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Mission Mains 2020: GS 4 Ethics Discussion

Things do not exist in a vacuum. It is called the butterfly effect. A butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a tornado in another. Actions of governments are nothing but actions of human individuals, which are fashioned by the society they live in. 

Consider global inequality, for example. It is globally understood to be morally wrong. However, at the individual level, the benefactors of this inequality rarely understand that their own actions contribute greatly to said inequality. When a male member of the family is accorded privileges not available to his sister,  not a question is asked by him about the moral correctness of this action. When moral correctness of this human behaviour is left unquestioned, it perpetuates a culture within the family where it is normalised for one to be considered superior to another. On a larger scale, this gives rise to a culture of greed within human society. The behaviour of aggrandizing oneself even if it means considerable detriment to others comes to be accepted as the human way of life. This culture permeates every strata of society, including our politicians and governments. It gives way to corruption, and that in turn leads to internal strife within the country. Furthermore, the us v. them ideology dominates international affairs even when it comes to a global problem such as climate change for example, leaving nations unable to unite. 

Moral bankruptcy at the individual level has a domino effect. As Theodore Roosevelt said "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." Therefore, the answer to global problems may often be found in individual action. To solve them, each individual must question the moral correctness of his actions and act in a manner that seeks to advance the righteous path towards the common goal. 


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Things do not exist in a vacuum. It is called the butterfly effect. A butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a tornado in another. Actions of governments are nothing but actions of human individuals, which are fashioned by the society they live in. 

Consider global inequality, for example. It is globally understood to be morally wrong. However, at the individual level, the benefactors of this inequality rarely understand that their own actions contribute greatly to said inequality. When a male member of the family is accorded privileges not available to his sister,  not a question is asked by him about the moral correctness of this action. When moral correctness of this human behaviour is left unquestioned, it perpetuates a culture within the family where it is normalised for one to be considered superior to another. On a larger scale, this gives rise to a culture of greed within human society. The behaviour of aggrandizing oneself even if it means considerable detriment to others comes to be accepted as the human way of life. This culture permeates every strata of society, including our politicians and governments. It gives way to corruption, and that in turn leads to internal strife within the country. Furthermore, the us v. them ideology dominates international affairs even when it comes to a global problem such as climate change for example, leaving nations unable to unite. 

Moral bankruptcy at the individual level has a domino effect. As Theodore Roosevelt said "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." Therefore, the answer to global problems may often be found in individual action. To solve them, each individual must question the moral correctness of his actions and act in a manner that seeks to advance the righteous path towards the common goal. 


This is for the Abdul Kalam question. Also, for the actual paper, I might draw some chart showing how its all linked, making the second paragraph shorter. 

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@Patootie Sir/Ma'am, I was wondering about the time you take to complete your well crafted answers. I mean what should be an ideal time frame. I take ages to complete an answer, within the stipulated words, and respecting the general protocols of Ethics answer writing (Intro, Body, Example/Conclusion). 


Hey, I'm no Sir or Ma'am.  :) 

This particular answer took me about 12-13 minutes to type out. Which is a really long time. I do manage to just about finish answers on time when I do it on paper, but it obviously will not be as well crafted. So, for the given answer, would probably use a flowchart to show how it is all linked. From individual to family to society to country to international affairs. I think the idea that is in your head must be conveyed clearly on paper. That is the defining factor, I think. That said, I have not even given mains so far. 

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Q: Non-performance of duty by a public servant is a form of corruption”. Do you agree with this view? Justify your answer. (150 words) 10

A public servant is one who occupies an office that is connected with matters that have a direct or indirect bearing on public rights both at the individual as well as the community level. Non-performance of duty by public servants is inconsistent with public justice, and those indulging in it are often not only corrupt, but also ethically and morally bankrupt. When public justice is frustrated, democracy becomes meaningless, and those directly responsible for the same are, by all definitions, corrupt. 

Consider a government doctor for example. In "Everybody loves a good drought", P Sainath refers to the pitiable condition of PHCs in the country. As per his account, in rural areas, Government doctors who are legally obligated to provide service free of cost are often found running their own private practice right next to the PHCs. The effect of this is:

1. The Government Doctor earns both from the government (salary) and fees from his patients

2. The poor/illiterate patient does not realize his deserved right. 

3. Loss is caused both to the exchequer and to the rural economy. 

4. On account of absence of free service, public health suffers greatly. 

5. Conditions normalising such behaviour are fostered. 

A public official is said to be corrupt if his/her actions are such that they lead to an erosion of faith in the institutions they represent. If an institution is ineffective, it serves no use in a democracy that the people have established. 

Freedom means nothing to a person who does not have the means to be truly free. If Public servants, who exist as a vehicle to realising fundamental freedoms, voluntarily and willingly shirk off their responsibility, what else are they but corrupt?

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@Ethereal Thanks for your response. Valid points. 

But I understood the question as asking about a public servant who is wilfully neglecting his duties. And his duty would be to fulfil his role to the best of his abilities and capacity. I understood the question as relating more to the intent of the servant rather than the results he produces. He could be fulfilling his duties to the best of his ability but be unable to complete all tasks assigned to him.

I might set a goal of 6 chapters and study all day, but only be able to finish four. I'd be performing my duty, but not fulfilling my task. If a patient went to a doctor with a heart ailment, and despite the doctor's best efforts, the patient dies because of xyz reasons, would you say the doctor did not perform his duty?

Does the question require us to investigate the cause of non-performance? If I investigated that, how do I take a view and justify my answer? Also, if I did that, how would I be answering the question? The quote isn't "Non-Performance of duty is *always* corruption." It's a general statement. Must I overthink and find possible excuses for a fictitious public servant?
Generally, ceterus paribus, non performance of duty by a public servant is corruption. 

Also, wrt your specific points:
1. Lack of funds, resources etc are factors which inhibit someone from performing his duties. Unless his duties are to obtain such funds, he is not being derelict in his duties. Similarly, if higher authorities arent cooperating when they are supposed to, aren't they the ones who are not doing their duties? He would be doing his duties to the maximum of his ability, which is the duty of every employee everywhere. 
2. Again, I understood it as wilful non-performance. I didnt think the question related to an employee lacking in performance because of improper training. If he is improperly trained, he may be lacking in performance, but he would be performing his duty to the best of his ability. 
3. Same as above. If he willingly shirks off his responsibility, he is corrupt. If he makes a decision prioritising one over the other, he must explain why he did so. 


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In other words, if a public servant is unable to function properly because of extraneous considerations, aren't those extraneous factors such as a non-cooperating superior or improper/negligent training staff the ones who should be called out as not performing their duties?

If a Policeman is not allowed to register an FIR because of a corrupt superior, who is the one who is not performing his duty? 

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@Ethereal Noted! Thanks a lot for your feedback. :)


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Q.“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary”. Comment. 

Ethics- Democracy answer.pdf

Great to have you back! 

Haven't done ethics, first answer. Go easy pleeaaase. :P


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Q.“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary”. Comment. 

Ethics- Democracy answer.pdf

Great to have you back! 

Haven't done ethics, first answer. Go easy pleeaaase. :P


going easy :)

1. You will have two pages only in the answer sheet. these answers have to be written in 150 words.

2. Some theoretical background to concepts of Justice is a must. Directly jumping into examples, imo, is a risky approach. 

Rich examples with arguments that stay closely aligned to the question. That part is brilliant. But DO take note of the above points :)

Extremely relevant suggestions, my friend! I thought it was 250 words lol, so rambled on. Here's take 2, after having taken note of the constructive criticism. :)

Ethics- Take 2.pdfEthics- Take 2.pdf

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