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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS - 3/4

I. Importance of HVPE in education:


Education has two important responsibilities to fulfil in a student’s life:
1. To teach how to “make a living”..
2. To instil how to “live a life”.

Out of these two, it may be said that to learn “how to live a life” plays a more important
role in life than “how to make a living”. That is because if you learn how to “live a life”,
even if you have not succeeded in learning how to “make a living”, you can still be
happy and gather courage to fight on. But if you just know how to “make a living” and
not know how to “live a life”, you may gain a lot of material success but might still be
unhappy and depressed with your life.

We are presently living in a world which is in a mad rush to “make a living”. So, learning
to ‘live a life’ has taken a back seat. When we look around us, there is a dearth in
people for qualities like humility, empathy, effective skills to communicate, emotional
IQ, effective time management, ethics- professional & personal, attitude, understand-
ing the true meaning of success, and many more such skills that are required to un-
derstand a “positive and powerful” way of living.

Ethical standards of today’s youth


It would be a mistake to say that the ethical standards of today’s youth is low, like most
would like to say. It is the environment that they are growing up which has low ethical
standards.
Youth’s age is such that it absorbs anything and everything that is there around it like
a sponge. That is because, their minds are getting exposed and experiencing the prac-
tical world slowly as they grow. So, what ever new that they haven’t experienced ear-
lier or are curious to learn, they will experience and absorb, from the environment they
are living in.
The economically fast moving nations, intense desire to make-a-quick-living, sub-
stances that put them in a high state of tranquility, excitement or false power, the ex-
citements of new relationships, abysmally low standards of leaderships that we see
around, corruption being rampant, are just few examples of the standards of the envi-
ronment in which the youth are living and getting exposed to and experiencing.

It is thus very important that youth learn how to “live a life” along with how to make a
living. And they can learn this only by knowing, understanding and imbibing what Hu-
man Value sand Ethics are all about. And that is why the subject “Human Values and
Professional Ethics” should be an important integral part of every educational curricu-
lum.
II. PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
To understand the importance of human values and ethics in our lives, first step is to
understand what life is.
Life cannot be seen as what we have lived so far.
Life cannot be something we keep expecting and hoping in the future.
LIFE IS WHAT IS ‘NOW’.
‘THE PRESENT’ is what life is.
Not the PAST, not the FUTURE.
One is already gone, the other is unknown.
So, what is available with is just ‘Right Now’.
Living this very moment is what Life is.

The more we spend the ‘NOW’, by brooding over or thinking of the past that has gone
by or by becoming anxious of the future, the lesser we are going to live right ‘Now’.
Most of our energies and precious time will be wasted if we live the ‘Now’ in the already
gone past or unknown future. Both do not exist ‘now’.
And the only way to disallow the past, particularly the unpleasant ones, from bothering
the present Now, is to just ACCEPT it. Once accepted, it will slowly stop bothering our
present and allow us to bring out the best out of us.

Once we understand what Life is and that whatever life we have is just ‘right now’, we
need to contemplate on Who we are.
With a similar introspection, what we can understand is that what we are is also neither
our gone by past nor our unknown future. Most of the time we identify ourselves with
our past experiences or past knowledge or what others have perceived about us or
based on all of these, what we perceive of ourselves.
If we remove all this past of ours, ‘right now’ we can be what we want to be.
So what we want to be right now depends only upon us and how we see life right
now. That is the Philosophy of life.

III. Objectives of our life

In this life’s journey of ours from the womb to the tomb, we all have few Objectives to
full fill since we have taken birth as the most powerful living creatures on this planet.
That is as Human beings. These objectives are;

1. To live a life of Ethics (Dharma).


2. To accumulate Wealth (Artha).
3. To desire to Achieve (Kama).
4. To realise self and attain higher level of Existence (Moksha).
When 2 & 3 are achieved by keeping 1, Ethics as the basis, only then can a
human life attain the 4th objective, which is higher level of Existence (Moksha).

ETHICS
Ethics, according to Socrates, is the practice of becoming excellent at being human. A person
who knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses right is moral. A person whose
morality is reflected in his willingness to do the right thing – even if it is hard or dangerous or
is unpopular – is ethical.
Definition: Ethics is a branch, or specifically moral philosophy, that studies the evolution of
concepts such as right and wrong behaviour. The difference between values and ethics is
that, values determine what is right and what is wrong, and doing what is right or wrong is
what is ethics. To behave ethically is to behave in a manner consistent with what is right or
moral.
Why do we act Unethically?
No one would like to act in a manner that would either make them feel guilty of any wrong
doing or defame themselves, but still people land up acting unethically. The reason could be
one or more or at worst all of the reasons given below:
1. The person’s ethical standards are not strong enough.
2. The person chooses to act selfishly.
3. Rationalising unethical behaviour; Everybody does it, it has become an acceptable
norm these days.
4. Finally, its nothing but Greed, Fear and Pressure.
How do we know what is Ethical and what is not?

In today’s world of so called scientific and practical reasoning, everyone is right in his or her
own way. Everyone can justify their actions as being correct. Everyone has their own stand-
ards of Ethics which they have defined based on their experience and perception of what is
right and wrong.

How does one decide which course of action is the ethical one? This is a dilemma every
young mind will face until they make a decision in their minds based on what they see or
observe around them. And the fast moving, economically driven, high tech environment we
are living in today has its own understanding of ethical standards. And the youth today pick
that up as a way living life.

There are two ways to check if one’s decision or actions are ethical are not.

