[Part 1] Human Values


Values are the principles and fundamental convictions which act as broad guidelines to human behaviour; and the standards through which any human action is judged. Values are an indispensable part of the human society, as anything that we see and find around us, is viewed with reference to some value principle. Throughout our life, we learn from our experiences. Our behaviour change according to the situation. Thus, throughout our life we keep adjusting and adapting to different values.

In this sense, values give meaning to human life, while guiding our behaviour. Our actions are moulded by our decisions, which are guided by our attitude and beliefs. Since values play a formative role in building our beliefs and attitude, they play a central role in guiding our actions and responses.

Values are a constituent part of our self. These values reflect, to the outer world, through our actions. Values are an important mechanism that distinguish between the good and the bad. These are necessarily the moral principles guiding and evaluating our behaviour and actions.

Further, human values are not necessarily intuitive, but are absorbed from the human environment. That is why, throughout our life, we keep learning about different values. Thus, values undergo a dynamic process of alteration and modification.

However, there are also some universal humane values that guide the human nature. These values flow from our higher self, and are a manifestation of our true potential. The degree to which these universal values manifest themselves is directly proportional to the extent of human consciousness.

It is important to remember that the value system in different social environment can differ. However, such values are foundationally linked to certain universal values, which undergo different cultures and civilizations. These values are meant for the betterment of the entire humanity. Any deviation, in the universal values are only due to the existing circumstances and needs. However, such changes are not permanent, but undergo a dynamic process of adaptation.

Even the so-called ‘irrational practices’ can be explained with this criteria. For instance, practice of marrying upto 4 women, among Muslims was recognized and accepted, in the wake of falling population due to wars. Thus, the different cultures and civilization represent the different shades of the universal value system.

Practices that are regarded as universal values are- non-violence, gratitude, humbleness, forgiveness, integrity, honesty, patience etc. These values, often become a guiding framework to evaluate human actions and behaviour. As opposed to these values, the generally recognized vices are- anger, greed, envy, arrogance, vanity etc. Such vices lead to destruction and conflicts.

Our outer behaviour reflects how far we abide by the inner value system. The more our conduct is in consonance with the inner values, the better composed and integrated our personality becomes.

A Good Character is defined differently by different individuals, cultures, societies and beliefs. Our character is comprised of the moral and ethical decisions and our behaviour Our values are determined by our Character, and vice versa.

Character development begins with the early childhood. Through our family, we learn what is right and wrong. In this sense, family becomes the first institution of character building. Our good actions are appreciated, while bad/unethical acts are punished. In this way, a child learns to act ethically. We learn about good values and beliefs by mimicking the behaviour of our elders.

In order for an organization to achieve unity of action amongst diverse employees, it is necessary for them to articulate the core values and seek adherence to those values by the individuals. The core values of the organization are derived from the vision and expectations of strategic stakeholders.

Any organization gets influenced by its environment, while at the same time, influencing it as well. Organizations cannot be the passive recipient of environmental forces. Their existence and success depends upon their ability to transform the environment, in accordance to their needs. One of the challenges for the modern organizations, working in the globalized world, is to maintain their core values, while working in different cultural milieu. There may be situations when an organization’s core values are not compatible with the societal values. In such circumstances, the organization has to uphold its core values, while making the appropriate adaptations.

Values in Administration

Administration is required to have capability of acquiring a sustained growth and to cope up with the continuous changes towards the achievement of political, economic and social objectives, which ultimately leads towards nation building. In this regard, Governance has become a key component of administration. The aim of good public administration is to bring a good governance. It is easy to prepare plans to bring development. But, the main challenge is to implement the changes required.

Today, we find ourselves trapped in a corrupt administrative system. We find corruption, low morale, favoritism, culture of high consumerism, casteism and nepotism. This is a serious impediment to the development of the nation.

Every organization make efforts to improve its skill development, and to develop a positive attitude among government officials. However, there are large gaps in the effectiveness of such reforms. There remains a difference between the principles upheld by the society and the practice. This is a hypocrite tendency in the public organizations. It creates tension and stress in the society.

