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17 Solved Questions with Answers
  • Ethics - I

    1. Conflict of interest in the public sector arises when
    (a) official duties, (b) public interest, and (c) personal interest
    are taking priority one above the other.
    sHow can this conflict in administration be resolved? Describe with an example. (2017)

    For an administrator, a conflict of interest situation arises when there is actual or apparent conflict between public duty and private interest of a public official. In such a situation official's private interest could improperly influence the performance of official duties. 

    In recent past a beedi manufacturer from Uttar Pradesh was on a Parliamentary Committee, Instead of recusing himself from the proceedings of the committee because of direct conflict of interest, he made a forceful plea against the warming and influenced the panel to take a decision which favoured the tobacco industry. Clearly such conflict of interest interferes with unbiased public policy making and will not be based on objectivity.

    Conflict of interest reduces public trust and confidence in integrity and impartiality of public functionaries. To deal with such a scenario the person who is found involved in such a conflict first need to identify the situation. All financial and potentially relevant non-financial relationships thus identified need to be disclosed to appropriate authority. For example it is well accepted norm for judges to opt out hearing of a case where his/her family members are involved.

    Various oversight bodies, judicial institutions and commissions of enquiry could also be constituted for identification of any conflict of interest involved. We also need to move beyond treating conflict of interest as mere moral issue and should also take into perspective the legal angle. The priority must be to frame a modern law relating to conflict of interest, along the lines of what exists in the statute of the other countries like the United States.

  • Ethics - I

    2. Examine the relevance of the following in the context of civil service:
    (a) Transparency (b) Accountability (c) Fairness and Justice (d) Courage of Conviction (e) Spirit of service.  (2017)

    (a) Transparency means sharing information and acting in an open manner.  Transparency is essential for controlling corruption in public life, to uphold accountability and deliver information to stakeholders about the activities, procedures and policies of the Government. It also allows stakeholders to collect information that may be critical to uncovering abuses and defending their interests.

    (b) Accountability is the process whereby public sector organisations, and the individuals within them, are responsible for their decisions and actions and submit themselves to appropriate external scrutiny.  Accountability is the fundamental requirement for preventing the abuse of power and for ensuring that power is directed towards the achievement of efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness and transparency in civil services. It is needed to prevent covert unethical behaviour which would affect public service and due entitlements of stakeholders.

    (c) Justice means giving each person what he or she deserves while fairness is associated with an ability to judge without reference to one's feelings or interests. The principles of justice and fairness can be thought of as rules of "fair play" for issues of social justice. These principles of justice and fairness are needed in civil service to ensure that the common man receives his due without biasness, inefficiencies or greed of the civil servant affecting his entitlements.

    (d) Courage of conviction: In public service, while facing different situations one may be buoyed by the circumstances, fear, passions, greed since the decisions at the helm would be affecting many interests, vested or non-vested. It is during these trying moments that courage of conviction helps a civil servant to stay on the best course of action despite various temptations and risks, staying firm in his beliefs, values and duty. Hence, this quality assumes importance in public service.

    (e) Spirit of Service: Quality of being committed to public service without any self motives. The domain of civil service calls for duty in the spirit of service for country, society and its people and sacrifices by putting aside greed, personal entitlements and engagements. This is the single most important value that marks civil services apart from other service and keeps the civil servant motivated to keep working for the betterment of society.

  • Ethics - I

    3. Young people with ethical conduct are not willing to come forward to join active politics. Suggest steps to motivate them to come forward. (2017)

    In India, the word politics over time has come to be associated with corruption, political manipulation, opportunism, nepotism, along with weak moral integrity and character of political leaders. The flexing of muscle and money power in politics has made young people with ethical conduct wary of joining politics these days because

    • They fear that their ethical power cannot compete with the money and muscle power of modern day politician as they cannot be as ruthless as unethical politician in the pursuance of power.
    • They are also worried as their clean reputation may be spoiled in the dirty game of politics.

