Challenges of Corruption – UPSC Ethics

You are elected as Chief Minister with absolute majority. You are the absolute leader in your party. Your state is infamous for corruption. The previous government was corrupt and was mired in controversies regarding corruption scandals. You have come to power on the promise of rooting out corruption and giving clean governance. What short-term and long-term measures will you take to fulfil your promise to the electorate? Discuss. (250 Words)

Menace of corruption has haunted the societies for millennia. No wonder it remains the most serious disease even now. the towards it shall remain steadfast and match the congruity.
Short term measures
-hold up all the decisions taken by previous government that are suspect-ridden
-instant activation of citizen charters and RTI wherever they are dormant
-meet up all the secretaries along with chief secretaries and dictate the measures, priorities and working style that need to be taken and solicit advice from them.
-immediate order of setting up grievance redressal cells
-immediate contact number be established for instant accessibility to the government like toll free number
Long term measures
-setting up a holistic e-governance mechanism and process of including all departments under it
-disciplinary codes for all government offices
-alternative corruption handling mechanisms
-having transparent conduct and improve accessibility to people
-display citizen charters and set up RTI cells in each departments where they are not made
-behavioural training sessions for the officers
-inclusion of civil society and NGOs in policy making and implementation
-soliciting people’s participation through advertisements through media
-corruption awareness and advertisements through good messages through media and inclusion of known personalities like sportspersons and film stars for campaign
-separate investigation and prosecution wings of the criminal departments
-internet grievance redressal and complaint platform, also to be used as advice platform
-vindication of whistle-blowers protection act, lokpal act and vigilance office of the state Government works through machinery which includes its people, hence their empowerment remains necessary. The process in turn should leave people as an informed participant in the governing process. Active public can reduce the corruption levels like no other.


As an IAS officer, you are posted as CEO of Zilla Panchayat. It’s just been two years since you completed your probationary period. As CEO you are in constant touch with senior bureaucrats in the Panchayat Raj and Rural Development department. The secretary of the department is known for his honesty and uprightness. However, the director of the department who is also a senior IAS officer is known for inefficiency and corruption. In one of your meetings with the director, he advises you to receive the bribe whenever it is offered to you. He tells you that saying no to bribe is akin to inviting trouble from some vested interests. He tries to convince you by saying that it is not morally wrong to receive when bribe is offered with good faith from “satisfied” businessmen or a politician.
However, in his opinion, it is morally wrong to demand bribe from someone whether rich or poor. He tells you that he and his wife, who is also an IAS officer have received so much in gifts and bribes that they and their grandchildren can lead a luxury life for generations. He says that they have never been caught by Lokayukta because they have never demanded bribe from anyone in their career, hence they have kept everyone happy.
Critically analyse ethicality of statements made by the director of your department and explain what advice you would have given to a young IAS officer if you were in the director’s position. (250 Words)
In the current scenario, I am CEO of Zilla Panchayat who is responsible for upliftment of rural people who are economically, education-wise deprived. Hence it is utmost important to deliver my duty with honesty and integrity because my each little effort will have profound effects on the life of rural population and help them aspire for unseen dreams so far.
Director of my Department who is senior to me is talking in cognitive dissonance term which is a known phenomenon in psychological literature. It says, if someone commits something wrong, then in order to maintain balance with his moral judgement and his behaviour he finds logics so that his behaviours are justified as right.
Some statements and their ethicalities are:
  1. Saying NO to bribe may invite some troubles from vested interest: This is unethical as, doing something wrong in fear of some unknown consequences in future for doing right is sign of dishonesty and non-probity. Doing right will always ensure that troubles will come in guised way and not openly which we can address by asking transparency and fairness. But doing wrong will certainly get us in trouble.
  2. Receiving bribe as gift from satisfied businessmen is not wrong: Here, there is twisting of statement to show bribe in light of gift. But here we must understand what Swami Vivekananda said “If you get 1rs without working, it means someone has worked and not got his 1rs.”. Bribe or Gift is ethically prohibited to public servant as it morally inclines oneself to return favour to gifter. Businessmen gifting is also coming from corrupt practices for corrupt expectation.
  3. Not getting caught by Lokayukta ascertain that nothing is wrong: This shows inefficiency of Lokayukta and cleverness of Civil servant for escaping the radar of Directorate Enforcement, IT officers because all expensive gifts received by civil servants and judges needs to be reported to IT department.
As civil servant we are in system to make it efficient and complying, not to escape from it. My advice to young IAS officers would be:
  1. To comply with statute laws only and no one else.
  2. Never receive any gift even if it is given as token of appreciation by some influential person. Gracefully refuse it.
  3. Handle all corruption or suspected case of your subordinates after hearing their version of incidents.


