How much Ethics and Integrity play a role in the conduct of Public servants in India?
The Preamble of the Constitution of India begins with the words, 'We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA.....'. Moreover sovereignty in India lies with the people of India. Hence, anything worthwhile done in the country for the upliftment of the country should be done keeping the interest of 'we the people' of the country. This objective is more important for our country, firstly, for the establishment of the rule of law in the country and secondly and most importantly for the establishment of a people-centric administration in our country. If establishment of a welfare state is our goal then the accountability of the people who are at the helm of affairs including the public servants is of utmost necessity. The yardstick of accountability for public servants to the common masses is certainly the traits of 'Ethics and Integrity' in its conduct.
Sardar Patel considered Civil Servants to be the lynch-pin of administration. Keeping this thing in mind our Constituent Assembly gave constitutional status to the public services by incorporating Articles 309 to 323 of the Constitution of India. Coming specifically to the role of Ethics and Integrity in the conduct of public servants in India it can be said that, if we want people's participation in administration then the way out to achieve it is by bringing the administrative machinery to the door-steps of the people. In this endeavour, the first trait of a participative administration, 'participative' in the sense of assimilation of public servants with the hopes and aspirations of the common masses is only by making it accountable to the common masses by inculcating the traits of 'Ethics and Integrity' among the public servants. On the contrary, the public servants and the common masses will be a divided house and the natural fallout of these developments would be the overall development of the country by making it loop-sided.
At the same time, we need to ponder about the role of public servants and whether there is probity among the public servants in its conduct. I think, the public servants are more career-oriented (with certainly many exceptions in this regard) then having certain missions and goals for the development of the country. Moreover there is a duel malaise of 'increasing politicisation of civil service' and the malaise of 'corruption' among the public servants which makes it bereft of the qualities of 'Ethics and integrity'. Today we find that most public servants of today are more concerned with satisfying their political bosses for career promotion in order to earn more name and fame for themselves then thinking of the development of the common masses. Today politics of our country is marked by increasing criminalisation. Crime instigates crime. If one wheel of our administration is the politicians then the other wheel are the public servants. In this way, how the lacunas affecting the politicians can be devoid of the public servants. Therefore, the politicians-public servant's duo is guided by mostly personal motives.
The eventual casualty of all these developments has been the positioning of the common masses far aloof from the public servants. If overall development of the masses is our goal by giving them a decent standard of living then the best way to do it for the public servants is by inculcating the qualities of 'Ethics and Integrity' among them. In this endeavour, if we want to cleanse our administrative system from the present lacunas then the common masses needs to work as a watch-dog on the conduct of the public servants. At the same time, vigilant common masses are possible if these common masses can be re-imposed with the faith in the prevalent system of our country. The common masses will certainly have faith in the system provided our public servants are guided by 'Ethics and Integrity' in their conduct. If it becomes a reality, then our country India will get what it today much desire that is, overall development guided by inclusive growth.