Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dishonest students in India opt for government jobs, says study; Is it a fair assessment?

INDIAN college students who cheat are more likely to prefer a government job, a new paper authored by two researchers, one each from Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University) and The Wharton School (Pennsylvania University), said. The survey based on a series of laboratory experiments designed to measure honesty, pro-social behaviours and ability on 669 students from Bangalore, has concluded that “the college students who cheat on a simple task are more likely to...
prefer to enter government service after graduation.”
The study titled “Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service” co-authored by Rema Hanna of Harvard and Shing-Yi Wang of Wharton, was funded in part by Harvard Dean’s Grant and the Russell Sage Foundation.
As BoI tweeted a couple of findings on Wednesday, some Indian government officials said it was a sweeping generalisation based on a very small sample. Where is the proof that those in the private sector are less prone to corruption, they asked. Others said it was a fair assessment.
In the survey, the cheaters were detected when they were asked to roll a dice and give answers to some queries. There were altogether 28 sessions located in rooms at the university or in restaurants and other event spaces. The exercise was done in August and September 2012. The paper, published by National Bureau of Economic Research, has come out only this month.
In the conclusion, the paper has offered some key policy insights. For example, it recommends that the recruitment and screening process for bureaucrats may be improved by increasing the emphasis on characteristics other than ability.
In fact, from this year onwards, IAS aspirants had to take a compulsory paper on “Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude” in civil services (mains) examination. (A sample ethics paper HERE).


  1. Idealism, ethics, integrity and loyalty towards the institution has become anathema. No wonder dishonest bureaucrats are grouping together and hounding upright and hard working officers by leveling false allegations and maligning them with no scope for opportunity to be heard. Unfortunately the system connives and supports the dishonest persecutors and harasses the hapless upright officers. This has now become standard practice and a way of life in Government Offices, which we will have to accept.
    Madhuri Dabral

  2. Let's not give much emphasis on these sort of studies. Corruption is an issue in the government but singling out government employees will serve no purpose

  3. Having been associated with Govt 25 yrs and came out voluntarily to get rid of corrupt , nepotism, politicization of govt work, i agree with the findings. else one can not survive in peace in govt. i call these youngsters as smart having learnt the life skills at eraly stage.

  4. I just completed my probation in group-a service recruited through the civil services exam. this is my observation about my batch; about 70% of them very curious to know how much money one can make, what the facilities one can enjoy, about 20% knew already how much they could make because of contacts and were happy, only very few came with a sense of duty and passion to serve.

  5. Congratulations to the truth! Down with the bloody babus - especially the corrupt IAS!

  6. The IAS examinations are considered to be very tough and at least an investment of 1-2 years of time. Most meritorious students, who have a sense of duty towards nation, are discouraged with the selection system. Plus the scale of corruption one reads and hears about is further disheartening. No wonder only dishonest under-achievers are left behind who see government services as a last resort, as they know their chances of employment in private sector are limited.