An Academic Exercise of Learning by Teaching

Teaching is not a unilateral affair at all. We, the teachers know the essence of the issue emerges when the stakeholders from the other side of table also make their presence felt. This blog records here about those teacher-student learning and teaching moments which enrich the whole process with more meaningful way.

Come and Cheer the learning by teaching and sharing.


Saturday 1 April 2017

(2) GDS: Ethics in Politics

Hello everyone, this Tuesday (March 28, 2017) again proved a treasure trove of information as an interesting debate was held and conducted by our discussion society. An ideological tradition of thesis, antithesis and synthesis is gradually emerging and becoming a part of our daily routine. The most precious part of this debate is that none of us are sitting and participating with a mindset that there is a Professor; who too, is part of the discussion. But at the same time decorum is being maintained which is highly praiseworthy and commendable. Actually; the craze is growing and growing with every passing day.

This debate is very unique because a new thing has been introduced from this week which is that every member will be anchoring and reporting the debate turn by turn. So, this week it was my turn to host the debate as well as report it for others to read.

First Round:

The first round of discussion was started by Dr. Shreesh K. Pathak. The best thing about him is that he brings so many factual things into the discussion that set the standard of discussion above the par. He started the debate with a question. What is Ethics? Then he went ahead by answering, it is, “Pursuance of Values”. He also added that the understanding of ethics vary from person to person and society to society. His emphasis was more on ethics at the beginning. He went ahead adding Values are not permanent; they keep on changing though the process is slow. He said that the nature of values is secondary its existence is primary.  According to him, “Combination of Values is referred as Ethics”.

Dr. Shreesh then concentrated on the next part which was Politics. Here he wanted to raise question whether relation of values with politics is really required? He immediately answered his own question by saying that if emphasis is laid on values only then politics may lose its purpose.

He brought some more things into the discussion, they are as follows:
Values in politics might differ from values in ethics.
Every political system can have its own set of values.
Why ethics is required in politics? Can it be justified?
Contradiction arises between values and politics, if there is no change in values at times which would suit the need of the era. This inertia brings Status-Quoism which eventually creates friction between politics and values. This is actually a sign of stagnant society.
Values are dynamic in ethics as well as in politics.
Why there is stagnation? Why values do not change? 

The answer to these questions is that stagnation and inertia actually suits the interest of few people who have their dominant say in the governance and therefore they want it to continue.

The inference of his discussion was that values must be inculcated in politics, example Gandhism or Secularism. He also quoted the famous saying of Gandhiji, “Politics must accommodate religion (representation of sacred values)”. He drew out the comparison between ethics and politics by taking the Hindi meaning of the world ‘Politics’ which means ‘RAJNEETI’. The literal meaning of this hindi term is hidden in the word itself where RAJ=RULE and NEETI=ETHICS.

Dr. Shreesh concluded his part by saying that politics won’t survive without ethics and at the same time ethics should not dissolve politics.

In the line of discussion next person was Dheeraj. As it was his first debate in GDS, so he seemed very energetic which justified his keen interest to join the Society as the earliest. Dheeraj started the discussion on a very intellectual note by saying that ethics prevails from the dawn of humanity. He supported his statement with various examples which clearly stated that definition of ethics is not universal everywhere, it varies place to place and time to time. In his unique calm and composed way, Dheeraj gave a different perspective to the discussion.

Dheeraj then concentrated on the second component of the discussion, which was politics. According to him, “Politics is study of power distribution.” Dheeraj went ahead explaining different aspects of politics and ethics. 

These were as follows:
Political bodies keep on changing its structure and nature.
Policies are crafted and implemented by these political bodies.
Ethics is not stuck with humanity, it is different.
In order to meet Ends, Means could be of any source. This is called ethics.
Unethical is ethical sometimes. 

Dheeraj then gave two very good examples in order to support his understanding regarding ethics in politics. 

These were:
When Roman Empire was attacked, it adopted democracy and one person was appointed as the head. Here opting democracy over monarchy was considered ethical because it was only the way to save the empire.
In 1861, when Abraham Lincoln was the Commander of the Union Army, he opposed the slavery and prolonged the civil war which could have ended in 1863. But Lincoln believed that if war would be stopped then slavery would never end, he didn’t call off the bloodshed and he believed that it was an ethical step for the better future. 
Dheeraj added that it was his decision which made the co-existence of blacks and the whites possible in today’s society.

