16 Solved Questions with Answers
1. (a) State the three basic values, universal in nature, in the context of civil services and bring out their importance. (2018)
Values are essential components of organisational culture and are instrumental in determining, guiding and informing behaviour. For bureaucracies, adherence to high-level public service values can generate substantial public trust and confidence. Some basic, universal values include:
Integrity and Honesty: Integrity is putting the obligations of public service above your own personal interests. Civil servants should be guided solely by public interest in their official decision making and not by any financial or other consideration either in respect of themselves, their families or their friends.
Objectivity, Impartiality and Political Neutrality: Civil servants in carrying out their official work, including functions like procurement, recruitment, delivery of services etc. should take decisions based on merit and free from any partisan/political consideration.
Commitment to Public Service: Civil servants should deliver services in a fair, effective, impartial and courteous manner to serve the larger public interest. The dedication to the public welfare cause is crucial.
Integrity, dedication to public service, impartiality, political neutrality, anonymity, accountability, devotion to duty, exemplary behaviour etc. are said to be the hallmarks of an efficient civil service.
1. (b) Distinguish between “Code of ethics” and “Code of conduct” with suitable examples. (2018)
Code of conduct
A legally enforceable code of conduct sets out the standards of behaviour expected of those working in the public service. The Civil Service code outlines the Civil Service's core values, and the standards of behaviour expected of all civil servants in upholding these values. In India, the current set of ethical norms are the Conduct Rules, contained in the Central Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 and analogous rules applicable to members of the All India Services or employees of various State Governments. The code of behaviour as enunciated in the Conduct Rules, while containing some general norms like ‘maintaining integrity and absolute devotion to duty’ and not indulging in ‘conduct unbecoming of a government servant is generally directed towards cataloguing specific activities deemed undesirable for government servants. These conduct rules do not constitute a code of ethics.
Code of Ethics
Such a code contains a declaration of values for the civil services, reflecting public expectations of the relationship between the civil service and the government, the legislature, and the members of the public, with specific reference to political impartiality, maintenance of the highest ethical standards, accountability for actions and responsibilities to the government of the day. There is no Code of Ethics prescribed for civil servants in India although such codes exist in other countries. There is need for more generic norms to be laid down by way of accepted conduct for the civil servants as recommended by the Hota committee.
Code of conduct include guidelines on acceptance of gifts by government servants and specific behaviour regulating codes (class I officer shall not permit son or daughter to take employment with a company with which she has official dealings’ or ‘acquiring immovable property with previous knowledge of prescribed authority’ and so on).
Code of ethics would include the principles of integrity, impartiality, commitment to public service, accountability, devotion to duty, exemplary behaviour etc.
2. (a) What is meant by public interest? What are the principles and procedures to be followed by civil servants in public interest? (2018)
The term ‘public interest’ means matters concerning welfare of the people. Civil service or public service is for the welfare of the people. As such policies and their implementation should be guided by public interest or public welfare. All government works have the overriding motive of public interest. Civil servants should be guided solely by public interest in their official decision making.
Principles and procedures
Any financial or other consideration either in respect of themselves, families or friends is to be avoided; public interest should be the sole principle consideration of decision making.
Violation of code of conduct or wrongdoings results in penalties including suspension and termination from service or prosecution of the civil servant under the relevant laws such as the CrPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.
If a policy that is being formulated is perceived by the civil servant to be against public interest, his/her responsibility is to convince the political executive about the adverse implications of such a policy. However, if the political executive does not agree with such an advice, there is little that the civil servant can do other than putting his/her views clearly on record.
Institutional mechanisms such as the Parliament, the CAG, Judiciary and ultimately the electorate hold the political executive to account for bad policy which ignores public interest.
2. (b) “The Right to Information Act is not all about citizens’ empowerment alone, it essentially redefines the concept of accountability.” Discuss (2018)
The RTI Act is powerful tool that strengthens democracy and promotes good governance by promote transparency and accountability in administration. It empowers Indian citizens to seek information from a public authority, thus making the Government and its functionaries more accountable and responsible enhancing the citizen’s ability to participate in the process.
