Do you think the public service values and the Code of Ethics should be given a statutory backing? Justify. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comments:

  • ARC has recommended this step. It’s important in the larger context of civil services reforms in India.  
  • http://arc.gov.in/10th/ARC_10thReport_Ch16.pdf
  • Your opinion regarding giving public service values and code of ethics a statutory backing is needed. You should write briefly on public service values and code of ethics and then justify why they should be included in a legislation(civil services bill) or not.
  • Write an introduction on the need for inculcating public service values in public servants and how India has failed to do so. Then write a line stating your opinion (should these be part of legislation or not) 
  • In the body, first, define what’s public service values and code of ethics (with examples).
  • Then, once again state your opinion and start defending it. There should be at least 5-6 good points. Start with ARC recommendation. You can refer to ARC (285-287) http://arc.gov.in/10th/ARC_10thReport_Ch16.pdf for more points. Also use your own arguments. Give current examples which have necessitated giving code of ethics statutory backing.  
  • In conclusion write in 1-2 lines about complimenting this step with other reforms related to recruitment, training etc. 
  • TIP: In GS-4 answers, examples are extremely important. On day to day basis, note down any interesting examples from newspapers to quote in ethics answers. 

Answer

High ethical standards for the provision of services and the exercise of authority are a pre-requisite if the citizenry is to trust the public service. However in the recent years, there have been instances like cheating by an IPS probationer in the exam, senior IAS officers arrested in different states highlights the bureaucratic politico nexus, nepotism, corruption in the elite service.

Public service values:-

  • In a democracy, an efficient civil service must have a set of values that distinguishes it from other professions. Integrity, dedication to public service, impartiality, political neutrality, anonymity etc are said to be the hallmarks of an efficient civil service.
  • The Public Service and the Public Servants shall be guided  by the following values in the discharge of their functions:
    • patriotism and upholding national pride
    • allegiance to the Constitution and the law of the nation
    • objectivity, impartiality, honesty, diligence, courtesy and transparency
    • Maintain absolute integrity

Code of ethics:-

  • Code of ethics is a written set of rules issued by an organization to its workforces and management to help them conduct their actions in accordance with its primary values and ethical standards
  • It defines the minimum requirements for conduct and behavioural expectations instead of specific activities.

Why they should be given statutory backing:-

  • There is no code of Ethics prescribed for civil servants in India although such Codes exist in other countries like Australia, Newzealand. These codes bring clarity to the working of civil servants.
  • A proper Civil Services Bill can act as a legal basis for the legislature to express the important values and culture it wants in the civil service.
  • A law can effectively set out the role and powers of the heads of the agencies and departments. Law can spell out the relationship between civil services and political leadership in a clear and transparent way.
  • Law can clearly let civil servants know clearly what is expected of them. In situations where they face ethical dilemma, the civil servants have a legal backing to act in public interest.
  • Strict provisions against corruption in the law can deter illegal activities and make the civil servants focus more on public welfare.
  • Benefits of developing code of ethics are that these guidelines identify core values, encourage reflection on the meaning and application of values, enhance reputation, build trust both internally and externally and increases awareness of ethics issues. 

However statutory backing alone would not be enough to instigate moral ethics in people. For instance, imposing law on prohibition does not exactly lead to a reduction of consumption but leads to illegal activities like bootlegging etc.

 In a diverse country like India, civil servants are involved in diverse work portfolio so the law needs to be supported by the strong ethical principles of the person then only good governance can be guaranteed.

 

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