Aptitude and foundational values of civil services: integrity, impartiality, and non partisanship, dedication to public service, relationship between generalists and specialists.

Ethics refers to principles by which to evaluate behaviour as right or wrong, good or bad.
Ethics refers to well based standards of right and wrong, and prescribe what humans ought to do. Ethics are continuous efforts of striving to ensure that people, and the institutions they shape, live up to the standards that are reasonable and solidly based.

Aptitude and foundational values in civil servants are focussing on people’s claim to rights like human rights, civil rights, political rights and social/economic rights. One example is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. Another example of rights-based theories is “welfareism”, which argues that people have a claim to a welfare state that can provide them with security, basic health services, education, jobs, housing, etc.

The Civil Service is an essential part of the government. It supports the government of the day in developing and implementing its policies, and in delivering public services. Civil servants are accountable to ministers, who in turn are accountable to Parliament. As a civil servant, candidates are selected on merit, on the basis of fair and open competition and are expected to carry out your role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.

General principles of International Code of Conduct for Public Officials are:-

  • A public office, as defined by national law, is a position of trust, implying a duty to act in the public interest. Therefore, the ultimate loyalty of public officials shall be to the public interests of their country as expressed through the democratic institutions of government.
  • Public officials shall ensure that they perform their duties and functions efficiently, effectively and with integrity, in accordance with laws or administrative policies. They shall at all times seek to ensure that public resources for which they are responsible are administered in the most effective and efficient manner.
  • Public officials shall be attentive, fair and impartial in the performance of their functions and, in particular, in their relations with the public. They shall at no time afford any undue preferential treatment to any group or individual or improperly discriminate against any group or individual, or otherwise abuse the power and authority vested in them.

Integrity: Civil servants, should be guided solely by public interest in their Social decision making and not by any financial or other consideration either in respect of themselves, their families or their friends.To ensure that public servants do their work ethically, statutory standards have been augmented by the Basic Integrity Standards Checklist, to which all public authorities must adhere. The Checklist outlines all the steps that a public authority must take in order to implement measures for ethical behaviour. Political office holders and elected representatives must comply with rules of conduct. Ministers and state secretaries may not perform any paid or unpaid outside activities.

Impartiality: Civil servants in carrying out their Social work, including functions like procurement, recruitment, delivery of services etc, should take decisions based  on merit alone.Impartiality means that civil servants in carrying out their official work, including functions like procurement, recruitment, delivery of services etc, should take decisions based on merit alone.

Non-partisanship is  not being specifically owned or affiliated with any group, party or cause. Non-partisanship can be called political neutrality. Impartiality connotes that the behaviour of, and treatment by an administrator to any individual or entity has to be solely on the basis of merit. An administrator has to take several key decisions such as recruitment, procurement and allotment. For these decisions to be effective and efficient, there has to be absolute impartiality.A non-partisan public service can be maintained only if the staffing system is protected from political influence, the merit system has been firmly implanted and the professional commitment to impartiality is widespread.

Commitment and Dedication to public service: Civil servants should deliver services in a fair, effective, impartial and courteous manner.  Civil servants are accountable for their decisions and actions and should be willing to subject themselves to appropriate scrutiny for this purpose.Civil servants maintain absolute and unstinting devotion towards their duties and responsibilities at all times.Dedication is the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose, thought or action.Dedication is an important personality characteristic of an individual. In organizational context, dedicated employees work towards achieving the organizational goals.

A ‘generalist’ means an amateur administrator who had education in linguistics or classics and is a highly intelligent man with certain personal qualities of character. While on the other hand, A ‘specialist’ is an expert who has devoted time and studies to a special branch of learning and has acquired specialized experience in tackling problems of particular subjects or areas. He is excluded from posting in areas where his specialized knowledge or training does not find direct application.

If the job is of highest importance say atomic / nuclear related and of defense related then obviously the job calls for a specialist not a generalist. However if the job requires the person need to have a good over all understanding of the circumstances then it calls for a generalist.

The major arguments in favour of generalists in Indian Administrator are are:

  • India is a nation with multiple cultures and multi ethnicity and thus a person with liberal education and varied multifunctional experience is much better than the specialist who has deep knowledge of a very narrow field.
  • It comes in direct contact with grassroots administration.
  • Administration in India is organized on area basis and it requires a generalist administrator to coordinate the activities of various departments.
  • By their education, training and experience, generalists have a broad view of problems facing the society; which the specialists lack.
  • In a parliamentary democracy, ministers need a generalist to advice in policy matters as he is responsible to parliament and has to work for party.
  • At higher level of administration, very little technical knowledge is required.
  • When the specialists are required to do the job of a generalist, they lost both worlds. They neither remain specialists nor do they become good generalists.
  • In any decision making process, technical inputs are taken from only a small part. Other matters like financial, administrative, political, legal etc. are more important. Generalists having a broad background of working in various departments are better suited to these jobs.
  • In India, generalists are woven in entire fabric of administration and provide the necessary extension to its working.

The arguments in favour of specialist are:

  • in the colonial period or even during early independence period the administrative tasks were relatively simple. But now it has become complex and cannot be comprehended by generalists,
  • Specialists feel that generalist subjects not required to intervene between them and minister.In fact specialists have better knowledge of t subjects and can explain it better to the minister,
  • Generalists always depend on advice of t specialists,
  • The ARC of India (1969) recommended that the senior posts in functional areas should be held by specialist and non-functional posts should be thrown to all the cadres including specialism and generalists.

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