[Model Answer QP2022 GS4 Ethics]Apart from intellectual competency and moral qualities, empathy and compassion are some of the other vital attributes that facilitate the civil servants to be more competent in tackling the crucial issues or taking critical decisions. Explain with suitable illustrations.


Making decisions guided by sympathy means you share the same needs as others. In other words, a decision will have the same impact on you as it will on others. Making decisions guided by empathy means you understand the needs of others, even without sharing them. Applying empathy to decision making means you recognize and have considered how the decision will impact others.
Empathy and Compassion are some of the other vital attributes that facilitate the civil servants to be more competent in tackling the crucial issues or taking critical decisions. The following are 5 steps to decision making taking Empathy and Compassion as vital parameters. 
1. Pinpoint the issue: Clearly identify the decision you need to make by thinking through what the problem is, what it looks like now, and what you want it to look like later. Ask yourself: Who is this problem negatively impacting? 
2. Collect information:  As you research the issue, use any hard data you have and your own observations. Ask others involved: How does this issue affect you and your job?
3. Identify possible solutions: Most decisions are more than a this-or-that choice. Work toward finding all plausible solutions. Ask yourself and others: What will the positive and negative impacts of each choice be?
4. Evaluate your options: Every possible solution will have pros and cons for your business and for the people involved. Recognize that some people will be harder hit by your decision than others. Ask yourself: Are there ways to minimize any negative impact my choice will have?
5. Decide! Sometimes, completing steps one through four in the process will make your decision easy to make. Other times, you may find that a combination of options will be the best solution. And there will also be times when your decision is made even more difficult because of what you discovered throughout the process. Whatever your decision is, ask yourself: How will the implementation of this decision change the needs and expectations of the people involved?

Civil Servants- more competent with tackling critical issues: 

1. Empathy and Morality: Many people believe that our ability to empathize is the basis for morality because it causes us to consider our actions from another’s perspective. “Treat others as you would like to be treated” is the basic morality lesson repeated thousands of times to children all over the world.
2. Empathy and Biases: While empathy may not be required to motivate us to save a drowning child, it can still help us consider the differing experiences or suffering of another person thus motivating us to consider things from their perspective or thus act to relieve their suffering. [Empathy is like a spotlight directing attention and aid to where it’s needed.]
3. Empathy and Reason: We are emotional creatures, then, but we are also rational beings, with the capacity for rational decision-making. We can override, deflect, and overrule our passions, and we often should do so. It’s not hard to see this for feelings like anger and hate—it’s clear that these can lead us astray, that we do better when they don’t rule us and when we are capable of circumventing them.
1. An IAS officer can empathize with persons who lost their land due to developmental projects by framing better policies such as better compensation, rehabilitation, education and health facilities etc.
2. Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to anyone who was in doubt if an action was good or not, was to put oneself in the situation of the poorest of the poor in the country and see how a particular policy and programme will impact him or her. [Gandhiji’s Talisman]
3. IPS officer Atul V Kulkarni and his team started conducting grievance redressal meetings for distressed citizens especially for women under the initiative of Bharosa Cells and “Nirbhaya Pathak” control vans for patrolling streets and housing societies. His idea behind these initiatives was to overcome the fear people have while going to police stations and most importantly his empathetic behaviour towards the vulnerable sections of society, particularly women which he had seen during his college life.

“The biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit. We are in great need of people being able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.”           — Barack Obama

Extra Reading: (Making Compassionate Decisions: The Role of Empathy in Decision Making)

Sympathy refers to acknowledging another person’s emotional hardships and providing comfort and assurance.

Empathy refers to understanding what others are feeling. This may be because we ourselves have felt so or we can put ourselves in their shoes.

Compassion refers to a step further, where a person not only feels empathy but also a desire to help alleviate the suffering of the other person. Thus, the emphasis here is on action and wanting to help.

In other words while Sympathy focuses on awareness, empathy focuses on experience and Compassion focuses on action.


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