Ethics Theory Questions

Section - A

Capital punishment is used to maintain order in communities and society since time immemorial, but over the period it has been observed that Justice is of three types: Restitutive, Retributive and Reformative, and in modern times Reformative and Restitutive justice is more preferred over Retributive justice, in ancient and medieval times Capital Punishment was synonyms  to retributive justice for most of the criminal acts.

Modern Human Values consist of Equality, Justice, Individual freedom, Safety and Constitutionalism, and most of the countries because of these values consider that reformation is possible in most of the cases and Capital punishment is awarded in rare of the rarest cases. UN too has passed a resolution opposing the Death penalty in 2007 itself and is trying to ascertain more and more countries put a moratorium on it.

There is an on-going debate on what’s the real benefit of Death Penalty/Capital Punishment because an offender can be kept behind the bars for the entirety of his life if needed but there is always a chance of reformation and Modern Human Values reposes this responsibility on the respective governments to give him this chance. Also, there is another school of thought which supports the death penalty as an act of deterrence for others but in most of the cases nowadays those who are on Death row are related to fanatic ideologies and in no case death deters them.

The best example of this is the removal of Moratorium on the Death penalty in Pakistan in the aftermath of Peshawar school attack, more than 300 people went to gallows but it didn’t deter the followers of fanatic ideologies.

Plagiarism itself isn’t a crime but constitute Copyright infringement, and although they overlap many times they aren’t equivalent concepts. Last year Delhi High Court’s ruling that copying portions of academic publications as not an infringement of copyrights might provide easy access and cheap access to the text for the students but for the writers and Publishers, it’s like undermining their ownership of their ideas and thoughts.

This issue has also arrived in the virtual world, online world is a place where it’s really easy to copy down one’s thought and republish as your own, various organizations, media houses, and individual bloggers have been accused of Plagiarism, recently a famous prime-time Comedy show was accused by a stand up comedian for stealing a joke.

Currently, there aren’t many laws and codes to handle such situations.

Indian copyrights Act dates back to 1957 and although various court’s rulings have brought many changes in it still it’s not in accordance with today’s requirement and requires overhauling.

India is also not a member of WIPO copyright treaty and there are many issues regarding India’s Intellectual property rights record.

Court Ruling took upon the ethical issue of Intellectual Property Rights and Court has taken a stance in favor of greater good i.e. providing students, learners literature, information, and data to provide them a chance to develop which can be considered exploitative from the owner of the thought, idea or writing on the first place.

. This statement is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and he always gave preference to Duty over Rights, he also said rights that do not flow directly from duty well performed are not worth having. In present day where society is getting more and more rights-based, people mostly need a reason to perform their duty, in the service based society people expect the government to provide services and uses rights as an instrument against it without bothering about the duty part of the social contract between the citizenry and the state. For me, on a personal basis, it reassures me on the path of duty and reminds me what John F.Kennedy said that “don’t ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. The idea that each person should serve first than then look for entitlements and not the other way round.

In present times people’s expectations are increasing at far higher pace then the State and its institutions can fulfill it and therefore people are expected to share a load of government by performing their duties.

The sense of Duty boundness will bring following changes in society and lead to change in the behavioral shift:

– It will inculcate the value of non-discrimination on grounds of Caste, religion, region which will reduce conflicts.

– The sense of Duty to maintain Cleanliness among citizens can assure our society a healthy and sustainable life for future generation.

– The sense of Duty in Politicians and Public servants will inculcate ethical values like Honesty, fairness, and accountability towards the public.

On the other side, the government needs to understand that citizens perform their duty with an expectation that the sanctity of their rights will be maintained and any act of encroachment on rights of citizens discourages them to perform their duty wholeheartedly.

Merriam Webster defines Censorship as an act of censoring or examining material for objectionable matter, this leaves one with another question what can be considered as objectionable matter, it’s subjective and based on one’s perspective, a magazine like Charlie Hebdo is acceptable for the French society but it’s currently unacceptable for majority of Indian society. Censorship raises a fundamental ethical issue like Freedom of Expression vs Maintenance of Law and Order, Individual Rights v/s Community Rights.