Now it was Jitendra Sharma’s turn to speak. He added few more interesting points to the discussion. These are as follows:
Jitendra Sharma
Ethics is classified into two parts Principle and Virtue. As per him these two are dependent but a question mark can be raised on this.
He also talked about religion and explained that almost every religion says the same thing which matches the criteria of being called ethical.
Anything which is right for someone could be wrong for someone else.
Ethics is/can be relative.
When Jitendra talked about Politics in Ethics he said that politics brings negative connotation into the consideration.

Thus, these five points better summarised Jitendra’s talk. 

Nikesh Dubey
After him all eyes and ears were on the remaining members who were yet to leave a mark in the discussion. It was Nikesh Dubey who was the next speaker. Nikesh had only few points to share with us but these points were strong enough for the debate. According to him, “Purification of Politics is only possible by the involvement of ethics.” Nikesh then left a serious question for the members of the GDS and also the readers which was- Why morality is at all needed in politics? 

Nikesh’s talk was then followed by Kumar Saurabh’s. Since he was the second last member to speak he started by explaining what is ethics? He explained ethics by telling us that it is something which is limited to an individual and can vary from one individual to another. On Politics, he said that politics has two perspectives.
Kumar Saurabh

These are:
Politics is all about gaining power and how to continue the holding of power.
Politics concerns for welfare of the state as well as for its citizens.

Kumar then differentiated between ethics and politics where he believed that ethics concentrates on an individual whereas politics aims at doing good for the public.  He also added that ethics makes politics ideal and puts limitations on the power. For example, constitution has Directive Principles of State Policies where the guidelines are provided for the state to function. Similarly, the nominal head of our country, that is; the President guarantees the obeying of moral values. He also said that ethics also helps in political negotiations with other countries. In case of war it makes sure that our country obeys the “No first attack Policy.”

Kulbhaskar Upadhyay
I was the last speaker in the first round and therefore the first thing which I did was that not becoming repetitive since most of the things had already been covered by the fellow speakers.  My idea regarding these two terms were short and simple. In my view anything which is felt correct by majority of people is ethics and governing the state along with its citizens is called politics. I then supported my line of understanding going through the timeline of freedom struggle of our country. I explained the members that during the freedom struggle the main motive was to remove the British but at the same time, series of questions were getting raised in the minds of the people as, if the British free our country and leave it then who will be the next to take the charge? Will he/they treat us in the same way the British did or will he/they work for our betterment? Is this freedom struggle simply a shifting of power from one to another? Are the people leading this struggle (as, Pt. Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar, etc) going to dominate and exploit us in the same way as the British?

These were the questions which had no answers of their own as future could not be foreseen. During the final stage of the freedom struggle i.e. in 1946, it was decided that a constitution would be framed and there will be a drafting committee for this. The main reason behind the drafting of constitution was to win the trust of the millions who had doubts in their minds whether they are being played or will they be relieved from the tyrannical British rule for good. Thus when the constitution was being framed, Dr. B.R Ambedkar summed by saying that, “People of India are interested to see that the government administration must maintain high standards of ethics and morality.” This is the reason our constitution emphasizes on making us realize the importance of moral values, ethics and principles not only in politics but also in our day to day life.

I also talked about the objectives of Administration and Government. They are as follows:
Administration should be free from corruption and maladministration.
It should be responsive to the wishes of people.

 I further added that any government or administration can only function in a right way if citizens get opportunity to ventilate their grievances against the administrators and administrative agencies and get them redressed. If found guilty then they must be apprehended and punished or corrected.

I also narrated an incident which happened with Gandhiji. The question of maintaining the ethical values was also of grave concern for Mahatma Gandhi in pre independence era when he received the complaints of corruption in public affairs by his party-fellows and then he had to state ‘I would go to the length of giving the whole congress a decent burial, rather than put up with the corruption that is rampant’.

I also spoke about the Preamble of the Indian Constitution which focuses on human values and social responsibilities. But there would be consensus in saying that the ethical values and social responsibilities remained in existence only for two or three decades after the independence. I also told them that after this a new class of politicians entered in politics. The sole aim of this class was to earn money and power by hook or crook. I highlighted some points that after independence the bureaucracy has not played its role well. Rather it became an instrument of some mighty, arrogant and self-centered corrupt politicians in providing them a non-transparent and bad administration. 

