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The Sociocultural Context & its significance for Public Administration

The Sociocultural Context & its significance for Public Administration

  • Values that permeate the social order in a society determine the nature of governance system. The Indian society today seems to prefer wealth to any other value.
  • And in the process of generating wealth, the means-ends debate has been sidelined. Unfortunately, ends have gained supremacy and the means do not command an equal respect.
  • A quest for wealth in itself is not bad. In fact, it is a mark of civilisational progress. What is important is the means employed while being engaged in this quest.
  • We seem to be living in an economic or commercial society, where unidimensional growth of individuals seem to be accepted and even valued, where ends have been subdued by means, and ideals have been submerged under the weight of more practical concerns of economic progress.
  • Can we change this social order? Gandhi very much wanted to transform the priority-order of the Indian society, but there were hardly any takers or backers of his so-called radical or utopian thinking that was steeped in a strong moral order.    The Sociocultural Context & its significance for Public Administration
  • To put it bluntly, ever since Gandhi passed away, there has been not a single strong voice in independent India challenging the supremacy of ‘teleology and unidimensionalism’.
  • Neither have our family values questioned this unilinear growth of society nor has our educational system made serious efforts to inject morality into the impressionable minds of our youth. We have starkly failed on these fronts.                The Sociocultural Context & its significance for Public Administration
  • The need is to evolve fresh perspectives on what kind of Indians we wish to be and how? Till then, efforts will have to be focused on the non­social fronts.
  • The issues of morality may or may not be rooted in the religious ethos of a society. Indian religious scriptures do not favour pursuit of wealth through foul means.
  • Interestingly, ThiruValluvar’s Kural, written two thousand years ago in Tamil Nadu, emphasises that earning wealth brings fame, respect and an opportunity to help and serve others, but it should be earned through right means only. Can this dictum form the basis of our socio-moral orientation today?
  • The level of integrity among Protestants and Parsees is believed by some to be relatively higher when compared to other religions and one can find the roots of such integrity in the well-ingrained mores of these religions.
  • Nevertheless, it is only one point of view, as there are several other religious and secular groups, which are known for their high moral conduct.
  • The cultural system of a country, including its religious orientation, appears to have played a significant role in influencing the work ethics of its people.
  • For instance, the stress on hard work, so characteristic of the Protestant ethics, has helped several Christian societies to enhance their per capita productivity.
  • While Judaism has valued performance of physical labour by its followers, the Hindu and Islamic societies, on the other hand, have generally accorded more priority to mental work.

Work ethics may or may not be linked with religious moorings. These are subjective issues but make for an interesting study.

The family system and the educational system are influential instruments of socialisation and training of the mind in its impressionable years.              The Sociocultural Context & its significance for Public Administration

If the values inculcated through the family and the school have underscored honesty and ethics, the impact on the mind-set of citizens is likely to be highly positive and powerful




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