Lying – UPSC Ethics

Why is lying considered as wrong act? Do you think it is ethically wrong to lie under all circumstances? Critically comment. (150 Words)

A person often lies to
    1. Hide some wrong act
    2. Manipulate or con persons
    3. Receive undue praise or reward that he does not deserve
Thus such lies break trust, spoils relation, covers wrongdoing and wrongdoers etc. Hence it is considered a wrong act.
But sometimes a lie with good intention may not be unethical. A lie to prevent someone from breaking down or acting out of anger, harbouring wrong judgment about others and end enmity etc. is acceptable.
This is applicable also in public service sphere where a lie or not revealing the truth may prevent public unrest, outrage and panic. In 1993, following the Bombay blast, then CM of Maharashtra had falsely included the name of a Muslim populated area in blast site list to prevent any communal retaliation.
Thus lying is a vice but it entails more virtue when applied with noble intentions.


Do you think it is ethical for a civil servant to lie before citizens even in public interest? Justify your stance with suitable examples. (150 Words)
Honesty forms one of the most significant civil service values. It is the ability of civil servant to be truthful to his inner-self and public both. But, the meaning of truth has to be considered in broader sense. The ultimate truth as per Gandhi is establishment of progressive and socially integrated society. And for that civil servant can refrain from speaking truth or lie in order to uphold supremacy of public interest. Chanakya too has reiterated the same by introducing Kutilniti where deviant means like lie is acceptable till the time it harmonize the society.
To illustrate, if some terrorist attack has happened and state’s machinery has come to a standstill. In such situation if civil servant in order to avoid chaos and restore law & order in public, issues an authoritative statement of everything being in control then it may not be unethical fully.
However, CS should use such means as a matter of exception and not rule.
“Welfare for citizens” and “Public Service” are the top most priority of a public servant. All his actions/ inactions must be driven to achieve these objectives. While Honesty is a desired trait, but if it comes in way of ensuring public welfare, honesty has to give way and hiding truth or telling a lie is justified.



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