General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics): Accountability & Transparency

Ethics - Accountability

IAS Junior Mains Answer Writing June-Sep 2019 Schedule (Click Here)


Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)


Accountability and transparency are essential principles for good governance. Excessive measures to ensure them acts as hindrance in decision making? Comment.



Transparency and accountability need each other and can be mutually reinforcing. Together they enable citizens to have a say about issues that matter to them and a chance to influence decision-making and hold those making decisions to account. Each concept is part of a strategy used for and by citizens to have the means, resources and opportunities to influence decision-making and affect development outcomes.


  • Transparency: As a principle, public officials, civil servants, have a duty to act visibly, predictably and understandably to promote participation and accountability.
  • Accountability: ensures that officials in public, private and voluntary sector organisations are answerable for their actions and that there is redress when duties and commitments are not met.

Civil servants in public administration have to face many conflicts of interests during policy making, policy implementation and decision making. Transparency and Accountability have great importance in the decision-making process of bureaucrats, civil servant and administrators. Together they play a vital role in decision making, it makes individual to follow moral values and make right decision in an effective matter.

Significance of transparency and accountability

  • They help in creating institutional checks and balances. Ex. CAG
  • They improve the quality of decision making. 
  • They promote public welfare and not personal gain in decision making. Increased accountability assures that public resources are used for welfare.
  • Decisions became more sensitive and inclusive Ex. Accountability created through Environmental impact assessment (EIA) provisions.
  • Decision-makers are more answerable to superiors and the public. Ex. Code of conduct, RTI.
  • They provide courage, dedication, determination and commitment to do work effectively and efficiently.
  • Issues like conflicts of interests, partisanship etc. get addressed in a better manner. 
  • Facilitates dispute resolution mechanism after the decision has been made. 
  • They give moral satisfaction to those who exercise power and takes decisions.
  • Transparency creates a system of confidence and trust among the stakeholders and builds the faith of the public in the administration and the decision taken.
  • Transparency leads to objectivity in decision making. 

However excess of such measures may negatively affect decision making. Some draw backs of such measures are:

  • Undue scrutiny de-motivates civil servants and instigates the fear of unwanted prosecution. 
  • Fear of judgment in a certain dilemma like between ethical and rule-based decision, environment and public concerns etc. 
  • Accountability might act as a deterrent. The fear of consequences might lead to inactivity from decision-makers.
  • Promote red-tapism and leads to time delays which ultimately affects decision making.
  • Excessive Accountability affects free will. Free will gives space of innovative or creative decision-making ability without the interference of the state.
  • Degraded ethical standards and values such as integrity, compassion, empathy, which are essential for decision making, cannot be answered with just transparency and accountability.



Accountability and transparency is an important tool for improving service delivery. However, precaution must be taken by making enough safeguards that it does not become an obstacle in the efficient working of the administrative system.


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