    In such a scenario, it has become pertinent to motivate youngsters towards politics, through following ways:

    • Instilling in them a sense of duty and responsibility towards the country and people and by virtue of which, in politics. They can’t change it for better by not entering the system itself.
    • Encourage participation in political debates and school and university elections to raise political awareness and check the indifference creeping in the youth towards politics.
    • Perception management by bringing upright leaders to limelight in public discourse, highlighting their work and showcasing the cases of punishment of corrupt leaders,
    • Persuasion and incentives by having a platform dedicated to youth in political parties where they can share their ideas, voice their grievances, experiment with politics, like youth wings, so that they feel their part in political matters.
    • The government and political parties should work together to define and implement career pathways in politics for qualified people, and provide career guidance to young people who want to enter politics in the future.

  • Ethics - I

    4. (a) One of the tests of integrity is complete refusal to be compromised. Explain with reference to a real life example. (2017)

    Integrity means adopting similar standards or moral principles in similar situations across time and interested parties. In other words it means to be honest and consistent in thoughts, speech and action. A man of integrity is never influenced by temptations and pressures from outside and would only respond to his conscience.

    Integrity is a four-step process: keeping in mind the aim/ purpose of one’s action or inaction and acting consistently with that choice—even when it is inconvenient or unprofitable to do so; choosing the right course of conduct in conformity with moral principles; openly declaring one’s intentions or where one stands; and results of one’s actions.

    In 1964, Mandela was sentenced to 27 years in prison at Robben Island. He accepted it with dignity. He knew that overthrowing apartheid called for struggle and sacrifice, and was prepared for the long walk to freedom.

    Ten thousand days in prison failed to break Mandela and he refused to compromise on his beliefs or leave the struggle midway.

  • Ethics - I

    4. (b) Corporate social responsibility makes companies more profitable and sustainable. Analyse. (2017) 

    Corporate social responsibility is based on the premise that a business can only thrive if it operates within a thriving society. In that way, the business depends on the community it operates within, and as such, has an ethical and moral responsibility towards that community. A business is perceived as legitimate when its activities are congruent with the goals and values of the society in which the business operates.

    Consumers and other companies are likely to shun firms that develop unethical reputations. And arguably, companies that don’t pay attention to their social and ethical responsibilities are more likely to stumble into legal troubles, such as mass corruption or accounting fraud scandals – threatening the sustainability of the business itself.

    By promoting respect for the company in the marketplace, CSR can result in higher sales, enhance employee loyalty and attract better personnel to the firm. It is also a way to connect to the personal well-being of customers. In this way, the CSR can contribute towards higher profits for the company. 

    Therefore, by ensuring brand loyalty and consumer patronage, CSR can ensure that the business remains sustainable in the long-term and it stays profitable.

  • Ethics - I

    5. (a) “Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.” – Napoleon Bonaparte.

    Stating examples mention the rulers (i) who have harmed society and country, (ii) who worked for the development of society and country.

    (b) “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Analyse. (2017)

    Great ambition has been a double edged sword since the time immemorial. There are many examples around the world where it changed the course of history and mankind in both negative and positive manner.

    Hitler’s great ambition led by greed, thirst for power and supremacy - to make Germany the most powerful nation resulted in World War-II, the deadliest conflict in the history of mankind. It eventually brought the horrors of holocaust and massive destruction not only for the Germany and Europe but for the whole world.

    On the contrary, Ashoka, the great Mauryan ruler, was responsible for one of the earliest welfare state - guided by the principle of Dhamma comprising compassion, charity, purity, self-control and truthfulness. Despite, the territorial vastness of the empire, the state was dedicated to harmony and wellbeing of not only its subjects but even animals.

    The above two examples bring out the contradiction in actions when guided by differing principles – one wherein, ambition based on weak principles resulted in harm to society (Hitler) and one where  ambition based on ethical and moral principles led to development of society.

    The role of parents and teachers in ensuring that the citizens of a country grow up as - ethical, moral, law abiding citizens with a strong knowledge base – cannot be overstated enough.