In the concluding phase I talked about the stages of administrative reforms where many efforts through legislations and through other modes were made by the government to set its record straight and transparent but due to lack of will the situation never improved. Some of them are:

(1)- The Santhanam Committee, which was appointed in 1962 for administrative reforms, this committee believed that honesty and integrity of ministers, parliament members and members of legislatures are important factors in creating social awareness against corruption.
(2)- The first Lokpal Bill in 1968 which was introduced in the parliament though failed but created awareness in masses for clean governance.
(3)- Ethics Committee (Rajya Sabha) of 1997 which was constituted in India to study the causesof erosion of morality and social values in administration and to suggest the measures/ ethics to build the confidence of people in the governance.

At last I also stated that from 2011 onward the question of good governance and ethical values in politics is being debated in parliament, media and people’s forum. We can hope that the centre as well as state governments if pressurized by us would take more steps to provide good and clean governance as per their constitutional responsibility. Though the politics has been corrupted to a large scale but if this is continued for a longer time then disregard of people’s satisfaction would lead to attitude of ambivalence, then to the alienation and finally to the breaking point, revolt. 
Here, the First Round ends.

Second Round:

The second round was started by Dr. Shreesh. This was the round where every speaker had to express his views in response to the other speakers who had spoken in the previous round. Dr. Shreesh is someone; who always listens every speaker very carefully and notes down points in order to show his agreement or to counter it later as it requires. 

Dr. Shreesh
He began speaking and highlighted few points from the first round spoken by every speaker.

From Dheeraj’s-
(1)- The explanation of ethics using Abraham Lincoln’s example was quite impressive as per Dr. Shreesh.
(2)- He also liked Dheeraj’s understanding regarding End and Means where Dheeraj believed that End justifies the Means. What Means is used doesn’t matter.

From Jitendra’s-

(1)- Classification of Ethics given by Jitendra was new to him, as Dr. Shreesh accepted.
(2)- Dr. Shreesh also agrees to the part where Dheeraj believes that Ethics is relative.
From Nikesh’s-
Dr. Shreesh agreed to the definition given by Nikesh where Nikesh told that it is Ethics that may useful in purification of Politics.

From Kumar Saurabh’s-

Dr. Shreesh appreciated Kumar Saurabh’s statement where Saurabh told the society that it is Ethics that decides what is wrong and right in Politics. He also agreed to the part where Saurabh believed that Ethics limits Politics. He also countered Saurabh’s point that Ethics is individualistic. He said that Ethics don’t make Politics ideal because ideals don’t exist.  

He then added his own view point where he mentioned about Politics being practical as well as philosophical but he said that I am not sure if Ethics is practical. 

From Mine-

(1)- He supported my statement where I mentioned about Ethics being used in the Constitution. He also agreed to me where I believed that Ethics sees Politics in different way than Politics sees Ethics.

(2)-He then classified and highlighted the need to understand the segregation of each and every variation regarding my understanding of ethics and politics. 

These are as follows:

Politics of Ethics, 
Ethics of Politics, 
Politics in Ethics and 
Ethics in Politics

(3)- He also raised the similar question where I believed that population of India was unsure whether Nehru, Patel, etc simply wanted power or were they really eager to bring the change and do something for the country and its people.

At last, Dr. Shreesh also told the members that objectives of Politics are crafted by Ethics only. He believes that the adoption of Constitutionalism simply ensures the existence of Ethics in Politics.

The next speaker in line was again Dheeraj. He began with countering Kumar Saurabh. Some points where Dheeraj showed his disagreement to Kumar’s views are as follows:

(1)- He said that Ethics can’t check Politics because what is politically right is considered Ethical in Politics.
(2)- He also raised questions on everyone’s inclination towards Democracy. He said that that Democracy is not the only form of political system; ethics in politics must be analysed irrespective of forms of the government. He said that other ideologies like Fascism, Nazism were considered ethical for the people during World War II.
(3)- He said that there is overlapping connotations of Ethics and Idealism and Ethics should also focus on something else in particular. Politics follows different set of Ethics.

Dheeraj pointed about the situation of paradox as Realism is followed all over the globe. After countering Kumar, Dheeraj shifted his attention on me and countered few of my points too. 

These are as follows:

(1)- He believed that the objectives which I mentioned about the Administration and the Government are not practical because to match the needs of the population the Means have to be changed and bending any rule in order to match the needs (Ends) of the people is Ethical. 

(2)- He also mentioned about the corruption and nepotism being impossible to be eradicated from the system entirely as they are deeply rooted in the psyche of society itself.

Dheeraj then concluded his part by defining Ethics in his own words. 

He said, 

“Ethics is dealing with the Devil wisely.”

