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What are the basic purposes of public life

By May 10, 2022May 22nd, 2023Ethics, GS 4, Mains Answer Writing

Ques. What are the basic purposes of public life? Illustrate any three of these with suitable examples.


  •  Pubic life refers to one’s interactions in organisations, public interfaces and with people in general.
  • It requires strong guiding principles, especially in context of Civil Services.
  • Nolan committee in 1994 came out with Seven Principles of Public Life:
    • Selflessness – working solely for public interest.
    • Integrity – absence of any kind of corruption or favouritism.
    • Objectivity –impartial, fair and merit-based decision making, while using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
    • Accountability – taking responsibility for decisions.
    • Openness – decision making in open and transparent manner.
    • Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful
    • Leadership – being the role model for others and influencing them to achieve mutually beneficial goals.
  • Apart from these seven, principles like Rule of law, Sarvodaya through Antodaya, Probity, Dedication, Beneficence, Temperance, Wisdom, Justice and Courage must also be followed.
  • Three principles with illustrations:
    • Integrity: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try to inappropriately influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. Officers like Narendra Kumar (IPS Officer killed in 2012 in Morena District, MP), Satyendra Dubey, S. Manjunath laid their life to uphold this principle.
    • Dedication: implies giving your time, energy or completely yourself for public cause. It includes passion, commitment and perseverance. Officers like Armstrong Pame constructed a 100km road through crowd funding. Kiran Bedi brought about prison reforms when nobody was thinking about it.
    • Leadership: public officers not only have to perform management functions but also have to lead the developmental process, especially in developing countries like India. Leaders like A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Gandhi ji became inspiration for millions through leading by example and stimulating their followers to aim for higher ends of life.
  • Albert Einstein has rightly said that- “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” There’s no greater challenge and there is no greater honour than to be in public service.