Foci and Concerns Underlying Ethics


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

The Word ‘ethics’ is derived from Latin word ‘ethicus’ which means character. ‘Ethics’ is a system of accepted beliefs, mores and values, which influence human behavior. The essence of administrative ethics is that public administrators are the ‘guardians’ of the administrative state. The administrators needs to guard against their tendencies to misconceive public interest, promote self-interest, indulge in corruption and cause subversion of national interest. Bureaucrats need to be guarded by external institutions also i.e. judiciary, legislature, political executive, media and civil society organisations.
The theme of administrative morality is ethical decision-making. The questions of facts and values cannot be separated from ethical delusion-making. Thus the science of administration gets integrated with the ethics of administration. There can be a long list of values that are considered desirable in an administrative action of which justice, fairness and objectivity are the most crucial values. According to Woodrow Wilson, justice is more important than sympathy. He placed justice at the top of value hierarchy in the governance system. Fairness and objectivity are in fact, integral components of administrative justice. The administrators are expected to be impartial and fair and not get influenced by nepotism, favouritism and greed while making decisions of governance. Objectivity should not be misconstrued  as a mechanical and rigid adherence to laws and rules. The notion of ethics has been expanded to encompass all  major realms of human existence.
     The salient aspects of ethics in public administration can be summarized as follow.
Legality and Rationality
An administrator to follow the law and rules that are framed to govern and guide various categories of policies and decisions.
Responsibility and Accountability
An administrator not to hesitate to accept responsibility for his decision and action. He is morally responsible for his action and for his use of his discretion while making decisions. He would be willing to held accountable to higher authorities of governance and even to the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of his decisions and actions.
Work Commitment
An administrator should be committed to his duties and performance of his work with involvement, intelligence and dexterity. This will cause a respect of time, punctuality and fulfillment of promises made. Work is considered not as a burden but as an opportunity to serve so as to constructively contribute to society.
Excellence
An administrator would ensure the highest standards of quality in administrative decisions and action and would not compromise with standards because of convenience or complacency. In today’s competitive international environment, an administrative system should faithfully adhere to the requisites of total quality management (TQM).
Fusion
An administrator would rationally bring about a fusion of individual, organisational and social goals to help evolve unison of ideals and imbibe in his behavior a commitment to such a fusion. In case of conflicting goals, a concern for ethics should govern the choices made.
Responsiveness and Resilience
An administrator would respond effectively to the demands and challenges from the external as well as internal environment. He would adopt to environmental transformation yet sustain the ethical norms of conduct. In situation of deviation from the prescribed ethical norms, the administrative system would show resilience and bounce back into the accepted ethical mould at the earliest opportunity.
Utilitarianism
An administrator while making and implementing policies and decisions will ensure that these lead to the greatest good of the greatest number.
Compassion
An administrator without violating the prescribed laws and rules, would demonstrate compassion for the poor, the disabled and the weak while using his discretion in decision making.
National Interest
An administrator, while performing his duties, should not take an action which may go against national interest.

Sunday, 06th Oct 2013, 08:49:14 AM

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