Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 36 – Q 5.How does empathy and tolerance affect the decision making abilities of a civil servant? Examine.

5. How does empathy and tolerance affect the decision making abilities of a civil servant? Examine. 

सहानुभूति और सहिष्णुता एक सिविल सेवक की निर्णय लेने की क्षमता को कैसे प्रभावित करती है? जांच करें।


Impartiality, fairness, efficiency, and effectiveness in the Public service depend on objectivity in personnel decisions. This means that Public servants must have the ability​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​someone​ ​else’s​ ​experience​ ​of​ ​humanity and​ ​use​ ​that​ ​understanding​ ​to​ ​guide​ ​their decisions and actions. Among many others, empathy and tolerance are foundational values that affect the decision making to a large extent.


Empathy involves giving due importance and value to understanding of one’s thoughts, feelings and concerns for others even when they are not explicitly expressed, and acting on it.

How it affects the decision making abilities:

  • Empathy enables civil servants to understand other humans’ motivation to change and predict how policy will affect people’s behaviour. Example: Pati.NO.1 campaign done in Agra to encourage Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, involving both husbands and wives of the district to be a part of the behavioural change after understanding that the inhibitions associated with the use of toilets for women.
  • It helps in understanding the lacunas in existing policies and programmes and make appropriate changes. For example: An IAS officer can empathise with persons who lost their land due to developmental project by framing better policy such as better compensation, rehabilitation, education and health facilities etc
  • Enable civil servants to work with a dedicated service, involving the community at large. Example: In the remote areas of Manipur, with no road, connectivity to the two villages of Tusem and Tamenglong was a huge problem and the locals had to either walk for hours, or swim across the river. Armstrong Pame, an IAS officer collected Rs 40 lakh through social media for the construction of the road and got a 100 km stretch of road constructed in the state.
  • It would lead to reduction in corruption and bring in a lot of credibility. Sacrifice and solidarity for the greater good are easier for people when their leader shows empathy for their struggles.

Tolerance means the willingness to accept or to tolerate, showing respect for the race, gender, opinions, religion and ideologies of other people or groups, and to admire the good qualities and good work of others.

How does it affect the decision making?

  • A tolerant civil servant ensures a harmonious policy implementation and interaction with the people of his district. Incidents like mob lynching, riots, road rage are all can be solved by cultivating tolerance.
  • It helps the civil servants to be unbiased execute various social schemes with the coordination of the people and upholding natural rights i.e. Human rights, Democracy, Multiculturalism, Pluralism etc.
  • They can create and induce a tolerant and acceptable society by leading as an example. Various civil servants have been appreciated for bringing about a participative and helping community led celebrations of festivals among various religions in their districts.
  • They help bring disadvantaged and vulnerable sections into the mainstream. Example: Ira Singhal was the first IAS officer to hire two transgender employees in her department, thus encouraging a tolerant and inclusive behaviour of everyone around her.
  • A civil servant posted in a state other than his own if not tolerant may face problem in adapting and dedicating himself to the service of people.

How can these values be inculcated?

  • Formal training can be given to increase cognitive, emotional and behavioural empathy, tolerance and compassion among the civil servants.
  • Character assessment needs to be done to ensure they comply with the appropriate standards of foundational values.
  • Self-satisfaction should be encouraged.


With values like tolerance, compassion, empathy, honesty etc 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. Significance of these values is more so for a civil servant, as they make numerous decisions that impact thousands of lives. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email