(GS Paper 4) Empathy, Tolerance and Compassion towards the weaker sections (GS Paper 4)

Empathy, Tolerance and Compassion towards the weaker sections

What is Tolerance?

  • Tolerance can be defined as a fair and objective attitude towards those whose lifestyle differs from yours.
  • Take a moment to think about your lifestyle: your behaviors, actions, thoughts, and environment. Now think about someone else’s. Chances are there are some aspects of other people’s lives which annoy you. Many people are surrounded by others who appear to be ‘incompetent’ and ‘annoying’. Understanding tolerance can help shift our attitudes toward others, leading us toward a more productive and happy life.
  • Tolerance refers to the skills we need to live together peacefully. In times of peace, people have a chance to prosper socially, economically and emotionally. Tolerance creates a society in which people can feel valued and respected, and in which there is room for every person, each with their own ideas, thoughts and dreams.
  • This is why we believe tolerance is important: because it is an essential aspect of a healthy, livable society. In fact, it is the only way in which a country as diverse as India (politically, religiously, economically) can function and use each and every difference to make its people thrive rather than suffer.
  • In this globalisation, where people of different backgrounds, cultures and religions are living together, and where the world has become multicultural and full of diversity, establishing tolerance and harmony has become very crucial and important, and fostering mutual love and affection has become vital.
  • Without tolerance and harmony the lasting peace of societies cannot be maintained, and loyalty for each other cannot be established.
  • Tolerance does not mean that only one person or party shows tolerance and the others do not. When some people disagree on a certain issue they must advocate and express their opinion in a respectful manner, and hateful and provocative words should not be used. Tolerance must be shown from both sides on issues, in order for it to be effective.

What is difference between Sympathy, Empathy and Compassion? Which of these three qualities is most essential for a public servant and why? 

  • Sympathy  refers  to  acknowledging  another  person’s  emotional   hardships  and  providing  comfort  and  assurance.  Sympathy is the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else’s trouble, grief, misfortune, etc.
  • Empathy  refers  refers  to  understanding  what  others  are  feeling. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s 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. Compassion is the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help.
  • Thus,  the  emphasis  here  is  on  action  and  wanting  to  help.  In,  other  word  while  Sympathy  focuses  on  awareness,  empathy  focuses  on  experience  and  Compassion
    focuses on action.
  • For  example, consider the  issue  of  child  labour.  On  seeing  a  child  waiter  in  a  restaurant  if  a  person is  just  feeling  sad,  then  he  is  sympathetic. But  if  he  also  connects  himself  or own  children  with  that  child  or memorises any of his  live  experience,  then  he  is empathetic. But  when someone unleashes  himself  from  only  being a spectator and make some arrangements  according to his capacity  for  the  good  (like  informing  NGOs, arranging education, counselling his parents etc) , then he has compassion.
  • A  public  servant  must possess all the  three qualities depending on situation. Public  servants are meant to serve and this requires developing a humanistic outlook and to  go  out-of-the  way. These  qualities  [Sympathy,  Empathy  and  Compassion]  ensure  that the  public servants act sensitively and interpret the rules so as to advance public  interest. This is all the more important in a country like India where most the citizens  are  not  aware  of  their  rights  and obligations owing  to  their  socio -economic  conditions  rather  than  out  of  ignorance.  In  their absence,  the  administration  will become mechanistic, rigid and ineffective.

Why having tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections is important for a civil servant?

  • Tolerance and compassion make a civil servant to lead with not only head but also heart. They are the fundamental components of character and positive relationship which will be helpful to deliver the services and requirements fulfilling the needs of weaker sections.
  • For example, suppose a grievance redressal meeting was held exclusively for the differently abled in a Collectorate. Despite being held only for the differently able, the meeting was convened at the first floor of the Collectorate which had no ramp and was not disabled-friendly in any manner. It led to agitation of the petitioners who started protesting immediately at the venue.
  • It is clear from the above example that empathy and in-depth understanding for the weaker sections be it differently able or any senior citizen is mandatory for a civil servant at every stage. Deprivation of that essential quality leads to collapse in public administration and efficient service delivery.
  • A civil servant takes an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India at the time of joining service; if he does his job in the spirit of this oath he is bound to work for the rights and advancement of the weaker sections of society.

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