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UPSC Ethics Simplified: Politics Plus or Minus Ethics


General Studies Paper IV, “Ethics, Integrity, and Suitability,” is an essential component of the UPSC Diet Examination. The Indian Express UPSC Ethics Simplified is to assist and enable aspirants to decode, deconstruct and analyze the article “Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude”. With that, today’s topic is politics and ethics.

Political ethics, sometimes referred to as political morality or public ethics, is the practice of making moral judgments about political action and the study of that practice. Ethics is generally defined as the set of moral principles that guide a person’s behavior and define what is considered right and wrong. Similarly, political ethics refers to the formulation of moral judgments to guide action and decision-making methods for the public good.

“Politics” and “ethics” do not go together

It is often said that politics, ethics and personal morals are not always aligned. There are different schools of thought on ethics in politics. Some will say that politicians should stick to universal principles such as justice or equity to govern better. On the other hand, political realists such as Machiavelli argued that there is no place for ethics in politics or that ethical principles that govern the behavior of citizens should not bind politicians.

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In fact, political leaders throughout history have often had to make unethical decisions to advance the interests of their nation or state. For realists, politics is an active pursuit of power, and nation states are engaged in a constant struggle against each other to maximize their security in the anarchic world order. So, if politicians and statesmen are to be effective in this anarchic system, they cannot be bound by abstract ethical principles that would limit this pursuit. Political realists like Machiavelli reject ethical principles because they compel nations to seek power.

Ethics is an integral part of the policy

Mahatma Gandhi tried to bridge politics and ethics. According to the Mahatma, the ultimate goal of politics is to serve the people, not politics itself. Politics cannot be done without morality and ethics. As for morality and ethics, their meaning is to be compassionate and to understand the feelings of others. In the same way, Aristotle also believed that ethics and politics were closely related. Ethics examines the good of the individual, while politics examines the good of the state, which he considered the best kind of community. In this sense, there are codes of conduct for politicians in many countries, such as the United States, the United States, Canada and Germany. Also in India, there is a code of conduct for members of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.

Any discussion of an ethical framework for governance in a democracy must begin with ethical values ​​in politics, experts say. Politicians and people engaged in politics play a vital role in the legislative and executive wings of the state, whose acts of commission and omission in the functioning of the constitution and the rule of law become the focal point. intervention of the judiciary. Norms set in politics profoundly influence many aspects of governance and the behavior of people in general.

Politics without ethics is disastrous

In the current scenario, experts say, politics is more about competition than doing good to the public and it is no longer about idealism and constructive criticism. They say that bearing in mind recent incidents internationally and domestically, such as the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Nupur Sharma affair, the lack of ethics in politics is palpable. The repercussions of these events have an impact on the country and the general public. Experts point out that politicians are public servants too – their actions should be for the public good and their opinion should not be insensitive to any community.

They say it should be ‘us’ rather than ‘them and us’ and for a country like India, whose democracy is woven from the threads of different communities, castes, races, religions and languages, ethical conduct is very essential to follow to keep this nation united. As Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, politics without principles and ethics would be disastrous.

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