For most of the times, what’s acceptable to the society is left to a group of people who are expected to take decision on the behalf of whole society, regarding this Sadat Hassan Manto ones wrote ” You can never perceive what others think and therefore talk about your perception only” but then even Freedom of Expression/Right to free speech also has a boundary.

One such case was the publication of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie in 1988 when the western society accepted the novel as a light-hearted satiric novel but it was outrightly banned by most of the Middle-eastern and Sub-continent’s countries. Kushwant Singh the then editor of Penguin India wrote that although he understands what Rushdie is trying to say, but it won’t be perceived in India in good taste. In found himself in an ethically conflicting situation because banning one’s thought is something he was totally against but to maintain law and order situation and not to cause any religious trouble for the state he decided to support banning the book.

Societies are ever evolving in nature, sometimes what’s used to be a taboo a decade earlier is considered a trend now, so it is with censorship, many times what use to be nonpunishable till a few years back is considered the aptest way to write a reply, therefore it’s every individual’s responsibility to take a decision how his words, his acts, his writings, his movies are going to be perceived and he should pose a self-censorship where ever isn’t comfortable.

Social media has Democratized the medium of sharing information until last decade women were mostly represented mainly in two forms:

– Traditional Representation: Either in a role of mother, sister or wife by the Patriarchs.

– Sexual Representation: Mostly for advertisement purposes.

It wasn’t really possible for women mostly to participate in the public conversations and opine on current issues in public mostly because of Patriarchal nature of our society but the new social networking sites and various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has provided a platform for express their opinion without actually going in public, there are other websites like Instagram which help them assert their individuality and express themselves through images but on their terms and not in seductive way which was mostly done in commercial advertisement till now. So all in all Social Media has provided Women a – Progressive representation.

But like every good thing has a bad side, Social Media has it too, it’s the cyberbullying, although it is a common issue faced by both men and women but in case of women its more threatening, it has been observed that online trolling is capable enough to send someone into depression.

While the government has enacted IT ACT which has rules to fight cyberbullying but usually it’s not possible to take action against every misogynistic comment made.

Accountability in context of Public Services means obligation on the part of Public officials to report on the uses of Public resources and answerability with respect to task in hand. Conventional Accountability is maintained through Answerability to Internal Hierarchy and institutions like CAG and CVC and Lokayukta.

Social Accountability is a step forward involving the public as a direct stakeholder in administration by having them have a say in decision making and letting them have a watch on the various government projects from the beginning. World Bank defines it as an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagements.

Social Accountability is more effective than Conventional Accountability techniques because:

– Conventional methods like CAG, CVC etc are post-hoc while Social Accountability uses to maintain a constant continuous check on the projects.

– Involving people democratize the project i.e. a sense of involvement is increased, A Government project transforms into a Public project and increases transparency and always keeps the officials on toes regarding the work.

-Since the people on the ground are involved in decision making from the very first stage till last, the chances of failure of projects are minimized.

Social Accountability mechanism through which can increase their participation are:

– Freedom of information petitions and investigative journalism, mostly through RTI.

– Citizen report cards and community scorecards, like Mohalla sabhas done in Delhi or mostly through PRI.

– Community monitoring of public service delivery has been done in many Panchayats.

– Participatory budgeting and public expenditure tracking, it is recommended for the panchayat level or Block level development.

– Public commissions and hearings, the Panchayats should be allowed to summon the Public officials to provide the report regarding the work done periodically.

– Citizen advisory boards which can provide effective important ground-level condition before the commencement of projects and also they can prepare Citizen Charter which will codify the work procedure.

One needs to remember although Social Accountability mechanism can complement, reinforce and in some cases activate the conventional mechanism to maintain Accountability but under no circumstances, the former can replace them later.

