Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 09 January 2024

An ambitious push for values, ethics in higher education

“The subtler aspects of human values need to be nurtured and protected with care just as a mother protects the womb.” – Adi Shankaracharya

Relevance: GS I, II and IV (Social Issues and Justice; Ethics and Integrity)

  • Prelims: Government Initiatives and Schemes; Mulya Pravah 2.0;
  • Mains: Education System in India and issues associated with it; Educational value system in India;

Why in the News?

Human Values and Ethics define the qualities of a person, organization or society at large. They both have the nature of camphor — they evaporate if not preserved carefully.

  • Hence there is a sincere need to put efforts to ensure that the provisions of Mulya Pravah 2.0 take into effect.

About Mulya Pravah 2.0:

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been issuing regulations, guidelines and directives at breakneck speed that some of the important ones miss drawing the attention of the higher education community. 
    • Mulya Pravah 2.0, a modified version of Mulya Pravah, which was notified in 2019 seeks to inculcate human values and professional ethics in higher education institutions. 
  • Aim: To build value-based institutions by orienting individuals and institutions towards developing a deep respect for fundamental duties and constitutional values and bonding with the country.
    • Mulya Pravah 2.0 lays stress on the criticality of ‘encouraging persons at all levels to think and give their advice freely.

What is the present Ethical issue in the Indian Higher Education System?

  • Issue with Human Resources: According to the surveys, human resource managers highlight unethical practices in various organizations. 
    • The most prominent of these are favoritism in hiring, training, pay and promotion; sexual harassment; gender discrimination in promotion; inconsistent view on discipline; lack of confidentiality; gender differentiation in compensation; non-performance factors overlooked in appraisals; arrangements with vendors for personal gain; and gender discrimination during recruitment and hiring.
    • Associations and unions of teachers, staff and students have often been banned and suspended on the slightest pretext. 
    • Office-bearers and elected representatives have generally been accused of violating the code of conduct and acting against the interests of their institutions. Many are fighting battles for their survival in courts of law.
  • Dilemma with Right to Information: The emphasis on the need for and the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of information is bemusing as it runs counter to the ‘Right of Information’ as an instrument to ensure accountability. 
    • Higher education institutions must, in fact, be mandated to voluntarily disclose all critical information and subject themselves to public scrutiny.

How can Mulya Pravah 2.0 help us?

  • Emphasis on transparency
    • Better decision making: Mulya Pravah 2.0 underscores the need for utmost transparency in administration and highlights that decision-making in higher education institutions must be solely guided by institutional and public interest, and not be vitiated by biases.
    • Preventing Discrimination: Mulya Pravah 2.0 seeks to abolish the discriminatory privileges of officials and urges the administration to punish the corrupt. It lays stress on the criticality of ‘encouraging persons at all levels to think and give their advice freely’.
    • Builds Constitutional Values: The guidelines under Mulya Pravah 2.0 expect higher education institutions to ‘ensure integrity, trusteeship, harmony, accountability, inclusiveness, commitment, respectfulness, belongingness, sustainability, constitutional values and global citizenship’. 
    • Builds Conducive Culture: Mulya Pravah 2.0 reminds the staff to act in the best interest of their institution, create a conducive culture and work environment for teaching, learning, and research and develop the potential of their institution. 
      • It further asserts that officers and staff must ‘refrain from misappropriating financial and other resources, and refuse to accept gift, favor, service, or other items from any person, group, private business, or public agency which may affect the impartial performance of duties’.
  • Solving the Issue of confidentiality:
    • Restoring Public Confidence: Mulya Pravah 2.0 guidelines would do well to urge them to promptly upload agendas, proceedings and minutes of the meetings of their decision-making bodies, sub-committees and standing committees. 
      • Higher education institutions must put up their annual reports and audited accounts in the public domain. This will deter malpractices and go a long way in restoring public confidence in the workings of the institutions.
  • Building Unions and support:
    • Mulya Pravah 2.0 expects staff and student unions to ‘support the administration in development activities and raise issues in a dignified manner’.
      • Mulya Pravah 2.0 insists that staff and students unions must ‘raise issues in a dignified manner’. As the guideline does not define or delineate what ‘dignified manner’ entails, the provision could be misused to threaten, shun, silence or at least undermine the collective voices of the stakeholders.

What needs to be done?

  • At Administrative level: The UGC must get credit for notifying the guideline, though it may not be sufficient to curb corruption and violations of ethics and integrity. Unless backed by sincere efforts to ensure that the provisions of Mulya Pravah are affected in letter and spirit, the move may be no more than a mere formality. 
  • At Regulatory levels: The higher education regulator(s) must demonstrate zero tolerance and act swiftly to quell even the smallest trace of corruption in the admission, examination, hiring processes or, for that matter, in any aspect of university administration.
  • Need for laudable and timely intervention: The authorities in and officers of universities must ensure that the provisions of their acts, statutes, ordinances and regulations are strictly adhered to in letter and spirit. The guideline requires higher education administration to conduct matters ensuring accountability, transparency, fairness, honesty, and the highest degree of ethics. 
  • Need to analyze Nobility and Professional Ethics: Asserting that teaching is a noble profession, and that teachers play a crucial role in ‘shaping the character, personality, and career of the students’, it requires them to ‘act’ as role models and set examples of ‘good conduct, and a good standard of dress, speech and behavior, worth emulating by students’.
  • Need to Consult Stakeholders in Decision-making: Higher education institutions are communities of scholars where no one should be more equal than the other. Each stakeholder must be allowed to proactively participate in protecting, preserving and promoting the culture and standards of their institutions. 


There is an imperative need for a strong response to the massive challenges currently faced by humanity, suggesting an intensive educational approach at all levels — schools, colleges, universities, and life-long learning for citizens to be one of the major strategies. The emphasis of any value education program must be towards building the capabilities and skills that are essential for implementing values in life.


Mains PYQ

Q. Discuss the role of ethics and values in enhancing the following three major components of Comprehensive National Power (CNP) viz. human capital, soft power (culture and policies), and social harmony. (UPSC CSE 2020)

Q. National Education Policy 2020 is in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (2030). It intends to restructure and reorient the education system in India. Critically examine the statement. (UPSC CSE 2020)

Q. Our attitudes towards life, work, other people and society are generally shaped unconsciously by the family and the social surroundings in which we grow up. Some of these unconsciously acquired attitudes and values are often undesirable in the citizens of a modern democratic and egalitarian society. a) Discuss such undesirable values prevalent in today’s educated Indians b) How can such undesirable attitudes be changed and socio-ethical values considered necessary in public services be cultivated in the aspiring and serving civil servants? (UPSC CSE 2016)

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