1. E3/P3: Video Lecture by Kavan Limbasiya (Rank-198/UPSC-2014)
  2. Characteristics: Minister vs. Officer
  3. Neutrality
    1. Conduct rules for Neutrality
    2. Why Neutrality in Danger?
    3. Election and corruption
    4. In-service and Intra-service rivalry?
    5. Arguments Against Neutrality
  4. Anonymity
    1. Conduct rules for Anonymity
    2. Arguments against anonymity
  5. Impartiality, Non-Partisanship
  6. Other values for civil services

E3/P3: Video Lecture by Kavan Limbasiya (Rank-198/UPSC-2014)

Ethics lecture UPSC topper Kavan Limbasiya

Youtube Link: youtu.be/x4VeP0VjlHw

Characteristics: Minister vs. Officer

Political executive Permanent executive
Derives authority from people, by virtue of election. Derives authority From technical and Administrative expertise.
Tenure: Temporary and short Permanent and long
Has more contact with public. less
He has knowledge of what people expect but rarely  an  expert  in   special  work. He therefore relies on permanent officials for facts and advice Sometimes out of ‘touch’ with the problems of general public, because of ‘ivory tower’,  ‘colonial’ mindset.
Role: Policy making Policy implementation.
not sure what is best solution to a particular problem As principal advisor to minister,  an officer must ender advice without fear/ favours.
Interested  in  positive  action  in  short  term rather than going for a long term planning. Officer must briefly record all decisions and instructions,  to ensure that minister’s ‘short-term’ whimsical orders don’t ruin his career in long term after CAG  audit or media-expose .
Not interested in taking unpopular decisions Officer should show ‘sensitivity’ to minister’s concern, rather than being cynical about vote-bank politics all the time.

neutrality anonymity impartiality for civil services ethics

Meaning of each term
  • Serve different regimes/parties with same enthusiasm.
  • Stay away from political affiliations
  • Act without bias of client nature (rich vs poor) or social pressure (caste, religion etc.)
  • Officer should work behind the curtains while political boss gets all credit and criticism.


  • Non-partisanship is attitude. Impartially is behavior.
  • Political impartially is neutrality.
  • Civil servant must not be associated with any political party or ideology.
  • Officer is expected to cooperate any political party in power. He must not allow his political values/ideology to interfere in day to day work.
  • He must faithfully implement the public policies, even If they’re contrary to his beliefs.
  • Neutrality is required to keep:
    • Public confidence in civil services.
    • Political executives’ confidence in civil services after regime is changed. if there is lack of mutual trust, they can’t work for larger interest.
    • Nowadays, ‘trust’ is lost. Therefore, after every election, the new ruling party will begin mass-transfer of the officers from previous regime.
Types of Neutrality
Passive neutrality
  • Officer will do anything that the political executive order.
  • But then he may end up violating some legal/constitutional provisions.
  • Hence passive neutrality is undesirable.
Active neutrality
  • Officer will do what constitution,  rules, laws and office manual says, without following any particular party.

Conduct rules for Neutrality

  • Officer must not take part in politics
  • He must not give election fund/ assistance to  any political party
  • He can vote. But must not tell his preference to other people.
  • He must not display any election symbols on his person, vehicle or home.
  • He must not participate in rally, dharna-pradarshan, and demonstration without government permission.

Why Neutrality in Danger?

Election and corruption

  • Ministers need lot of money to finance election campaigns, so they prefer a convenient subordinate. They don’t like an officer who gives free and frank advice.
  • Officers try to anticipate minister’s wishes and offer advice accordingly. They even bend down and touch feet of the politicians in public ceremonies.
  • Officer who doesn’t behave in that manner, gets sideline postings, he becomes a sulky unwilling worker- that helps neither him nor the organization.
  • End of Congress’s one party rule = political instability =  opportunities in both politicians and bureaucrats. E.g. if BJP @centre and congress @state and an IAS wants to get plum posting in Central minister, he’ll play his cards accordingly.

In-service and Intra-service rivalry?

  • In each government-service, there are various factions based on language, religion, caste and region.
  • To gain promotion and perks for their faction, they’d bend to the wills of politicians.
  • 1st ARC observed- IAS has lost its enthusiasm and vigor. They’re ready to do anything and everything for reward / fear of transfer.
  • They align with ruling party and have cynical disregard for public interest.
  • Internal fighting / rivalry among IAS/IPS/IRS lobby, also undermines non-partisanship- instead of focusing on the service to the people / nation.

