NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1
Reference: Certificate of Physical Geography by GC Leong.
British type climatic regions are under the permanent influence of the Westerlies all-round the year. These are also regions of high cyclonic activity., typical of Britain and thus said to experience the British climate. This climate is also referred to as the cool temperate western margin climate or the North-west European Maritime Climate.
British type climate:
- Westerlies come all the year round.
- There is a tendency towards an autumn or winter maximum of rainfall.
- Light snow falls in winter.
- Ports are never frozen but frosts do occur on cold nights.
- The seasons are very distinct.
- And the climate is very favorable for maximum human output.
Distribution of British Type Climate
Natural Vegetation in British Type Climate
- The natural vegetation of this climatic type is deciduous forest.
- The trees shed their leaves in the cold season.
- This is an adaptation for protecting themselves against the winter snow and frost.
- Shedding begins in autumn, the ‘fall’ season.
- Some of the common species include oak, elm, ash, birch, beech, and poplar.
- In the wetter areas grow willows (Light weight cricket bats are made from willows. In India willows are found in Kashmir).
- Higher up the mountains in the Scandinavian highlands, the Rockies, southern Andes and the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the deciduous trees are generally replaced by the conifers which can survive a higher altitude, a lower temperature and poorer soils.
Account of economic activities in the British type climate:
- Due to the high density of population, all the cereals, fruits and root crops grown in the region are used for home consumption and the region is a net importer of food crops.
- North-West Europe, which includes some of the most crowded parts of the globe, has little surplus for export. It is, in fact, a net importer of food crops, especially wheat.
- Market Gardening:
- Nowhere else is market gardening practiced as extensively as in North West Europe.
- The factors that account for this are large urban population and high densities, highly industrialized nations like Britain, France, Germany.
- There is great demand for fresh vegetables, green salads, eggs, meat, milk and fruits.
- Farming is carried out intensively and the yield is high due to soil fertility and there are maximum cash returns.
- Since the crops are perishable, there is a good transport network and the vegetables and fruits are conveyed at high speeds to urban centres.
- Hence the term “truck farming” is often used to describe this kind of agriculture.
- In Australia, high-speed boats ply across the Bass Strait daily from Tasmania to rush vegetables, tomatoes, apples and beans to most of the large cities in mainland Australia.
- It is no wonder the Australians nicknamed Tasmania the garden state.
- Mixed Farming:
- Throughout north-western Europe, farmers practice both arable farming (cultivation of crops on ploughed land) and pastoral farming (keeping animals on grass meadows).
- The proportion of crops and animals in the farm at any time depends to a great extent on the type of soil, the price of the cereals and the demand for animals and animal products.
- Amongst the cereals, wheat is the most extensively grown, almost entirely for home consumption. The region is a net importer of wheat.
- The next most important cereal is barley.
- It is used in beer-making or whisky distilling and is raised in drier areas.
- The most important animals kept in the mixed farm are cattle.
- The climate of this region is ideal for intensive dairying.
- New Zealand ranks as one of the world’s greatest exporters of dairy products.
- Besides dairying, some cattle are kept as beef cattle.
- In Argentina or Australia, meat production is the primary concern.
- Sheep rearing:
- Sheep are kept both for wool and mutton.
- Britain is the home for some of the best-known sheep breeds.
- The principal sheep areas are in foothills, well-drained uplands, chalk and limestone scrap lands and the light and sandy coasts.
- Sheep rearing is the chief occupation of New Zealand, with its greatest concentration in the Canterbury Plain.
- It accounts for only 4 percent of the world’s sheep population but accounts for two-thirds of the world’s mutton exports and one-sixth of world wool exports.
- The countries are concerned in the production of machinery, chemicals and textiles.
- Industries are also based on dairy products in Denmark, Netherlands and New Zealand.
- The region is highly industrialized and differs from many others in its unprecedented industrial advancement.
- Britain, France and Germany have significant mineral resources and are heavily industrialized.
- Ruhr region in Germany, Yorkshire, Manchester and Liverpool regions in Britain are significant for wide-ranging manufacturing industries in the region.
Lumbering so profitable in this climatic type
- In Britain, only 4% of the original forest is left. A very large part of the deciduous hardwoods has been cleared for fuel, timber or agriculture.
- Unlike the equatorial forests, the deciduous trees occur in pure stands and have greater lumbering value.
- The open nature of the forests with sparse undergrowth is useful in logging operations.
