grown vertically and horizontally. It has created confusion in the hierarchy leading to delays in decision-making. 
  • Soft Society, tolerant public opinion and politico-business-bureaucracy nexus: The public doesn’t resent wrongdoings. It gives decision-makers more liberty to commit such crimes in future.

Ethics in Private Relationships

  • It refers to the ethical principles that a person adheres to when dealing with other people and situations in daily life. It primarily involves relations with family & friends. 
  • They are informal in nature since they are built on emotional ties rather than any formal procedures that govern them.

Principles in Private Relationships

Although private ethics differ from person to person, some common principles are shared and accepted by society. For example –  

  1. Honesty: Being truthful and transparent in your personal relationships is important.
  2. Respect: Respecting the boundaries, beliefs, and opinions of others is essential in maintaining healthy relationships. 
  3. Fairness: Treating others with fairness is important. 
  4. Confidentiality: Maintaining confidentiality and privacy in personal relationships and not sharing personal information without their consent.
  5. Empathy: Demonstrating empathy and compassion towards others by listening to and understanding their concerns.
  6. Communication: Effective communication is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
  7. Loyalty: Loyalty to the partner and family members is essential. 

Relation between Private Ethics & Public Ethics

  • The distinction between private and public ethics is dubious because, in public and private lives, a person lives by the same ethical values in general. Moreover, no sharp line can be drawn between where private life starts, and public life ends for a Civil Servant. The very philosophy of Civil Service says that when a person becomes Civil Servant, he loses his individuality and becomes part of larger order.  
  • Furthermore, one cannot expect someone who lacks moral character in public life to be ethical in their private life and vice versa. How a civil servant treats women in his family is reflected in how he handles female co-workers.
  • There should be no conflict between personal and professional ethics as it may lead to frustration, guilt, confusion & dissonance in the mind of some persons.
  • But at the same time, Ethics in public life places a greater responsibility & a person cannot always follow his personal ethics. For example, personally, one may feel abortion is morally wrong, but as a doctor, he needs to do an abortion according to professional ethics. When performing a role in public, one must separate his personal life and strictly follow a professional code of conduct.
  • A person’s private life can act as a motivating factor but many times can be depressing. The environment from which a person comes to the office daily certainly influences his behaviour for the rest of the day. 
  • His personal affiliations, the ideology of his family and his convictions can stop him from taking rational decisions 

How to ensure that both lives remain separate

  • Take decisions rationally and objectively based on facts and merits only. 
  • Go by the code of conduct when faced with dilemmas.
  • Be impartial always and ensure that your actions aren’t only impartial but look to be impartial too.
  • When with family, spend quality time with them and don’t bring your office between you and them. Make them feel that you are not ignoring them, so they are helpful when you are in important public concerns and do not bother you. 

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. 

Information Sharing and Transparency in Government

Information Sharing and Transparency in Government

This article deals with the topic titled ‘ Information Sharing and Transparency in Government .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Transparency in Governance?

Information Sharing and Transparency in Government
  • Transparency = Openness in functioning
  • Transparency in governance means that the criteria, processes and systems of decision-making are openly known to all (in simple words, Transparency in Governance means how governance is being carried out should be known to all).
  • Although transparency is often used interchangeably with access to information, transparency is a wider term with information sharing as one of the tools.  
  • Transparency or Openness has three aspects (PIA)
    • Participative Governance  
    • Information Sharing 
    • Accountability 
Components of Transparency
  • Examples of Transparency
    1. Jharkhand Public Distribution System (PDS)
    2. E-auctions of coal blocks: The process made the auction of coal blocks more transparent and uprooted corruption from the sector to a large extent. 

Benefits of Transparency

  • Helpful in curbing Corruption and Nepotism: Transparency has a deterrent effect on corrupt behaviour as public officials know their actions will be subject to public scrutiny. 
  • Transparency increases the state’s legitimacy as citizens are more likely to trust it when the government is transparent about its decision-making processes and is open about its policies and actions. 
  • Enable a citizen to make well-informed decisions, especially while voting: Transparency helps citizens cast votes based on performance rather than narrow considerations of caste or creed.
  • Efficient utilization of funds: Transparency in governance ensures the efficient utilization of funds and prevents financial misdoings. When financial information is readily available to the public, it becomes easier to identify irregularities or discrepancies in financial statements and transactions.
  • Empowering the Marginalized: It empowers the poor and marginalized sections of society by providing them with the necessary information. For example, access to information can help people living in poverty to learn about job opportunities, government services, and educational programs. It can also help marginalized groups such as women, minorities, and people with disabilities to learn about their legal rights and protections.