    Role of Parents

    Parents, especially the mother, are called a child’s first teachers. A child’s first lesson on right and wrong comes from his/her parents – when he/she is taught not to steal, never lie and not to intentionally harm others. Lessons learnt at this age are reinforced over the lifetime of an individual and form their basic character. Example- Gandhi through his close contact with his mother during childhood learnt and imbibed the moral values of truthfulness, non-violence through the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. These values instilled in Gandhi’s thoughts, feelings and actions as a child, functioned as ideals and standards that governed his actions in the course of Indian freedom struggle.

    Role of Teachers

    Teachers have a very important responsibility of laying the foundation of an individual’s future. They are the most important nation builders as they are not only responsible for the intellectual nourishment of young minds but also for moulding the overall personality of children. At young impressionable ages, teaching them about discipline, being responsible for their actions; inculcating values like team spirit, sharing, fair play, cooperation – a teacher sets the stage for a responsible citizen of the country.

    Therefore, the nurturing done by parents and teachers determines the course of a nation – whether it will be made of upright, moral and argumentative Indians or dull-minds ready to compromise on their ethics.

  • Ethics - I

    6. (a) How will you apply emotional intelligence in administrative practices? (2017)

    Emotional Intelligence can be defined as an ability to comprehend and manage one’s emotions and also of others. It is important for making sound and objective decisions thus making it crucial for success as an administrator.

    EI can be applied to administrative practices in the following manner -

    • Being self-aware as an administrator helps us in having a clear picture of our strengths and weaknesses. If people are self-aware, they always know their feelings and how emotions affect the people around them.
    • Administrators must self-regulate themselves effectively. A self regulated administrator would not verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions and/or stereotype people or compromise values
    • Administrators should constantly motivate themselves and their team members thus consistently working towards their goals. This also helps in maintaining an extremely high standard for the quality of their work.
    • Applying empathy in administrative practices is critical to managing a successful team or organization. Administrators with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s situation.
    • By developing social skills administrators would also become great communicators thereby getting their team support and will also be good at managing change and resolving conflicts diplomatically. 

    To summarize emotional skills have gained foothold in the public administration sector and are essential for good administrative practices and customer service.

  • Ethics - I

    6. (b) Strength, peace and security are considered to be the pillars of international relations. Elucidate. (2017)

    Peace is one of the foremost reasons why we engage in and maintain international relations. This is because, after the two World Wars, the appetite for war and violence decreased dramatically across the world. War became unethical behaviour, unfit for civilisation, hazardous for humanity. We needed to establish peace world over and in order to establish peace we need security. A secure and peaceful world allows us to preserve, protect and create newer solutions to our problems. Peace builds communities, expands trade, aids development, helps sustain the environment, and most importantly, helps us claim our socio-political rights.

    Security is derived from having strength. Strength in international relations is the ability to successfully negotiate in one’s favour. Strength can be sourced from military power, economic strength, a ‘soft-power’ status etc. An ethical use of strength to negotiate for peace and security is ideally what is required in international relations, but such is not always the case. For example, China has been using its strength to claim territories of other countries in the South China Sea, which is nothing but an unethical use of strength, and as such may not lead to peace and security in the region.

  • Ethics - I

    7. (a) The crisis of ethical values in modern times is traced to a narrow perception of the good life. Discuss (2017)

    A good life is the realization of all the values - material, social, psychological, aesthetical, moral, ethical and human. The classical Indian tradition follows the realization of the four purusharthas (pillars) – Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha (religion, wealth, sensual pleasures, salvation).

    The crisis of ethical values in modern life can be traced to the narrow perception in terms of material values i.e., Artha and Kama (wealth and sensuous pleasure) alone. The sole aim of all life has become attainment of personal success - defined in terms as acquisition of money, power and prestige. Its guiding slogan is, ‘higher the quantity of consumption, better the quality of life’. 

    Therefore, the modern value crisis is mainly due to the narrow perception of a good life which overplays of the importance of material values of life and downplays other life values like the moral and ethical. Life values like happiness, peace, contentment, etc which give meaning, worth and fullness to human existence are seen as roadblocks and unnecessary diversions from the high road to material success.

    Since a narrow way of good life cannot sustain in the long-run, there is need for the society in general to focus more on the broader aspects of values to lead a better quality life.

