Politics and Ethics


The author is  Priya Gupta,Student VI th SEM B.A.L.L.B (Hons.) School of Legal Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, Regional Campus, Jalandhar. The article is subject to copyright.

Those within are always blamed ;

And those outside are in habit of blaming,

None want to change the perception and bring the revolution”


What are ethics? What are human values? What is Politics ? Are Politicians devoid of these values and ethics? These are among the most dicey and most interesting questions to answer.

To a layman it may appear “Politics is the art of ruling and ethics is the science of good and bad and absence of human values and ethics from politics can usher into a reign of lawlessness, corruption and all around degradation. And if we consider their perceptions they  argue  “ One is facing a murder charge, another has been arrested for abduction, while a third is fighting a robbery case.”

So to them Ethics and Politics don't seem to be going together. Politicians are generally viewed as the least trustworthy professionals. The “great” politicians of our nation has taken Democracy and used it to sell empty promises, weave false hopes, sow broken dreams and reap the harvest and then sell it all, to fill their own pockets.”

However, true they may be. But the unseen facts need to be explored too and they can’t be put aside and all the fingers of a hand are not the same.

There may be good politicians too who tend to preserve and maintain positive morality in politics. Under democracy, one party always devotes its energies trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule- and both commonly succeed and are right. On the whole, the political scenario is indulged in corruption and bad practices of all sorts. But we can’t neglect the individual efforts who try to retain the dignity of politics. The only thing is that, the corrupted politicians overshadow these worthy politicians. The honest ones are triggered to a lower rank. Moreover, the relative nature of ethics should also be taken into consideration, before blaming a politician to a bad one.


There is no single definition of Ethics but it concerns itself with the study of what is right and what is wrong. But who will determine what is right and wrong. What may be wrong for one it may be right for other for instance demand for Telagana is right according to those who advocate it but wrong as far as unity of India is concerned as a result of this difference of opinion. Thus it is a standard of right behavior based on the personal judgments.

Political ethics are a set of codes of behavior pertaining to politicalactivities. Politics can involve a wide variety of ethical issues, ranging from accepting campaign financing to balancing the conflicting needs of a constituency. Politicians can struggle with ethical dilemmas every day as they struggle to run a campaign or a legislative office fairly and with the best interests of the public in mind. ethics provides a framework for evaluating choices and making a decision based on fairness and reasonable behavior, as well as previous precedents.[4]

So, ethics itself is a controversial term and different according to perception of different people. Ethics further defines morality and is a set of standards by which acts are determined to be moral or immoral. Most professions have ethical standards that delineate acceptable behavior within the profession. These standards may or may not be subject to civil law, but they are agreed upon by members of that profession to define correct behavior within that profession."[5]


Values are the qualities of one’s Consciousness. Truth, Right conduct, love, peace, non-violence are the basic human values.


On hearing the word politics, what usually springs to mind are images of government, politicians and their policies or more negatively the idea of corruption and dirty tricks. The actual definition seems to have been obscured and almost lost by such representations and clichés that tend not to pinpoint the true essence, which defines this thing, called politics. In order to make an attempt at a definition of politics a systematic historical overview is required. The word politics comes from the Greek word "polis", meaning the state or community as a whole. The concept of the "polis" was an ideal state and came from the writings of great political thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle. In his novel "The Republic", Plato describes the ideal state and the means to achieve it. Hence, the word politics originally has connotations in the ways in which to create the ideal society. Politics implies measures which could and should, in the views of their devisor, be implemented in the hope to create a better society, than that which is already present. The very fact that Plato and Aristotle saw imperfections in the societies in which they lived, prompted them to write their political philosophies. These philosophies provided the first written recognition of politics. In his writings his "The Politics", Aristotle states that "Man is by nature a political animal"(The Politics, 1) in another words, it lies deep within the instinct of man. It is almost primal. Due to his nature man should consider and realize his role within the "polis".

The term “POLITICS” has different interpretations and has been varied defined from Plato to Easton. Stanley Hoffman remarks,” how could one agree once and for all upon the definition of a field whose scope is in constant flux, indeed a field whose fluctuation is one of its principal characteristics?” The modern viewpoint of politics relates to the ‘Power’ concept

Basically, Politics  is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs. [9]Mahatma Gandhi recommended that politics should be a branch of ethics. [10]

It is wrong to suggest all politicians are devoid of human values and ethics. Further the term ethics is not an objective term, it differs with each person own perception. As in every place, group there are good and bad people so are there in politics . So, the system is itself not lacking these heavy and significant things but it is some of the people who make the system.