Many state governments have passed legislations to provide citizens with “right to services” where a government department has to deliver a service in a time-bound manner. You are working as Executive Officer (also Block Development Officer). You are told that many Panchayat Development Officers (PDOs) who are working under you at panchayat level are not delivering services within time despite there being penalty for delaying the service delivery. They are ready to pay the penalty. You come to know that some of them receive bribe and pay the same as penalty. You are told that PDOs have been driven to taking bribes due to pressure mounted by elected members of panchayat who want some share in it.
When you enquire few PDOs, they tell you that panchayat members are the ones who are acting as stumbling blocks by demanding bribe from them for delivery of each service such as releasing of payment for beneficiary of Indira Awas Yojana etc. They tell you that because they cannot pay bribe from the salary money, they delay services to people and make them pay the bribe. You realize that things are more complicated than you had thought of. In this situation, what will be your course of action to provide citizens a corruption free administration? Explain. (200 Words)
As the scenario involves levels of government officials like PDOs and elected representatives like Panchayat members, hence it is a special case of executive and bureaucrats nexus which needs to be tackled with mixture of penalty for govt officials and complains for panchayat members in Panchayat Samiti toward banning them(As per the State Election Commission, a panchayat member can be banned for 6 years, if she doesn’t comply to code of conduct or resort to case of bribe/rape/murder or in cognizable offence.) My course of actions as a BDO would be:
  1. Issue a 24 hours complain helpline no. for all Tehsil office against PDOs to bring fairness,
  2. Conduct a meeting of PDOs and giving them rules about if any delays will happen, it will considered as individual responsibility and not shared,
  3. also ensure that any PDOs is not taking leaves more than allotted to him, so that he will be available and can’t claim his absence as an excuse of delay.
  4. Organise an award ceremony in tehsil level for PDOs who have no complains and delivered his duties on time, Felicitating such award ceremony by Collectors and panchayat members. This will encourage honest PDOs, act as reinforcement to willing one and discourage corrupt panchayat members. It will also send clear message about what Govt is expecting from each PDOs.
  5. Warning and Complain against Repeated offender Panchayat members in Panchayat Samiti so that, there candidature will be cancelled for next election. Naming and Shaming of such panchayat members so that, gram sabha members will be aware of their representative’s honesty, this will act as win-win situation. Either the corrupt panchayat member will be banned by State Election commission or will lose election as gram sabha is more aware of their deeds.
  6. Supporting the honest PDOs if they come to me for help, listening to their grievances and ensuring that I would take all measures to alleviate their fears against unruly panchayat members who are forcing them to take bribe. This will instil self-confidence among PDOs and sense of duty.
Like water flows from high to low and current flow from high potential to low, similarly it is always easy for a person to bend toward corruption and earn easy money, but a care from super-ordinate, enabling environment, transparent system, punishment to corrupt person may address the system’s need of offering fair and free service to all.


Public servants have, in fact, been treated as special category under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Discuss why. Do you think such special protection leads to corruption? Examine. (200 Words)
Public servants located in upper hierarchy are entrusted with important task of policy formulation and decision making on matters of vital national interests. Such duties of highest order warrant a conductive and supportive environment, where they can operate in hassle free conditions. This is why They are given special protection under CrPC, to insulate their working from everyday allegations, many of which might be driven by vested interest, creating a fear psychosis and ultimately leading to indecision and policy paralysis, and may cause heavy losses to nation as a whole.
Delayed defence procurement is case in point to cite the vitality of their role and subsequent ill effect of fear psychosis.
While it is important to provide them immunity but it is undeniable fact that this special treatment have been and can be misused by corrupt officials or might be manipulated to meet the vested political and other interests. The clout of this provision has helped many corrupt officials to grow and yield the crop of self-benefit. Being treated special has given such official a false sense that they can utilize the underlying capital of their designation to fill their bank locker with notes.
Thus the need of the hour is to fill in the existing gap. So as to retain protection for honest officials while making corrupt realize that no one is above law. This can be done inquiring significant cases of allegation first by in-office independent committee than decide further action. Thus cases might be scrutinized. The provision is to be retained but in more refined and balanced form.