- Easy penetration means much cost can be saved in the movement of the logs.
- The deciduous hardwoods are excellent for both fuel and industrial purposes.
- In Tasmania, the temperate eucalypts are also extensively felled for the lumbering industry.
- Higher up the mountains, conifers (softwood) are felled and transported to paper and pulp industry. They are extensively used in cardboard making.
- Thus, lumbering is both economically and ecologically more suited to demographics that exist in temperate regions to tropics.
The climate is said to be the most productive for human activities and it is visible through the success gained by the countries under the influence of this climate.
General Studies – 2
Reference: Indian Express
Democracy is a form of government in which power ultimately comes from the people who are governed, either through direct voting or through elected representatives. India is today the largest functioning democracy in the world.
In the last more than 6 decades it has worked successfully well to some extent. But in modern India it has to face many challenges that need to be tackled in order to ensure true democracy.
Participation and representation are two fundamental elements and principles of democracy. They affirm that a democracy is dependent on its citizens and that this ownership is expressed through meaningful participation by and representation of all citizens in democratic institutions and processes.
Participatory democracy involves more lay citizen participation in decision making and offers greater political representation than traditional representative democracy, e.g., wider control of proxies given to representatives by those who get directly involved and actually participate.
Challenges faced by democracy of India to increase participation of people in its working:
- Illiteracy, Poverty, Gender Discrimination, Casteism, Communalism, Religious Fundamentalism, Regionalism, Corruption, and Criminalization of Politics are still plaguing Indian Democracy.
- According to the last two reports, there is a rise of “conservative religious ideologies” in the country.
- Vigilantism, violence, narrowing scope for dissent, threat to minorities and marginalized groups has affected India’s democratic values.
- Important issues like horse-trading in politics, the anti-defection law, pros and cons of post-poll alliances and discretionary powers of the governor has brought to light the various challenges facing Indian democracy.
- Journalists are increasingly under attack, with murders taking place in several areas.
- As a result of limited scope for fair reportage, the Indian media is classified as only “partially free”. This is a fact which is also supported by the “Freedom in the World Report, 2018”.
- Unlike pre-poll alliances, where the voters are aware of whom they are voting for, post-poll alliances present a new set of challenges.
- Anti-Defection law does not seem to be doing much to stop MLAs from defecting.
- Dynastic politics, lack of strong opposition at the center and Religion based politics. Ex: Government’s decision to classify Lingayats as a religious minority in Karnataka.
- The delay in disposal of cases by the courts is a concern to people.
- Misuse of data on social media sites, privacy of users and the power of social media to influence important political outcomes.
- Universal literacye. education for all, poverty alleviation, elimination of gender discrimination, removal of regional imbalances, administrative and judicial reforms and sustained economic, social and environmental development.
- A set of rules which would curb the menace of defection as well as the misuse of powers of the governor’s office is required.
- A defecting MLA must be disqualified from contesting or becoming a minister for at least six years.
- A distinction needs to be drawn whether a member is leaving a party for ideological differences or for money and power.
- In case of hung assembly, whether the governor must call the single largest party first, or a post-poll alliance, the process must be uniform across the country.
- The governors’ discretionary powers must be abolished and replaced with clear guidelines based on the Sarkaria Commission.
- The Judiciary must attend to urgent cases on an urgent basis; drop the practice of sealed envelopes except in the rarest cases; be independent and be seen as independent in appointments; and set a strong benchmark on issues related to rights in particular.
- Stricter data protection laws are required to ensure that political parties do not indulge in practices that involve undue influencing of voting behaviour.
- Voter education, electoral reforms and periodical highlighting of the performance (or non-performance) of elected representatives should be high priority.
- People must exercise their right to vote, participate in democracy and contribute towards the development of the country.
- The youth must be aware of the problems that the country is facing and choose the candidate who is most likely to bring about a change
- Democracy cannot survive without both citizens’ participation and politicians’ accountability.
- The promises of democracy can only be realized through collective action in civil society.
- The state must respect the articulation of the politics of voice and not just the politics of the vote.
General Studies – 3
Reference: The Hindu
The idea behind land pooling is to aggregate small land pieces into a large parcel, develop necessary infrastructure such as water supply, sewage system and drainage, make provision for larger social and other infrastructure, including metros and main roads, and return the developed land to owners or developers. likewise, Land leasing is a commercial agreement in which the user or lesse acquires the right to use the land in lieu of certain amount of payment.