In recent times, RTI has redefined the concept of accountability in following ways:
- Administrators are not only accountable for their routine work but they are accountable to provide information sought by citizens in time bound manner. The Act provides for penalty on the Public Information Officer, in case he fails to provide information.
- Further, RTI law provides for proactive disclosures for information by government agencies in public interest.
These strict provisions for ensuring dissemination of information have clearly enhanced and redefined accountability of government agencies. Until this Act, the Official Secrets Act, a legacy of the British colonial rule, led to secrecy and opaqueness in administration and was designed to deny information about government activities to the people. The RTI Act on the contrary laid the responsibility of information dissemination on bureaucracy itself.
In doing so, the Right to Information Act not only empowers citizens but also redefines the concept of accountability of public administration.
3. (a) What is meant by conflict of interest? Illustrate with examples, the difference between the actual and potential conflicts of interest. (2018)
It is a situation that has the potential to undermine the impartiality of a person because of the possibility of a clash between the person's self-interest and professional interest or public interest. A civil servant is expected to be free of such a conflict to discharge his or her duties responsibly. Conflict of interest impairs one’s judgement of a situation and affects decision making. Personal or private interests should not improperly influence the performance of official duties or responsibilities.
A conflict of interest involves a direct conflict between one’s official duties and responsibilities and a competing interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third-party. It refers to situations where a conflict is inevitably established such as acceptance of gifts or hospitality from a company which one may be dealing with one’s official capacity.
A potential conflict of interest arises where an interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third-party, could conflict with official duties and responsibilities in the future. It refers to situations where a possible anomaly might arise (such as the conflicts with the immediate family interests unless disclosures are made) with respect to friendship, investment, gift or treats.
3. (b) “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they do not have the first, the other two will kill you.” —Warren Buffet
What do you understand by this statement in the present-day scenario? Explain. (2018)
People without integrity could be dangerous; just intelligence and energy are not enough even though those two are great qualities of achievers. Without integrity, the other two qualities are problematic.
In the present-day scenario, it means that intelligence and energy without the sobering touch of integrity are dangerous. It could create dangerous leaders, policy makers or civil servants. Integrity or moral soundness is a greater virtue than intelligence and energy. Integrity keeps energy and intelligence in control and puts the latter to good use. People without integrity (but loaded with intelligence) are not be hired or trusted.
A reliable person would be one with integrity. A person without integrity but intelligence could be a potential thief or a fraud. In the present-day context, many financial frauds are often committed by people who are low on integrity but very high on energy and intelligence.
In today’s political, economic and administrative field, policy makers and leaders without integrity would create chaos and danger for society. A person with low integrity would compromise on values and subvert social progress while furthering his or her own progress with his/her intelligence.
4. (a) “In doing a good thing, everything is permitted which is not prohibited expressly or by clear implication.” Examine the statement with suitable examples in the context of a public servant discharging his/her duties. (2018)
Things that are not expressly forbidden by law or by clear implication are allowed in public administration. If the action promotes good and is not proscribed by any law or is not covered potentially by possible implication of conflict of interest, then it is permitted.
For public servants discharging their duties, the above statement provides a code of conduct for carrying out their responsibilities. ‘Everything which is not forbidden is allowed’ is also a constitutional principle of English law defining the essential freedom of citizens.
The conduct of a civil servant should be free of bias and prejudice. The overriding motive should be ‘public interest’ and conflict of interest should be avoided. As such, doing a good thing is allowed if there is no law against it and if there is no potential or perceived conflict of interest
For example, a public servant such as a District Magistrate endowed with the spirit of service may arrange for refreshment of senior citizens visiting the office for various services. Such a good gesture is not forbidden by law and does not appear to be influenced by any prejudice. Similarly, treating flood-affected victims with more kindness, empathy and understanding and going out of one’s way to help them as long as it does not violate any law is another case of an act within the ambit of the spirit of the statement.
