[Solved] What are basic principles of public life? Illustrate any three of these with suitable (UPSC GS-4 Mains 2019)

[Solved] What are basic principles of public life? Illustrate any three of these with suitable

What is public life and why are principles necessary?

 Public life is aspect of social life which are happening in public. While discussing the basic principles of public life, one must recognize the need of principles in public life. Public officials are expected to uphold highest standards in their actions and an ethical code acts as a guide to achieve this.

 When people choose a public life, they must follow an ethic distinct from private morality. While in one’s personal life, in our dealings with those with whom we have close daily encounters such as our family, friends or ‘servants’, we can’t help but be partial, and while in the larger public domain, where we face people with different religio-philosophical sensibilities, we can’t entirely escape some degree of partiality to our own world view, the public domain requires the impartial or just use of power for the good of all.

  • Citizens in a public life must be bound together neither by feelings nor by self-interest but by a commitment to common values discovered by public reason — values such as political freedom, solidarity, shared traditions and cultural heritage.
  • Morality in this domain requires that we overcome our loyalty to blood relations, not pursue only our private interests, and commit instead to using power grounded in shared principles. Love and hate are largely imposters in this domain where consensus is forged by the use of public reason.
  • Its democratic version requires that, guided by values of openness, equal respect and justice, we deliberate and help each other arrive at impartial laws and public policies, acceptable in principle to everyone in the polity.
  • Furthermore, those who wield political/administrative power must realise that what they do has enduring consequences affecting the lives of an incalculably large number of people. This brings with it enormous public responsibility which derives in no small part from the fact that they have at least temporary legitimacy to use force against ordinary citizens.
  • They have, at their disposal, an apparatus of violence simply unavailable to heads of families or members of civil society. Powerful politicians/ administrators, therefore, must show great care and sensitivity to the appropriate use of force and violence.

 Explaining and illustrating some basic principles of public life:

  • Selflessness is characterized by low levels of self-centeredness and a low degree of importance given to the self. Whenever there is the notion of “self”, there is fear; the fear of failure, the fear of being defeated, the fear of being rejected, the fear of making mistake, the fear of poor health, the fear of losing face and the fear of not being recognized. It is rather common for us to see someone hesitating to do thing proactively because his or her mind is too occupied with “self” which is followed by “fear”.
  • On the other hand, when one forgets about “self”, one will have no fear. One will be able to see thing as it is and nothing more. One will be able to look at thing with the heart of compassion and love.
  • One will have the courage to do what is right. This style of psychological functioning is closely related to characteristics such as altruism, kindness, respect, empathy, compassion and the search for harmony.
  • Today in the society there is an increase in selfishness, and general lack of concern for other individuals. What we have in India today, is not a giving and sharing society, but a grabbing society, not a sacrificing society but a consumer society.
  • Mother Teresa’s life can be said to be an embodiment of selflessness. She treated all human beings as children of god and hence loved them as god loved them. She served people in a way that diluted the boundary between I and Other.
  • Leadership is an abstract quality in a human being to induce his follower to do whatever he is directed to do with zeal and confidence.
  • The public servant should be transformational leader. Transformational leaders aim to make team members better people by encouraging their self-awareness and helping them to see the bigger picture of what they do. They want team members to overcome self-interest and move towards achieving the common goals and purposes that are shared with the group.
  • Transformational leaders are often charismatic with a clear vision. They spend a lot of time communicating and gaining the support of the team through their enthusiasm. This vision may be developed by the leader or the team, or may emerge from discussions. Leaders will want to be role models that others will follow and will look to explore the various routes to achieve their vision.
  • They look at long-term goals rather than short-term goals. They are always visible and will be accountable for their actions rather than hiding behind their team.
  • They act as mentors and demonstrate how the team should behave and work together through their own good practice. They listen to the team and often delegate responsibility – they trust their team enough to leave them to grow and solve the problems through their own decisions.
  • Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, was one such leader. With his visionary leadership and strict administration, he radically and completely transformed the society of Singapore.
  • Integrity refers to “honesty” or “trustworthiness” in the discharge of official duties, serving as an antithesis to “corruption” or “the abuse of office.” At the individual level, integrity is more than ethics; it is all about the character of the individual.
  • It is those characteristics of an individual that are consistently considerate, compassionate, transparent, honest, and ethical. According to the Nolan Committee holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that may influence them in the performance of their official duties.
  • This only depicts the concept of maintaining financial integrity. Civil servants should also be guided by a sense of propriety and conduct themselves at all times in a manner that would bear the closest public scrutiny.
  • This obligation is not fully discharged merely by acting within the law. Civil servants should take steps to avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts. They should take swift action to resolve any conflict that arises. This obligation continues after leaving office
  • Seven Principles of Public Life
  • Selflessness
  • Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
  • Integrity
  • Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
  • Objectivity
  • In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
  • Accountability
  • Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
  • Openness
  • Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
  • Honesty
  • Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
  • Leadership
  • Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
  • some more
  • Question: What are basic principles of Public life? Illustrate any three of these with suitable examples Answer: As a public representative or official there are certain qualities and traits that needs to be cultivated by an individual. For these qualities to develop, certain principles have to be followed.
  • Basic principles of public life
  • Selflessness
  • An individual associated with public life is expected to be selfless in his approach. His acts and decisions must be towards the welfare of the society and citizens without fortifying his/her own.
  • Ex: A muncipal representative must not hesitate to get rid of any illegal religious structure if it is found to be creating inconvenience to public. The benefits of securing their votes by not taking any action will only make the representative a selfish personality.
  • Honesty
  • A public representative is expected to be honest in his actions as well as decisions. He must possess moral ethics and integrity so as to carry out his duties without any compromise towards discrepancies.
  • Ex: A public representative or an official is approached by a shady builder, who promises to give a large amount of money if he is given permisssion to construct an unnecessary footpath. Honest representative will not give any heed to such offers.
  • Responsibility
  • The public representative or official is expected to be responsible and take initiative to fight for the rights of citizens. He/she is also expected to show his exemplary managerial and leadership skills to tackle any sort of crisis.
  • Ex: Public representative must lead a campaign for creating awareness among the people regarding maintaining cleanliness. The initiative can be successful only if it has a suitable person who takes responsibility to carry it out.
  • Further reading..
  • One of the most comprehensive statements of what constitutes principles of public life came from the Nolan Committee, which outlined the following seven principles of public life Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, Leadership.
  • Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support the principles of public life by leadership and example.
  • For eg. Lal Bahadur Shastri used to fast every Monday to save grains for poor people of the country and he gave a call for the nation to follow it. Thus exhibiting a true example of how leaders should lead from the front.
  • Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
  • For eg. Tukaram Omble of Maharashtra police tackled Kasab one of the terrorists of Mumbai attack so that he couldn’t attack his fellow servicemen. Thus showing exemplary courage and the highest degree of selflessness by giving away his life for the cause of his nation.
  • Gita also in one of its shloka- karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana reiterates the principle of selflessness which means one should only focus on our actions and should not worry about the result.
  • Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
  • For eg. Vikram Sarabhai accepted the failure of ISRO first mission without actually putting it on the mission head (APJ Abdul Kalam). Thus taking full accountability for the failure of his team.

 Thus it can be established that principles of public life are important for every democracy. Guidelines of public behaviour arising from such principles can play a crucial role in creating trust between the public functionaries and common public. Therefore any person who is privileged to guide the destiny of the people must not only be ethical but must be seen to practice these principles of public life.

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