Landholdings are too small for mechanization
- The shrinking size of farms is a major factor responsible for low incomes and farmers’ distress.
- The average size of farm holdings declined from 2.3 hectares in 1970-71 to 1.08 hectares in 2015-16.
- The share of small and marginal farmers increased from 70% in 1980-81 to 86% in 2015-16.
- The average size of marginal holdings is only 0.38 hectares (less than one acre) in 2015-16.
- The monthly income of small and marginal farmers from all sources is only around ₹4,000 and ₹5,000 as compared to ₹41,000 for large farmers.
- The viability of marginal and small farmers is a major challenge for Indian agriculture.
Need for the land pooling and leasing in India:
- Fragmented landholdings: The average landholding size in India is 2.8 acres. The miniscule returns farmers get from this small landholding prevents mechanization and investments in agriculture and its profitability.
- Low investment in agriculture: In the fear of losing land and in the absence of long-term tenancy laws the agriculture land lease are limited to one year. The tenant is not sure of regaining tenancy next year. Therefore, there is no incentive for capital investment in agriculture.
- Changes in the occupational structure in rural areas and increasing cases of fallow land: Occupational structure in India has gone significant changes and there has been migration from rural areas to urban areas. This has resulted into the emergence of informal and underground land lease market. This creates a need for regulation.
- Providing benefits to tenants: The presence of informal tenancy puts tenants at the risk of exploitation because of no legal security and high rents. Along with these risks the tenants didn’t get benefits of various government initiatives related to credit, insurance and subsidies like Kisan Credit Card, fertilizer subsidy.
- Problems of land acquisition: With the passage of new land acquisition law in 2013, the process has been more comprehensive and lengthy. The cost of acquisition has also increased. This creates an opportunity and necessity for exploring long term lease as the option for industrialization. This will reduce farmer’s unrest and may solve the associated problems of loss of means of livelihood etc.
land pooling and land leasing need to be supported with:
- Land leasing- Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016 can help in this regard.
- Modernization and digitization of land records so that each and every owner has proper titles of his land. This will also reduce litigation related to the land leasing and land pooling
- Established of independent regulator for the sector to resolve the disputes legalization and operationalization of land leasing and land pooling will bring in people who will take lease at large scales.
- The standardization of lease agreements and dispute resolution mechanisms should be developed. Otherwise, litigations will clog the already burdened courts.
- Modernization of the agriculture marketing so that informed decisions regarding leasing and pooling can be made so that informed lease agreement are concluded with proper knowledge of future market rates.
- Enhancing credit and insurance facilities for agriculture
- Providing improved technical inputs in the form of soil health card, laboratory facilities etc.
- Transformation of agriculture as a business – cum – livelihood activity so that investments are planned based on long term strategies and hedged from market and environmental risks.
- Proper awareness and education among the rural folk about the benefits that land leasing can bring to their household income and life. They must be taught about the benefits of land leasing and land pooling
- Overall land leasing and land pooling will be of great help to Indian agriculture which is reeling under stress because of continuous droughts and neglect by governments.
Farmer’s distress is due to low prices and low productivity. The suggestions, such as limited procurement, measures to improve low productivity, and consolidation of land holdings to gain the benefits of size, can help in reducing agrarian distress. The time has come to bring requisite changes in the relevant laws governing the cooperative sector with a view to encourage farmers in the context of changed techno-economic and business scenario to make the farming viable and vibrant enterprises. We need a long-term policy to tackle the situation.
Reference: Indian Express
The MSME sector in India continues to demonstrate remarkable resilience in the face of trialing global and domestic economic circumstances. The sector has sustained an annual growth rate of over 10% for the past few years. With its agility and dynamism, the sector has shown admirable innovativeness and adaptability to survive economic shocks, even of the gravest nature.
Significance of MSME:
- The significance of MSMEs is attributable to their caliber for employment generation, low capital and technology requirement.
- They are also important for promotion of industrial development in rural areas, use of traditional or inherited skill, use of local resources, mobilization of resources and exportability of products.
- According to the estimates of the Ministry of MSME, Government of India, the sector generates around 100 million jobs through over 46 million units situated throughout the geographical expanse of the country.
- With 38% contribution to the nation’s GDP and 40% and 45% share of the overall exports and manufacturing output, respectively, it is easy to comprehend the salience of the role they play in social and economic restructuring of India.