  • Ethics - I

    7. (b) Increased national wealth did not result in equitable distribution of its benefits. It has created only some “enclaves of modernity and prosperity for a small minority at the cost of the majority.” Justify. (2017)

    According to a recent research paper by Thomas Piketty, the eminent French economist,  top 0.1% of earners in India captured a higher share of the total growth than the bottom 50%. This shows that there has been no ‘inclusive growth’ in India.

    The skewed income distribution patterns depict that the policy making in India has neither favoured the ‘utilitarian approach’ nor the ‘common goods; approach. The nexus between the politicians and corporate (‘crony capitalism’) and the resulting corruption has led to concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small minority.

    Rather than assuming the role of trustees of wealth, as Gandhi prescribed, there is an absolute lack of empathy and values like altruism and philanthropy. Due to the general degradation in the moral fibre of the society, there is unwillingness among the ‘haves’ to part with the wealth and power for the benefit of the majority.

    Consequently, India is witnessing the phenomena of ‘enclaves of modernity and prosperity for a small minority at the cost of the majority’.

  • Ethics - I

    8. (a) Discipline generally implies following the order and subordination. However, it may be counter-productive for the organisation. Discuss. 

    (b) Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government, nor even the market economy will function properly.

    What do you understand by this statement? Explain with illustration in the contemporary times. (2017)

    (a) Discipline in an organization ensures productivity and efficiency. It encourages harmony and co-operation among employees and also act as a morale booster for the employees. Discipline is very essential for a healthy industrial atmosphere and for the achievement of organizational goals. However, the management of workplace discipline remains a key problem in employee relations, and is one of the most discernible sources of conflict at work.

    It may also be counterproductive in an organization because it may create a culture of fear and apprehension, which lowers worker morale and inhibits employee growth. Using negative discipline to punish employees for poor performance is not as effective as helping them to identify their weaknesses and explore how to improve upon their strengths.

    Therefore while discipline is important in ensuring order and subordination, a fine balance needs to be followed so that it does not become counterproductive to the organisational interests. Positive discipline approach, which uses constructive criticism, can be followed to instill correct behaviour. For example explaining to an under performing employee how his/her failure to follow proper protocol is hurting her performance and then offer helpful suggestions for increasing productivity.

    (b) Law, democratic government and market economy can be considered as three pillars of modern civilization. This argument can be tested on touchstone of Gandhian belief that moral values and obligations provide spiritual foundation of any civilization.

    Moral Values and Law – Usually laws are public expression of morality which codifies the basic principle of conduct which a society accepts. Modern society has gradually replaced all those laws which were not in consonance with moral principles of recent times, for example slavery, which was once legal has been outlawed across the globe, respecting human dignity.

    Moral values and Democratic Government – Democracy represents a set of decision-making institutions that embody respect for the equal worth of all citizens. This ensures that even powerless people get the right to express their preferences through democratic means. Values like equality, fraternity, liberty and justice are indispensible for proper functioning of a vibrant democracy.

    It has been seen that whenever moral values and obligations were bypassed by democratic regimes, tyrannical leaders have emerged. This trend could be seen in many African democratic nations that compromise on moral principles in disguise of democracy.

    Moral Values and Market Economy –  Market economy is based upon efficient market functioning and self corrective mechanisms but there are instances when it has been observed that in absence of moral values the market economy created havoc. The global financial crisis (2008-09) was a result of keeping moral principles at an arm’s length. Immoral principles like excessive greed and irrational exuberance where the unsustainable investment behaviour was observed raised a big question mark on basic principle of market economy.

    These observations can be aptly summed up in the words of Gandhi where he contented that commerce without morality and politics without principles are sins.

  • Ethics - II

    9. You are an honest and responsible civil servant. You often observe the following:
    (a) There is a general perception that adhering to ethical conduct one may face difficulties to oneself and cause problems for the family, whereas unfair practices may help to reach the career goals.
    (b) When the number of people adopting unfair means is large, a small minority having a penchant towards ethical means makes no difference.
    (c) Sticking to ethical means is detrimental to the larger developmental goals
    (d) While one may not involve oneself in large unethical practices, but giving and accepting small gifts makes the system more efficient.
    Examine the above statements with their merits and demerits. (2017)

    (a) Demerit Strict adherence to ethical conduct may cause problems in carrying out certain aims both in public and private life causing disaffection arising out of inability to reach goals. Being upright also pits the person against powerful vested interest, endangering his and his family’s life, which may not be worth the cost of ethical principles.

