|Ethics for Our Times: Essays In Gandhian Perspective (Second Edition); MV Nadkarni; Oxford University Press, New Delhi; Rs 575;Pp 352|
Intro: There are several approaches to ethics, not necessarily exclusive to one another. The moral questions which must be resolved in the society through ethics are available in religious scriptures and Gandhian philosphy.
On January 27, just after Republic Day, US President Barack Obama announced at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi, “India represents an intersection of two people who inspire me — Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Those two great souls are why we can gather here today”. He is right but more in case when he talks about human duty or ethics for saving the world from terrorism and climate change. Today in the modern age, the problems are becoming more complex than in the age when there was only need, not greed. So, it has become more relevant now to talk about the ethics, not only in case of the small society or family towards elders or brothers of sisters but also for environment, religions, gender, socially disadvantaged groups and even in the profession like in big private companies for better economic growth. Really, there should be now a wider application of ethics in today’s world.
MV Nadkarni first came with “Ethics for our Times” in 2011 and upgraded version in 2014 prescribing wider application of ethics to resolve the current problems which can be essentially achieved by resolving the moral questions in modern times. But he foresees the solution of all modern moral related problems through Gandhian approach. The “highest form of morality” in Gandhi's ethical system is the practice of altruism. The rewards may not be those usually sought for specified behaviour but Gandhi was adamant that “a man does some good deed not to win applause, but he does it because he must”.
The book under review written by MV Nadkarni presents a comprehensive analysis of ethics as a conceptual framework and as a guide to action in tackling the problems of modernising societies. It examines the relevance of Gandhian approach to current issues like environmental crisis, social justice, and equity and harmony in society.
Featuring a new section on contemporary concerns, with a particular focus on business ethics and gender justice, this updated and enhanced second edition explores both theoretical as well as applied ethical issues. Nadkarni explores both the theoretical as well as applied ethical issues. In the context of modern ethical enquiries on religion, social justice, equity, harmony between faiths, humanism and environmental concerns, he analyses in detail contemporary dilemma posed by economic growth, business ethics, gender justice, and specific policy issues like preferential treatment of socially disadvantaged groups, capital punishment, and abortion. Nadkarni stresses the need for a holistic approach to resolve moral questions in everyday life.
The Gandhian approach is not separate from or independent of, but inclusive of those approaches, as in a creative synthesis. This book contains eleven essays grouped under four heads: Ethics for a globalising world; ethics: some philosophical aspects; and ethical foundations of Hinduism. Balancing Western notions of the ethical and the Hindu notions of Dharma, Nadkarni analyses Gandhi — the thinker, the activist, and the philosopher — and presents an engaging connection linking the three systems of thought — ethics, Gandhian principles, and the Hindu scriptures. Critically probing the conventional notions of ‘good' and ‘bad', he attempts a comprehensive analysis of ethics as a conceptual framework and guide to tackling the problems thrown up by globalisation. Issues related to economic development, environment, humanism and religion are examined in the context of social justice, equity, and harmony across different sections of society. In the introduction, he urges that it is appeal to ethical principles and social justice that serves as the most potent weapon of the weak.
In this new edition, he added “Ethics in Business” in which he analyses ethics in customer care, advertising, workers welfare, environmental concern and so on. He added one more essay on “Gender Justice” under which he announces, sex is biological and gender is psychological or social.
Naveen Kumar (The reviewer is a senior political analyst and VP of Viplav Communications Pvt Ltd.)