Mini Courses of GS IV: Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration

Mini Courses of Ethics, Integrity, Attitude, Aptitude and case studies for IAS Mains Examination

:: Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration ::


The term ‘Public Services’ is generally used to denote the civil services constituted by the government to translate all plans and programmes into implement-able actions. Public services forms the arms of the executive branch of the government- It is concerned with law enforcing functions. In the executive branch of the government, there are two parts, the ministers and civil servants. The civil servants carry out the orders of the ministers and advise them in policy formulation.

According to E.N. Gladden, “Civil/Public service is the name of an important government institution comprising the staff of central administration of the state. It stands for a spirit essential to the success of modem democracy, an Ideal of vocation in public officials who devote their lives to the service of the community”. Public services is a blend of certain features viz. expertise, vitality and leadership. Which enables the publc services to function in professional and efficient manner. It provides stability and continuity to the system of government.


The Macaulay Committee which gave India its first modern civil service in 1854 recommended that the patronage based system of me East India Company should be replaced by a permanent civil service based on a merit based system dirough competitive entry examinations. The Macaulay Report made it clear that only the best and the brightest would work for the Indian Civil Service (ICS). The Report stated, “It is undoubtedly desirable Uiat the civil servants of the Company should have received the best, the most finished education that the native country affords”.

After 1855, recruitment to the ICS came to be based totally on merit. Th e report of the Civil Service Commissioners pointed out that of those who entered the ICS between 1855 and 1878, more than two-thirds were university men, equipped with a liberal and finished education. Initially, the ICS sought its recruits from Oxford and Cambridge. It was thus an elite service. Subsequently, it opened its doors to Indians and from 1922 onwards the Indian Civil Service Examination began to be held in India.


While structuring the civil services alter Independence, the Indian political leaders chose to retain elements of the British structure of a unified administrative system such as an open-entry system based on academic achievements, elaborate training arrangements, permanency of tenure, important posts at Union, State and district levels reserved for the civil service, a regular graduated scale of pay with pension and other benefits and a system of promotions and transfers based predominantly on seniority. Hie civil services in India can be grouped into 3 broad catcgorics.i.e. Services whose members serve both the Union and the State Government are termed as All India Services. Services whose members serve only the Union Government are termed Central Civil Servicts. Apart from these, the State Governments have their own group of services - Slate Civil Serviees. The posts in the Union and the State Governments arc hierarchically arranged into four Groups - Group A to Group D.


Over the decades the personnel administrative system in the country has developed certain functionalities and dysfunctional ties. Some of the characteristic inadequacies and weaknesses of the public service system in India were identified are:

  • Bureaucracy, especially its higher echelons, has acquired a class character. In operation, its instrumental role is often subordinated, and it emerges as an end in itself.
  • The gap between the administration and the citizen is widening. It is true that bureaucracy has been somewhat insensitive to the needs of the citizens and has lost credibility.
  • The public services are immobilised by their size & it has become a slow-moving and dull-witted giant.
  • There are contradictions and incompatibilities at different levels of bureaucracy. Frequent confrontations between these levels paralyse the entire machine.
  • The public services have become a prisoner of their own procedures and precedents. Negative thinking appears to prevail. This leads to inaction rationalised in various ways.
  • The public services are becoming increasingly inadequate in taking up the new tasks and challenges. Even in the maintenance of law and order, bureaucracy often finds itself ineffective. In the economic field, its performance has generally been poor. It has rarely been able to take a dynamic view of the emerging problems. It tries to cure today’s ill with yesterday’s remedies, quite often these do not work.
  • The generalist tradition still prevails where as need of the day is specialisation. Little attention appears to be given to evolving structures for specialised roles to meet the challenges of the emerging constellation of social needs. f& In the general area of policy making, the public services have not given a convincing account of themselves, they act by hunches and intuition rather than trained insights.

The requirements/desirable ingredients of a good and sound personnel system were identified as follows, namely:

  • The best man for the job
  • Professionalism
  • Competitiveness in selection for higher adminisirativc positions
  • Placement to be job-oriented and not status quoist.
  • Motivation for better performance
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Objective evaluation of performance
  • Rational promotion and personnel development system
  • Appropriate organisation of functions of government and appropriate policies and practices to enable optimum personnel performance.