    Merit: Even though adherence to ethical conduct may produce disaffection from inability to reach certain short term career goals, but mere attainment of materialistic goals cannot be essence of life. Achieving goals by unfair means would prick our conscience and erode strength of character. The security of life and family members can also be assured for a person of upright character by preventing him from being implicated on charges of wrongdoing.

    In the long run ethical conduct always helps in achieving life’s larger goals, such as mental peace, clear conscience, strength of character and brings harmony and balance in life.

    (b) Demerit: When a large number of people are corrupt, a few good men can’t help salvage the situation as their voices drown in the majority. Moreover, in such a scenario upright men are deemed as obstruction by others in achieving their selfish aims through unfair means. This brings the upright men in direct confrontation with such corrupt forces, sometimes endangering their values, life and career. For example, civil servant Satyendra Dubey was killed while standing against the corrupt forces.

    Merit: Even though there might be instances of large number of corrupt prevailing over few honest individuals, it’s these few upright men that sustain the faith of people in humanity and society. They act as check against larger wrongdoings, constraining their power and also exposing and uprooting them. They act as role model for larger society to adhere to what is right. For example, Anna Hazare stood up as a crusader against corruption; T.N. Seshan, the chief election commissioner, countermanded elections in Bihar, U.P. citing mass rigging.

    (c) Demerit: Ethical means may at times not merge with the larger developmental ends. In trying to adhere to correct means, if one misses the goals then means lose their significance, no matter how ethical they were. For example, Robinhood morals may achieve larger goal of saving the poor, even if by questionable means of looting the rich, than sticking to moral means and letting the poor die of hunger. 

    Merit: To preserve the ethical and moral values it is important that both means and ends are right. Trying to achieve a noble goal with unethical means impinges upon the ethical fabric of individual and society at large, prompting a person for further compromises in the future. For example; Gandhiji emphasised upon the means to be ethical through way of Ahimsa as much as he emphasised on the result, the independence.

    (d) Demerit: Exchange of small gifts is sometimes seen as essential to maintain formal relations, as a symbol of gratitude for the services rendered. Not accepting gifts may be perceived to be rude, morally arrogant and at times may isolate the person from the larger circle of this give and take culture.

    Merit: Sometimes corruption is not carried out explicitly but is masked in form of these small exchanges, rendering bigger scandals possible. Hence, it is essential to nip this menace in the bud. Not accepting any form of gifts indicates a strong moral and ethical character preserving the trust of people in person in the long run.

  • Ethics - II

    10. You are aspiring to become an IAS officer and you have cleared various stages and now you have been selected for the personal interview. On the day of the interview, on the way to the venue you saw an accident where a mother and child who happen to be your relatives were badly injured. They needed immediate help.
    What would you have done in such a situation? Justify your action. (2017)

    In the above case:

    Stakeholders involved: The mother and child, me, society at large.

    Ethical dilemmas: personal cost ethical dilemma v/s civic duty

    Values at play: compassion, civic and moral duty.

    Course of action: In the following situation I will take following steps:-

    First, I will try taking help of the bystanders there and persuade them to get to the nearest hospital for immediate help to accident victims and persuade them to do so on humanitarian, civic and legal grounds (Good Samaritan Law) and assure them of no harassment at the hands of medical and legal authorities (due to which they might hesitate from helping) under Good Samaritan Law also.

    I would also call ambulance for medical help and police for further investigation and apprise them of the situation at the earliest, so that I am relieved off the safety of the victim and can peacefully go for interview.

    Meanwhile I would also try calling up my relatives or friends to rush to the hospital and take over the responsibility so that I can reach for interview on time. I will also try informing the concerned authorities at UPSC for the delay and will explain my situation.