4. (b) With regard to morality of actions, one view is that means are of paramount importance and the other view is that the ends justify the means. Which view do you think is more appropriate? Justify your answer. (2018)
The means-ends debate is a paramount ethical dilemma. ‘Ends justify the means’ (Machiavelli) refers to a situation in which the final aim is considered so important that any way of achieving it is acceptable. Whereas, people like Gandhi firmly rejected the rigid dichotomy between ends and means to the extent that they believed that means and not the ends provide the standard of reference. Gandhi wrote, “The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree.”
The answer to the question depends on what the ends or goals are and what means are being used to achieve them. If the goals are good and noble, and the means we use to achieve them are also good and noble, then yes, the ends do justify the means. But that is not what most people often mean when they use the expression. Most use it as an excuse to achieve their goals through any means necessary, no matter how immoral, illegal or unpleasant the means may be. Even Hitler believed that his means (holocaust) were justified for the ends of racial purity in Germany. The ‘ends justifying the means’ usually involves doing something wrong to achieve a positive end and justifying the wrong doing by pointing to a good outcome. There are certain things to consider in such a situation: the morality of the action, the morality of the outcome, and the morality of the person performing the action.
If someone is looking for a justification to their acts, it is often because they are doing something unethical. The ‘means are of paramount importance’, view is clearly more appropriate, ethical and desirable.
5. (a) Suppose the Government of India is thinking of constructing a dam in a mountain valley bound by forests and inhabited by ethnic communities. What rational policy should it resort to in dealing with unforeseen contingencies? (2018)
Constructing a dam in a mountain valley entails many challenges. A comprehensive rehabilitation policy would ensure that unforeseen contingencies which bug many development projects are avoided. The following points of action should constitute the rational policy in dealing with contingencies.
Transparent Rehabilitation, Resettlement: Government must implement resettlement packages making the ethnic communities/tribals materially better off to counter the narrative that development and modernization is disastrous for tribals, who cannot cope with the change. Land distribution, compensation for loss of houses, forest produce and grazing land and other such resettlement measures should be implemented thoroughly without prejudice.
Maintain transparency, ensure economic welfare: The oustees must be provided complete information regarding the dam, submergence and subsequent displacement due to them. Project authorities and state government must rehabilitate the oustees with sustainable non-land based livelihoods where needed. The various problems associated with displacement are compounded several times over for oustees who are also otherwise specially vulnerable, variously by class, caste, gender or age. Such vulnerabilities should factor in rehabilitation packages.
Public Hearing: From the inception of planning of dam, through various stages of displacement and resettlement, it is to be expected that those likely to be negatively affected by the projects would be consulted and kept informed in such a way (public hearing, social audit) as to enable them to best rebuild their lives. Bureaucratic lassitude and insensitivity should not be tolerated.
Ensure Tribal welfare: The Forest department must proactively involve the people in the forest villages about possible submergence and displacement. Tribal people share the problems of other rural people but they are even more dependent on forests and common property resources, their documented legal rights on cultivable lands are even more tenuous, their skills for diversified livelihood not based on forests or land are even more rudimentary, and their ability to negotiate with state officials and courts even more weaker.
5. (b) Explain the process of resolving ethical dilemmas in Public Administration. (2018)
Some of the most common ethical dilemmas with which public servants are confronted revolve around aspects such as administrative discretion, corruption, nepotism, administrative secrecy, information leaks, public accountability and policy dilemmas.
Dilemmas could be overcome through an ethical decision–making process. It is characterized as the course of the action of choosing from alternatives which are based on civil services values, moral responsibility and personal accountability of public administrators towards the society. The decisions have to reflect the respect for professional values, principles and norms.
A bureaucrat should answer the following questions: Which are the main factors influencing the decision? What are its consequences? Who does the action benefit? Would the action embarrass the department or the society at large? Is the problem really what it appears to be? Is the action fully legal and ethical? These guidelines help to clarify whether the action is socially responsible. Though sometimes there is no clear answer to all questions.
All ethical and moral issues along with the public policies, laws, rules and regulations are to be kept in mind while resolving a dilemma.
