Public Service values – UPSC Ethics

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” – John F Kennedy.

If a democratically elected leader asks you to volunteer and give up some part of your wealth for the welfare of the poor, provided you are rich, will you give it up? Justify and also examine if such volunteerism has any ethical basis. (200 Words)
Acquiring and amassing is human and mortal nature but immortal truth like death and birth shows nature’s rule of distributing everything again. All religious and philosophical texts show the donation and altruism as good. Hence, we all humans are conditioned in a societal norm that giving away, helping others are human nature. Hence, I would give up some part of my wealth but at the same time I will make sure that it doesn’t go in undeserving and wrong hands.
Volunteerism always has ethical basis. Moral and Ethical behaviour has one important aspect of Selfless service toward society. But, judging someone on its basis is wrong for ex. if someone is not donating or exhibiting volunteerism then he/she is mean or anti-social, this is stereotyping.
Volunteerism brings us following benefits:
(1.)  It brings us more close to society. Human being a social animal finds it mentally relieving on both being helped and helping.
(2.) Altruism and Volunteerism gives mental satisfaction which is useful as found in various studies and research.
(3.) It is a way in which we can bring some artificial equality in society by helping disadvantaged.
(4.) Through Volunteerism we can sustain and build great task possible.
There are outstanding examples from recent past: When Lal Bahadur Shashtri asked all Indians to fast one day a week to save grain import price during 1965 Indo-Pak war. Whole nations donated money as well as started fasting which was visible in coming week’s downward trend in grain import bills.
Will give money. Individual welfare depends on the welfare of society. Individual does not live in vacuum. One can not live in an island of prosperity surrounded by sea of poverty/despair. But, Monetary help is not sufficient. More pressing need is to held government accountable how they are using the money.


Mutual trust is very important in building durable relationships both in personal and professional life.
As a public administrator, how will you build trust with your colleagues, subordinates and the public? Also throw light on the importance of trust in public administration. (200 Words)
I will take the following measures for enhancing trust with my colleagues, subordinates and the public:
  • Ensuring the functioning of the administration is in-line with rules and conventional norms – will remove un-certainty and doubts.
  • Arriving at decision through consensus, welcoming dissent, persuasion and ensuring transparency in operations
  • Ensuring that the lines of Communications are not only clear and direct but also interactive. There should be no scope for doubts and ambiguity.
  • Devolution of adequate powers and responsibilities to subordinates and no interference unless required or asked for.
  • Motivating subordinates to take initiatives and giving them credit in case of success and encouraging them in case of failure.
  • Ensuring efficient delivery systems as there is no substitute to this for building mutual trust with public.
  • Public Participation in decision making and implementation. For e.g. Community Policing Experiment has had a seminal impact on building mutual trust in India.
Public administrators are meant to “serve” the public. And mutual trust remains the cardinal principle of “Serving”. In fact the very legitimacy of public service is based on premise of mutual trust. An ambiance of mutual trust in internal administration automatically transfers into better public services and vice-versa.
Apart, from this as David Hume argued than humans are naturally social and mutual trust is an important requirement of human essence. Even, the widely accepted theory of Social Capital asserts this view. Thus, Mutual trust in public administration has not only instrumental but also inherent value.
We live in a society where we have to maintain several relationships both at personal and professional level and mutual trust is one thing that make these bonds strong
As a public administrator, I will do following things to build trust with Colleagues and subordinates
  1. Arriving at decision through consensus, welcoming dissent, persuasion and ensuring transparency in operations
  2. Ensuring that the lines of Communications are not only clear and direct but also interactive. There should be no scope for doubts and ambiguity.
  3. Devolution of adequate powers and responsibilities to subordinates and no interference unless required or asked for.
  4. Motivating subordinates to take initiatives and giving them credit in case of success and encouraging them in case of failure.
  5. Set example. Maintaining trust is imp not just gaining.
For building mutual trust with public:
  1. Avoid over promise and under delivery
  2. Organisation of public forum to know their views on present workings and grievances and act as per need
  3. Develop emotional intelligence, empathy towards the disadvantaged and grieved public and exhibit a true dedication to duty while helping them.
  4. Public Participation in decision making and implementation. For e.g. Community Policing Experiment
  1. The very legitimacy of public service is based on premise of mutual trust. An ambiance of mutual trust in internal administration automatically transfers into better public services and vice-versa.
  2. Elimination of resistance to your acts taken in your capacity. Reduces unnecessary interference in work performance.
  3. Collusive and coercive corruption can be checked.
  4. Better coordination and cooperation is achieved because of mutual trust
  5. Faith of public in administration can be successfully maintained.
  6. David Hume argued than humans are naturally social and mutual trust is an important requirement of human essence.