As a democratic country, a central feature of ethical governance is the constitutionally protected right to elect government at various levels in a fair manner, with effective participation by all sections of the population. This is a basic requirement for the legitimacy of the government and its responsibility to the electorate. The functions of government are laid down in the Constitution of a country, e Constitution of India lays down the roles and functions of the three levels of government - Union, State and Local, ese are spelt out in Part III on Fundamental Rights, Part IV on the Directive Principles of State Policy, Parts IX and IX A on local bodies, etc. According to the annual survey by the Berlin-based organization Transparency International, Finland. Iceland, and New Zealand are perceived to be the world’s least corrupt countries, and Haiti is perceived to be the most corrupt. The index defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain and measures the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among a country’s public officials and politicians. It is a composite index, drawing on 12 polls and surveys from 9 independent institutions, which gathered the opinions of business people and country analysts. Only 163 of the world’s 193 countries are included in the survey, due to an absence of reliable data from the remaining countries. The scores range from ten (squeaky clean) to zero (highly corrupt). A score of 5.0 is the number Transparency International considers the borderline figure distinguishing countries that do and do not have a serious corruption problem. India features at No. 70 with a rating of 3.3. This is a very low ranking in the international scenario and shows that corruption is a serious problem in India.


  • Attitudinal Problems of the Civil Servants
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Red Tapism
  • Lack of Awareness among Public
  • Ineffective Implementation of Laws and Rules
  • Sound legal frame work
  • Sound Institutional Machanism
  • Sound Personal Management


Values and ethics are central to any organization. Both are extremely broad terms, and we need to focus in on the aspects most relevant for strategic leaders and decision makers.

Some simplified basic concepts

  • value an issue or goal which is considered to be important
  • ethics the principles for evaluating the lightness ol deeds

The Ethics of Democratic Responsibility

  • Given that public officials are operating within a democratic-system, they either are elected by the people or appointed by an elected official. This confers upon them the obligation to carry out the will of the people. However, public officials also have the responsibility to make moral choices consistent with their own values, and that may be in conflict with what they perceive to be the will of the people.

The Ethics of Democratic Responsibility

  • Given that public officials are operating within a democratic-system, they either are elected by the people or appointed by an elected official. This confers upon them the obligation to carry out the will of the people. However, public officials also have the responsibility to make moral choices consistent with their own values, and that may be in conflict with what they perceive to be the will of the people.

Building an Ethical Climate

  • How can the strategic leaders of an organization build an ethical climate? Andrews suggests a number of steps that foster corporate ethics. First are the actions of the strategic leadership and the way they deal with ethical issues. The pattern of top leaders’ behavior determines organizational values. A second step is to make explicit ethics policies. Ethical codes are one common example. The next step is to increase awareness of how to apply those ethical codes. Training on how to deal with situations with an ethical dimension, and how to anticipate situations that involve ethical choices, can go a long way toward ethical institutional practices.


Deviation from normal standards of lack of integrity takes various shapes in the form of corruption, patronage (based on communalism, sectarianism, nepotism and favouritism) and undue influence. Bribery, nepotism, misuse of power or influence, black marketing profiteering and similar other practices are not all that is meant by corruption. In fact, anyone wasting public money, lacks integrity.

In general terms, corruption may be defined as the deliberate and intentional/exploitation of one’s position, status or .resources directly or indirectly, for personal aggrandisement whether it be in terms of material gain or enhancement of power, prestige or influence bevond what is legitimate or sanctioned by commonly accepted norms to the detriment of the interests of other persons or the community as a whole.


Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947": The Prevention of Corruption Act. 1947. defines the scope of corruption in regard to public servants as follows:

“A public sen am is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct in the discharge of his duty:

  • If he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept for himself or attempts to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person, any gratification (other than legal remuneration) as a motive or reward as mentioned in Section 161 of the Indian Panel Code.