Max Weber one of the founding father of Sociology came up with the concept of Routinization of Charisma where he first explained that all the legitimate social authority is rooted in Charisma but because Charisma is founded upon a personal relationship between a follower and a leader, charismatic authority is temporary and Unstable i.e. it can’t directly survive the loss of the leader as seen in case of various religious Gurus and sect leaders like Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Ashram. And if a social organization has to survive some form of routinization must take place; an orderly routine of who wields the power must be determined.

As per Weber, there are two principal types of routinization:

– Traditional: As seen in various maths and Sects like Transfer of Power to Yogi Adityanath after the demise of Mahant Awaidyanath in Gorakhnath Math and transfer of power to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale after the demise of Kartar Singh Bhindranwale.

-Rational-legal: As seen in various organizations and political parties, there is a selection procedure for the post of SirSanghchalak and every political party has an internal constitution for the selection procedure of the President or highest working committee like Politburo in Communist party.

Nowadays in our society mixed culture is also observed like Yogi Adityanath serving as the elected Chief Minister of state of UP (Rational-legal) and as head of Gorakhnath math (Traditional), wielding the power of both types in the same person.

In past few years, a sense of Disharmony has increased and it’s been observed that people are taking sides more easily than ever in the past. It has been observed that people are losing connect with enriching concepts like Sarva Dharma Sambhav and Sulh-i-kul.

Following are some of the reasons for such behavior of people which causes Social Disharmony:

– People are working more for the selfish ends rather than Common good.

– The ethical standards and values have decreased due to drive for materialistic things.

– The country is facing caste-communal divide, forward-backward divide, urban-rural divide and division based on class, gender, language, and region.

– Corruption of Human Character, people are ready to further the divides for pity personal gains. For example, many times news channels do one-sided reporting for gaining more and more TRP.

– The regional disparity, unequal access to education and health services and lack of access to information increases the vulnerability of people which further causes social Disharmony.

Social Harmony can be established only when we start cherishing the social diversity, many global cities like New York, London and Paris have evolved themselves into global centres, the melting pot of the world, Disharmony originates due to identity-based prejudices and in India it’s a reality what’s needed is to mold people’s attitude to combat prejudices.

Building Social Capital through increasing the Qualitative and quantity of Social interactions between different sections of society, this can be done by increasing the participation of people from different section of society for community works like Participation of people in Swach Bharat Abhiyan, trying to include more and more diversity in various programmes like Adult education, MGNREGA etc.

Gratitude is essentially the recognition of the unearned increments of value in one’s experience, the acknowledgment of the positive things that come our way that we didn’t actively work for.

This quote is attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, through it he tried to explain that cultivation of gratitude develops character, the embodiment of desired virtues and those who demonstrate gratitude acknowledge the contribution and involvement of other people in their well being, such people value other’s work and try to repay the debt as soon as possible.

The condition of Indian banking system and ever-increasing debt of corporates which contribute the majority of Nonperforming assets led one to infer the following:

– They don’t really have any sense of gratitude, and it is the dishonest means, Crony capitalism which mainly benefited them.

– Lack of Objectivity- Most of the Corporate houses lack objectivity and their main goal is to get benefited in short duration.

– Lack of Transparency – Non-transparency is like a side effect of Ingratitudenal behavior.

– Lack of Accountability- It’s the main reason why the NPA increase to such astronomical level because there was no oversight.

Ethics mainly consist of defending, systematizing and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior, the main aspect of ethics is a good life.

Most religions have an ethical component, often attributed to or derived from supernatural revelations/guidance. Simon Blackburn states that there are those who would say that we can only flourish under the umbrella of a strong social order, cemented by common adherence to a particular religious tradition but then there also exist other schools of thought who suggest there is a lot more for Humans beyond the realm of Religious constraints.

Ethical component of various religions:

Buddhist Ethics: For common people is based on the five precepts: no killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, or intoxicants.