- Besides the wide range of services provided by the sector, the sector is engaged in the manufacturing of over 6,000 products ranging from traditional to hi-tech items.
Leveraging technology: MSMEs
- Leveraging technology is the only sustainable solution for MSMEs, as it improves all aspects of their business including engagement with stakeholders, customer relations, operations, financial management, marketing, supply chain management, product innovation, skill development, employee engagement and other areas.
- The current business landscape across the globe is being led by digital technologies that are transforming the way systems and processes work.
- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) realized that enterprises are finding themselves at different stages of the digital curve and are being forced to rethink their processes and systems as they adapt to these technological changes.
- In fact, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that unless companies adopt digitization now, they will never be able to gain a competitive advantage.
- Adoption of the digital is critical for them to drive business efficiency.
- MSMEs navigate their way through digital adoption, they face multiple challenges, ranging from limited budgets to a lack of know-how and expertise required in the adoption of digital technologies, security and trust issues.
- They need to become digitally trained rather than outsourcing the digitization work.
- This calls for a high alert shift to the ‘new digital normal’, exacerbating the urgency for MSMEs to have access to skills and solutions that lead to business growth.
- MSMEs need to be better integrated into the digital economy to expand their market access, diversify their customer base and solidify their supply chain.
- The integration of MSMEs into the digital economy can begin with digital and financial education leading to improved business practices and digital acceptance.
- An initiative being led by the CII and supported by Mastercard’s Centre for Inclusive Growth and in partnership with the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises’ National Institute for MSMEs (ni-msme), Digital Saksham embarks on the beginning of a digital adoption movement.
- The goal is to strengthen over three lakh MSMEs through digital adoption, improved business skills and financial inclusion, thus strengthening their competitiveness through digital know-how and acceptance.
- The three important contours of the project will include:
- Driving awareness on the benefits of digital commerce
- Building skills and capacities of MSMEs on various tools to help them in digital commerce, which can enable them to accept digital payments, establish an online presence as well as drive efficiencies in operations
- Accelerating the adoption of these digital tools.
- The Programme will leverage Mastercard’s strengths to create new models of cross-sector collaboration through research and build actionable insights for business and markets; run programmes to enable entrepreneurs and workers to grow, thrive and succeed in the new economy; unlock the power of data to reduce information inequality and engage with the community of leaders to promote and adopt evidence-based solutions.
- Mastercard will also provide financial education curriculums for the CII to build on and share learnings from around the world that will support the implementation approach.
- There is a high demand for digital and cognitive skills, and MSMEs need to react quickly by becoming digitally enabled (Digital Saksham).
- The scope of this project is to expand training to the rural and peri-urban areas of the country by targeting the key supply chains and using a cluster approach to deploy relevant digital know-how to the last-mile entrepreneurs through a combination of in-person and digital channels.
- This touch-tech approach will create more opportunities for skill building among entrepreneurs in rural parts of the country.
- In partnership with the Government of India and to further leverage the related initiatives to maximize reach and impact, the Digital Saksham Programme will work towards driving systemic transformation and help in achieving two of the Centre’s goals:
- Modernize MSMEs to take their overall revenues to 50% of GDP and create 150 million jobs
- Digital India: Enable 45 billion digital transactions by 2020.
Government’s support to the sector:
- Recognizing the potential of this sector for the nation’s development, the Government of India, through its various agencies, has taken many key steps to strengthen the MSME sector and promote innovation and capacity building in this sector.
- Regular dialogue is facilitated between various stakeholders through the constitution of specific task forces and inter-ministerial committees.
- The Micro and Small Enterprises – Cluster Development Programme is being implemented by the government for the holistic and integrated development of these enterprises in clusters through soft interventions, hard interventions and infrastructure upgradation for enhancing their productivity and competitiveness.
- Provisions are also being made to strengthen the framework of virtual clusters with an aim to assist MSME accessibility of the Ministry from the remote location of their operation.
- The Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme also assists in the technological upgradation on MSMEs.
- The National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme is another flagship Programme of the Ministry of MSME which endeavors to equip these enterprises with technology-based tools in the areas of quality upgradation, productivity, design development, energy efficiency and marketing.
- To ensure better flow of credit to SMEs, the Ministry has introduced a Policy Package for Stepping up Credit to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under which it operates schemes like the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme and the Performance and Credit Rating Scheme.