Issues with Transparency in India

  1. Red Tapism in bureaucracy undermines transparency
  2. Official Secrets Act of 1923, under which government can classify certain information as official which cant be shared.
  3. Monitoring mechanisms aren’t efficient.
  4. Lack of government’s political will to be transparent
  5. Citizens are not interested enough to ensure transparency in governance
  6. Political parties don’t come under the ambit of RTI 

3 Aspects of Transparency

1. Participative Governance

  • Participative Governance means when citizens themselves participate in governance and decision-making. It entails the participation of people in decision-making at the grass root level through the decentralization of powers to the local self-governing bodies.  
  • Participative governance is one of the means to achieve transparency in governance through the bottom-up approach. 

There are different ways by which participative governance can be achieved. 

1.1 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) & Urban Local Bodies

  • It is a well-known fact that as the distance from the Power of Center increases, proportionately transparency decreases
  • PRIs and Urban Local Bodies were given constitutional status via the 73rd and 74th Amendments. 
  • Powers have been devolved to Village Panchayats and Gram Sabhas, in which people make decisions themselves. 

1.2 Social Audit

  • Social Audit is the audit through client or beneficiary groups or civil society groups (i.e. stakeholders) to ensure the social accountability of an organization.
  • It was suggested by Ashok Mehta Committee in 1977. After the 73rd Amendment, when Gram Panchayats got Constitutional Status, rural citizens/gram sabha got legitimacy to conduct Social Audits.
  • The Supreme Court has also favoured it. CAG, in 2016, laid down “auditing standards” for Social Audit.
  •  It isn’t just limited to Government companies and schemes. It is equally valid for Private Companies where its stakeholders can conduct audits. E.g., TISCO adopted this technique of Auditing even before independence.

Conventional Audit vs. Social Audit

Conventional Audit Social Audit
Top-down concept of audit Bottom-up concept of audit
Audit done by Government Functionaries Audit done by the beneficiary group and civil society (stakeholders
Audit with economic orientation Audit with  economic as well as social impact consideration

Advantages of Social Audit over Conventional Auditing

  • Increases people’s participation in governance (Participatory Governance)
  • It leads to more transparency and strong accountability. 
  • Social Audit is an audit from the economic and social impact perspective. Hence more effective
  • Infuse effectivity and efficiency in public service delivery (Ghost Beneficiary can be weeded out)
  • Generation and consolidation of Social capital and social enterprise
  • Social Audit becomes crucial after greater devolution of the central fund to PRIs, and ULB on the recommendation of the 14th FC, as CAG’s audit jurisdiction over such entities is nebulous.
  • Social Audits of MGNREGA have played an important role in rooting out corruption from the scheme. 

Challenges in Social Auditing 

  1. It is voluntary & doesn’t enjoy legal backing (although some schemes like MGNREGA have legal backing)
  2. Standardisation problem: Different stakeholders may have varying opinions and expectations, making it difficult to reach a consensus on what constitutes positive social performance.
  3. Time-consuming

1.3 Resident Welfare Associations

Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in India are local community organizations formed by residents of a particular neighbourhood or housing society to address and manage various issues related to the welfare and development of their locality.

Bhagidari Scheme (of the Delhi Government)

  • The Bhagidari Scheme of the Delhi Government directly involves citizens through RWAs in monthly meetings to mobilize the community to take responsibility for their respective zones and areas. These RWAs are also the first point of contact for state utilities while planning development-related and other changes  

2. Information Sharing

  • Information sharing refers to the exchange of data among various governing bodies, organizations and the general public.
  • Indian Parliament has also institutionalized this right by legislating the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005. (CLICK HERE for more on RTI)
  • Further, parliamentary debates are televised in India, government audit reports are published, and government positions on various policy issues are widely advertised through websites, radio and social media. 
  • Most recently, the government has launched the website to promote Open Data Government (ODG). 

3. Accountability

Accountability has three aspects 

  1. Answerability of the officials for their decisions and actions
  2. Enforceability of rules and laws to punish the officials if they fail to effectively discharge their duty
  3. Grievance redressal mechanism for the ordinary people who suffer due to the absence of accountability.

 (CLICK HERE for more on Accountability)

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.