Should a civil servant be honest? How corruption in offices can be monitored?

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Essay Contest for UPSC Exam for IAS

“Should a civil servant be honest? How corruption in offices can be monitored?”
A civil servant, as the designation itself suggests is a person who is recruited for the
service of the civilians; someone who has been given the power to take decisions for the
betterment of the society. It is undoubtedly a powerful position but at the same time in a
country as vast as ours, a bigger responsibility comes along with it. It is ultimately in the
hands of an individual to keep the interest of the society above one’s own. Indeed, there
are many qualities that a civil servant is expected to possess but all of those would be
accommodated in one core value that is “Honesty”.
Since our early childhood days, we have often come across this popular saying that-
“Honesty is the best policy”. Some of us must have learnt this as a teaching from the
respected teachers while some of us would have read it somewhere else. Our reputed
schools continue to teach this even today as a basic moral value. Despite that a
significant section of civil servants continues to tarnish not only the epitome of humanity
established by this saying but also the faith that is entrusted upon them. The news about
corrupt officers regarding their involvement in the incidents of money laundering and
bribery often find a place in the column of our newspapers. At first, it becomes really
unbelievable that the same people who write long essays on societal evils to crack the
civil services exam end up being a part of such crimes. Why do such things happen?
Doesn’t anyone raise voice against corruption in spite of having so much power in hand?
Finding the right answers to these questions in an honest manner can certainly bring
hope to curb this problem.
The bureaucracy is a very important pillar in any democratic country because all the
policy making tasks are conducted at this level. It serves as a core foundation for a firm
and strong structure of the government and coherently of our entire nation. Corruption is
like a termite that weakens this foundation. The thirst for “more and more” fuels the
desire to perform illegal activities and bit by bit the fine line between being a civil servant
and a corrupt person gets blurred.
In this entire scenario, it is the common man that suffers a lot. The capital that is usually
granted for the development of the society barely reaches to them and becomes offering
to the corruption practices. Faulty infrastructures are built just to showcase the so called
development with the left-over funds which in turn plant seeds for dangerous accidents
to occur in the future. Till now, many incidents have occurred that displayed such a
failure of both the government and the bureaucracy. The same will continue to happen
until the people in power really introspect and understand the difference between need
and greed.

It is often said that - “one person alone cannot change the entire system”. It’s saddening
but it’s true especially in the present scenario where in case someone tries to make a
change, a whole lot comes to pull one down. Many such cases get quietly slipped off
from the attention of the society when a civil servant tries to raise his/her voice and gets
transferred to some far away location. Not only, their personal growth gets affected but
also their morale gets destroyed thereby shattering the hope of all those who witness
these incidents. The ideology of “either support in malpractice or get transferred” many a
times take the form of a mental torture and the torch of hope for change gets flickered
out.
Amidst all the challenges, corruption in the departments and the offices can only be
curbed by the contribution of all. Already, strict laws are made against corruption
practices and in many offices it is completely prohibited but to cut this termite from its
roots, certain measures are needed to be taken. Our legislative should make more laws
regarding the elimination of corruption from top to bottom, irrespective of an
individual’s position in the office. Funds should be monitored by special committees and
some section from the society should also be involved in order to ensure whether the
funds are used in the right manner. Transfer of the officers should be done only upon the
completion of an unbiased investigation procedure that should be conducted by neutral
authorities. Strict penalties and judicial action should be imposed upon anyone who
conducts or promotes such practices.
Most importantly, conscience introspection is needed to be done by the civil servants
before indulging into any corruption activity. They should ask themselves what legacy
they are leaving behind and how do they want this world to remember them?
As an “honest civil servant” or as a “self-serving corrupt person”! The choice is theirs.

-Jatin Sethi

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