Do you think is it right to punish bribe-giver along with bribe – taker? Justify. (150 Words)
Corruption has one of the most emerging concerns not only for government but also for society as a whole. It takes place in a social milieu and requires consent [voluntary or forced] of both bribe-giver and bribe-taker for its realization. Thus, prima facie both the parties should be liable for punishment
However, a deeper analysis reveals a different story. Experience tells us that while Bribe-taking is mostly voluntary, Bribe-giving is primarily driven by coercion, necessity and to prevent harassment [also called harassment-bribe].
Though, there are many instances where the bribe is paid to subvert the system or to ensure impunity, differentiating between “good” and “bad” bribe in a country like India characterized by higher cases of harassment corruption and implementation deficit will only lead to chaos and further harassment of poor.
Nonetheless, the menace of “Collusive bribery” must be punished. This practice has acquired serious magnitude especially after economic reforms of 1991. It’s a kind of corruption where public officials join hands with private officials and the outcome or intended outcome of the transaction leads to a loss to the state, public and public interest. For e.g. 2G Scam or Coal Scam. This measure is also in-line with Second ARC.
Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain. Of the different forms of corruption collusion between two vested parties is perhaps the most common one. Here there are two parties committing an immoral and illegal act – the bribe giver and the bribe taker.
The common perception is that it is because of bribe seeker asking for the bribe in lieu doing the work, people are forced to pay bribes. In this context, the idea of punishing both the bribe giver and bribe taker requires examination.
The bribe seeker compromises on his integrity, human values and ethics, and abuses his positional power. He is also violating the law of the land. On closer examination it is clear that a bribe seeker makes compromises out of greed for personal gain, thus violating the trust posed in him by the society.
The bribe giver on the other hand may give a bribe out of his desire to gain undue benefits, or may be forced to give bribe to get his due right out of situation compulsions. Thus, a bribe giver of the former category deserves punishment ethically, whereas the latter deserves empathy and help. And especially in developing countries like India where much of the population is unaware of grievance redressal mechanisms in the event of being asked for the bribe, out rightly punishing all the class of bribe-givers would be morally wrong.
Therefore, the need is for a law which punishes the bribe seeker, and the bribe-giver who is giving the bribe for undue gains.


Not all the amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act cleared by the Union Cabinet last week inspire public confidence or meet the objective of filling gaps in domestic anti-corruption law. Critically comment. (200 Words)
What is there in the amendment?
  1. Classifies corruption as heinous crime
  2. Ensures longer prison terms for both bribe giver and bribe taker.
  3. Ensures speedy trial limited to 2 years in corruption cases
  4. Holds commercial entities responsible in case persons associated with them bribe public servants; thus forcing commercial entities to take corruption issue more seriously
  5. Non-monetary gratification has also now been covered within the definition of the word gratification.
  6. Explicit delineation of obligations of public official such that it deters him from violating a statutory duty or any set of rules, government policies, executive instructions and procedures
  7. Helps country in fulfilling its obligations under UN convention against corruption
Flaws in the amendment
  1. Makes no distinction between coercive bribery and collusive bribery; bill drops protection accorded to bribe givers if they depose under trial, thereby deterring those coerced into giving a bribe from subsequently testifying against offenders.
  2. Mandatory requirement of prior sanction for prosecuting public officials should be granted only in case of deviations from public policy, laws & regulations; but amendment mandates prior sanctions in cases such as possession of unexplained assets, bribery and misappropriating property; this will help corrupt officials to stall proceedings.
  3. CrPC still not in sync with amended PCA; CrPC provides protection of previous sanction to retired officials while PCA covers only serving officials.
  4. issue of political corruption has not been dealt with.
  5. Ambiguous phrases such as “possession of disproportionate assets”; it is unclear whether prosecution will still have to prove intention to amass wealth through illicit means; this if happens will be detrimental to entire anticorruption proceeding
  6. The average time for trail under PCA in the last 4 years has been 8 years. The law is silent on how will it reduce the time to 2 years.
Key lies in implementation. The amendment needs to supplemented by constitution of Lokpal/Lokayukta and administrative reforms on lines suggested by Second ARC.