Industry and the Indian economy along with MSMEs would reap the benefits of this upcoming digital infrastructure that will have positive ripple effects on the nation’s GDP and the creation of more jobs.
References: The Hindu
Gas-based economy implies gas as the main commercial energy source in the energy mix of an economy.
The Indian government is intending to move towards a gas-based economy by increasing the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket from the current 6-7% to 15% by 2022. Government had planned a $60-billion investment for creating gas infrastructure in the country till 2024, and that gas’s share in the energy mix is expected to rise to 15% by 2030.
Advantages of Natural Gas for India
- Environmentally clean:
- Natural gas as a fuel source is much “greener” than alternative fossil fuels. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), natural gas produces roughly half as much CO2 as coal and 32% less than oil. Increased gas utilization is also expected to help India meet its intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) commitments under the Paris Agreement
- In addition to emitting lower levels of CO2, natural gas emits far fewer pollutants into the air. For example, burning natural gas produces less than 1% of the amount of Sulphur dioxide compared to coal or oil.
- Economical/ Cost Efficient:
- Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is 40%cheaper than Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), 60% cheaper than gasoline and 45% cheaper than diesel. A 10% replacement of liquid fuel into gas will reduce India’s import bill by nearly $3billion every year.
- Gas is continuously fed into the system so there are no hassles of refilling. Further, it is piped, thus does not require any space to store, hence handling is easy, safe and secure
- Possibility of Energy Independence:
- A gas-based economy would help India be less reliant on crude oil imports by substituting the use of oil products in industrial and residential applications.
- Improved Access:
- Gas utilization would also help improve access to electricity and clean cooking for India’s growing population with unmet energy needs. According IEA, 2017, A total of 244 million Indians do not have access to electricity and 819 million do not have access to clean cooking fuel.
Status of Natural Gas in India
- India has 26 sedimentary basinscovering 3.14 million sq. km of area. About 44 % of India’s total sedimentary basin area is on-land 56% is offshore. Only 22 % of the total area falls under the category “Moderately to well explored”. Exploration efforts have been initiated in 44 % of the area and the balance 34% remains poorly to completely unexplored.
Various Government initiatives:
- India’s quest to increase the share of natural gas in the overall energy mix hinges crucially on two factors:
- Development of pipelines
- Hassle free exploration.
- In this regard, the govt. has taken several measures.
- The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) is a policy indicating the new contractual and fiscal model for the award of hydrocarbon acreages towards exploration and production (E&P).
- The Government has envisaged developing and expanding the National Gas Grid. At present about 16,788 Km natural gas pipeline is operational and about 14,239 Km gas pipelines are being developed.
- The Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga (PMUG) pipeline project currently under will provide connectivity to another flagship project, the North-East Gas Grid.
- The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide free cooking gas connections to poor families is also a roaring success.
- Moreover, India is constantly moving to revive the 1,814-kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) transnational gas pipeline which is in shamble for years.
- The government brought a series of reforms in the Gas sector and as a result investment of more than Rs. 70,000 crores are being made on the East coast very recently.
- Gas production from the East coast will contribute to Atmanirbhar Bharat by meeting the increasing energy needs of the country.
- The domestic gas production has complete marketing and pricing freedom. All discoveries and field development plans approved after 28 Feb 2019 have a complete market and pricing freedom.
- Lack of infrastructure: India has enough storage capacity of the current state of domestic consumption of natural gas. However, to fill the entire energy bucket, we need to increase energy storage.
- Import dependence: Energy consumption in India is growing at 4.2 per cent per annum, which is the fastest among major economies of the world. Presently 52% of our domestic consumption relies on imported LNG. Moreover, the global disruptions in the import supply-chain can wreak havoc as the general hikes in Diesel prices do.
- Safety concerns: The global oil and gas market remains vulnerable to a wide range of risk factors, including natural disasters, major technical accidents, and geopolitical tensions among others.
- Domestic issues and delays: Petroleum including gas falls under the Union List. Pipeline laying has faced land acquisition challenges due to local farmers’ protest and unviable routes causing major project delays.
- Underutilization: GAIL is getting hit over the scarcity of domestic natural gas leading to underutilization of its 11,500 km of the pipeline network. Its network is operating at an average of 47% capacity.
- Less-feasible power alternative: Within the power sector, natural gas has received little traction primarily because the per-unit cost of electricity generated by a gas-fired power plant in India is higher than that from fossil fuels such as coal.