In your opinion, why honesty and integrity are important for a public servant? Is there a way to ensure these two qualities in politicians? Critically comment. (150 Words)
A public servant is to serve people and his/her actions will impact millions of lives. If he is not willing to serve honestly then many poor, illiterates, marginal and at times elite too become victims of the causes. For example corruption in a road contract may lead to low quality road that could cause accidents.
Public administrators are guardians of public interest and absence of honesty and
integrity leads a regime of corruption, self-interest over public-interest, nepotism, favouritism and crony capitalism as seen in case of India.
Increasing responsibility through transparency in public matters with RTI, Media, public forums, voluntary organisations. Strengthening ombudsman institutions like LokPal, Lokayukta, Vigilance teams. Transparency in party fund collection, speedy judicial proceedings may surely help.
Code of Ethics and Conduct, mandatory disclosure of conflict of interest can improve public service delivery. Social Audit, Citizens Charter etc also have very important roles to play.
However, it must be remembered that the political apparatus is a crude manifestation of the society itself and declining standards of integrity and are reflective of the society itself. Thus, there is a need to inculcate these virtues right from beginning. Even people must also elect candidates with these qualities
Integrity and honesty in a public servant are sine qua non for an efficient and sustainable administration. The concept of public handling over the responsibilities to sustain the society to the state itself is enough to maintain such values. The public servants are the repositories of public conscience; they secure their livelihoods and control the macro and micro economy.
In its absence there will be lawlessness and order-less-ness. For development of any society law and order must be stable. The two functions go hand in hand. The servants are the ones who empower the poor and lift them out of poverty.
Periodic elections are the most effective way for servants’ accountability and check on honesty and integrity. The notion of judicial independence and rule of law are an effective check on their functioning.
Timely intervention by CAG and media put pressure on the servants to fulfil their duty with honesty. The vigilant civil society as well as informative, proactive and much more demanding public in the days of globalized world keeps pushing them towards idealist performance even when they tend to get disoriented.
Hence many mechanisms exist in democracy, however the self-motivation and self-righteousness has no alternative and is the best pill to sustain honesty and integrity in a public servant.


What do you understand by “public service”? In your personal opinion, what constitutes public service and what should be the priority for a public servant? Discuss. (150 Words)
Public service refers to the broad framework under which government employees extend services with the aim of advancing greater public good. It includes the services provided, the contiguous interactions and the grievance redressal linked with those services. All the aspects of day to day life ranging from health, education, infrastructure and law and order among others that the government provides are under the purview of public service. In my opinion public service is to be seen as an amalgam of legal and moral obligations that must be provided in a transparent, efficient and time bound manner. For this to be fruitful, a public servant must ensure that he possesses the following virtues
  1. Honesty and compassion: this guarantees that the relationship between the citizens and service provider is firm and based on trust.
  2. Non – partisanship: this is a must to ensure an inclusive reach of services and that there is no injustice.
  3. Humility: the actions must not be high-handed and should be free of any vanity.
Along with this, a public servant must be accountable for his actions and see his role as a part of fulfilling societal needs.


Enumerate the Civil service values that a civil servant should follow in day to day administration. Do you think civil services are lacking in values? Discuss with examples. (200 Words)
Civil servants provide advice on options available to achieve the government‘s policies and the consequences of each option. All civil servants hold a unique position of trust. Whether providing advice, developing policy or delivering programs or direct services, civil servants will:
  1. Act in the public interest
  2. Act with integrity
  3. Act with respect for others
  4. Act with skill and dedication
  5. Impartiality
  6. Accountability
  7. Caring for subordinates
  8. Outcome orientation
By the 1970s the majority ―succumbed or were co-opted into the grand design of hedonism. Creating a Varna system in the civil services with themselves at the apex, ―depraved and arrogant IAS officers with little domain knowledge and disregard for constitutional norms, manipulated ―illiterate political bosses or aligned with powerful interests for corrupt personal ends. Secular credentials of IPS officials are questioned; financial misdemeanors are alleged to be especially prevalent in some central services; the judiciary is impugned for its ―ideological orientation‖; and so on.
There is hardly any room today for the average officer to display any sign of independence or candour in decision-making. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s decision to arrest the former Telecommunications Secretary, Siddhartha Behura, along with the former Minister, A. Raja, in connection with the 2G spectrum case, revives an old debate over the relationship between the civil servant and the politician. The drastic action by the agency should shake the entire bureaucracy, especially IAS, IPS, out of their complacency.
While recommending a wide slew of reforms in the civil services, the Administrative Reforms Commission has identified and been guided by a set of core. These core principles are as follows:
  1. Setting right the asymmetry of power: There is an imbalance in the exercise of power in governance. Often systemic rigidities, needless complexities and over-centralization make public servants ineffective and helpless in achieving positive outcomes.
  2. Insulating civil servants from undue political interference: The relationship between the political executive and the civil services needs to be transformed on the basis of  mutual understanding, respect and recognition of each other‘s distinct roles and responsibilities.
  3. Professionalization with stability of tenure and competition: There is need to recognize the complex challenges of modern administration in various spheres of activity.
  4. Citizen-centric administration: The fact that the functioning of the civil services has an impact on the quality of governance and thus on the well-being of the citizen and the welfare of the community as a whole is often forgotten.
  5. Accountability: There is a general feeling that existing mechanisms of accountability are inadequate.
  6. Promoting public service values and ethics: Apart from the traditional civil service values of efficiency, integrity, accountability and patriotism, it is necessary for civil servants to inculcate and adopt ethical and moral values including probity in public life, respect for human rights.
Today we also have honest civil servants, who are pride of the nation. A classic example of the rare breed of honest IPS is SHIVDEEP WAMAN LANDE->Under his tenure as the Patna S.P., the crime rate in reduced drastically. He is very famous among the common people. He has been contributing 70% of his salary to an organisation. The controversial suspension of young Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, had also triggered a major national debate.


