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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Case Study

    Suppose you are an officer in-charge of implementing a social service scheme to provide support to old and destitute women. An old and illiterate woman comes to you to avail the benefits of the scheme. However, she has no documents to show that she fulfils the eligibility criteria. But after meeting her and listening to her you feel that she certainly needs support. Your enquiries also show that she is really destitute and living in a pitiable condition. You are in a dilemma as to what to do. Putting her under the scheme without necessary documents would clearly be violation of rules. But denying her the support would be cruel and inhuman

    1. Can you think of a rational way to resolve this dilemma?

    2. Give your reasons for it.

    05 Nov, 2022 GS Paper 4 Case Studies


    • Briefly introduce your answer by explaining the ethical issue.
    • Discuss about various stakeholders and ethical dilemmas involved in the case.
    • Suggest possible multiple options to resolve the issue
    • In conclusion, choose a rational way to resolve this dilemma by giving reasons for it.


    The above case reflects the dilemma faced by of an officer who is implementing a social service scheme which intended to help old and destitute women. The scheme guidelines specify the documents which the applicants have to produce for verifying their eligibility. But during this process an applicant is unable to produce any documents, so, what would be the course of action taken by the officer.


    • Ethical issues involved:
      • Conflict between Objectivity & Compassion.
      • Crisis of Conscience.
      • Fiduciary Responsibility to use public funds for intended purpose.
      • Professional Responsibility to follow the rule book.
    • Stakeholders involved in the case are as under:
      • Me as officer in charge.
      • Targeted Beneficiaries like old and destitute women.
      • Society at large.
      • NGO.
      • Local government/MLAs.
    • Ethical dilemmas involved:
      • Rule of Law v/s Humanity: The case states the dilemma faced by the officer to choose what she can do, if she chooses rule of law then humanity will suffer and if she chooses humanity then the professional duty to follow rule of law would be hampered.
      • Conflict of interest between public duty and private moral interest: The case showcases the conflict between the public duty of the officer and her private moral responsibility towards the person in need.
    • Course of action:
      • To allow the inclusion in the scheme without documents:
        • Merits: As Machiavelli said that means are not important, therefore by achieving the end goal of including the beneficiary would help the old women.
          • By including the old lady, the implementing would be serving the humanity.
          • Furthermore, none of the beneficiaries will be left, it's on the line with Gandhi's Sarvodaya
        • Demerits: The action of including all beneficiaries could attract departmental enquiry.
          • Can be harmful for future promotion.
      • To deny the support to the old lady (on the basis of rules):
        • Merits: Means are also important as per Gandhi seven sins,
          • It will uphold rule of law.
          • It will promote equality to all beneficiaries.
        • Demerits: The action of refusing old lady will go against humanity.
          • As social welfare is basic need,
          • Further, it would lead to criticism and media trial.
      • Include her in the scheme and simultaneously arrange her documents:
        • Merits: According to Buddha both means and ends are important, therefore this balanced approach would most appropriate.
        • Demerits: Meanwhile, document verification may take time and would lead to delay in providing benefit to the needy.
          • Further, the seniors of the implementing officer may deny the support and may conspire against the officer as the officer is not following the rile book.


    • The third option would be best course of action in the above case, as it takes care of public duties and private moral interest of the implementing officer by including her in the scheme and simultaneously arranging her documents.
    • If her inclusion in the scheme is not possible then getting help from the local NGOs in providing her basic needs till the process of her documentation is completed.

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