- Ecological concerns: Offshore drilling operations can possibly affect fish, lead to a build-up of heavy water contaminants, disorient whales and sea life that rely on sonar for navigation and exacerbate the risk of oil spills.
- Energy Trilemma: In order to build a strong basis for prosperity and competitiveness, India must balance the three core dimensions of the energy trilemma: affordability and access, energy security and environmental sustainability.
- Realising the Opportunity: At present, when the prices are low for importing natural gas, India should take the advantage and enter into contracts with the countries rich in natural gas resources such as Iran, Turkmenistan and Myanmar to bring gas to India through pipelines.
- More Reforms: More aggressive and dynamic reforms is what is needed in the field.
- To go ahead, need to reform our whole structure (subsidies) to improve the production.
- Putting the producers and buyers in charge: Government should allow the producers and buyers more control of the price. ONGC shall undergo reforms in terms of its marketing and pricing freedom, E-bidding etc.
- Alternative: No doubt natural gas is a cleaner fuel but cannot be called a green fuel, that’s why more inclination should be there towards electricity; more dependence on electricity should be there as compared to natural gas or any other fuel.
- Government as a facilitator: The government should act as a facilitator and improve quality and quantity of the resources available.
- Self-reliance: Infrastructure and facilities should be provided within the country. The import dependence of 55% should be taken on a serious note and should be brought down.
- Subsidy in fertilizers: The government should take action accordingly so that fertiliser subsidy goes directly into farmers account and fertiliser industry doesn’t get subsidised so that they too could have their freedom in marketing and pricing.
- Extend to the entire gas sector: The policy should be extended to the entire gas sector; the government should move away from administrative price mechanism (APM).
It is evident that clean energy transitions are underway – and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as governments do play an important role in the growth of the energy sector in any country. Given the fact that the market in India is still nascent, there is always this concern of how effective these measures can be. With domestic production of gas stagnating and consumption growing at a CAGR of 4.5 per cent, there’s still a long way to go for transforming the economy to a gas-based one.
General Studies – 4
Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.
Legality can be defined as an act, agreement, or contract that is consistent with the law or state of being lawful or unlawful in a given jurisdiction.
Ethical conduct in human society is considered paramount as it is based on critical thinking and reason. Socrates is known as the father of Ethics, who influenced generations of thinkers after him like Plato, Aristotle, etc.
In this regard, there multiple sources of ethical conduct like religion, law, society, individual, knowledge, time and other sources. Here, law is defined as a rule that has been legally made to apply to everyone in a civilization. In a democratic system, a law is phrase that has been passed by a legislature.
Based on society’s beliefs, laws are created and enforced by governments to mediate in our relationships with each other. Laws must be followed by all, including private citizens, groups and companies as well as public figures, organizations and institutions. Laws set out standards, procedures and principles that must be followed. While laws carry with them a punishment for violations, ethics does not.
In ethics everything depends on the person’s conscience and self-worth. For example, driving carefully and within the speed limit because a person not wanting to hurt someone is ethical, but if one drives slowly because he/she sees a police car behind, this suggests fear of breaking the law and being punished for it.
Ethics comes from within a person’s moral sense and desire to preserve his self-respect. It is not as strict as laws. Laws are codifications of certain ethical values meant to help regulate society, and punishments for breaking them can be harsh and sometimes even break ethical standards. For example, take the case of the death penalty. Everyone knows that killing someone is wrong, yet the law punishes people who break the law with death.
Furthermore, laws play role as a punitive tool towards ensuring ethical conduct in humans in a civilized society. Child labor acts in statute books around the world are a case in point where ethical behavior of not employing child labors is ensured through legislations for the same.
At the same time, it is important to remember that following law doesn’t always ensure ethical conduct for humans. An illegal act may be deemed more ethical that is humanity than when following law to the book. For example, the act of whistleblowing to bring out information important for the society can be seen as illegal but many consider it an ethical conduct. The case of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange clearly demonstrates this phenomenon.
Rigid implementation of laws also cannot serve the purpose of ethical conduct or humanity as is evident from the recent Supreme Court judgement with respect to Forest Rights Act for tribals in India. Here, many tribals have been ordered to vacate their traditional dwelling places owing to SC’s interpretation of archaic laws.
In a rules-based society, laws serve the important function of regulating society towards a harmonious existence without which there would be chaos and anarchy, ‘matsyanyaya’ as has been termed in ancient Indian texts.