Final decision and action after evaluation should be in consonance with laws and ethics.
Anthony Makrydemetres sets out the ALIR model of imperatives of ethical reasoning - a set of basic principles that integrate and rearrange the process of dealing with ethical dilemmas. The four functionally related imperatives are: (a) the principle of democratic legitimacy and accountability of public bureaucracy and administration; (b) the rule of law and the principle of legality whereby law and only law should govern the administration; (c) the principle of meritocracy, professional integrity, autonomy and capacity of the administrative apparatus of the state; and (d) the principle of responsiveness and responsibility of administration to civil society.
6. What do each of the following quotations mean to you?
(a) "An unexamined life is not worth living" — Socrates
An unexamined human life, is deprived of the meaning and purpose of existence. The ability to introspect removes the individualistic absurdity by invoking a commitment to moral integrity and social solidarity.
Just like a seed needs soil, sunlight and water for its germination, human life needs introspection and examination for its growth. An understanding of the experiences gained in the life at any particular time, enriches one’s engagement with self and the universe.
Mahatma Gandhi’s examination of self through his autobiography ‘My experiments with truth’ highlights the significance of reflection on life. Mahatma Gandhi was not only able to map his weaknesses and vulnerabilities through the examination, but was also able to question his prejudices and understand his strength as a human being.
This very ability to reflect on life adds more depth to the character of ‘Arjun’ in Mahabharat than most of the other characters like Bheeshm, Yudhishthir or the Kauravs. Instead of following the norms and fighting with his clan, Arjun questions the meaninglessness of the war and the purpose of his life.
The fast changing societies and consumerist culture in the contemporary world leave less time for human beings to examine and think about the changes. Adaptation to changes have become automatic and unquestionable.
The quotation has strong relevance in the present times where human beings are burdened with the histories of war, colonisation, nationalisation, erosion of morality in the scientific and technological advancements and the sense of spiritual uprootedness.
It is in these times that one needs to delve deeper into the conscience to find the purpose of existence and engage in a more meaningful manner with the society.
6. What do each of the following quotations means to you in the present context?
(a) “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of government policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.” – Abraham Lincoln. (2018)
Lincoln’s statement (1848) is relevant for present-day world. The world is not just black and white; there are shades of grey, thus public policies and decision-making have to be accordingly adjusted. Nothing is completely evil or totally good. One has to apply mind and find out if something has more bad (evil) in it or good in it. Most things have both bad and good in them and a good administrator must continuously examine them.
Government policy is neither wholly good nor wholly bad. In that it could be good for many and bad for some and so on. Policy makers must analyze it, to find out what dominates. If the evil content is more than the good then such a policy course should be rejected; but if the good dominates, then it could be adopted or embraced.
Lincoln’s statement could be seen in the light of dams and hydro-electric power projects in India. On one hand, they displace the tribals and uproot forests but on the other hand they bring electricity, infrastructure, employment and development. If the damages are more and cannot be offset by the possible good development then it is likely a bad course of action. Most public policy decisions could be analyzed in this light.
6. (b). “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.” — M.K. Gandhi
Actions of a person are largely determined by her thought process. One’s thoughts are the first engagement points with the society. Thoughts impact behaviour as well as the attitude, while moulding the actions. It therefore, becomes very important for the thoughts to be fixated to a compass of morality and conscience. Ethical behaviour and regulation of actions emerge from ethical thought process.
Thoughts or reflections on experiences open up possibilities for the choices of action to be taken. An understanding and awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings, or emotional intelligence can help in regulating her actions accordingly. For example, while thoughts of kindness and compassion can create more empathetic individuals, thoughts of violence and anger can contribute to the making of criminals in society.
Technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence and Big data invoke new questions around ethics in the present day society. Individuals’ thinking has become more self centred under the impact of increasing individualism and consumerism, this has further led to the individuals’ detachment from the community and society. There has also been an increased desire from the market and the state for the control over people’s thoughts, behaviours and actions. This is not only in violation of a person’s right to speech and expression but also reduces the individual’s tendency to question and to think critically.
