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Introduction | WHAT ARE VALUES | ETHICS 

Values can be defined as those things that are valued by someone. In other words, values are what is considered ‘important‘ by an individual or an organization. Examples include courage, honesty, freedom, innovation etc.

Value = Degree of Importance of Something

Value denotes the degree of importance of something (or even an action).

Values help in determining what actions are best to do.

Values are ‘beliefs’ about ‘what is important’

Values are the beliefs of an individual or a social group about what is held important. That motivate people to act one way or another. “Equal rights for all”, “Merit above all else”, “Dignity of labour” etc are representatives of values.

Values have a major influence on a person’s behaviour and attitude.

Values vs Ethics | WHAT ARE VALUES | ETHICS

Ethics determine what is right.

Values are ideals of someone (or a group) about what is good or bad (or desirable or undesirable).

Ethics is all about reasoning how to do the right action. (Don’t miss our article on the dimensions of ethics)

Values motivate, while morals and ethics constrain.

Values and Ethics conflict

Generally, people are predisposed to adopt the values that they are raised with. People also tend to believe that those values are “right” because they are the values of their particular culture.

For example, if making money is a value cherished by a society (most societies cherish that value!), and if the society is not that bothered about how that money is made, that can lead to unethical practices.

Ethical decision-making often involves weighing values against each other and choosing which values to elevate.

A conflict between Values: Value ‘A’ vs Value ‘B’

Conflicts can also result when people have different values, leading to a clash of preferences and priorities.

For an example: What if a person values honesty as his core ideal, while the other person values efficiency as the priority? Is there a chance of conflict?

Values vary among Individuals and Cultures, and Time

Just like morals, values also vary among individuals and across cultures and time.

For example, for some people, their nation’s flag may represent a sacred value. But for others, the flag may just be a piece of cloth.

Types of values | WHAT ARE VALUES | ETHICS 

  • Moral Values (honesty, goodness, humility etc)
  • Spiritual Values
  • Social Values
  • Intellectual Values
  • Economic Values
  • Political Values etc

Personal Values vs Social Values

Personal Values – Important for Individual well being. Examples of personal values – self-respect, comfortable life, freedom etc.

Social Values – Important for other people’s well being. Examples of social values – equality, social justice, national security, world peace etc.

Note: A coordinated and balanced pursuit of both self-serving and other serving values will lead to a positive and fulfilling life.

Lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

  • Mahatma Gandhi: What he valued – Simplicity, Minimalism, Satyagraha, Sarvodaya, Secularism, Ahimsa, Non-Violence, Truth, Forgiveness, Self-Sufficiency, Dignity of labour etc.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru:What he valued – democracy, institution building, consensus building, socialism, secularism, self-determination, internationalism etc.
  • Raja Rammohan Roy: What he valued – social equality, equality of the human race, women empowerment, scientific thinking etc.
  • B R Ambedkar:What he valued – self-belief, equality of the human race, radical thinking, compassion etc.
  • Swami Vivekananda: What he valued – self-belief, equality of the human race, patriotism, compassion etc.
  • Sam Pitroda – What he valued – self-belief, dreaming big, entrepreneurship, policy making, innovation etc.
  • S. Swaminathan – What he valued – sustainable development, green revolution, poverty alleviation, farmer welfare etc.
  • Verghese Kurien – What he valued – self-belief, co-operative societies, entrepreneurship, innovation, farmer welfare etc.
  • Abraham Lincoln: What he valued – humanism, equality of the human race, integrity, idealism, honesty, freedom etc.
  • Sreedharan: What he valued – punctuality, self-belief, integrity, high-quality standards etc.
  • Mother Teresa– What she valued – compassion, altruism, helpfulness, kindness, cleanliness, determination.
  • Nelson Mandela:What he valued – service, dignity, self-belief, equality of the human race, freedom, fairness, justice,  etc.
  • Martin Luther King Jr: What he valued – self-belief, equality of the human race etc.

Role of Family in inculcating values

The family is the earliest and without question the most influential agent of socialization. Socialization via the family goes from cradle to grave. The father, mother, siblings, and grandparents become the immediate agents of socialization.

Children pick up behavioural traits from all those who are in his/her immediate environment. Values are imbibed by children by observing what parents do (and not just what parents say).

The power of the family is strongest during infancy and toddler years. During the teenage, the influence of peer group and media usually overshadows the power of the family. However, the family returns as a predominant agent of socialization during the adult years with the roles of marital partner and parents becoming prominent.

There can be differences in values between family to family based on their socio-economic statuses.

Role of Educational Institutions in inculcating values

Schools and Colleges are important agencies in the process of socialization and thus can help a lot in inculcating values.

  • School is the first place where the individual values get compared with the larger value system of the society.
  • The curriculum imparts the values of accepted behaviour.
  • A school student learns not only from the official curriculum but also from the social curriculum of peer groups. Values are also imbibed from the hidden curriculum (Eg: don’t talk while a teacher is taking the class).
  • This is the place where one learns the values of punctuality and discipline.
  • Values education is an explicit attempt to teach about values. There are five basic approaches to values education: inculcation, moral development, analysis, action learning,and values clarification.

Role of Society in inculcating values

Society can also inculcate a lot of values in people. The elements of the society who have great influence in people include:

  • Friends
  • Neighbours
  • Media
  • Films
  • Religion
  • Leaders
  • Government



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