Hindu Ethics: In the form of Dharma – everything that is essential for people, the world and nature to exist and prosper together, in harmony.

Christian Ethics: based on the need for Love, Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness.

What may be ethical in one religion may be unethical in other for example eating Beef is acceptable as per Islamic and Christian ethics but it’s considered Taboo as per Hindu Ethics.

Also, Religious codes and Ethics are both ever-evolving and therefore what was not acceptable in ancient times is acceptable now, for example, Idol worship was banned as per ancient Buddhist ethics but in current times in Mahayana Buddhism, worshiping Buddha in idol form is a common practice.

Each community frames certain rules and regulates for the proper working of their society. These rules and regulations change based on various factors like

– Religious: The rules of Idol worship, part of Hinduism but not acceptable in Islam.

– Region: Eating habits like more seafood is preferred in Island nations like Japan and Philippines.

– Cultural: Clothing changes based on Climatic reasons mostly

– Time Phase: What was a taboo in the 20th century could be acceptable in the 21st century.

Ethics, in general, is a set of rules through which one judges an act of a person to be Good, Evil or Neutral. As per societal norms these set of rules change and therefore it’s very difficult to develop a Universal Theory of Ethics applicable to all

This Universal Theory of Ethics has to be independent of Cultural Context and Social Norms; it has to be related to Human Nature, what John Locke called ‘ the State of Nature’.

After the Dawn of Modern Society, in Post World War II, Universal Human Rights have been evolved which can be considered something tending towards Universal Theory of Ethics because it is about constraining various States to follow the code of Human Rights act but the sense of Moral behaviour which is at core of Universal ethics has not received Universal acceptability yet.

It is defined as an Individual’s ability to Identify, Evaluate, Control and Express Emotions. People with Higher Emotional Intelligence (EI) level make great leaders and team players because of their ability to understand, empathize and connect with the rest of the people around them. IQ, on the other hand, assess one’s individual Intelligence.It helps to find people with off-the-chart Intelligence level and people who have or will show great academic abilities.

Managerial Task require more of a team player, even if the person isn’t coming up with new innovative ideas but combined with his team he is able to complete the task with desirable outcome, he’ll be more preferred over someone who can come up with an innovative idea but isn’t able to implement it because he is not a team player.

Every team require people with both EI and IQ because no Idea is actually a good idea unless it is implementable, the latest example is Demonetization which was no doubt and Intelligent idea but the implementation was not of the mark and the outcome was below expectation.

Therefore in every big Organization, firm and even Government Bodies the top level Managerial team is one with a lot of Experience because Experience enhances one’s Emotional Intelligence and the technical side (Research and Development) of the Body include people with high IQ mostly.

From the very beginning of Modern times, both Bureaucrats and Politicians prefer Legal-Rational approach above other approach to problem solving because of following reasons:

– Legal rational Approach assures the constitutional support and therefore any opposition to it can be considered in direct contradiction with the Constitution and hence illegal.

– Most of these approaches uses scientifically proven techniques and therefore ascertain the support of most of the people in society.

But they usually never opt for Moral Legal and Ethical Approach because in doing so they have to take personal initiatives and they may have to go against their interest, ethical Analysis generally further increases the time and personnel involved in the act and therefore sidelined.

One such example is “Singur Tata Nano Controvery” where Land acquisition was done following all the legalities in Legal Rational Approach but the farmers were not taken into confidence which is one of the important part of Ethical based approach and ultimately the whole exercise was futile for the State government and the company.

Moreover in Parliamentary democracy, where everyone has right to be heard, both Civil Servants and Politicians have to go through troublesome procedure to bring changes and therefore they don’t really want to add another step in consensus building technique for any task.

Citizen Charters (CC) are public agreements between citizens and service delivery providers that clearly codify expectations and standards in the realm of service delivery.

Following are the benefits of Citizen Charters:

–  Enhance accountability by providing citizens with a clear understanding of service delivery standards, including timetables, user fees for services, and options for grievance redress.