It is in these times that people’s ability to think freely in a society should be nurtured. Societies need to emphasise more on the education as inculcation of critical ethical thinking can produce individuals who act ethically, thereby impacting society, nation and the world at large.
6. (b) “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” – Mahatma Gandhi. (2018)
Anger and intolerance are antithetical to reasons and correct understanding. They cloud our judgment and affect peace of mind. It is not possible to think clearly and make the right decisions if one is angry or intolerant.
Anger makes a person lose calmness and forces them to take hasty decisions which may not be correct. Anger makes a person to lose patience which drives him towards intolerance. Angry person is a constantly stressed person; such a person cannot think with clarity.
Balanced decision making, social progress and development is made possible through leaders who have a cool head on their shoulders and not by people who are easily irritated or who are not tolerant of others, conflicting viewpoints, ways of living and thinking or world views.
Today, it is common to find people and leaders losing steadiness of mind when faced with stress. Angry and intolerant people are often bad decision makers. The World Wars and other wars in history were often fomented by people who easily grew angry and intolerant (such as Hitler who is responsible for millions of murders).
Correct understanding of a situation requires mental composure and equanimity. Angry and intolerant people cannot differentiate between correct and incorrect understanding.
6. (c). “Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.” — A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
A.P.J Abdul Kalam had highlighted the importance of quality of righteousness through this quote and had given a beautiful connectivity between heart, character, nation and the world.
- Righteousness is the quality of being morally right and justifiable which forms the basis for any peaceful and prosperous society. Every religion focuses on the quality of righteousness as a means to an end.
- For example: In Hindu mythologies and texts, the path of righteousness i.e dharma is regarded as the ideal path or ultimate duty of every human being.
- By the above quote, he lays down the path for enabling peace in a society. By focusing on individual rejuvenation as the locus of all activity, he aims to reform and integrate the whole society.
- For example: In the 3rd century BC, Ashoka promoted the code of Dhamma in his empire, which was the set ideal social behaviour for promoting peace and enabling prosperity in the kingdom.
- The contemporary society has been seen digressing from the path of righteous behaviour and has shown more inclination toward the materialistic way of life, which has led to the eruption of several social and societal problems.
- If individuals follow the righteous path, they are more likely to spread happiness to others and succeed in their personal endeavours and will contribute to the upliftment of their household status, which indirectly will contribute to the happiness and upliftment of whole society, and then many social problems like crime, corruption, mob lynching etc can be eliminated from the society.
- Similarly, the more prosperous society will contribute to a more prosperous nation.
- For example: Terrorism has beacame a severe menace in many West Asian countries and threatening the safety and security of whole world. Focus on enabling the order of righteous path in these nations will contribute to maintaining peace in the whole world.
Righteousness in multiple dimensions in the society with the indomitable spirit is essential for realizing the vision of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam".
- Righteousness is the quality of being morally right and justifiable which forms the basis for any peaceful and prosperous society. Every religion focuses on the quality of righteousness as a means to an end.
6. (c) “Falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good.” – Tirukkural (2018)
Tirukkural, the classic Tamil text deals with everyday virtues of an individual. This couplet implies that lie could be classed with truth if it blesses someone with good.
Even falsehood has the nature of truth, if it confers a benefit that is free from fault. In other words, a falsehood such as a lie, has the same respect as a truth if it has benign goals resulting in unblemished common good.
In the present context, it could mean that some actions may appear bad manifestly but they could be latently good if they are fully beneficial for the public.
It could be analyzed in the light of heroes in films or everyday life breaking some rule to get the right done for some social good. Such a falsehood or illegality is equal to truth because it brings flawless (unblemished) common good. A help given to exploited labourers may appear illegal given that they are legally tied to the zamindar or the money lender but such an action is actually truthful because it brings untarnished common good.
A ‘free from fault’ or ‘free from blemish’ action gives even a falsehood the nature of truth because it actually results in blessings. The overriding goal is the common good.