Now, it was Jitendra’s turn to speak. Jitendra brought many facts into the light and some of them are as follows:

(1)- In 2014, Lok Sabha elections out of 542 MPs elected 186 MPs who were from the ruling BJP had serious criminal cases against their names.

(2)- In 2009, Lok Sabha elections 30% of elected MPs were indulged in serious criminal cases but 2014 elections brought a 6% hike into thefinal numbers.

Jitendra, lastly said that the Politics of our country is degrading day by day and it has become our moral obligation to become politically aware and also initiate building Political Awareness Programmes so that the reality could be conceived by others as well.

Nikesh then added a point in the second round by telling us that it is not necessary to elect a leader who is well educated and holding many degrees. Anyone can be called a good leader if he is ethically sound. He should be smart enough to benefit the masses that he is representing and should also decide honestly what is wrong and what is right.

The next speaker was Kumar Saurabh and he only cross countered Dheeraj by saying that Ethics which is universal should be there in Politics and the Ethics in Politics is no different because it makes the Politics accountable.

After Kumar I was the last speaker in the second round. I agreed to every member’s point of view but found Dheeraj irrelevant on some points. 

They are as follows: 

(1)- I told Dheeraj that the world focuses on Democracy because after disintegration of the USSR in 1991 the world system became unipolar and way before 1991 that is after the Word War II when the world system was bipolar which had the USA on one side and the USSR on the other most of the countries in the world had already started adopting liberalism. When the USSR disintegrated the world system became unipolar and then the driving force of world was the USA, so most of the countries started aping the USA and that’s the reason why Democracy is talked everywhere. I told him that if the world system changes again in future then there might be some other ideology which will become relevant but for now it is liberalism which is the trending ideology in the world system.

(2)- I also told Dheeraj that when we talk about world on the whole then idealism is something which is not talked about much because in maintaining International Relations we emphasize on realist perspective rather than considering idealism.

I mentioned about the role of Ethics in Politics being very prominent because it puts a responsibility on our government to work morally as well. I gave example of the Yemen Crisis where Government of India brought back the Indian nationals back by risking the air force and the naval fleet and launching a rescue operation so that all the Indians are brought back and no Indians were left behind. Government of India believed that the security of life of every Indian is very important either they reside in India or in foreign land.  Here, Dheeraj countered me by saying that the government is responsible and accountable for such things and this should be only considered as one of their many duties.

I cross-countered Dheeraj again by saying that Government of India could have denied the operation by calling it a risky one and could have suppressed the news very easily but it was Ethics in Politics which made them work on moral grounds so that every Indian was brought back. I also made him understand by telling a fact that even nationals of Pakistan, America and Bangladesh were rescued too and saving their lives was not the duty of Government of India.

The Second Round ends…!

Final Round:

This round began where Kumar Saurabh and Nikesh spoke simultaneously as they had very little time. Kumar Saurabh said that he got to know different things from this discussion and would even research on these facts which he got from the members in the discussion. He said that he will try to find out if political ethics is different from the universal ethics. Nikesh on the other hand promised to be more factually equipped for the next debate and appreciated the efforts of everyone present there.

Dr. Shreesh added few points which he got from the debate. They are as follows:

(1)- Ethics cannot be detached from Politics.
(2)- The debate was quite intellectual in nature.
(3)- Ethics is required and this could also be analysed through Structural-Functional Analysis.
(4)- Ethics should also be implemented on academic level.

Dr. Shreesh suggested that the next topic should be something which should not be only related to Political Science.

Dheeraj stated that his perspective changed a bit. He humbly accepted his perspective being theoretical and aerial before this discussion but would also think practically in order to understand the other side as well. He even suggested a topic which can become a topic of discussion and that would be “Globalization of World Politics.”

Jitendra one of the modest member of the society mentioned about his growing keen interest in political issues and accepted that he is learning a lot through this medium. “I like being a good listener here because there is something new to learn always”. He too agreed on Dheeraj’s suggested topic.

I praised the initiative and efforts of each and every member of the society and told that the standard is getting raised every time we talk on something new. I suggested only one thing which needs implementation and that was:

Proper time management and limit for every speaker from the next debate onwards.
The topic which I suggested was ‘Interdisciplinary Approach in Social Sciences.”

My turn ended the discussion and the topic which was finalised unanimously for the next week is ‘Interdisciplinary Approach In Socal Sciences.

(Discussion was aptly reported by: Kulbhaskar Upadhyay)

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