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Talisman of Gandhi | ETHICS

Talisman of Gandhi | ETHICS

What is Gandhi’s Talisman? 

Gandhi’s talisman is quote of wisdom to be used in situations of doubt.
It says…

“Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”

Decoding The Talisman

  • Gandhiji believed in creating a “Sarvodaya” society – a society where everyone would enjoy a reasonably good standard of living with attendant rights and privileges. For that he gave a Talisman to citizens that whenever in doubt, analyse the impacts of your actions on the weakest and its benefits to them. The Talisman is Gandhi’s deepest social thought that could always act as a guiding light for public as well as private conduct of civil servants.
  • Civil Servants are the agents of the state whose conduct should always be aimed for public welfare. In this context the Talisman is significant in following ways in defining the core and the course of their conduct and decision-making and making Civil Servants Empathetic, Efficient, Impartial and Incorruptible.

Significance Of The Talisman For A Civil Servant | Talisman of Gandhi | ETHICS 

  • This talisman can help a civil servant in pursuit of administrative justice in the following ways:
  • Framing inclusive policies: A civil servant must make sure that the benefits of government policies reach the most needful person. Gandhi’s vision of ‘Sarvodaya through Antyodaya’ can only be achieved when welfare policies are inclusive and well-directed.
  • Judicious utilization of resources: All public resources must be utilized in a fair and transparent manner. It is the duty of civil servants to check underutilization and misappropriation of public funds.
    • For ex: public money spent on building unnecessary statues and parks can be better utilized for the welfare of the poor.
  • Special provisions for the marginalized: A civil servant should think about how his actions will benefit the marginalized sections of the society.
    • For ex: a civil servant must ensure that the government offices are accessible for the differently-abled citizens.
    • He/she can make sure that there are separate and clean toilets for school girls.
  • Motivating the staff: Civil servants may face the problem of the unskilled and demotivated workforce in government offices. It is his duty to make them realize that efficiency in their work is critical for delivering public services to the last man standing.
  • Handling continuous public criticism: Civil servants are constantly under public scrutiny for their actions. A civil servant must not stop taking decisions which will benefit the poor and downtrodden, even though he/she has to face criticism for that.
  • Managing political interference in work: Political interference must be handled deftly without offending the public representative for the larger public interest. Unnecessary transfers due to political vendetta may deprive the public of the intended benefits of an officer’s proposed policies.
  • Managing personal life: The family of civil servants may face several challenges due to frequent transfers to remote places lacking even the basic infrastructure. Hence, a civil servant should be motivated to work even in remote places and see it as an opportunity to develop better schools, hospitals and public places in such areas.

Applying Gandhiji’s Talisman | Talisman of Gandhi | ETHICS 

Applying the talisman to our daily lives invariably suggest the following:

  • Government policies must necessarily focus on the vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society even if it requires making special provision for such classes.
  • At personal level, self-serving acts like tax evasion, littering in public places etc. must be shunned. Derogatory practices in society like manual scavenging, caste-based discrimination, exploitation of women and the poor, dowry, nepotism etc. must be condemned in practice.
  • At societal level, it encourages altruism, compassion and communal harmony towards fellow human beings when encountered with negative vibes of hatred and violence.
  • Businesses and Industries should strive to reduce polluting activities, ensure optimal working conditions and must honestly comply with social security legislations. Further, it encourages business houses to go for Corporate Social Responsibility for achieving greater inclusiveness in the society.
  • Public servants should ensure transparency and integrity in implementation of welfare provisions like PDS, MGNREGA, Old Age Pension Scheme etc. so that their steps lead to swaraj in true sense.
  • Thus, Gandhiji’s talisman empowers us to judge our actions and is a timeless beacon of inspiration for generations to come.




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