– Increase organizational effectiveness and performance by making a public commitment to adhere to measurable service delivery standards.

– Create a way for both internal and external actors to objectively monitor service delivery performance.

– Create a more professional and client-responsive environment for service delivery.

– Foster improvements in staff morale.

– Decrease opportunities for corruption and graft by increasing transparency and educating citizens about their rights.

– Increase government revenues by ensuring that the money citizens pay for services goes into the government’s coffers (and not into employees’ pockets).

Following are the conditions for success of a Citizen Charter (CC):

– There is strong management support for the CC initiative, especially during the start-up phase.

– The CC is developed with input from both internal and external stakeholders through participatory processes. – – Staff have an incentive to adhere to the conditions outlined in the CC, because their performance appraisal reviews and/or additional compensation are tied to the organization’s success in achieving the service delivery targets outlined in the charter.

– Employees and citizens are aware of the CC initiative, and civil society is involved in holding service providers accountable.

– Progress is tracked through a project-level monitoring and evaluation system and linked to other social accountability interventions to verify that service delivery improvements have been achieved.

Success itself is a subjective term, its definition depends on whom you are asking. As per the Concept of Karma, every action we perform will affect our lives in future. Those who use cunningness, deceptive behavior and are full of vengefulness sometime scale up the ladder of material success very fast but then so deep is their fall because dishonest instruments can help to run faster than others but to stay on the top one needs to show honesty, politeness, and Straightforwardness.

Following are the steps needed to be taken to inculcate values like Honesty, Integrity, Politeness, and Compassion towards others:

– Making sure that young generation inherits the positive traits i.e. parents telling them that not only goals but means too are important.

– Development of Right attitude, this has to be done right from the school level where it decides how one performs at different tasks and how he manages relationships.

-Habitual bad behavior is mostly a product of past experience. Main causes are usually low self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment, and inability to handle change. Young ones are needed to be assured so that they don’t fear and able to handle change.

These steps will inculcate along with good values, a feeling of Self-confidence and they’ll be able to use them to be a Socio-successful along with Materialistically successful.

The act of last resort and act of desperation usually someone forced by poverty is used many a time as a reason to justify an act of corruption but it isn’t the only reason why people involved in corrupt practices.

Various other reasons are:

– Lack of proper compensation: When people feel that their respective remuneration isn’t adequate for the work they do, they tend towards corrupt practices as the way to fill the void and it is observed that many a time increases in salaries and other facilities had a positive effect. For example: Increase in remuneration of Legislatures and Bureaucrats has been observed as a legitimate way to reduce their involvement in corrupt practices.

– Lack of societal disapproval: many actions are avoided by people because of fear of social ostracization. We, as a society, do not look down upon corrupt people and corrupt practices, thus, giving such people free rein to continue their activities. If we ostracised corrupt persons, it would automatically act as a deterrent.

– System of Governance: Our present Bureaucratic structure has so many loopholes which assure people of infallibility even after being involved in corrupt practices and over the period has accepted taking a bribe as a valid way of getting work done so it doesn’t make one feel guilty while being involved in corruption.

– Tiresome work procedure: Many a time the steps designed to get something done are so intertwined that one opt for bribing officials to get things done. One of the finest examples of this is getting a driving license in India where bribing an official to get it instead of passing a test is a standard norm.

As per various reports media has reported that the cost of 2014 General Election was beyond $ 6billion and it was the political parties who bear the cost. The very next question is what’s the source of such a funding after all by no way legitimate donations can collect that much money and so develops the nexus between Political parties/leaders and the various other stakeholders in the society which will benefit both sides at the cost of common men.

On the other hand Political parties/leaders off the records accept the ill effect of corruption in politics but they show their incapability because for them to stay relevant and assure next election win funds are important and the only way to assure it is through corruption.

Some ways through which political parties/leaders are illegitimately benefited:

– Providing government contracts to favourable firms in return of large donation to them.

