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What is the difference between probity, honesty and integrity? Discuss their relevance to civil services.

Topic:  Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.

6. What is the difference between probity, honesty and integrity? Discuss their relevance to civil services. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon Publications

Why this question:

The question is from the static portions of GS paper IV on the topics of probity, honesty and integrity.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the key difference between probity, honesty and integrity and their relevance to civil services.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly define the three elements – probity, honesty and integrity.

Body:

Start by differentiating the three concepts. Integrity implies a consistent behavior, whether honest or not. Honesty implies being truthful (even if it is incorrect) about a subject at hand. Honesty, by definition, is to tell the truth and being true. Integrity is having strong moral principles based on honesty and to follow those principles religiously.

Explain all the 3 concepts and differentiate them. One must use the help of illustrations/examples to substantiate the answer better. For example – Sir M Visvesvaraya, used to use separate candle at home for doing official work and doing personal work. This is integrity. You make yourself the witness. Probity is more from the professional point of view, being non corrupt, fair, upright etc. Discuss their importance to civil services.

Conclusion:

Conclude by reasserting the significance of the three to civil servants.