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Corruption in Civil Service

  • 06 Sep 2022
  • 9 min read

For Mains: Prevalence of corruption in Civil Service, Transparency & Accountability, Government Policies & Interventions, Important International Institutions

Why in News?

The Prime Minister in his 76th Independence Day’s address targeted the twin challenges of corruption and nepotism and raised the urgent need to curb them.

What is Corruption?

  • Corruption is dishonest behavior by those in positions of power.
  • Those who abuse their power may be individuals or they may belong to organizations, such as businesses or governments.
  • Corruption can entail a variety of actions, including giving or accepting bribes or inappropriate gifts, double-dealing, and defrauding investors.
  • India was ranked 85 among 180 countries in the corruption perception index 2021.

What are the Reasons for the Prevalence of Corruption in Civil Service?

  • Politicization of the Civil Service: When civil service positions are used as rewards for political support or swapped for bribes, the opportunities for high levels of corruption increase significantly.
  • Lower Wages Compared to Private Sector: Lowering wages for civil servants compared to those in the private sector.
    • Certain employees may resort to taking bribes in order to compensate for the difference in wages.
  • Administrative Delays: Delays in the clearance of files are the root cause of corruption.
  • Colonial Legacy of Unchallenged Authority: In a society which worships power, it is easy for public officials to deviate from ethical conduct.
  • Weak Enforcement of Law: Various laws have been made to curb the evil of corruption but their weak enforcement has acted as a hindrance in curbing corruption.

What can be the impact of Corruption?

  • On People and Public Life:
    • Lack of Quality in Services: In a system with corruption, there is no quality of service.
      • To demand quality, one might need to pay for it. This is seen in many areas like municipality, electricity, distribution of relief funds, etc.
    • Lack of Proper Justice: Corruption in the judiciary system leads to improper justice. And the victims of offense might suffer.
      • A crime may be proved as a benefit of the doubt due to a lack of evidence or even the evidence erased.
      • Due to corruption in the police system, the investigation process has been going on for decades.
    • Poor Health and Hygiene: In countries with more corruption, one can notice more health problems among people. There will be no fresh drinking water, proper roads, quality food grains supply, milk adulteration, etc.
      • These low-quality services are all done to save money by the contractors and the officials who are involved.
  • Failure of Genuine Research: Research by individuals needs government funding and some of the funding agencies have corrupt officers.
    • These people sanction the funds for research to those investigators who are ready to bribe them.
  • On Society:
    • Disregard for Officials: People start disregarding the official involved in corruption by talking negatively about him.
      • Disregard officials will also build distrust and even lower-grade officers will be disrespectful to higher-grade officers. So even he may not obey his orders.
    • Lack of Respect for Rulers: Rulers of the nation like the president or prime ministers lose respect among the public. Respect is the main criteria in social life.
      • People go for voting during the election with the desire to improve their living standards by the election winner and respect for the leader.
      • If the politicians are involved in corruption, people knowing this will lose respect for them and will not like to cast their vote for such politicians.
    • Lack of Faith and Trust in Governments: People vote for a ruler based on their faith in him/ her, but if leaders are found to be involved in corruption, people lose faith in them and may not vote next time.
    • Aversion for Joining the Posts Linked to Corruption:
      • Sincere, honest, and hardworking people develop an aversion for the particular posts deemed corrupt.
      • Though they like those jobs, they tend not to opt for them as they believe that they also would have to be involved in corruption if they get into the post.
  • On Economy:
    • A Decrease in Foreign Investment: Corruption in government bodies has led to many foreign investments going back from developing countries.
    • Delay in Growth: An official who needs to pass clearances for projects or industries delays the process in order to make money and other unlawful benefits. A work which can be done in a few days may be done in a month.
      • This leads to delays in investments, the starting of industries, and also growth.
    • Lack of Development: Many new industries willing to get started in a particular region change their plans if the region is unsuitable.
      • If there are no proper roads, water, and electricity, the companies do not wish to start up there, which hinders the economic progress of that region.

What should be the Way Forward?

  • Civil Service Board: By establishing the Civil Service Board, the government can curb excessive political control.
  • Simplifying Disciplinary Process: By simplifying the disciplinary process and strengthening preventive vigilance within the departments, it can be ensured that corrupt civil servants do not occupy sensitive positions
  • Emphasize Value-based Training: It is important to emphasize value-based training to all civil servants to ensure probity in public life.
    • Professional ethics should be an integral component in all the training courses and called for a comprehensive Code of Ethics for civil servants, based on the recommendations of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC).
  • Enumerate Ethical and Public-Spirited Civil Servant:
    • Enumerating the qualities of an ethical and public-spirited civil servant, an ideal officer should ensure zero pendency of issues in his purview and must display the highest qualities of probity and integrity in office, be proactive in taking the measures of the government to the people, and above all be sympathetic to the cause of marginalised sections.
      • Reflecting on the importance of ‘good institutions’ for ‘good governance’, there is a need to re-engineer our institutions and streamline the processes to cut down delays and ensure timely delivery of the services.
  • Change in line with the Modern Aspirations: Governance models should change in line with the modern aspirations of our people, and that it is necessary to keep the bureaucratic system ‘light, transparent and agile’.
    • Government has launched ‘Mission Karmayogi’ with an aim to build a citizen-centric and future-ready civil service for the nation.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q. “Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance”. In this context suggest reforms in the Civil Service for strengthening democracy. (2020)

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