– Sometimes the very rules/guidelines are tweaked in favour of individual firms.

– Nepotism is also widely spread through which parties/leaders are benefited.

 Following steps to raise the ethical standards of Politicians:

– Government should bring in stringent law to curb corruption at the highest level i.e. among the legislatures.

– Government can opt for Public/State funding of election, this will make sure that those who are forced because of fund crunch ( required to stay relevant in Democratic electioneering process) can live without being involved in corruption.

– People, the general citizenry have to decide on their own to vote only for Honest candidates.

– All the political parties have to collectively decide to reduce the expenditure on election process.

If all these steps are followed one can expect change in behaviour of Political class and which will then bring change in other sections of society too.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is corporation’s initiatives to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social well-being. It has to be followed because it is legally binding by an act of parliament on the other hand Corporate Accountability is the ability of people who are affected by the corporation to hold them accountable. While there is a full-fledged regulatory mechanism for the holding corporations responsible in case of CSR, there isn’t much of well defined regulatory guideline for accountability of corporations and it is more dependent on the corporate ethics and fundamental principle of fair practices in business, which corporations are expected to follow.

In recent times it has been observed that because CSR depends on corporation’s net profit, it is calculable and the government has records to check it whereas accountability is difficult to ascertain and various corporations like Kingfisher and Satyam has used it to make illegitimate proceeds.

Steps to increase Corporate Accountability:

– Prepare and enact a legal framework which will do away with loopholes and hold the corporations accountable for their doings.

– The management has to keep a check on doings of senior executives so that no wrongdoing is done as done in case of Satyam computers by R. Raju.

With the coming of new Bankruptcy code and implementation of GST, Indian corporations are expected to be held accountable in a more transparent manner.

The most favourable ecosystem for breeding corruption is one where no one asks questions and nobody checks the action, where one’s authority is supreme and the system is opaque. Up to certain extent, it is applicable to Public Services too, because officials in charge of public service have complete authority and no competing force i.e. complete monopoly, under such circumstances common men are left many times at whim of public officials who then exploit them.

There are various reasons for the decrement of ethics in the public services:

– Most of the officials aren’t satisfied with the remunerations.

– Many find it socially acceptable and because the system is opaque don’t feel a sense of culpability while doing corruption.

– Many are just trying to impress their seniors or ministers to be in good terms with those who are in the topmost position.

Although the government is trying to make public services more transparent and less authoritative through instruments like Right to information act and participation of citizen bodies at local levels, but still a lot more can be done. Increase in People-Official interactions and delegation of power at the local level can go a long way.

It is impossible for the government to develop physical infrastructure personally and therefore private parties are involved in it similar is the case with public procurement where since government can’t prepare everything it needs personally, it uses procurement as a legitimate way to get the goods it requires. In both these cases, there is a hierarchy, a long chain of people involved and so develops a nexus which uses corrupt practices to exploit government to earn profit illegally. As per world Bank corruption in Public procurement is highest in India followed by corruption in the Infrastructure sector, and although the government is using all the technical advancements at its disposal to curb it, it’s way beyond any other sector.

Corruption in procurement is observed at all levels, right from Defence procurement ( Ex: Bofors case) to Grain procurement ( Ex: Corruption at the very ground level in procuring grains).

Similarly, Corruption in Physical Infrastructure development is quite visible, Aadarsh Housing Scam is one such example.

Steps to be taken to tackle these issues:

Public Procurement

– To provide an adequate degree of transparency in the entire procurement process, which government is currently trying to do through E-NAM and E-tendering process.

– To provide a specific mechanism for monitoring and detection and sanctioning of misconduct. To ensure procurement officials meet high standards of Knowledge, skill, and Integrity.

Physical Infrastructure development

– To come up with exact guidelines for builders and contractors.

– To encourage close cooperation between Government and private sector to use the public money most efficiently.

Also, Grievance redressal mechanism in both sectors has to evolve.