  • If he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain for himself or for any other person, any valuable thing without consideration or for a consideration which he knows to be inadequate from any person whom he knows to have been, or to be likely to or about to be transacted by him, or having connection with the official functions of himself or of any public servant to whom he is subordinate, or from any person whom he knows to be interested in or related to the person concerned.

  • If he dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates, or, otherwise, abuses his position as a public servant, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage.

State Vigilance Commission : The Santhanam Committee on prevention of corruption made detailed recommendations in 1964 for strengthening of the Vigilance Organisation in each Ministry/ Department to make it more effective. While the primary responsibility for the maintenance ol purity, integrity and efficiency in each organisation continues to vest in the Secretary of the Ministry or the Head of the Department, an officer in each Ministry/ Department has been designated as Chief Vigilance Officer and entrusted with vigilance work. The Chief Vigilance Officers undertake review of the existing arrangements in the organisation under their charge including the public undertakings with a view to taking suitable steps or for strengthening the existing set up, wherever necessary. All proposals for re-organisation or strengthening the vigilance organisation are first required to be referred to the Central Vigilance Commission for scrutiny.


Ethics is a set of standards that society places on itself and which helps guide behaviour, choices and actions. The word ‘ethics’ is from the original Greek term ‘ethikos’, meaning ‘arising from habit’. Corruption is an important manifestation of the failure of ethics. The word ‘corrupt’ is derived from the I ,atin word ‘corruptus’, meaning ‘to break or destroy’. It is unfortunate that corruption has, for many, become a matter of habit, ranging from grand corruption involving persons in high places to retail corruption touching the everyday life of common people.

There are two approaches in dealing with corruption and abuse of office. The first is overemphasis on values and character. Many people lament the decline in values and the consequent rise in corruption. The implicit assumption is that until values are restored, nothing much can be done to improve the conduct of human beings. The second approach is based on the belief that most human beings are fundamentally decent and socially conscious, but mere is always a small proportion of people, which cannot reconcile individual goals with the good of society. Such deviant people tend to pursue personal gain at me cost of public good and me purpose of organized government is to punish such deviant behaviour. If good behaviour is consistently rewarded & bad behaviour consistently punished, the bulk of the people follow the straight and narrow path.

Morality in World Politics

Morality and fairness should certainly play a role in world influential or aware, encourages businesses to proactively engage with and respond to those that are disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalized. Businesses should give special attention to stakeholders in areas that are underdeveloped & should resolve differences with stakeholders in a just, fair and equitable manner.

Businesses should respect and promote human rights: The principle recognizes that human rights are the codification and agreement of what it means to treat others with dignity and respect. Over the deca des, these have evolved under the headings of civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights. The principle imbibes its spirit from the Constitution of India, which through its provisions of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, enshrines the achievement of human rights for all its citizens. The principle is in consonance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the formation of which, India played an active role. It takes into account the “Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights”, as referred in the United Nations “Protect. Respect, Remedy” Framework.


Board Members and senior managers will:

  • Act in the best interests of, and fulfill their fiduciary obligations to the Company;
  • Act honestly, fairly, ethically and wiUi integrity;
  • Conduct themselves in a professional, courteous and respectful manner and not take improper advantage of their position;
  • Will deal fairly with all stakeholders;
  • Comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations;
  • Act in good faith, responsibly, with due care, competence and diligence, without allowing their independent judgment to be subordinated;
  • Not use the Company’s property or position for personal gain;
  • Will not accept from or give to stakeholders gifts or other benefits not customery in normal social intercourse;
  • Act in a manner to enhance and maintain the reputation of the Company;
  • Disclose any personal interest that they may have regarding any matters that may come before the Board and abstain from discussion, voting or otherwise influencing a decision on any matter in which the concerned Director has or may have such an interest;
  • Abstain from discussion, voting or otherwise influencing a decision on any matters that may come before the board in which mey may have a conflict or potential conflict of interest;
  • Not use confidential information acquired in the course of their service as Directors or senior management for their personal advantage or for the advantage of any other entity;
  • Help create and maintain a culture of high ethical standards and commitment to compliance;

This is Part of Online Coaching & Study Kit of IAS Mains General Studies - IV

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