In 15th Lok Sabha Elections out 543 there were 158 newly elected MPs with criminal cases pending against them. Out of these, there were 74 MPs having serious charges against them.[11]

It was estimated in 2004, out of five only one MPs had a criminal record, including some with charges of heinous crimes such as murder, rape, dacoity and kidnapping.[12]

It has become a taboo of society that they only see the negativity of the circumstance. All media sources revealed about the 158 politicians with criminal charges but even looked on 385 MP’s with no such charge. Even in relation to these 158,we would specifically want to highlight they are not proved in the court of law and hence even those well be presumed innocent unless proved. We don’t opine that politics is a very clean we just want to hold that all are not same.


Politics is system run by the people serving the role of Politicians. As it is the problem of individual. So, solution also deals with individual nurturing-

Education should instill Character of Individuals-There are two aspects to education: a. imparting Knowledge. b. Instilling character.

It is an age old saying that "If character is lost, everything is lost". Nobody says "if knowledge is lost, everything is lost". Today, education has become synonymous with gaining more and more knowledge, be it theoretical or practical. What is happening is that the character side of education is facing severe neglect. For character, the sources of learning for a child are parents and teachers. A parent/teacher of a great character can produce students of great character, even against the so-called peer pressure, because in those cases, peer pressure reduces due to the overwhelming influence of the teacher/parent.[13]

2.Active participation of all- We make a big mess of our lives by not actively participating in the political affairs of our country. We often give opportunity to people who hoodwink us betray and befool us by keeping us away from active arena of politics[14]

3.Political awakening of the people will be a key to their economic prosperity and general well being-India’s problems are complex. And unfortunately these are compounded by vote-bank politics. We need leaders who are satya-darshi (truthful), sam-darshi(equanimous), priya-darshi(pleasant), paar-darshi(transparent) and door-darshi (visionary). So, before we elect our leaders, we should examine their qualifications. Further our votes are an important tool to bring about a change in the system; they give us an opportunity to raise our voice against injustice.[15] We need leadership with a mission and a vision, leadership with a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment. We must choose leaders who have a long-term vision and short-term plans to achieve it. They should have great personal integrity, and place the country before themselves.

4.Not see but to act -Sometimes it's easy to see when things go wrong in government: Elected officials take bribes; candidates lie about their opponents; city officials make important public decisions in secret meetings. Other times, the right thing is not so obvious: Should a councilmember represent the wishes of the majority, even when he or she thinks the majority is wrong? Is it acceptable for a governor to appoint a family member to his or her cabinet if the appointee is the best person for the job? Collective will of masses must be there and any representative misusing the office should be removed.

5.Regular Trials to convert politics to a neat game -When we reach to cleaning of Politics .Only a single solution given by Dr.Bimal Jalan can solve a lot of like criminalization, overuse of power, corruption. If  it,  is implemented.

“He  suggested  since it is difficult to determine who is a criminal and who is not and many a times the cases filed against the people fighting elections could be politically motivated, it is difficult to bar anyone from fighting elections. So, a rule should be made that all the cases against the elected representatives be heard on a daily basis and the final judgment should be delivered within a period of three months. And till the time the courts clear them of the charges, they should not be given oath and denied the privileges accorded to an elected member. This, Dr Jalan argued, will prove to be a great disincentive to the criminal elements because if they have indeed committed heinous crimes, they will be wary of the cases against them being heard on a daily basis and the verdict being delivered within a span of three months.[17]

6.Entertainment industry-  It must show a good face of politicians b’cz people get influenced by what they saw there and this make public opinion.

7.Insight view- Whenever any rumor is heard ,everyone must not go on elaborating it but find a decisive solution to it.

The current Problem is not so big as we thing it is(though it is denied ,it badly affected masses 3G scam is latest instance), its solution just require a positive attitude from masses.


No system or society is perfect, never can be. Every nation is a developing nation, in a true sense. The problems are evident, and they shall be worked upon with time. But to understand and realize that these 'shameless good people', the politicians, are not the only cause

The politicians, most of them, are excellent leaders and often tend to work towards the development of the society. These public leaders however, are also the true reason of the innumerable problems that we face today. And although no one doubts their commitment towards their roles in our society, no one trusts it either. Well, not all the politicians are corrupt, which is the sole notion that most people carry.

Most people, nevertheless, also sincerely fail to realize the immense responsibilities and stress that our putatively cunning politicians carry. While, most people yell and scream about their discomforts in the society, only a few realize the good deeds done by our politicians. The media, also, never praises the works of leaders with the same vigor, with which they highlight every pothole in our system.