1. Before taking any action if one has the courage to go and tell their mother or father
that this is the action they have taken when confronted with an ethical dilemma and the
parents feel proud about them. Then that is an ethical step for sure.
2. Another way of checking if one is acting ethically or not is: One stretches their imagi-
nation and go into their future by 15 or 20 years from now. If they have the courage to tell
their children that some years back when confronted with an ethical dilemma, they took
this step. And their children feel proud of them. Thats when one can be sure that their ac-
tion is ethically sound.
Personal ethics and Professional ethics
It might appear that personal (which is private, or pertaining to one’s life outside of work) and
professional (which is public, or pertaining to one’s work life) are two separate categories, but
the distinction may not always be true. Infact, they are two aspects of the same realm: namely,
part of being human and functioning in the world. Thus, personal ethics is more general, and
is simply “practicing becoming an excellent human being” with respect to people and situa-
tions in everyday life (our family, our friends, our community). Professional ethics is more
specific, and is “practicing becoming an excellent human being” with respect people and
situations in work life (co-workers, customers, suppliers, the company).

Some Personal ethical values are:


1. Honesty
2. Integrity.
3. Courageous.
4. Be what you are.
5. Attitude.
6. Keep your word.
7. Keep your time.
8. CHARACTER.
Few Professional ethical values are:
1. Be loyal.
2. Strive to achieve excellence.
3. Follow professional conscience.
4. Take decisions based on ethics.
5. Be committed.
6. Take responsibility.

ETHICAL CODES
All professionals are members of professional bodies, either by mandatory registration or oth-
erwise. In India, medical and legal professionals are compulsorily required to register them-
selves with a mandated professional body before they can practise the profession. In engi-
neering, there is no such professional body with which engineers have to be registered before
entering the profession. However, to keep oneself constantly under high professional ethics,
one should register to a professional body relevant to one’s branch. (List of a few Profes-
sional bodies for engineers in India is at Appendix A)
The functioning of a professional is governed by the rules and regulations stipulated by a pro-
fessional society, of which the individual is a member. All leading professional bodies, such
as the Medical Council of India, Indian Medical Professional Association, All India Bar As-
sociation, Bar Council of India, Institute of Engineers, etc have a code of conduct to guide the
members and raise the level of trust and confidence of the public in the profession. These
rules and regulations are not intended to curtail the freedom of thought and action of the indi-
vidual, but are meant to ensure proper and ethical actions by the members.
The objectives of the Codes of Ethics for professional bodies: (Sample Codes of Ethics at
Appendix B)
 Codes act as guides for ethical functioning.
 Codes enhance the image of the profession.
 Codes support professionals to fight against unethical acts.
 Codes help in grooming future professionals.
 Codes generally promote ethical business.
 Codes provide deterrence to unethical conduct.
 Codes can create an ethical climate.

Ethics in Engineering profession


Engineering ethics is concerned with determining right or wrong actions based on the general
ethical principles. Engineering ethics looks at the actions of professional engineers as they
perform their functions and problems specific to the engineering profession. Thus, engineering
ethics deals with issues that are:
 Specific to the profession
 Set of values, believes that an individual or group of engineers hold as dear to their
professional functioning.
 It can be in the form of codes of ethics.

By Wing Commander (Retd) M A S Vishnu


Mobile no: 7569613395

Appendix “A”
PROFESSIONAL BODIES FOR ENGINEERS

1. Association of Consulting Civil Engineers (India), Bangalore


2. Broadcast Engineering Society (India), New Delhi
3. Computer Society of India, Mumbai, IEEE Computer Society
4. Construction Industry Development Council, New Delhi
5. Consultancy Development Centre, New Delhi
6. Consulting Engineers Association of India, New Delhi
7. Indian Association of Structural Engineers, New Delhi
8. Indian Buildings Congress, New Delhi
9. Indian Concrete Institute, Chennai
10. Indian Geotechnical Society, New Delhi, Indian Geotechnical Society
11. Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers, Kolkata
12. Indian Institution of Bridge Engineers, Mumbai
13. Indian Institution of Industrial Engineering, Navi Mumbai
14. Indian Institution of Plant Engineers, Chennai
15. Indian National Group of The International Association for Bridge & Structural Engi-
neering, New Delhi
16. Indian Society for Non - Destructive Testing, Chennai
17. Indian Society for Trenchless Technology, New Delhi
18. Institute of Urban Transport, New Delhi
19. Institution of Mechanical Engineers (India), Navi Mumbai
20. International Council of Consultants, New Delhi
21. Aeronautical Society of India, New Delhi
22. Indian Institute of Metals, Kolkata
23. The Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Inc., India Council, Noida, Insti-
tute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
24. The Institution of Civil Engineers (India), New Delhi
25. Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers, New Delhi
26. The Institute of Marine Engineers (India), Mumbai, Marine Engineering and Research
Institute
27. The Institution of Surveyors, New Delhi
28. The Institute of Engineers (India), Institution of Engineers
29. Indian Institution of Engineers, Indian Institution of Engineers
30. The Automobile Society (India) New Delhi
Appendix “B”
Sample Ethical Codes- Computer Society of India (CSI)
■ Do not misuse your authority or office for personal gains
■ Maintain intergrity in research and publications.
■ Respect confidentiality of information and not use for personal gains.
■ Do not snoop around in other’s computer.
■ Share experiences with others
Sample Ethical Codes- American Society of Civil Engineers – (ASCE)
■ Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public………
■ Engineers shall perform services only in areas of their competence.
■ Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
■ Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity, and
dignity of the engineering profession and shall act with zero tolerance for bribery, fraud,
and corruption.