The UPSC mains GS - 4 paper of Ethics is one of the major components of UPSC syllabus.Human behaviour is often a very complex one. One's Integrity its one of the most important aspects of a persons character. Its very important to hold on to Integrity ansd behave accordigly.Civil servants are required to imbibe these qualities to give their best as civil servants to the society.


  • Integrity
  • Types of Integrity
  • Integrity in Public Administration


Integrity indicates soundness of moral principles, the character of uncorrupted virtues, uprightness, honesty and sincerity, Integrity means adopting similar standards or moral principles in similar situations across time and interested parties. In other words, it means to be honest and consistent in thoughts, speech and action. It is a quality of eliminating the gap between ‘what we think, what we say, and what we do’. It means doing the right thing even when nobody is watching. A man of integrity is never influenced by contentions and pressures from outside and would only respond to his conscience.

The term ‘integrity’ comes from the Latin adjective ‘Integer’ meaning whole or complete. In this context, it means an inner sense of wholeness and soundness of moral principles. It is the consistency of character across time and situations.

Integrity is a four-step process- keeping in mind the aim/ purpose of one’s action or inaction and acting consistently with that choice, even when it is inconvenient or unprofitable to do so; choosing the right course of conduct in conformity with moral principles; openly declaring one’s intentions or where one stands; and the results of one’s actions.

According to Ministry of Personnel, "Consistently behaves in an open, fair and transparent manner, honours one's commitments and works to uphold the Public service values." Integrity in public affairs and administration is essential; and therefore there must be an insistence on it in every branch of public activity. A fundamental rule for maintaining civil servants’ integrity is to avoid situations which may give rise to a conflict of interest. The following guidelines are relevant;

  • Never use your position in the civil service to benefit yourself or your family, relatives or friends, or any other group of people with whom you have personal or social ties;
  • Avoid being placed in a position of obligation to anyone by accepting excessive entertainment or favours such as free service, or indulging in games of chance with subordinates or other people with whom you have official dealings;
  • and  Avoid putting yourself in a position that may arouse any suspicion of dishonesty, or of using your official position to benefit yourself, your family, relations or friends. For example, do not provide advice to any executive search firm if your official duties involve appointment and promotion. In procuring services or goods for your office, do not negotiate with a company in which you or your relatives hold shares.

Follow prescribed tender procedures and declare an interest if necessary in the process.

  • Encourage others Lo consistently follow Public Service values

  • Treat people impartially, regardless of political, social, demographic, geographic, circumstances or bias

  • Enforce law, public service values and rules of conduct even in difficult situations

  • Have the courage and conviction to make and stand by the right decisions, even at significant personal cost

  • Provide honest and frank advice to uphold public interest

  •  Ensure full disclosure, by sharing the political implications of the decisions being made

  •  Challenge powerful and influential people, and hold them accountable to make the right decisions

  •  Stand firm when dealing with unreasonable requests and demand

  • Take accountability for own actions and create a cultures for others also to take accountability for their own actions


Intellectual integrity:

Intellectual integrity is defined as recognition of the need to be true to one's own thinking and to  hold oneself to the same standards one expects others to meet. It also means to honestly admit discrepancies and inconsistencies in one's own thought and action, and to be able to identify inconsistencies in one's own thinking Integrity is often characterized as a kind of ‘openness’— an openness to criticism and to the ideas of It requires one to overcome self deception and temptation and act in accordance with one’s truthful conscience. Socrates was an outstanding example of a person of intellectual integrity who was committed to the pursuit of truth and knowledge, and demonstrated it even in the face of attacks on his integrity.

The establishment and maintenance of integrity in public life and public service requires a number of elements, including: legislation, regulations and codes of conduct; a society whose religious, political and social values expect honesty from politicians and officials; professionalism among officials; and a political
leadership with the moral and political courage and will to take its responsibility, both public and private, seriously.

Moral Integrity:

It refers to consistency and honesty in the application of standards of morality or right and wrong; used for judging others as well as ourself. It requires an unconditional and unyielding commitment to ethical principles. Like Buddha emphasized on the purity of ‘thoughts, words and deeds’.

Professional Integrity:

It refers to acting in accordance with professional values, standards and norms with consistency and willingness; even in the face of criticism or allurements. For example, holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations (like accepting gifts or favours) that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official

Political Integrity :

Integrity is important for politicians because they are chosen, appointed, or elected to serve society. In order to be able to serve the society, politicians are given power in their positions to make, execute, or control policy. They have the power to bring change and make a difference. There is, however, a risk that this power will not be used by politicians to serve society. Aristotle said that ‘because the rulers have power they will be tempted to use it for personal gain’. It is important that politicians withstand this temptation, and to do so requires integrity.

Furthermore, integrity is not just about why a politician acts in a certain way, but also about who the politician is. The general perception of people about the honesty and integrity of their representatives is crucial to build trust between the governing and the governed. Therefore, integrity is about having the right ethical virtues that become visible in a pattern of behaviour.

Integrity is not a Single trait

The virtue of integrity does not exist in isolation rather it involves several other virtues to supplement and complement it. People with integrity are guided by a set of core principles that empowers them to behave consistently to high standards. The core principles of integrity are virtues such as honesty, wisdom, compassion, objectivity, courage, trustworthiness, etc. Thus, integrity is equated with trustworthiness, steadfastness to commitments, and moral uprightness. To be a ‘Man of Integrity’, one needs to:

  • Be courageous to be able to face personal consequences. For example, IAS officer Ashok Khemka has been transferred 45 times in 23 years by state governments after he exposed corruption in the departments he was posted
  • Resist temptations and allurements to do or submit to what is against public service values.
  • Listen and act according to one’s Conscience
  • Be honest and consistent to core beliefs and Values
  • Be objective and rational in Approach

Integrity: A Holistic Approach to Life:

Integrity is not limited to a single role or aspect of life. Personal life (responsibility and honesty towards spouse, friend and family), professional life (commitment to work and professional values) as well as social life (public welfare v. private interest) all demand integrity. An individual life is an integrated whole. One cannot separate his/her personal life or conduct from his professional or social life. For example, a police officer, who practices domestic violence at home, cannot be trusted with neutrality and ‘justice to all’ approach while doing his duty.

Thus, integrity is a way of life. It is not one single act of doing the right thing. It is living a life of a commitment to do the right thing in every situation or circumstance. It is a set of unbending moral values that a person lives by. The source of integrity is the ‘moral reasoning’ and not the profit-loss reasoning. A person with integrity does the right things for the right reasons.


According to Second ARC, integrity means that civil servants are to be guided solely by public interest in their official decision making and not by any financial or other considerations, either in respect of their family or friends

Need and Importance of Integrity in Governance and Public Administration

Laws can increase one’s compliance with the ethical principles. But this can happen  at a superficial level. Overall a person would not change and may act unethically where laws do not apply. However, a person/civil servant with integrity will:

  • Not misuse his/her official position, for example, misusing official information to further private gains.
  • Not accept gifts or receive any other benefits which might be seen to compromise his personal judgement or duty
  • Make sure that public resources are used efficiently and appropriately
  • Implement government schemes and programs in accordance with the law, upholding administration of justice
  • Deal with public and their affairs fairly, promptly, efficiently, and sensitively
  • Treat people impartially, regardless of social, political, geographic, circumstances or bias.

Intergrety play a very important role in a persons life. being a civil servant the Integrity helps you shape your career and the value in the adminstration system. To read more articles on ethics - click here