General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics): Public Service Values

Public Service Values

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


Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)


“When a man assumes public trust, he should consider himself as public property”. Illustrate the essence of the statement.



Public trust refers to collective faith that a society reposes on its officials. it is the single most important affecting governance. it is this element which transforms “mere governance” into “citizen-centric ethical governance”. The above statement was made by Thomas Jefferson. Although it was said centuries ago, yet the statement holds true even today.


Public servant needs to display morality and courage, to discharge his duties. they have an important role in maintaining democratic setup, Fair and Just dealings are necessary in government’s work, Corruption and nepotism dominated system. When a public servant assumes public trust, he is morally bound to put himself in the shoes of his citizens. 

  • The Constitution expects the public servants to be fair and transparent in their public dealings. They need to act without any prejudices while implementing the policies of the state. 
    • For ex: an IAS officer Ashok Khemka who acted fairly and exposed a great land scam.
  • Accessible to people to hear their problems and quick grievance redressal.
  • All the citizens of the country should be equal in their eyes irrespective of their social stature.
  • It is the duty of all public servants to ensure that the public’s money is spent as efficiently as possible and that programs are provided effectively, without discrimination or prejudice, with transparency and without waste of money or resources.
  • A public servant must be non partisan in his service.
    • For ex: an officer should uphold merit in recruitment (public interest) & refuse to bow down to any kind of pressure.
  • He should put his “duty before self”.  A public servant who puts himself before his duty loses the hard-earned public trust & causes an irreparable damage to the institution which he represents.
    • For ex: conduct of ex-CBI chief caused heavy damage to the institution. 
  • A public servant needs to display exemplary courage to stand for something which is morally correct.
    • This may invite strong protests and opposition from the different dominating sections of the society but they need to stay strong and committed with their duties. 

The role and duty of a public servant is under a constant scrutiny from the people. “Trust once lost cannot be gained back”. Therefore it is necessary for a trustee to discharge his duties with utmost honesty, integrity and courage. In the past few years the issues of corruption and nepotism have dominated the system. This is weakening the roots of the system as the people tend to lose their faith

For ex: political leader is a trustee of voter. They should always work for the welfare of people. In fact, the people of the society also look up for the same. They are an important part of the national building activities.  Thus it is necessary for individual to perform his duty by putting his self interest as less important. It requires a person of considerable character to rise above the petty things and consider the wholeness of his existence in the scheme of things.

Thus being an owner of public trust with being public property is like power without accountability.



Strong morals and ethics protect the individuals from becoming vulnerable and falling prey to greed and desires.  The success of a  public servant is measured on the basis of his services, values and integrity. It is high time that they value the power and position conferred to them They need to use these constructively to make our country a truly developed economy. Alexander Dumas had put it presciently “An officer doesn’t have friends”. That sentence shows that the level of dedication required for the role of a public servant precludes even the existence of friendship, a basic private need. Unless we acknowledge this, we cannot run institutions, cannot stand true to modern ideas and cannot in short form a nation.


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