Monday, December 25, 2017

Push for ethics in bureaucracy : Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Push for ethics in bureaucracy
Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
Telangana Today (22-12-2017)
Reports of unethical and corrupt practices by some public servants across the country are regularly highlighted in the media. An analysis of this reveal the necessity of exposing the government personnel to attitudinal change. Ethics in administration is necessary for ensuring good governance and can help to check corruption. The corollary is checking corruption will prove to be pro-economic development, pro-poor and pro-national interests. For inculcating the sense of ethics among the public servants which is essential, every public servant must be exposed to at least a week’s module on ethics in administration. Once people start reflecting on the need for ethics in administration, at least there is some hope that things will improve for the better.
This requires establishing training function in government departments.  The usual three components of training are knowledge, skill and attitude. The focus of training has been more on knowledge and skill, probably because it is easier to make demonstrative effect in this area.  The National Training Policy has emphasized the need for attitudinal training.  It states that training should aim at continuous attitudinal reorientation in changing organizational ambiance to help the civil servants appreciate the imperatives of democratic society, namely respect and concern for citizen’s rights and recognition of community as the focal point of all public effort. Training should, in addition, help in building up high standard of integrity, character and probity in professional life.
Ethics basically refers to the moral codes of conduct of an individual or society. Any society cannot progress without observing moral codes of conduct. India is governed by the Constitution. The legislature makes the law, the judiciary interprets the law and the executive consisting of both the permanent bureaucracy and political executive implement the law.
According to N Vittal former Central Vigilance Commissioner the five principles of ethical power for organizations are: Purpose, Pride, Patience, Persistence and Perspective. Ethics also are conditioned by the culture of the society. In India, we have an old culture where the ethics of administration was summed up in the concept of Dharma. Vittal goes on saying that from most ancient times, as a part of Dharma, one of the ideals placed before individuals was that for a higher or greater interest, lower or personal interest should be subordinated. Dharma is a Sanskrit expression of widest import. The Upanishads say very clearly that there is nothing beyond dharma.
If we explore the roots of ethics in public administration, we find that we have a rich tradition. From our literature we find that there is a harmony between the individual and social goals in our tradition. It is this harmony that provides a meaningful basis for ethics in public administration. Every individual must strive to achieve the wellbeing of the many. In fact, the goal in life for the individual as well as society has been ultimately distilled in the concept of dharma through thousands of years of our rich cultural tradition. If everybody practices the concept of dharma, then that in it brings a sense of self-discipline. In a society where there is self-discipline, automatically there will be peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, there is hardly an individual in this world who on his own is pure in his conduct. The concepts of dharma as the foundation for public administration are obvious.
Why should there be ethics in administration and what should be done to promote ethics? Questions Vittal and answers that we need ethics in administration because unless we have moral principles we cannot have good governance. Good governance involves three things namely, equality before law and the rule of law; respect for the individual and avoiding wastage of resources since in our country we waste a lot of resources.
In our country, there is very poor governance because we do not implement the laws effectively. There is lot of corruption and that is directly linked with lack of ethics in administration. Corruption is the lack of integrity. This could be intellectual, financial or moral integrity. Corruption is anti-national, anti-economic development and anti-poor. Corruption in any system or society depends on individual’s sense of values, set of social values which are accepted by the society as a whole and the system of governance or administration. In politics the route for power in a democracy and is based on caste, corruption probably becomes more tolerable.

            And hence training for ethics in administration. The important component of training has to be not only skill but also ethics and value which in turn will provide right attitude and direction.  It is predominantly the presence or otherwise of human values and ethics, which will determine effectiveness of an individual. We witness growing preoccupation with self-interest which implies lust for wealth, power and recognition and erosion of work ethic and associated ideas of commitment, responsibility and accountability.  We hear about unethical collusion among individuals and groups for appointments, contracts, promotions and host of favors of different kinds.  This has generally led to erosion in the people’s trust in public servants and the government.
            An analysis of the malaise in the existing situation, however, shows that system and institutions are already in place, but the human element to drive these is lacking.  While ethics is a group process, it must start with individual values and individual integrity, which is the universal common denominator.  Thus, there is a need to rekindle old principles and ethical values to gain a sane perspective of our work and personal life.  Nobody would deny that basic human values such as love, kindness, honesty, integrity, uprightness, social-responsibility etc. are to be accepted and honoured.

It is therefore suggested that issue of ethics and values should be incorporated in each of the segments of learning prescribed in training programmes.  In such learning, two-fold purpose is envisaged.  First, sensitizing the participants to the issues of ethics and values and how they affect their total life.  Second, participants can be helped to make choices on ethics by studying the ethical dilemmas faced by employees in concrete situations and examining the implications of each choice.  If these efforts can eventually awaken our conscience and guide our behavior towards less greed, less corruption, more forthrightness, more love, etc.  then investment made in ethics and values would be well spent.  Purpose of incorporating ethics and values into training programmes is to expose participants to the human and social implications of all major events and innovations in science, technology, business, and industry and the consequences of attending to or ignoring the human side of these events and innovations. 

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