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  • An important dimension of ethics in public administration is work ethics. It represents a commitment to the fulfilment of one’s official responsibilities with a spirit of dedication, involvement and sincerity. It also implies that a government functionary would love his work and not treat it as a burden or a load.
  • And that efficiency, productivity and punctuality will be the hallmark of his administrative behaviour. Efficiency has been a constant concern of ‘administrative analysis’ and ‘good governance’. The notion, transcending the Classical School, has permeated the New Public Management philosophy.
  • Efficiency implies doing one’s best in one’s job, with a concern for maximum possible utilisation of human, material and financial resources, and even for time to achieve the prescribed and desired objectives.
  • Let us take a fresh look at the notion of efficiency. Can we treat efficiency as ‘ethics’? Truly yes, for a genuinely efficient person has a regard for the higher goals of governance, including public welfare and he devotes himself to the expeditious achievement of those goals.
  • Thus, an efficient person is also an ethical person. He or she possesses administrative morality that is essentially rooted in a conviction of the desirability of ethical conduct. Here, we are not equating efficiency with mechanical productivity but with higher levels of performance that juxtaposes the ideal with the applied facets of organisational functions.
  • Once we agree that work ethics is important to organisational morality and once we accept that sound time management and a respect for punctuality and promptness (as against procrastination) in work disposal is a valued attribute, we should device strategies for improving work ethics in developing countries including India.
  • A few corrective steps may be considered in this context. There should be prescribed specific norms of productivity and work performance for organisational units and even individuals. A comprehensive and inclusive performance appraisal system should be adopted.
  • This would be feasible only if job is descriptive, and role and responsibiliti6 of each position are specified. There should be maximum delegation of powers at every level with a concurrent system of effective monitoring and work audit.                        NATURE OF WORK ETHICS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
  • Punctuality and promptness in administrative affairs must be valued and along with the quality of work performed; these should become the criteria for reward and punishment in organisations. The seniors should lead by setting an ethical example. They should motivate their juniors to take initiative and responsibility, and also be enterprising and efficient.
  • Conversely, those suffering from indolence, indecision, inefficiency and dishonesty should be punished. This would set an example and create a healthy work culture for those who conduct the public business. The same spirit pervades the pronouncements of public leaders at the helm of governments in most nations.
  • Thus, ethics has regained its status as a distinctive characteristic of Good Governance. The trend is not likely to reverse in the foreseeable future.
  • Hopefully, there would be a greater concern for quality in public affairs and public service, and the movement of Total Quality Management (TQM) will pervade the governmental functioning and influence the performance of governmental structure. Ethics means good service and this maxim applies most to public systems.
  • Public administration is designed to serve ‘public’. By its very nature, it ought to be people-oriented and even people-centred. While bureaucracies are expected to be guided by laws and rules, it is not necessary to make them mechanistically rule-centric.              NATURE OF WORK ETHICS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
  • Public administrative organisations are human organisations and they ought to be humane in their policies, decisions, orientation and behaviour. Being responsive to people’s needs enjoins upon civil servants to be responsive to their psychological needs of being cared for, nurtured and helped.
  • It is in this context that administrators ought to evolve and demonstrate a higher level of emotional as well as spiritual intelligence that would make them empathetic as well sympathetic to feelings of a common person.
  • Despite all the visible prosperity in India, one cannot ignore massive and deplorable poverty in the country. As a long as there is a single poor person in this country, the moral responsibility of administration remains to help him. But the larger issue of empathy and compassion is not confined to demonstrating positive behaviour towards the less-privileged sections of society.
  • It transcends this orientation. In fact, anyone having access to administration should be meted out a treatment of respect. This treatment should not be just ostensible, but real, authentic and profound. Ethical behaviour emanates from a pure and kind heart, and therefore, those who are in the business of serving people should train their heart to be sensitive and compassionate.
  • Compassion involves a sense of empathy. It does not end with pity. It invokes sensibilities to understand and even feel the pain of others and motivates one to be truly helpful in overcoming this pain. Hence, administrative ethics in public affairs envisages that the domain of feelings and the universe of rationality should find a happy blending in thought as well as actions of civil servants.
  • A positive and healthy approach to services entails courtesy and politeness in administrative behaviour, a desire to help resolve their problems, and satisfy them even when, extra help cannot be rendered and matters have to be disposed off in accordance with the legal and formal requirements of the system. A citizen-centric administration would be strengthened through such an attitude.            NATURE OF WORK ETHICS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION



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