[Ethics] E3/P2: Foundation Values-Empathy & Compassion towards the Weak + Case studies & Descriptive Questions

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  1. E3/P2: Video Lecture by Kavan Limbasiya (Rank-198/UPSC-14)
  2. Value#4: Empathy
    1. Why do we need empathy?
    2. Empathy in Western Society?
    3. Lack of empathy leads to
    4. Can we cultivate empathy?
    5. Value#5: Compassion towards weaker section
  3. How to inculcate Compassion?
    1. Case study #1: Marry the rapist for Child’s future?
    2. Case Study #2: “right” aptitude for NGO-giri?
    3. Descriptive Questions

E3/P2: Video Lecture by Kavan Limbasiya (Rank-198/UPSC-14)

In the first part (E3/P1), we looked at aptitude, integrity and objectivity. Now moving to other important foundational values viz. Empathy and Compassion
Empathy & Compassion towards weak for UPSC mains gs4

Youtube Video Link:https://youtu.be/1QkpnIBsIUM

Value#4: Empathy

  • Man is a rational animal“, said Aristotle.
  • Then man must arrive at decision after evaluating all pros and cons. In Western society this is evident.
  • But according to some, man is a social animal, an emotional animal.
  • He is “Homoe empathicus”. He takes decisions with emotions.
  • Empathy is all about  emotions:
What is the difference?
Sympathy Your belief and Cognitive aspects. If you’re rich and you’ve sympathy towards the poor. Then you’d know factually- what is meant by poverty?
Empathy
  • Has both cognitive and emotional aspects.
  • You succeed in UPSC after 3-4 attempts, then next time you meet a fresher who has failed in prelims- You feel  the emotion of other person -that’s empathy.
  • Empathy is stronger attitude than sympathy, hence it’s better indicator of behavior.
  • Empathy is the one of the many bases of pro-social behavior and altruism. (if I give money in charity, to save taxes, then tax-planning is my base for altruism.)
Altruism
  • Doing good things selflessly, for the well-being of others. It is about  ‘action’.
  • You recovered from cancer, and feel pain for other cancer patients, that is empathy.
  • Subsequently, if you build a charitable cancer-hospital, that is altruism.
Compassion
  • It’s a form of sympathy. But stronger than empathy.
  • Strength wise: sympathy << empathy << compassion.
  • Hence compassion is even better predictor of behavior.
  • Compassion is what made Mother Teresa leave her motherland and serve selflessly in in Kolkata.
  • Empathy means understanding other person’s pain / feeling. It can be for everyone higher or lower than you. But compassion is targeted towards weaker beings.
  • E.g. you’ve faced criticism from colleagues despite working with earnest intension. Then you’d have empathy (not compassion) for Rajanbhai, when his moves are criticized by columnists.

Why do we need empathy?

  • Indian civil services (ICS) attracted the most intelligent and talented among the British youth, yet they failed to look after the interest of Indians,  Why?
  • They were intelligent but lacked ’empathy.’ and at the same time, the British civil service manual / code of conduct lacked any directives in that regard.
  • For ICS officers, public services meant ensuring the administrative, economic and strategic interest of the empire.
  • Our bureaucrats have inherited this colonial legacy- hence we must make them emphasize with the plight of a common man.
  • Long cut: you teach poverty theory and allied topics to an officer and then expect him to help the poor.
  • Short cut: you make him empathize with a poor. He’ll automatically try to help the poor,  because empathy will trigger his altruistic behavior.
  • Empathy helps us understand others’ emotion, therefore empathy required to increase your emotional intelligence.

Empathy in Western Society?

  • Nolan committee doesn’t  list ’empathy’ in its recommendations. Because Western societies believe man is a rational animal.
  • Objectivity and empathy are at times in contradiction. E.g. In doctor will have to give you injection (short term pain),  to cure your disease (long term peace.) But, if a doctor is too empathetic, his hands will shake while giving injection.
  • Empathy is targeted towards individual, while objectivity looks @masses. So if judge gives more weightage to empathy over “objectivity”, he may give lenient punishment to a criminal. In long run it’ll hurt the masses.
  • Syrian refugees have been flooding Turkey and EU since many months, but only after  a child (Aylan Kurdi) is drowned and images appear in main-stream media, all EU nations have became attentive. Because empathy of people towards an “individual child.”
  • Killing of thousand people is worst than killing one. But if you’re empathetic to that “one”,  you may loose sight of the objectivity. Therefore, in western society / Nolan committee have sidelined “empathy”.

Lack of empathy leads to

  1. Bullying, ragging, stalking.
  2. Intolerance, lack of compassion towards animals, environment, poor, minorities, women and children
  3. With rise of Social media and internet, empathy levels have declined. Because you are not physically seeing the other person, so you can’t feel his body language, gestures, tone of voice etc.
  4. It’s difficult to abuse a person in real life- because its awkward. But very easy on anonymous online groups and forums.
  5. Monika Lewinsky considers herself the first victim of cyber-bulling. See her TED-talk if you’ve time.

Can we cultivate empathy?

  1. Empathetic officers are the need of hour in modern day administration targeted towards inclusive growth.
  2. Art, literature, cinema- they help us inculcate empathy. E.g. Satyajit Ray’s “Pather Panchali” realistically portrays the poverty and rural India.
  3. Common Holiday- Eid, Diwali- people of all religion are given public holidays on these events. It should encourage them to participate in each other’s festivals.
  4. Right to education Act provides 25% reservation to children from economically weaker section in the schools. So rich and poor will interact with each other and cultivate empathy for each other.
  5. Encourage Perspective talking, role playing games,  put yourself in the shoes of other people.

