Conscience, often described as the inner moral compass of an individual, is rooted in personal values and principles. It guides decision-making and action-taking based on an individual’s ethical framework. The crisis of conscience emerges when actions or choices contradict one’s deeply-held values. This phenomenon is highly significant in public life, as it shapes societal attitudes, behaviors, and governance.


Manifestation in Public Life:

Clash of Customs and Values:

  • Example: The challenge of upholding traditional customs while opposing discriminatory practices like communal segregation.
  • Individuals facing the dilemma of adhering to norms they disagree with to fit into society.
  • Outcomes include frustration, reduced participation in public events, and critique of customs, even if they have positive aspects.

Dilemma of Civil Servants:

  • Scenario: Displacing people for developmental projects without ensuring proper rehabilitation.
  • Case in point: Eviction of communities for infrastructure development without adequate resettlement measures.
  • Conscience-related turmoil among those valuing human welfare but witnessing inadequate rehabilitation efforts.

Corruption and Erosion of Conscience:

  • Problem: Rampant corruption and disregard for the rule of law within public institutions.
  • Illustration: Upright officials facing moral dilemmas due to institutionalized corruption.
  • Conscience-related distractions, transfers to less corrupt environments, or even moral decay.

Modern Influences on Conscience:

Modern era sees compromise of conscience due to rampant acceptance of violence, corruption, and the mentality of winning at any cost. Individuals justifying violence or endorsing corruption weaken their moral compass.

Gandhian Perspective:

Mahatma Gandhi regarded conscience as the supreme court of justice.
He emphasized listening to one’s conscience before making decisions, providing it with utmost authority.


The crisis of conscience is a profound psychological struggle that arises when individual values clash with external demands or prevailing norms. It reflects the complexities of upholding personal integrity while navigating societal expectations.

This phenomenon manifests prominently in public life, influencing how individuals respond to customs, governance, and corruption. As Gandhiji advocated, recognizing and honouring one’s conscience serves as a beacon of ethical decision-making in a world marked by conflicting values.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish March 28, 2024