Day 40 – Q. 3 In what ways can the ethical conduct of civil servants be strengthened and upheld, particularly in the face of corruption and misconduct within the bureaucracy? Is it too difficult? Critically examine.

  • IASbaba
  • January 6, 2023
  • 0
Ethics Theory, GS 4, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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In what ways can the ethical conduct of civil servants be strengthened and upheld, particularly in the face of corruption and misconduct within the bureaucracy? Is it too difficult? Critically examine.

सिविल सेवकों के नैतिक आचरण को किस तरह से मजबूत और बरकरार रखा जा सकता है, विशेष रूप से नौकरशाही के भीतर भ्रष्टाचार और कदाचार के मामले में? क्या यह बहुत कठिन है? समालोचनात्मक जाँच कीजिए।

Approach –

In this question candidates need to write about in what ways ethical conduct of civil servants should be strengthened in midst of corruption and misconduct within bureaucracy? Examine critically .

Introduction –

Civil servants are the pivot between state and people. They are accountable to both the political executive and the citizen. Upholding the highest ethical standard is paramount for civil servants because the state machinery rests upon their shoulders; they have to maintain ideals and lead by example to sustain the system’s trust.

Body –

Measures to uphold high ethical standards among civil servants,

  • A dedicated unit to oversee violations of the Code of Ethics & Code of conduct by government officials be set up both at the state and centre level.
  • Mandatory declaration of assets and liabilities of government employees, accompanied by proper auditing.
  • Establishment of Independent Anti-Corruption Agency.
  • Citizens Advisory Boards to incorporate ideas of the common public welfare among civil servants.
  • Mandatory Social Audit of all government programs, for example, Meghalaya has passed a law for social audit of government programs.
  • An important requisite for ensuring probity in governance is the absence of corruption.
  • Apart from laws and policies, the government should also focus on bringing behavioral change in government employees so that they can easily empathize with the problem of masses.
  • Adopting Citizen Charters to increase the ethical standards by ensuring compulsory organizational effectiveness and performance. Making commitments public could ensure adherence to ethicalities of service delivery standards.

Codes of Ethics for civil servants and public officials, endorse the following minimum set of principles:

Serving the Public Interest-

  • Civil servants and public officials are expected to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in government, by demonstrating the highest standards of professional competence, efficiency and effectiveness, upholding the Constitution and the laws, and seeking to advance the public good at all times.


  • Civil servants and public officials are expected to use powers and resources for public good, under government policy. They should be accountable for the decisions they make, and prepared to justify their actions.


  • Civil servants and public officials are expected to make decisions and act solely in the public interest,without consideration of their private interests. Public employment being a public trust, the improper use of a public service position for private advantage is regarded as a serious breach of duty.


  • Civil servants and public officials should make decisions and act in a fair and equitable manner,without bias or prejudice, taking into account only the merits of the matter, and respecting the rights of affected citizens.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

  • Civil servants and public officials are required to obtain best value for public assets deployed in or through public management, and to avoid waste and extravagance in expenditure and the use of public assets.

Second Administrative reform commission code of Ethics for Civil Servants-

  • Committee on Prevention of Corruption (`Santhanam Committee’-1964) – our civil service system has a tradition of attitudes and achievements which sets examples to be emulated by current and prospective civil servants promoting the norms of `right conduct’ cannot be enforced through a rigid mindless enforcement of laws and rules.
  • Committee on Prevention of Corruption (`Santhanam Committee’-1964) – Draft Public Service Bill’ now under consideration of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
  • Allegiance to the various ideals enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution
  • Apolitical functioning
  • Good governance for betterment of the people to be the primary goal of civil service
  • Duty to act objectively and impartially
  • Accountability and transparency in decision-making
  • Maintenance of highest ethical standards
  • Merit with equitable representation to be the criteria in selection of civil servants consistent
  • Ensuring economy and avoidance of wastage in expenditure
  • Provision of healthy and congenial work environment
  • Communication, consultation and cooperation in performance of functions.
  • The draft Bill also envisages a Public Service Code and a Public Service Management Code laying down more specific duties and responsibilities.

Challenges For Civil Servants In Maintaining High Ethical Standards-

  • Balancing Individual obligations and disorganization obligations:Conflict between an individual’s privately held convictions and obligations as determined by her organization.
  • Dealing with conflict of opinions: It is challenging when a public servant to resolve stark conflicts between what he/she is required (by her senior officials) to do and what he/she really thinks is right.
  • Dilemmas in Information sharing: Dealing with situations when a public servant has to decide whether to keep information secret that might be embarrassing to the government of the day or reveal it in the public interest.
  • Balancing service obligation and accountability towards the public: It’s challenging when a public servant finds certain indications of deliberate inefficiency, protection of incompetence, extravagant and unreasonable use of public funds, deployment of government equipment and machinery for personal use, subjective criteria used in recruitment or in the award of government grants or licenses.
  • Resolving conflict in conscience and prevailing political ideology: It is challenging to decide to what extent should a public servant support the political ideology practised by the current government.
  • Balancing private life and public life: When a person accepts public service employment, it’s challenging to determine how much should he/she subordinate or abdicate his/her claims to private life, property and values.


To maintain A strong emphasis should be laid on values like empathy, compassion, integrity and will to serve humanity at large. Encouraging a sense of responsibility and focusing on the greater good for larger interest can guide the actions of a public servant and can resolve most of the challenges in the way of carrying out its ethical obligations.

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