Thus, it can be seen that laws can ensure ethical conduct provided that the law-making procedure is guided by ethical thinking while also realizing that ethical conduct of an individual has many inspirations where internal human conscience is the most important one driving the ethical behavior of humans.
Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications.
Workplace culture is the environment that you create for your employees. It plays a powerful role in determining their work satisfaction, relationships and progression. It is the mix of your organization’s leadership, values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors and attitudes that contribute to the emotional and relational environment of your workplace. These factors are generally unspoken and unwritten rules that help to form bonds between your colleagues.
Importance of Work culture:
- Attracts and keeps talented staff: When you spend more time per week at work than at home, it’s natural to want to work in an environment you enjoy spending time in. This means that if you want the best staff for your team, you’ll have to invest in creating a strong workplace culture. In a study from the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015, ‘culture and engagement’ was the highest priority on the corporate agenda and companies with the strongest cultures were much more able to attract and keep talent.
- Drives engagement and retention: You can successfully recruit employees but it becomes a cost to your business if they leave. A good workplace culture is proven to keep your employees engaged in their work. It’ll allow your employees to better understand what is expected of them and how they can achieve their professional goals. This will then allow you to keep them on board for longer.
- Creates an environment for healthy development: A good workplace culture provides everyone with the opportunity to initiate change and to grow on a professional and personal aspect. It also promotes openness and encourages your employees to voice their opinions and chase after the values they believe in.
- Creates satisfied employees and increases productivity: A healthy workplace culture will make your employees feel happy to come to work day-in and day-out. A happy work environment increases your employees’ concentration, thus, this leads to increases in their productivity levels.
- Drives financial performance: 92% of leaders from successful companies believe that workplace culture and financial performance are closely interrelated. Workplace culture directly influences the way your employees perform, which subsequently has a direct impact on your business’ financial profit.
Work culture not only determines efficiency but also probity:
- Probity is the act of strict adherence to the highest principles and ideals (integrity, good character, honesty, decency) rather than avoiding corrupt or dishonest conduct. It balances service to the community against the self-interest of individuals
- Good work culture imbibes the habit of punctuality and empathy which helps the officials’/organization’s members to serve their objective/duty in better way.
- Ex: The lackadaisical attitude of officials working in few government institutions hinders overall growth and image in eyes of public.
- Healthy work culture promotes competition and spirit of team in the organization which helps individuals to grow, which in turn will help the organization in the long run. It helps people work without fear.
- Work culture which respects diversity attracts better talent.
- Suppose work culture is bad showing partiality, favoritism, nepotism etc. as it was in earlier days for tender allocations at times, partiality in writing of ACRs sometimes- demotivates talented and hard-working people.
- Work culture where team works in cooperation helps people learn from each other’s errors and success. Thereby bringing the best out of the team. Horizontal and vertical communication should be welcomed.
Measures to ensure a good work place culture:
- Clear expectations for behavior among all members of an organization is the first step towards a more ethical organizational culture.
- Organizational leaders must be mindful of their actions as others in the organization will likely follow their lead when it comes to ethical behavior and attitudes.
- Offering opportunities for recognition, awards, and social reinforcements for desirable ethical behaviors can go a long way to promote the types of ethical culture desired in any organization.
- Workshops, easy to use reference materials, ongoing and readily available consultation from peers or mentors are just some of the many ways’ institutions can assist in training students and staff to best use the tools that are available to them to participate in better and more thoughtful ethical decision making.
- Ethical ambiguities can be reduced by creating and disseminating an organizational code of ethics. It should state the organization’s primary values and the ethical rules that employees are expected to follow.
- Reinforcement for behavior that is desired and corrective feedback for behavior that is not desired is critical to help create and sustain a culture of ethical behavior and consideration. This corrective feedback needs to be conducted in the spirit of collaboration and education rather than in terms of punishment or chastisement.
- Provide protective mechanisms: The organization needs to provide formal mechanisms so that employees can discuss ethical dilemmas and report unethical behavior without fear of reprimand. This might include creation of ethical counsellors, ombudsmen, or ethical officers
Work culture is an intangible ecosystem that makes some places great to work and other places toxic. This is why work culture is so important in bringing out the best from your employees even in adverse circumstances. Negativity not only kills creativity and will to perform but also does not allow an employee to develop a sense of affection and ownership with the organization. Human beings are fundamentally simple and a positive work environment impacts the way they think, act and reflect.