• Objectivity means as exist in the ground, while subjectivity means as exist in the mind. Objectivity means looking at things as they are, while subjectivity means looking at things as we are.
  • Max Weber talked about legal-rational bureaucracy. A bureaucracy’s claim to legitimacy is based on its legal structure and rational behaviour. Decisions are legal if authority is exercised by a system of rules and procedures that are the same for everyone. For a civil servant to be rational and legal it is important to be objective. Objectivity creates legitimacy of bureaucracy.
  • Objectivity refers to the ability to judge fairly, without bias or external influence. It is the quality of being true even outside of a subject, individual biases, interpretations and feelings.
  • An objective civil servant is expected to provide information and advice to all the concerned people based on the evidence and accurately present the options and facts. He takes decisions based on merit and takes into account expert and professional advice.

Objectivity in Complex Situations

  • It is not possible and not desirable to always remain objective.
  • Our constitution is not an objective document. There are certain biases shown in favour of people like positive discrimination towards SC, ST, Women etc.
  • Executive decisions are mostly based on subjective analysis –
    • Subsidies
    • FDI in retail
    • Reservation policy
  • Many theories now have discarded the idea of objectivity. As per these theories, if a person is sensitive, intelligent, and smart, he cannot be objective because his personal biases and interpretations will always be reflected in his/her judgements.
  • Objectivity is often regarded as clerical objectivity. In the position of decision-making, objectivity is regarded as a robotic sin. Eg – the f same crime is committed by two people, then it will not be fair to fine both poor and rich equally.
  • Objectivity is a mean value to achieve the end value of equality.
  • Both objectivity and fairness have the same goal to achieve equality but in unequal circumstances, fairness will always prevail over objectivity.
  • Objectivity and empathy are at times in contradiction. Empathy is targeted towards the individuals, while objectivity looks at the masses. So, the if the judge gives more weightage to empathy over “objectivity”, he may give lenient punishment to a criminal. In the long run, it’ll hurt the masses. Syrian refugees have been flooding Turkey and the prince for many months, but only after a child (Aylan Kurdi) is drowned and images appear in mainstream media, all EU nations become attentive. Because of the empathy of people towards an “individual child.”

Factors that can affect the objectivity

  • Stereotypes
  • Halo effect: judging a person by his any one of his traits.
  • Primacy effect: deciding things by just first impression.
  • Recency effect: determining things based on recent impressions about the things without considering their history.
  • Seeing oneself in others: seeing others as yourself

Necessity of objectivity

  • To ensure that judgements are not based on pure emotions
  • To ensure equal treatment toward all subjects
  • To prevent misuse of discretion
  • To resolve an ethical dilemma
  • To ensure effective utilisation of public resource
  • To ensure the rule of law
  • To cultivate other related values like integrity, and transparency.
  • To prevent unnecessary intervention by seniors

Steps for inculcation of Objectivity

  • Training: Training imparts the right guidance to people who are delivering the services. This also ensures that public servants know what needs to be done.
  • Critical thinking: ASI began gold hunting in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, on the order of a union minister who believed a ‘baba’. They showed a lack of critical thinking by blindly following the g dictates of higher authority.
  • Right to review decision: Within judicial/ administrative procedure, there should be a mechanism for the appellate board e.g., in taxation, land acquisition etc.
  • Right to be heard: Often officers don’t hear the complaint or opinions of people properly and just do the things that are in their minds. Hence new schemes should have ‘social audit / public hearing’ components.
  • Information management: If you do not have hardcore information /statistics, you can’t take objective decisions. E.g., sustainable development goals (SDG) have 17 goals and 169 targets. Previously in Millennium development goals (MDG), we had 18 indicators, yet we lacked proper statistical databases to compare performance. A lack of data prevents us from finding the faults and fixing them.
  • Transparency: E.g., right to information act. A bureaucrat will think twice before taking subjective/discretionary decisions, fearing that they will have to answer it if someone files an RTI.
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