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  • 22 Dec 2020 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions

    Values like empathy, efficiency, impartiality and incorruptibility are the bedrock of ethical standards in civil services. Comment. (250 words)

    • Introduce by explaining the importance of ethical standards in civil services.
    • Explain the values of empathy, efficiency, impartiality and incorruptibility.
    • Substantiate your points with suitable examples.
    • Write a coherent conclusion.


    As per 2nd ARC report ‘Ethics in Governance’, a civil servant is only a ‘public trustee’ undertaking actions in trust of the public. Civil servants represent a distinct character in society because of their role to transform policy of government into action which will not be possible unless they possess the core values known as ‘foundational values’ of civil services.


    Civil servants should be empathetic, efficient, impartial and incorruptible and these are the guiding principles that form the bedrock of the higher civil services. The need of these values is mentioned below:

    • Empathy: It is a value and psychological concept which deals with thinking, and feeling from others perspective, how they think and feel. If the emphasis is on service to the country, it is necessary to understand who are to be served- their needs, aspirations and their living conditions.
      • Gandhiji’s Talisman to think about the last man in need should be adopted in taking decisions. For example, the guidelines under Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan to serve the differently-abled community are in line with the spirit of empathy.
    • Efficiency: It means optimal resource utilization and effectiveness with respect to meeting targets. Civil servants have the onerous responsibility to translate policies into programmes, to implement schemes on the ground.
      • They provide the most important link between legislation and implementation. Thus to minimize time and cost overruns, methodology of ‘reform, perform and transform’ should inspire civil servants to scale new heights in efficiency and transformational leadership.
      • Eg:‘Metro-man’ E. Shreedharan implemented projects in record time, which later on became a model for other high speed train projects.
    • Impartiality: It means being fair and non-discriminatory. A civil servant should not discriminate between citizens on the basis of their background, caste, religion, etc. They should give impartial advice to the government and should have impartiality towards any political party.
      • Being impartial will help in achieving the broad vision of national integration and inclusive development. It is a very essential attribute required when a country is in chaos, tensions, and conflict situations like communal riots, violent agitations etc.
    • Incorruptibility: It denotes the moral strength not to be persuaded to do something wrong. A corrupt system erodes the vitality of a robust country. The need for incorruptibility is because civil servants manage large public funds.
      • Lack of probity in 2G scam, 2010 Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Housing Society scam, etc led to loss of public trust.


    The ‘Iron Man’ of India, Sardar Patel, conceived ‘Civil Services’ as the steel frame of India. It is the duty of every civil servant today to make it a stainless steel frame, unsullied, shining and providing the support and glow for illuminating the lives of millions of Indians who are looking for ways to better their lives.

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