Though we are able to recognize the unethical aspects present in the society, we are not able to rectify the problems. The only solution to such problems is to have a better, transparent and accountable administration. Such an administration can be arrived at only when the administrative machinery is based on the higher human values. Without values, no administration can be made better. It is only when the positive and noble human values are nurtured within the process of human development, that ethical behaviour becomes natural, spontaneous and instinctive. That is why, inculcating values rather than ethics, has become an important global concern today.

While the ethical codes guide our external actions and behaviour, the values determine the kind of human being we develop into. Any imbalance among the two can create an internal conflict for an individual. However, when the inner self is inculcated with sound values, our actions become voluntary, spontaneous and self-motivated. Such actions become more effective, humane and wholesome. Thus, there is a need to emphasize upon the values of the individual, as the organizational values are, in turn, derived from the former.

Swami Vivekanand believed that it is the stable person, the calm man of good judgement and cool nerve, marked with love and sympathy, who can do the good work, for the society and to himself. By constantly complaining about the world, we can never bring a change in the world.

Human mind is disturbed by countless events and issues. We feel concerned with a number of issues and happenings all around us, but we have no control over them. This wide sphere is called the Area of Concern. On the other hand, there is a small area where we can act and influence. This is called our Area of Influence. If we keep thinking about the area of concern, we are not able to bring any change, or worse, we bring ill-effects on us. This often leaves us dissatisfied. However, if we withdraw our energies from all this and utilize them in our area of influence, we are able to make a positive change. Working in one’s area of influence also facilitates our self-development. Gradually, as we work in the area of influence, it expands and we are able to expand our area of influence.

Thus, what this implies is that, to bring the change in the society, we must start with ourselves, and then move towards the expanding circles. This is what Gandhi meant by- ‘be the change you want to see in others’. One should not reject the world out-rightly, but accept it as it is.

Indian Sources

People of India are greatly influenced by the insights given of the Indian Thought. Indian people are seen as largely normative in character, giving high importance to values. The western thought has not been able to guide the Indian minds much. Our ancient texts and scriptures have given us a large heritage, guiding our moral pursuits in life. In the olden days, many of the great kings put into practice, the human values, given in the Indian culture. Even in the modern times, our leaders- like Gandhi and Tagore, have lived up to the highest of human values, like- purity, holiness, non-violence, truth, courage and chastity. Gandhi effectively proved to the world the effectiveness of the power of spiritual living and adhering to higher moral principles.

Indian culture has contributed to the world, the idea that, material prosperity is not above our spiritual and moral prosperity. This has brought a realization that- unless we bring our own human development, we would not be able to bring development into the material sphere. That is why, serious attention is being given to the revival of the human values.

Indian Public Administration has realized that only a value based management and administration can save us from the adverse consequences of the contemporary anomalies. The process of betterment of the society can only start with the purification of the mind. Due to its high emphasis on the moral awakening, the Indian thought has been put above the western theories, in terms of human values.

The practice of Meditation, provides us an opportunity to withdraw from the exigencies of the world and be in acquaintance with our higher inner self. It gives us an opportunity to introspect our actions and attitude, and bring out the best in us. All this leads to a purification of the mind, which, in a long-run, is the first step towards the transformation of the society.

The ancient Indian texts have made great advances in the field of philosophy and psychology. The two disciplines have developed together in the Indian culture. The deep philosophical insights have been reinforced with living experiences of the different leaders. Such value based competence is more efficient than the professional competence. While the professional competence merely refers to skill development, it does not concern about the value and ethical aspect of the actions. A holistic action is value based. The ideal picture is the combination of high skill and high values, which concludes into a long-term holistic impact on the society as well as the individual.

Also, while skills might become obsolete and outdated, values are universal and ever-important. Traditionally, the role of value imparting has been performed by the institutions of family, schools, peers, and social groups. However, with the rising materialism in the society, the focus on value aspects have been dwindling. Thus, there has been an erosion of the moral values of the society.

The success story of the Japanese is mainly guided by the dual progress in the field of values and physical world.

Part 2 coming soon…

View all articles on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

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