Administrative ethics

Prime Ministers and deputy Prime Ministers of India

The moral foundation of any public service organization in a democracy is based on the concept that administrators and public officials must show a genuine case for their fellow citizens.The maintenance of moral standards and norms in the conduct of public affairs tends to become a major problem for the people because of different levels of government and the involvement of a large number of public functionaries in govt. There is a widespread feeling that in present context many facts of Administrative ethics in public life merits scrutiny.

Ethical conduct is governed by beliefs or feelings of what is right or wrong regardless of self interest or immediate consequence of a decision to do or not to do specific things in a particular situation.

Administrative ethics in public service is considered as a blend of moral qualities and moral attitudes. The requisite moral qualities not only includes the willingness to serve the public but also the willingness to behave competently ,efficiently honestly responsibly objectively fairly and accountably. Mental attitudes includes awareness of moral dilemmas inherent in policies and conflicting claims on the substantive and procedural aspects of policy , an empathy for divergent views.An appropriate blend of moral and mental attitudes strengthens the basis of legitimate and effective government which is founded on public trust and confidence.

Glen Sthal who did pioneering work in this area stressed the need for its study in curriculum and observed that the problem of ethical conduct for public officials arises by virtue of the power and influence that he commands and the commitment that he undertakes of loyal and disinterested service to public.thus it is equally desirable that conduct of public administration should be beyond reproach.The second set of ideals holds that recruitment and promotion in the government service should be based on merit alone and that public servants should observe political neutrality in order to render objective under any political party in power.Unfortunately such ideals have come into conflict with the narrow outlook of unions,employee associations.Thus modern administration faces an inherent conflict between the traditional expectation of those officials who serve the state and the alternative expectation of government employees who believe that their obligations are restricted to those duties which are part of their job classification and for which they can be held legally responsible but not necessarily morally responsible.

It is widely felt that work culture in our country particularly in public sector is poor.The factors that determine the work culture in an organization includes the goals and objectives of the organization and the way they are perceived by the employees,the technology of the organization its structure work methods etc..Today the government office is seen as a dusty ,moth eaten dingy paper infested hovel chock full of babus which is feudal in outlook ,hierarchical in structure dilatory in examination of issues and secretive in its dealings with customers ,Despite being one of the largest providers of service there is complete lack of customer orientation .Consequently the common man views the government functionaries as exploiters rather than facilitators or providers.

It is pertinent to analyse the factors from which work ethics is derived to understand the reasons for poor work culture in the country.Firstly ,it is the individual sense of values that are inculcated by parents,teachers and most important religion.The Indian philosophy towards work is most eloquently expounded in Gita : “ you should do your work with utmost dedication and move beyond desire prompted by selfish action.In Mahabharata lord Krishna motivated Arjuna not by teaching him a new skill or technology but by changing his attitude and vision. Our schools failed to promote ethical values which has led to removal of teachings of basic tenets of religion thus depriving the children of the values of righteousness and good conduct which every religion in this world propagates.

Secondly ,the important factor that determines the administrative ethics in work is the value system of society.In a society where there is no appreciation of work and success achieved by hook or crook is valued then handwork relegates to the background.There are instances of govt servants manipulating postings using political influence ,amassing wealth by illegal means yet are respected in society,Under such a situation it is the values that suffer.

The third important factor is the system in which an employee works which is not conducive to the work culture.There is little communication between the senior and junior functionaries ,senior officials are provided with comfort facilities while junior staff sits in dingy and humid rooms with total absence of team spirit.Most of the departments do not have a shared mission to exhort to the employees.

Promoting and sustaining a professional administrative ethics among public administrators continues to be the key concern of new public management advocates.The Nolan committee on standards in public life recommended seven principles of public life as selflessness ,integrity,objectivity,accountability,openness ,honesty ,leadership to be followed on to ensure high standards of propriety.


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