Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude: What to prepare? By S K Mishra, IAS (retd)

  • by IAS Score

Ethics – It means principles which control or influence a person’s behaviour or attitude. One can easily notice that in various questions in Sec A or Section B (case studies), the UPSC approach

It deals with three aspects of a candidate’s preparation Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

1. Ethics— It means principles which control or influence a person’s behaviour or attitude. One can easily notice that in various questions in Sec A or Section B (case studies), the UPSC approach was not only to test the knowledge component, but also to know that in a particular situation, or solving a particular problem, what will be approach of the candidate ie, whether it will be ethical or unethical, Simultaneously, now there is talk of moral-legal-rational bureaucracy instead of only legal-rational bureaucracy as propounded by Max-Weber. There was a debate that why Civil Servants should bother about moral aspect of their decisions? But now it is an accepted fact that for an enabling government, ethical aspect of decision making can not be ignored.

2. Integrity— The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Integrity includes financial integrity, professional integrity and intellectual integrity. Ethics and integrity are the two sides of the same coin. An ethical person having strong moral values is bound to be a man of integrity. Those people who are having experience of working in the government very well know that integrity is evaluated every year through their Annual Performance Report. The evaluation takes place on the basis of decisions/performance of the individual Civil Servants throughout the year. In conducting interview for testing personality of the candidats, the board carefully examines the approach of the answer of individual candidate while assessing their integrity. In written examination, the examiner will obviously look into moral stand of the candidats especially on issues and conflicts faced by them while dealing with various problems.

3. Aptitude— It is a natural ability or skill for doing a particular work or solving a particular problem or facing a particular problem or facing a particular situation. A SHO of a police station and an Asstt. Engineer of Road Construction Department can not have identical aptitude. While SHO needs to be well trained and skilled in handling and using his weapon, investigating a case or facing patiently a slogan-shouting mob, an Astt. Engineer needs to have skill of project formulation, interest and inclination of making a people convenient road construction etc. Also to be very specific one requires a different skill for law and order, for investigation of a case or for working in an intelligence agency. Though to some extent skill is inherent, but it can be acquired and upgraded through training and capacity building. At the written examination stage, it is a fact that candidates do not have working experience, yet they are expected to take decisions and justify them. What is required here that though they are not experienced, yet they must develop capacity to experience. This can be successfully done through discussing good number of case studies. Last year all the six case studies were from three chapters only (Aptitude and foundational values of Civil Services, Public Civil Services values and ethics in public administration and Probity in Governance). This paper is high scoring for those who understand case studies and respond in rational and ethical manner.