The politicians also never bother to clarify the core reasons for their failures, until the issue is hyped by the people and later over-hyped by the media. Such situations often boost a common man's notion, that our leaders are good for nothing. The political games and plots are certainly dirty and undoubtedly exist. And although, it is true that politicians are corrupt, it is very harsh and uncivil to mention all of them in this category. At last but not least, we would like to say


Note-: Others Change when you yourself are determined to change…….

[1]Ethics and Politics /Joseph Rotblat “available at  http://www.pugwash.org/uk/documents/EthicsandPolitics.pdf  “  

[2]Various teachers through history have attempted to explain what ethics is and how ethics should work.    Plato had his “knowledge guarantees moral action” theory, where Aristotle had his “moral virtues have to do with feelings and action.”  Thus, “contemplation” is the greatest of virtues since it is god-like.  It is what the unmoved mover does all day long – contemplate himself.  Unlike Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics were essentially pantheistic.  But they had no revelation by which to teach them the values of ethics and as a result looked to the family and individuals as a result.  Augustine based his ethics on the Bible and on the character of “love.”  Since man is born in sin he cannot love and needs God to first change him in order for him to love.  God makes men, through His efficacious Spirit, able to love.  This is the highest form of morality, both in respect to god and to men.  Thomas Aquinas tried to empirically discern actions by making differences between human beings and inanimate objects that are morally devoid.  Choice to the law of God determines the virtue of any action.  Ethics then concerns itself with the law of God.  The eternal law of God rules the whole universe.  As it is inscribed on human nature, it becomes legitimate tendencies of our nature or natural law.  The first law of nature is self-preservation.  The second law of nature is reproduction.  The third law causes men to live rationally.  Thomas Hobbs aimed at making ethics scientific, but failed miserably since science cannot insert value into language by observational facts.  Bishop Joseph Butler tried to tie ethics to the consciences, but this became situational ethics.  Jeremy Bentham attempted to make ethics a part of utilitarianism – the distinguishing of what makes pain and pleasure for an individual.  The philosophical basis in psychological hedonism is this, “nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.  It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as determine what we should do.”  Henry Sidgwick tried to give man the “view of the universe” in order to make a comprehensive statement about ethics in each situation.  However, no man has the ability to know the whole universe.  Immanuel Kant constructed a non-hedonistic and non-teleological system where moral qualities where entirely independent of actual consequences.  This would mean that being a miser, a hero, or a suicide victim was morally equal.  John Dewey tried to fabricate instrumentalism, a scientific ethic, which basically created a scientific philosophy that had no morals at all.  Government, instead of conscience, should control men; even their very thoughts.  He concluded that there are no fixed norms for human action.  Scientific ideas and observations give meaning to situations where observations take place.  This means, for Dewey, that murder is not bad.  It could be good.  Christianity, in contrast to most of those cited above, follows the law of God and has a basis for ethics in the Law and in its implications since it is divinely sanctioned.  Christian morality depends upon Christian revelation.  Christian revelation is set upon the immutable sovereign God of the universe who imposes laws on men.  This God sets the basis for truth, and every formal fallacy of logic seen in the attempts at ethics through the centuries is completely satisfied.  Morals are objective and they come from the immutable Sovereign God of the universe.

[3]“Summary of Gordon Clark's Book"Essays on Ethics and Politics"/ Dr. C. Matthew McMahon/”available at http://www.apuritansmind.com/GordonClark/McMahonSummaryEssaysEthicsPolitics.htm”

[4] Parul

[5]Personal Morality and Ethics in Politics/” available at http://www.academon.com/Research-Paper-Personal-Morality-and-Ethics-in-Politics/66216/

[7] What is Ethics? /Developed by Manuel Velasquez, Claire Andre, Thomas Shanks, S.J., and Michael J. Meyer/ ‘available at  http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/whatisethics.html /” 

[8] Id

[9]Politics/”available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics” 



[12]Criminalization of Politics-Can it be stopped/ ‘Available at  http://www.articlesbase.com/politics-articles/criminalisation-of-politics-can-it-be-stopped-1035644.html’

[14]Politics is a dirty game! /” available at  http://www.merinews.com/article/politics-is-a-dirty- game/149738.shtml

[15]Good politicians do exist“ available at  http://india.targetgenx.com/2009/04/05/good-politicians-do-exist/

[16]Introduction to Government Ethics by Judy Nadler / Miriam Schulman/ “ available at http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/


[18]”Politicians - Shameless But Good/ CD Mohatta  “available at http://ezinearticles.com/?Politicians---Shameless-But-Good&id=5901396


Priya Gupta 
on 11 January 2012
Published in Students
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