Critically comment on the recent measures taken to curb high-level cronyism and corruption and their impact in India. (200 Words)
Corruption refers to the misusing the position of authority for meeting personal gains/objectives at the cost of the organization and hence society at large. Whereas cronyism refers to the appointment of favourite persons to the position of authority neglecting the requirements of the post.
These two challenges impact all sections of the society with poor people becoming more vulnerable to these ill-practices. The direct impact of such acts are visible in delay of projects, bribery, malpractices in essential services e.g. health, neglect of environmental conservation and so on.
Taking precedence of the above issues the Government has taken the following steps to overcome the challenge of corruption and cronyism
  1. Appointment of Judges to be made through the NJAC. This will give more authority to the executive to control the favouritism in Judges. In the words of Former CJI, the judicial system is not free from corruption. Therefore, timely monitoring by the executive is a welcome step.
  2. SEBI has expanded the definition of “insider trading” to curb malpractices in private sector after the recommendation of Justice Sodhi Committee.
  3. The recent clearance of Black Money Bill. This adds criminal liability to tax evasion with 300% interest on the amount transferred in foreign accounts
  4. Monetization of Gold to discourage the practice of stalling economy through accumulation of gold. This also acts as resource for black money.
  5. Increasing Transparency in allocating mines which is done through auction by amending Mines and Minerals Act.
  6. Amending the Prevention of corruption act to punish those indulge in corruption including the corporates who have role in it.
  7. Direct money transfer to beneficiaries in case of MGNREGA, gas subsidies thereby reducing corruption because of middlemen.
  8. Using electronic platform for approval of projects within a specified time thereby reducing the role of corruption while granting clearances for projects.
Impact on India:
  1. Government spending will reach the real beneficiaries.
  2. Increases the Faith of government among citizens
  3. Increases the income of government where they can be used effectively for development.
  4. Increases the FDI’s and FII’s which in turn generates employment and income to the country.
  5. Increases competitive spirit among Corporate focusing on performance rather than trying for political patronage.


Some believe that the high level of corruption levels in the country can be traced back to certain elements in Indian Culture. Critically analyse. (150 Words)
Corruption, Prostitution and Theft are as old as Human civilisation. These malice of society are well represented in various mythologies, upanishads, samhita and vedas which forms documentation of Indian Culture of olden times.
Corruption was present and prevalent during old times are evident from one instance in Mahabharata: In Mahabharata it is mentioned that, when Sudama started his journey to meet Shri Krishna. He had a bag full of rice, but as he crossed each provinces, guards at nagar dwara asked for share of rice as bribe. Hence, when Sudama reached Dwaraka, he was left only with handful of rice. It shows that bribing existed in those time also and were part of Indian culture.
Corruption exists where ever there is manual intervention in public authority and personal greed dominating over public duty. In India, because of vast poverty and gap between public authority and public created reason for corruption more
  • Ascriptive values i.e. Indians still show biasness towards people from their caste, region, language etc.
  • General apathy towards public life. People are more concerned in earning livelihood rather than participating actively in public affairs as long as it does not directly affect them.
  • Acceptance of corruption in society
  • Increasing consumerism and westernisation i.e. race to earn more, have more assets
  • Greed over need


