What are the ethical issues in corruption? Give examples from indian bureaucracy?

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Title: Ethical Issues in Corruption: A Deeper Glean into Indian Bureaucracy

Corruption, a vexed term, is symptomatic of dysfunctional institutions and weak governance. It is one of the most pressing challenges faced by the Indian bureaucracy and has severe ethical implications. Ethics, a broad discipline encompassing moral judgement on behavior, goals, and policies, are the building blocks of a sound governance structure. Ethical dilemmas are rampant, and corruption corrodes these ethical values, adversely affecting the democratic structure.

Key Ethical Issues in Corruption

1. Breach of Trust: Civil servants are the representatives of the public, entrusted with responsibilities to serve the public interest. Corruption is a profound violation of this trust, posing a severe ethical predicote.

For instance, in the infamous ‘Vyapam Scam’ concerning the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, the involvement of numerous officials, leveraging their positions, created a monumental breach of trust. The officials in question disregarded their accountability towards their duties and ethical standards for personal gain.

2. Erosion of Integrity: Integrity is the cornerstone of any civil servant’s character. When public officers engage in corrupt practices, it erodes their integrity and the overall image of the civil service.

The ‘Coal Allocation Scam’ that unfolded during the UPA regime clearly exemplifies the erosion of integrity among high-ranking bureaucrats who were involved in fraudulent coal block allocations, thereby, engendering public distrust towards the entire bureaucracy.

3. Compromised Impartiality: Corruption twists the concept of impartiality, a fundamental ethical principle that bureaucrats must adhere to. Corrupt practices result in favouritism and bias, thereby undermining the essence of procedural fairness.

For example, corruption in the allocation of licenses and permits, commonly known in India as ‘license raj’, challenges the ideals of impartiality and fairness. When officials favor certain businesses in return for bribes, it leads to an unfair distribution of resources and opportunities.

4. Devaluation of Merit: Predominantly, corruption compromises the principle of meritocracy, making way for nepotism and cronyism. Merit-based progression is fundamental to uphold the ethical standards of civil service.

A clear example is the ‘Cash-for-job scam’ in Assam where jobs in the Assam Public Service Commission were sold to unqualified candidates, thereby bypassing the deserving candidates, and undermining the value of meritocracy.

5. Increased Inequality: Corruption can magnify socio-economic disparities by discriminating against those unable to pay bribes for public services. It thus violates the principle of equality, an essential ethical norm in public administration.

The ubiquitous culture of ‘speed money’ in India, where bribes are necessary to expedite public services, is a significant instance. It accelerates the service for those paying and slows it down for those who cannot, leading to gross inequality.

6. Neglect of Public Interest: The corrupt practices of bureaucrats often sideline the essence of ‘public service’, making their personal ambition superior to public welfare.

The ‘Adarsh Housing Society scam’ is an unfortunate example where the bureaucrats, along with politicians and military officials, exploited their position to secure flats originally intended for war widows and veterans, thus ignoring the public interest.

In conclusion, corruption poses significant ethical issues impacting the values of trust, integrity, impartiality, merit, equality, and public interest. Therefore, it is imperative for UPSC aspirants to thoroughly understand these challenges and align their moral compass to uphold the ethical principles in the Indian bureaucracy. As future custodians of public affairs, they must embody a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption to enhance the efficacy, credibility, and integrity of our systems.

Comprehending and addressing the ethical dimensions associated with corruption is a significant start towards fostering a corruption-free public service environment in India.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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