Ethics and Human Interface:

Lecture 10 : Foundational Values for Civil Service

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Foundational Values for Civil Service

Impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections

Impartiality or evenhandedness or fair-mindedness is the principle of justice, whereby decision-making should be focused on objective criteria rather than on bias, prejudice, or favoring the advantage of one person to the other for unfair reasons. 

A right to good administration:

Every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union (Article)

A right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial:

Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law (Article)

Nonpartisanism is a lack of affiliation with and a lack of bias toward a political party.

Whereas an Oxford English Partisan Dictionary definition contains party, cause, or person adherents, in the majority of cases, non-partisans refers particularly to political party connections than being the coherent antonym of “partisan”.

Objectivity can refer to

  • Objectivity (philosophy); the property of being independent of perception
  • Objectivity (science); the goal of eliminating personal biases in the practice of science
  • Journalistic objectivity; encompassing fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship
  • Principle of material objectivity; a principle in continuum mechanics
  • Objectivity/DB; an object-oriented database management system produced by Objectivity

Dedication to public service

  • Public service is the ability to utilize one’s energy, resources, and yourself entirely for the benefit of public health and public service. Workplace dedication is a basic characteristic as it means that an individual is empowered in the event of challenges, threats or temptation. A committed employee is driven by the spirit of service and rewards the accomplishment of the work rather than the desire of honor.
  • In a person lies the source of dedication, and a dedicated person is driven by his free will. The aim of the public welfare is unwavering. Commitment is like dedication, but the room for commitment lies outside the person. Commitment means that you are linked or obligatory because you have made a commitment. Dedication means that you are devoted and no formal agreement is required.
  • There is the perseverance of a dedicated civil servant. Perseverance is the continuous and relentless endeavor to accomplish a goal even though it is impossible to achieve it. Perseverance is a virtue for a civil servant. Perseverance tends to help remain motivated and dedicated even to an adversity cause.


  • Empathy is the ability of another person to perceive or acknowledge what they experience from beyond their framework, i.e. the capacity to take up a position. Empathy definitions include a variety of emotional conditions. Cognitive empathy, emotional (or affective) empathy, and somatic empathy are types of empathy.
  • The term “empathy” derived from the ancient Greek word  empatheia, which relates to “physical affection or passion”. That’s coming from  (en, ‘in, at’ pathos, passion or suffering.  The term has been adapted for the German word Einfühlung (“feeling into”) by Hermann Lotze and Robert Vischer. The author and critic of Britain Vernon Lee described this in English for the first time, who stated that “the word sympathy, with-feeling, is only exercised when we perceive our feelings in the way that we perceive, and are absorbed in it.” In modern Greek, it means prejudice, hatred, and maliciousness. 
  • Alexithymia is a term that defines emotions in one, as opposed to another, as being deficient in recognizing, processing or expressing them. This term is derived from two Ancient Greek words: (alekso means “pushed-away, repelled, or protected”) and (thymos, which means “soul, emotion, feeling and thought”). Alexithymia then means “push your emotions away.”

Tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections

  • India is one of the fastest developing countries with the third fastest-growing economy, but also have the world’s 2nd poorest population. To remove many from the life of deprivation a healthy development is important.
  • Compassion helps a civil servant to cross the gap between vulnerable, deprived, and bureaucrat and consider common people’s needs and problems. A compassionate and empathetic official should consider the concerns of the deprived citizens who come before him and then take action accordingly.

  • On the other hand, tolerance refers to a fair, objective and permissive attitude towards the different opinions, viewpoints, cultures, languages, and so on. An individual who is living in a state other than himself or herself or tolerant may have trouble adapting and serving citizens. Tolerance is necessary as a virtue to attain a high ideal of constitutional secularism. Intolerance will build inequality and conflict in a culture-orienteered nation that is antidoted to sustainable growth.

  • Compassion and tolerance are thus enabled a just and, objective and inclusive implementation of schemes, policy frameworks, and growth to the last milestone.

Practice Questions:

  1. State the three basic values, universal in nature, in the context of civil services and bring out their importance. (2018)
  2. Distinguish between “Code of ethics” and “Code of conduct” with suitable examples. (2018)
  3. What is meant by public interest? What are the principles and procedures to be followed by civil servants in the public interest? (2018)
  4. “The Right to Information Act is not all about citizens’ empowerment alone, it essentially redefines the concept of accountability.” Discuss (2018)
  5. Explain the process of resolving ethical dilemmas in Public Administration.
  6. What do you understand by Integrity in civil services?
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