Value#5: Compassion towards weaker section

  1. Base of compassion is empathy.
  2. We’re a divided society- wealthwise, castewise, religionwise.
  3. We believe in law of Karma, so if a person is poor or physically disabled, we believe it is the result of his own karma. Hence compassion required.

How to inculcate Compassion?

  1. Teaching the four noble truths from Buddhism.
  2. Loving-kindness meditation– you’ve to think good things about …..
    1. People you respect and love.
    2. Your beloved persons within family and friend-circle.
    3. People for whom you’ve no love or hatred (neutral people.) e.g. Pan-walla,  Chai-walla.
    4. People you hate.
  3. Above exercise will increase your compassion towards others. Now how to measure it? Ans. Zurich Prosocial Game.
  4. Visit slums, old age home.
  5. IAS probationers are sent to “Bharat Darshan” for similar reason- to understand the diversity of India and grow compassion towards others.

Case study #1: Marry the rapist for Child’s future?

In June 2015, Madras High Court Judge P. Devadass let a convicted rapist out of prison on bail so he could “mediate” with his victim and heal their rift. The Judge observed following

  • victim has become mother of a child, But as on date, she is nobody’s wife. So, she is an unwed mother. Now there is a big question mark looming large before [the victim] as well as her child, who is completely innocent.
  • Therefore, mediation was the best option in this case, noting that he had recommended it on another occasion earlier this year, with the rapist agreeing to marry the victim, a case now heading toward a “happy conclusion.”

Answer following:

  1. Mediation is normally used to resolve marital or commercial disputes. To what extend can it be used in violent crimes?
  2. In the cases where a child is borne out of rape, what should be the primary objective of the judiciary- (A) punishment for the rapist or (B) compassion for the child? And why?

Case Study #2: “right” aptitude for NGO-giri?

You’re running an NGO for the street children. You’ve given a recruitment advertisement in the local newspaper for the post of a “Coordinator” in your NGO. Following people turn up: Who among them will you chose for the job? and why?

Candidate Specialty
Zafar Supari Says he spent all of his childhood working at a highway dhaba, where he mixed up with wrong company of friends and began petty theft, smuggling and substance abuse. He was sent to juvenile home, but an NGO helped him in rehabilitation process, he managed to complete graduation. At present he is working as a chai-walla in a call center but unlike Dev Patel, he couldn’t reach Kaun Banegaa Crorepati  therefore as Career backup Plan-B, he wants to join NGO to help others.
Kashi Trivedi Says he has been associated with local political unit for a decade. He is fedup with politics but wants to continue social service. He cites his experience in “how to deal with petty-bureaucrats and similar political elements” as his plus point. He also claims to have ‘contacts’ in the state secretariat to get your NGO more funding for projects for street-children.
Samar Singh Retired IPS officer. Says he knows the drug abuse, child-trafficking, forced-begging, prostitution and associated network. He can help rescuing street-kids trapped in such things and rehabilitate them. He too promises to have ‘contacts’ in state secretariat go get more funds released for your NGO.
Shanaya Singhania Recently completed MBA from a premiere institution. Her father is a multi-millionaire hotel-tycoon, but she’s compassionate towards the plight of the poor since her childhood and wants to do something to help them. She says she can get celebrities for various activities of your NGO, thereby increase your media exposure and donations flow.

Descriptive Questions

  1. “To walk among the kings and not lose the common touch- is a kind attitude required from the civil servants.” Elaborate.
  2. “I call him religious who understands the suffering of others- Gandhi”. Discuss.
  3. Differentiate between following terms: compassion, empathy, sympathy, and discuss their importance in public services.
  4. Discuss the importance of cinema in inculcating values of empathy and compassion. Suggest three movies that should be included in the syllabus of school, college and civil service training syllabus respectively.
  5. Examine the factors behind nuisance of ragging in India colleges. What should be done to change the attitude of seniors towards juniors?
  6. Do you agree with following statements? Yes / No and WHY?
    1. In the present day materialistic society with cut-throat competition, it is impractical for an individual to develop empathy towards others. It is the responsibility of the state to look after the weak and the desolate.
    2. There is no correlation between suffering, empathy and good behavior. India has many politicians who started life in abject-poverty, and amassed wealth by robbing the poor-strata during their political career.
    3. Empathy is a virtue, but it should not be a guiding judicial principle.

In the next part (E3/P3) we’ll look at the last set of foundation values for civil service viz. neutrality and non-partisanship.
Visit Mrunal.org/Ethics for more study material on Ethics.

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40 Comments on “[Ethics] E3/P2: Foundation Values-Empathy & Compassion towards the Weak + Case studies & Descriptive Questions”

  1. zafar supari: becz he had been a street child so he has empathy on this base of empathy he has now compassion to serve children .where’s others have mere sympathy or show off. plz comment if any-

  2. In the #case 2 I think Samar Singh will b apt choice ,being ex IPS officer he tackle all the illegalities properly

  3. Just excellent

  4. in the second case study to serve the NGO should required empathy and compassion.Here compassion is greater then the empathy.In the given four cases Mr Jafer Says he spent all of his childhood working at a highway dhaba.So he know the pain of the children they are in the steat he do work with empathy and compassion.so he is the prifarable candidate.

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