You are an IAS officer posted in a district known for its high rate of farmer suicides due to crop failures. The district has received special attention from the government, and several schemes and policies have been implemented to help the farmers. However, despite these efforts, the number of suicides has not decreased, and the situation seems to be worsening.
During a routine visit to one of the affected villages, you come across a farmer who tells you that the local officials have been demanding bribes for the release of funds under the government schemes. He also tells you that the local officials have been inflating the cost of the projects and pocketing the extra money. The farmer tells you that he has already spent all his savings on his failed crops and cannot afford to pay any more bribes.
You are aware that acting against the officials may result in political pressure and backlash, and it may also jeopardize your own career. However, you also know that if you do nothing, the situation will continue to deteriorate, and more lives will be lost.
What would you do in this situation? How would you balance your duty to serve the people with the potential risks to your career and personal safety?21 Apr, 2023 GS Paper 4 Case Studies
- Start your answer by briefly explaining the case.
- Discuss various stakeholders and ethical issues involved in the case.
- Discuss the various options available and mention the pros and cons of each option.
- Conclude accordingly by selecting one or a combination of options.
The case involves an IAS officer who is posted in a district with a high rate of farmer suicides due to crop failures. Despite government schemes and policies, the situation has not improved. The officers responsible for the implementation of relief measures provided by the government are neck deep in corruption and bribery which is choking the funds to reach the aggrieved farmers. The farmers who have been hit hard by the crop failure can’t afford to pay for the bribe.
The officer is faced with the dilemma of acting against the corrupt officials, which may result in political pressure and backlash, or doing nothing and risking more lives lost.
- Local officials
- Society at large
Ethical Issues involved:
- Human Rights
- To address the situation, I would first verify the farmer's claims and gather evidence to support them. This could involve conducting a discreet investigation with the help of honest and reliable officials and whistle-blowers. I would also ensure that the farmer receives the funds and support he is entitled to under the government schemes, without any additional demands for bribes or inflated costs.
- Once I have gathered sufficient evidence, I will report the matter to my higher authorities. I would provide them with a detailed report of the corruption and bribery allegations, along with the evidence I have collected. I would also suggest measures to prevent such incidents in the future, such as stricter monitoring of the schemes and punishment for those found guilty of corruption.
- I would also suggest some compensatory mechanisms for the aggrieved farmers and would also ensure effective implementation of existing schemes like Crop Insurance, Irrigation schemes like Per drop more crop, Soil Health card etc. to avoid such situations in future.
- In this process, I would be aware of the potential risks to my career and personal safety, but I would not let them deter me from fulfilling my duty. I would remain transparent, honest, and accountable in my actions, and ensure that justice is served to the affected farmers. I would also seek legal protection and support from the relevant authorities, if required, to ensure my safety and security.
Other options available:
- Seek help from NGOs: I can seek help from NGOs that are working to support farmers in the district. They may have access to resources and expertise that can help address the underlying causes of the suicides, such as poor soil quality or lack of access to irrigation.
- NGOs that work with farmers may have access to resources such as funding, training programs, and agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers that can help improve the situation.
- NGOs can also help build networks and partnerships that can help sustain interventions and support farmers over the long term.
- They may have limited resources and may not be able to provide required support to all farmers.
- Involving NGOs may involve navigating bureaucratic processes and procedures, which can be time-consuming and challenging.
- Raise awareness: I can raise awareness about the issue of farmer suicides and the corrupt practices that are contributing to the problem. This could involve working with local media outlets, organizing public meetings, or using social media to share information about the issue.
- It can help to build public awareness and support for the issue.
- It can help to mobilize public pressure to demand action from the government.
- It can help to promote transparency and accountability in government activities.
- May not be sufficient to bring about meaningful change without concrete actions.
- It could lead to backlash or accusations of political bias or opportunism.
- It may not be effective if there is limited access to media or communication channels in the affected area.
As an IAS officer, my duty is to serve the people and uphold the values of honesty, integrity, and accountability. In this case, the farmer's allegations of corruption and bribery cannot be ignored, as they directly impact the welfare of the farmers and the effectiveness of the government schemes. While handling this situation, I would be aware of the potential risks to your career and personal safety, but that should not deter me from fulfilling my duty. I would conduct an enquiry and ensure the funds reach the needy farmers as an immediate measure. Along with this I would also try to incorporate NGOs working for farmers’ welfare to mitigate the problem in future.
To get PDF version, Please click on "Print PDF" button.Print PDF