Arguments Against Neutrality

  • To maintain ‘neutrality‘ , officer may become indifferent to social polices in changing regimes. Inertia and status quo will creep in his work.
  • Indira Gandhi and others have lamented that Indian bureaucracy is not ‘committed’ enough for the social-welfare ideology, they’re living in their own ivory towers and aiming only towards ‘careerism.’
  • In USA, every president brings  his own executive team. They don’t have to play ‘neutral’  card. They’ve have managerial skills, and faithfully implement policies of the president. (Criticism- such partisan machinery may ignore people who’re not the prime-vote bank.)
  • Neutrality concept works well in first world because both minister and bureaucrat come from similar class and culture. But in India, situation different.
  • Neutrality is not advocated in any profession, except bureaucracy. But it is only in the bureaucracy, we find cynics and weaklings.


  • Bureaucrat is supposed to work behind the curtain and avoid media limelight and public gaze.
  • He’ll not get credit for the success and he’ll not be blamed for the failure. It’ll be responsibility of the political executive to handle all the applaud and criticism.
  • E.g. Mundhra deal scam (1957): Chagla commission held that Minister T.T.Krishnamachari is constitutionally responsible for the actions of his secretary (H.M.Patel)- he can’t take shelter behind them or disown reasonability.” Consequently, Minister resigned.
  • He should avoid going to media to air his grievances or differences of opinion.
  • Minister must be given the power to extra work, power to reward and punish.
  • Officer has to be accountable to his superior executive (both permanent and political).
  • Minister has to be accountable to people.

Conduct rules for Anonymity

  • Officer Shall not divulge information he got during his official capacity-to a third party- except under good faith or when required by the law / departmental rules.
  • shall guard the official secrets. (Except where RTI applies.)
  • Shall not make any public utterance that would embarrass relations between
    • union vs state
    • state vs state
    • India vs foreign country
    • executive/judi./legislature
    • Criticizing any policy of union / state government.
  • Needs government permission before publishing book / writing in newspaper / appearing on TV – radio EXCEPT literary, artistic or scientific character.
  • He shall not do above things even anonymously or pseudonymously.
  • Without government permission, he must not accept any honor, ceremony, meeting, rally held in his honor (or in honor of another employee).
  • Farewell party during retirement/transfer=permitted.
  • Simple and inexpensive entertainments arranged by public bodies or institutions=permitted.
  • Vindication of official acts: Suppose public/press has made some remarks against him for his official conduct. He cannot file defamation suit against them or make press statements, without government permission.
  • This ensures discipline, decorum and moral of the services.

Arguments against anonymity

  • Often ministers come up with populist schemes/policies with unattainable targets and then blames officers for not implementing it faithfully.
  • Ministers openly criticize bureaucrats but bureaucrats can’t defend because norms of anonymity. Still they’ve to face the people protesting against the state. (counter argument: officers also criticise the politicians in their day to day office life and private life. Hence the mutual respect is lost.)
  • Often the entire state bureaucracy is corrupt and inefficient. So, despite using the official channels (such as sending application to higher bosses or filing court petitions),  the honest officer may not get any justice. And still the norm of anonymity will stop him from approaching media. And still if he approaches media, he’ll be further persecuted for violating the service norms.

Impartiality, Non-Partisanship

  • They’re required because our society is divided on caste and religious lines.
  • A civil servant also comes from this society, belong to a particular caste/class/religion/region. If he remains ‘conscious’ of those parameters, he’ll make biased decisions and treat clients/citizens based on their socio-economic status.
  • If such officer is lazy/corrupt and if departmental action is taken, he’d blame his superiors of discrimination on caste/regional lines.
  • In Devyani case, his father alleged she’s been victimized because she’s Dalit. Personal criticism is attributed to caste.

Other values for civil services

These other values are required under new public management, because now citizen has became a customer and he seeks value for money/taxes paid while getting public service.

  • Optimism: you’re in civil service for reforms, you must be optimist about the outcomes.
  • Creativity: in a rapidly changing environment with new ICT technologies coming every day, you’ve to be creative to utilize them to make your administrative work faster, smoother and more efficient.
  • Responsiveness: for same reasons cited above, you’ve be responsive to whatever new opportunities and challenges arise every day.
  • Courage: to initiate reforms, to apply creative solutions, you need to be courageous.
  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness.

In exam you could face two type of questions

  • Direct descriptive questions such as “explain the importance of neutrality in civil services.” OR
  • Case study based question where an officer is faced with xyz challenge and what should he do?

In such case studies,

  • First you identify which fundamental values are present
  • then you test them on ethical theories
  • present the answer, preferably along with recommendation of 2nd ARC.

In the next part (E3/P4), we shall look at some case studies.