Administrative Ethics: 01: Glossary

General Studies Paper III of RAS mains consists of topic: Administrative Ethics. The new UPSC pattern also lays huge importance on Ethics & Values and there is general Studies Paper IV of 250 marks dedicated only to public service ethics and its application. Consequently, we should also treat ethics important for RAS mains. We shall deal with this topic strictly in line with RAS syllabus and Competition perspective. To start, below are some terms and definitions to get an idea of different sub-topics.

Ethics is a set of principles of right conduct. It has been defined as a set of values and principles, which helps guide behavior, choice and actions.

You can have professional ethics, but you seldom hear about professional morals. Ethics tend to be codified into a formal system or set of rules which are explicitly adopted by a group of people. Thus you have medical ethics. Ethics are thus internally defined and adopted, whilst morals tend to be externally imposed on other people. If you accuse someone of being unethical, it is equivalent of calling them unprofessional and may well be taken as a significant insult and perceived more personally than if you called them immoral (which of course they may also not like). Eg: The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession.

Code of Conduct is principles, values, standards, or rules of behavior that guide the decisions, procedures and systems of an organization in a way that:
1. Contributes to the welfare of its key stakeholders &
2. Respects the rights of all constituents affected by its operation.

The Code of Ethics is best regarded as a general statement of ‘core values’ which define the professional role of the civil service.

Accountability is “a relationship between power-holders and those affected by their actions, and consists of two key elements: ‘answerability’ (making power-holders explain their actions) and ‘enforceability’ (punishing poor or criminal performance).

Maladministration’ refers to the making of an official decision in a manner which is contrary to law, arbitrary, unreasonable, without proper justification, lacking in procedural fairness, or made without due consideration of the merits of the matter, or made corruptly.

Acquired or natural ability (usually measurable with aptitude tests), for learning and proficiency in a specific area or discipline. Aptitude is expressed in interest, and is reflected in current performance which is expected to improve over time with training.
An aptitude is a component of a competency to do a certain kind of work at a certain level, which can also be considered “talent”. Aptitudes may be physical or mental. Aptitude is not knowledge, understanding, learned or acquired abilities (skills) or attitude. The innate nature of aptitude is in contrast to achievement, which represents knowledge or ability that is gained.

Values are the rules by which we make decisions about right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, good and bad. They also tell us which are more or less important, which is useful when we have to trade off meeting one value over another. Eg: beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something); “he has very conservatives values”

Morals have a greater social element to values and tend to have a very broad acceptance. Morals are far more about good and bad than other values. We thus judge others more strongly on morals than values. A person can be described as immoral, yet there is no word for them not following values. Eg: motivation based on ideas of right and wrong.

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