Integrity is a State of Mind

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 08-10-2011

Today,
Integrity is a much talked about word, particularly in public life. All public
servants are supposed to have integrity beyond doubt. But can we say that the
integrity of civil servants in general is beyond doubt or even satisfactory for
the matter? Before we dwell upon this subject, the word 'Integrity' should
itself be property understood. The normal meaning given to this word is 'Not
Taking Bribe'. The Chambers Dictionary meaning of this word is — Entireness;
Wholeness; The unimpaired state of anything; Uprightness; Honesty; Purity.
Obviously 'Integrity' is a much wider term than what is normally understood.

A
public servant, while discharging his duties, is supposed to have a complete
view of the situation without being influenced by external factors and take
upright decision with pure and honest mind. This is what can be an ideal
definition of the quality called 'Integrity'. Therefore, any deviation from
this would mean loss of integrity. 'Bribe' is one factor, though a prominent
one, which is likely to cause deviation. But other factors also cause
deviation. These may be fear of survival, caste consideration, prejudice,
vendetta, suspicion, over-ambition, etc. Deviation from correct decision due to
any of these factors also means loss of integrity. Then there are factors like
misuse of power, wastage of resources, etc., which are generally overlooked. My
personal view is that such loss of integrity is causing more harm to the system
than mere acceptance of bribes. Therefore, there is need for suitable checks in
these areas also.

Unfortunately,
our system has miserably failed to check this evil despite many administrative
measures. This is mainly because 'Integrity' is basically a 'State of Mind'
which cannot be influenced much only by administrative measures. It is a sum
total of the influences of various factors and in a way reflect the state of
the society. There can always be found a counter to any administrative measure.
Such measures will be effective only when there is influence at the mental
level also. Otherwise, those who have already deviated will keep on deviating
more and more while the administrative measures will remain in force for those
who do not need them.

Therefore,
the role of those in superior positions in all walks of life (not merely public
services) becomes important. Indians by and large are a satisfied lot and
happily accept their condition provided the leaders of the society show their
integrity. Unfortunately, it has not been the case and the result is obvious.
The old principle that one should not only be clean but also appear clean has
been grossly misused. The entire emphasis has shifted to appearing clean rather
than being clean. Many do not care even to appear clean. Very obvious
corruption charges are refuted by responsible persons on the ground that the
charges are not proved. Many times they don't even care to say that charges are
wrong. And all of us know how difficult it is to prove such charges. In such a
state of affairs, it is no use blaming lesser mortals and apply administrative
measures to them. In fact, those who are supposed to apply these measures are
themselves not above board. Thus the exercise becomes all the more futile.

There
is need of establishing that corruption ultimately leads to unhappiness in the
society at large. To begin with, some people may feel happy at the cost of
others but a stage comes when everyone becomes a victim of the system. In the
present age of science and technology this will have to be established in
logical manner. All people may not understand the science of our scriptures
which plead for right conduct. There have to be economic and social
explanations of the havocs, the corruption plays with the society. It should
establish that if we do not mend our ways, the whole society will have to pay
the price.

Fortunately,
the roots of our society are deep and strong. So far the damage of our values
can be said to be only surface damage. The people of India, by and large, are
God-fearing satisfied lot. At the same time they are aware of their strength.
Those in high places should not take them for granted. If they do not mend
their ways gracefully, people will force them to do so. This is where the hope
lies. Let us hope that all those in responsible positions will work with full
'integrity' not by compulsion but by choice. The rest of the society will
automatically follow them. In that event administrative measures can also be
taken effectively against the defaulters.

 A man of integrity is accepted, believed,
trusted and befriended by all.

 A man of integrity will never listen to any
plea against conscience.

 Integrity has no need for rules.

 Integrity
is self-rewarding.

 Honesty is still the best policy with a little
bit of commonsense.

 An honest man is the noblest work of God.

 It pays to be honest, but it's slow pay.

About The Author

Rakesh K Mittal IAS

Sri Rakesh Kumar Mittal IAS (Retd.) had been an administrative officer in Uttar Pradesh state cadre for about 35 years. He is a spiritual man with high moral values and a selfless heart. He has founded 'Kabir Peace Mission'. He has also written several books on positive thinking.