There is a widespread view in the society today that, “every man has his price.” Do you agree with this view? Critically analyse. (150 Words)
In the contemporary world where every activity is evaluated on economic markers and seen as opportunity to content his greed, it is not wrong to say that “Every man has his price.” Whether it be sports like cricket or parliament or hospital or even a temple, everyone has a price.
Price tag here refers to the money or equivalent favours directed to a person in exchange of favour. Favours like getting loan passed, getting someone harassed by the police, getting fake degrees and even getting organ transplanted illegally by doctors all accompany a hefty price tag which is paid to the person doing the favour.
This unchecked favouring has led to widespread corruption and severely affected the economy besides bringing a bad name to the country. Normal day to day activity which were supposed to be done with a sense of sincerity and responsibility are nowadays not been done without bribing the individual.
Getting favours done or even simple tasks out of ones ambit has put an price tag to the task and also to individual. It seems like everyone has got a price and they are programmed accordingly, so qualities such as pride, altruism and duty are long been lost. We should all pledge ourselves to stay away from this price tag and serve human kind selflessly.
Statement assumes that everyone can be bought and there is no such thing as “Honesty” and “Integrity” in contemporary times. This statement is true to a large extent. Give examples. But, there it cannot be generalised. Give examples of honest officers. Honesty and Integrity cannot be bought.


Recruitment to civil servants is done mainly on the basis of testing their domain knowledge with negligible emphasis on ethical competencies. How far do you think has this approach resulted in increasing corruption in government? Explain. (200 Words)
Civil services form the most visible and perhaps the most important arm of the government. It is this institution that is visible in the public sphere and it is this through
this institution, social legitimacy of the government is manifested.
By selecting highly knowledgeable and intelligent officers, we can only insure that they would be able to understand the system and use it. How they use it, that is a very serious question and a question that has had mixed answers.
In the 6 decades of our independence, we have seen a blatant misuse of the system by highly intelligent officers who work against the ethical norms and indulge in extracting money from the very people they are appointed to serve. Further, the lack of accountability, lack of merit based promotion; excessive politicisation of the system and poor work culture has ensured that the benefits that the people deserved never get to them.
The army uses a comprehensive week long testing to select its officers. The Civil Services officers in foreign nations have to undergo two to three days of rigorous interviewing process. Our 30 minutes of interview is not enough as the first step of the service, for it can only judge how the candidate behaved during that time period.
Ethics on the field are what make a public servant actually serve the public. They are more important than the cramming power of the candidate and must be selected as the primary criterion for such a service, becauseeven a less intelligent honest officer can find the one way of doing the right thing, but a clever dishonest one can find ten thousand ways of rightly doing the wrong thing.
Value decides action.  Explain how lack of values lead to corruption.
Values are difficult to cultivate. So they should be tested at the time of recruitment only. Also training systems in India are weak leaving no scope to inculcate values in recruited officials. It becomes more prudent to recruit officers with right values.


Assume you are the Collector of a district which is known for corruption, delays and inefficiencies in public service delivery. Suggest some innovative steps you would take up as a collector to tackle corruption in your district? (200 Words)
My duty as District Collector is to implement government policy, conduct elections in district, monitor revenue collection and expenditure in district and maintain peace, faith and justice in my administration purview.
Some innovative steps to tackle corruption in district would be:
  1. Fairness in all future allocation, auction: Conduct e-auction of all project, maintaining online records of all nominees, criteria considered before selection and example of correct form and info filling for nomination.
  2. Individual Responsibilities given to corruption in department: Setting example in department that, if a mistake is found, person responsible for that is only be responsible for that. This will remove the attitude of shifting responsibility and blame game attitude from department.
  3. Online system of leaves tracking, incoming and outgoing swipe card system in department where public dealing happens so that, all public officials adheres to time strictly.
  4. Complaints and Grievance Redressal room in district collectorate office where anyone can walk in and tell about what difficulty they are facing. Sometimes, public are also unaware of correct protocol to do certain things and later blames to government corruption. Such Redressal room will guide them to correct channel and correct person.
  5. Timely organising annual meet of all employees in collectorate office where awards will be given to best performers (not shaming of corrupt persons). Such awards ceremonies will bring family of employees closer and they will get to know who is performing good and why. It will bring self-evaluation of employees in social way without report cards.
Though this are small and non-costly approach, but if correctly implemented, They can definitely do wonders.
(1). Complaints boxes in all public facing departments. Weekly monitoring of complaints handling. One day per month for “Jan Sunwais”
(2). Use of watsap groups, facebook pages (social media) for information, communication and awareness generation



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