“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
(a)How far is this statement true in Indian context and how much did it contribute to the growth of corruption in the country? ( 200 words )
(b) Many civil servants who are personally honest have done great disservice to the nation by not taking on the corrupt elements in their tribe heads on. Comment (200 words)
a) As said correctly “Main reason for the evil in world is not the action of evil doer but the silence of good people.” India is a land of people with diverse values and culture. This brings an attitude of tolerance. Tolerance is good and considered saintly behaviour as per mythology but it actualizes wrong actions when applied to.
  1. Tolerance toward evil and hence not raising voice against it.
  2. Tolerance toward anything wrong which is not affecting us in short term like corruption, wilfully accepting and giving bribes.
  3. Ignoring small and insignificant things like attitude toward punctuality, littering in public place.
  4. Indian culture advocates for collectivistic view of person rather than individualistic view of western nations. With the view that we are part of society, many a times, we start taking bribe or indulge in unethical practices thinking that corruption is going in society, what big difference we can bring as we are small part of society only.
Such Tolerance translates to suffering or doing nothing at the face of wrong happening in our zone of influence. Similarly the patrilineal culture prevalent forces women in India internalize the idea that they are inferior and form various stereotypes in society. It makes them indifferent toward women plight in same society and even in same home sometimes. This indirectly encourages men to internalize the idea of superior sex in terms of command, power and responsibility and they start dictating the activities of women in society.
Hence many evils in society breed or sustain because of tolerance and lack of break-free attitude which we inherit from Indian culture


Please read carefully the following case and answer the question asked at the end of the case within the word limit specified.
Ashok on completing his management degree from India’s most prestigious college decided to enter civil services to serve the nation. He gave up all the lucrative placement offers and started preparing for the civil service examination. He got selected into IAS in his third ttempt after four years of intense hard work. 
He was posted as Additional collector in a backward district in Karnataka and his excitement knew no bounds. However, his excitement soon started withering away. He began to notice that funds from grants were being mismanaged and misallocated. The recruitments, tenders and official statistics were all a big sham. His repeated attempts to address and bring the issue to the notice of higher authorities fell on to deaf ears. In fact, they started convincing him saying, “Things were always the same. They will remain the same. Do your best with the available framework”. 
Ashok soon started becoming disillusioned as he would never opt for unethical path. His conscience is telling him to quit the job and get into private sector where he will be paid far better salary.
Should Ashok quit his job? What are the other options before him? Substantiate your stance with logical arguments. (200 Words)
Serving the society was never and will never be an easy road. Getting disillusioned due to problems in government was acceptable but still he has multiple avenues in front of him to choose for his future.
Possible options:
  1. keep his job and wait to get some authority/seniority as he is junior so that he can make changes in the functioning of the government. like former CAG vinod rai who waited patiently and finally when in position of authority brought so many corrupt politicians , bureaucrats to justice.
  2. He can always go to political executive and persuade them about the reforms he wishes to introduce in the department to stop all the ill functioning. In this way he is also performing his duty as a public servant
  3. He can quit his job and can still do great for the society by starting a NGO , join politics , can become a social activist and work outside the bureaucracy and create pressure on government to bring changes. like AAP convener Arvind kejrival
  4. He can quit his job and live a luxurious life from the money he’ll get in private sector.
Among the options available and ashok’s desire to serve the people i think he should not quit his job and can go for option one and two



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