General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics): Probity

Ethics - Probity

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


Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)


What do you understand by probity in public life? it is generally  perceived that many politicians lack probity in public life how can probity be inculcated in such politicians who lack this quality? Critically comment.



Probity means having strong moral standards for honesty, integrity and values. Probity encompasses all good values and virtues. Hindi Meaning of Probity is Satya­Nishtha. The wall paintings served as an early code of conduct, based on Aristotelian virtues like courage, justice, prudence, and temperance, and provided ethical guidance to the city’s governors and administrators. The tantalizing images illustrate that good (ethical) governance leads to a well-maintained, safe, and prosperous city, whereas bad (unethical) governance results in poverty, injustice, and ultimately total chaos. Indeed, public integrity is as old as government itself .



A few political leaders are remembered for probity. Whether it is Sardar Patel or Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri or Kamaraj, Ram Manohar Lohia or Deendayal Upadhyaya, Jayaprakash Narayan or Achyut Patwardhan, to mention only a few names cutting across all political parties — they are all recalled for their probity first. Many of them stood equally for truth.

Nation which won freedom by the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of nationalists, who cast aside their life and even destroyed their families in nation’s cause, so quickly descend to such low after post-independence. The core of Indian polity shifted from celebrating honesty and ethics to worshipping success and power.  This elite, secular, modern and powerful club, which has no connect with the Indian people, influence all governments, parties, bureaucrats and the policies they formulate. No party or government has been free from their pernicious sway. They constitute the biggest distortion of government, public life and polity. They virtually control the national media discourse which is echoed all over the country.

Lack of probity among politicians has become one of the biggest menaces of society. To inculcate probity adherence to ethical practices among them certain strides could be taken­   

  • Mandatory declaration of assets, liabilities and business interests by politicians before elections should be accompanied by a proper audit of these declarations by empowering Election Commission.  
  • A dedicated unit to oversee violation of Code of ethics Code of conducts by politicians be set up both at state and centre level. 
  • CoE  CoC for politicians should be laid down in public domain indicating violations for public awareness. 
  • Illegal expenditure during elections is root cause of corruption among politicians, partial state funding of elections could be the way forward in controlling it. 
  • Schemes like MPAD  MAAD should be abolished to do away with the conflict of interests among legislators. 
  • Political funding should be brought under domain of RTI and CIC should be strengthened to deal with any non­compliance. 
  • Short duration training like civil servants on ethical aspects can be provided to first time MPs  MAs.   



Politicians of the day have become synonymous with corruption.  Ethical probity is a necessary requirement for public sector organizations. In most literature the term integrity is used as a hallmark for ethical probity. Integrity violations have serious consequences for government agencies and should be addressed adequately. It is more effective, however, to take preventative actions to avoid integrity violations and to guide public officials how they can do “the right thing.” Recognizing that “one size fits all solutions” Proper ethical guidance to them together with strict punishment in case of non­conformity will go a long way in cleansing of politics as well as better public service delivery. 


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