SHIRIN NAZROO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The origin of the word ‘ethics’ comes from the Greek word ‘ethos’ and basically means a system of moral principles which is good for individuals and the society. We should be able to distinguish between what is absolutely right and what is morally wrong since, without ethics we would be like animals in a jungle without law and order. I would like here to point out that good ethics has nothing to do with whether you are a religious person or an atheist, a rich or a poor person, black or white or which country you come from. I must say it depends wholly on the individual and his/her personal judgement and upbringing.

Our first teachers on ethics are our own parents who from an early beginning instill moral values such as not to lie, not to cheat, not to steal, not to be jealous and this is done for their own good to be able to survive as a household, without which chaos will prevail.

This process is continued by our teachers when we start schooling and without basic moral values, how will education be imparted? This is why cheating at school should be severely  punished. For instance, suppose you cheat to pass exams and get away with it, how will you perform with your false certificates ? Everything in your life will be false !

Now more importantly what next ? After school/university, when one enters the world of work, one must have the necessary credentials/qualifications for the job or else how will he/she perform! Nominating someone who does not have the required experience and qualifications as well as good ethics to perform a job would jeopardise the institution/company. During my career I have often come across many of these and they had to resort to all sorts of stratagems to mask their inadequacies. There was a Senior Officer who asked that he be not consulted as he no longer understood anything, another would hide behind his juniors to have the work done and others would fake some sort of illness and what not ! There are also officers, with poor ethics, who do not give their best at work and who are at their workplace only in a physical manner. Officers with poor ethics are also easily corrupt and to address this issue, example must be set where those caught are given exemplary sanctions so as to discourage such practice.

The way forward is a complete overhaul at all levels and replacing unscrupulous individuals by staff with high ethical values. Since this is not easy, checks and balances have to be installed at all levels with sanctions waiting for all offenders. However, the head must be totally committed for this to work ! All job contracts must be discussed at the start and expectations listed. Shortfall should be addressed promptly and properly and linked with paychecks with the help of our Human Resource experts. In a nutshell, everyone should be paid on performance basis and each job should come with Key Performance Indicators (KPI). I must say that performance, in general, has very much improved where this system has been put in place. From the lowest to the highest, accountability must be the order of the day .

Now I have some observations  :

1) How come that when you employ someone to look after your home or children you will look for a person with high moral standards?

2) Would you employ a chauffeur who has cheated to get his driving licence to vehicle your kids, and put their lives at stake?

3) Will you put your health at risk and consult someone in the medical field who is a quack ?

4) Will you ask an amateur, with no ethics, to construct your house and end up with more to pay to correct the construction faults? I am sure you will secure the best person in the field who has a proven track record ;

5) Will you resort to an unethical manager to run your company /business at the risk of having part or the whole of your profits being siphoned away ?

Nowadays, more and more people are talking about ethical commerce where, at each stage the people are properly remunerated, even if the finished good is slightly more costly. Ethical commerce must see to it that the environment has been protected, no child labour has been involved, human rights have been respected and the community at large has benefitted in the production of the commodity.

Ethical accounting, where sound methods are practiced and the financial Statements show full disclosure, is being promoted by international bodies. The professionals of the sector should be highly skilled and uphold a high degree of honesty and integrity. How often have we seen companies/institutions fall apart through mismanagement and dishonest reporting ! The 2008 financial crisis is here to remind us how the US Economy collapsed, following dubious financial instruments, like subprime mortgages, which ended up in a massive crisis with international ramifications.

Pesticide free ethical food are more and more in demand as people become conscious that one must have value for money on things as sensible as health. Producers who will not play the game and make excessive use of chemical fertilizers, will soon find themselves out of the circuit. People, specially the millennials, are more and more conscious of environmental issues and they have to satisfy themselves with the traceability of food offered in the market, before purchase.

There is a perception in the country that unmeritorious persons are being propelled at the head of our institutions and this is provoking  general downgrade of these same institutions. In fact, some are even being promoted to higher spheres even though they have not performed well or have failed lamentably to deliver ! In some places contracts are renewed, in all discretion, though performance results are absent. This is highly unethical and it has been the situation since long. It is high time to rethink and to improve things by putting the right person at the right place. This will inspire our youths who very often have to go elsewhere for their capabilities to be  recognized. Our little country has produced so many talented persons and it is really a shame that these talents are not tapped.

In fact, there should be a dedicated team on the look out for these high caliber professionals from here as well as from our diaspora to serve the country. The capacity of the person, his/her track record should always prevail whatever his/her affiliation to the government of the day or belonging to the majority community or for whatever personal reasons!

Cheating or lying and occupying jobs you are not fit for will make one the joke of the town ! Upholding good ethics is ‘sine qua non’ for the success of a home, a business, an institution and ultimately for the society at large.

* Forum of Le Mauricien dated 26.4.2017