    The above actions, on one hand, will ensure timely medical attention for the accident victims, and will also help me take care of the interview, without compromising my responsibilities either as a citizen, relative or as an aspirant.

  • Ethics - II

    11. You are the head of the Human Resources department of an organization. One day one of the workers died on duty. His family was demanding compensation. However, the company denied compensation because it was revealed in investigation that he was drunk at the time of the accident. The workers of the company went on to strike demanding compensation for the family of the deceased. The Chairman of the management board has asked for your recommendation.
    What recommendation would you provide to the management?
    Discuss the merits and demerits of each of the recommendation. (2017)

    Option 1: Let the law take its own course. As the worker was drunk during duty, the company cannot be held responsible for his death.

    This may sound right as the worker was bound to follow rules at the place of work. However, the strike by the remaining workers could affect the image and productivity of the company. No matter the outcome, the trust between workers and the management would be lost.

    Option 2: Recommend the company to offer compensation.

    But this would set a bad precedent among the management as well as the workers. To offer compensation would mean to let down the safety regulations of the company. The management may also not appreciate the payment as they were not liable for compensation due to negligence showed by the worker.

    Option 3: Recommend the management to offer alternative employment to the kin of the deceased. Push the management to adopt stricter prevention and safety measures.

    The third option is suitable as it would be better to bring the situation under control. The workers could be placated if the kin of the deceased would be offered a job. And also the company may prefer to not lose image and man days due to the strike.

  • Ethics - II

    12. You are the manager of a spare parts company A and you have to negotiate a deal with the manager of a large manufacturing company B. The deal is highly competitive and sealing the deal is critical for your company. The deal is being worked out over a dinner. After dinner the manager of manufacturing company B offered to drop you to the hotel in his car. On the way to hotel he happens to hit motorcycle injuring the motorcyclist badly. You know the manager was driving fast and thus lost control. The law enforcement officer comes to investigate the issue and you are the sole eyewitness to it. Knowing the strict laws pertaining to road accidents you are aware that your honest account of the incident would lead to the prosecution of the manager and as a consequence the deal is likely to be jeopardised, which is of immense importance to your company.
    What are the dilemmas you face? What will be your response to the situation? (2017)

    In the above case
    The stakeholders involved are:

    • Manager of company A that is me and the company itself
    • Manager of company B
    • The motorcyclist

    In the given situation following ethical dilemmas arise:-

    Personal cost ethical dilemma: If I give an honest account of incidents to the investigating authorities, the critical deal will be lost for my company.

    Moral dilemma: If I do not report the incident, fearing the loss of deal, the defaulter will not be brought to the book and motorcyclist will not be assured justice, who is critically injured. My conscience would prick me in the long term for not taking the right action in pursuance of selfish interests.

    Legal dilemma: Not giving the correct account of accident would also be legally wrong since an accident has taken place critically injuring a person.

    Response to the situation

    The situation involves life of a person who has been critically injured and my personal interests regarding the deal, being at stake. There is also a legal dimension to it as the Manager of other company was over speeding that led to the accident.

    In this situation, I would cooperate with the investigating agency, giving the correct details of the accident and let law take its own course. This would affect the deal thereby affecting the interests of company but it would be unethical, illegal and immoral on my part to continue a deal with the person implicated for an accident for negligent driving and shield him from authorities, moreover, it would be wrong for the motorcyclist to be denied justice, who is critically injured despite being innocent.

    The growth of company can be ensured along with adhering to moral principles of truth, justice and moral uprightness, which need to be protected.

  • Ethics - II

    13. A building permitted for three floors, while being extended illegally to 6 floors by a builder, collapses. As a consequence, a number of innocent labourers including women and children died. These labourers are migrants of different places. The government immediately announced cash relief to the aggrieved families and arrested the builder.

    Give reasons for such incidents taking place across the country. Suggest measures to prevent their occurrence. (2017)

    There are numerous incidences of building collapse reported across the country on regular basis killing innocent labourers and people living in them. Poor and shoddy construction along with non-compliance of regulations has done immense damage to the life of people.

    The reasons that could be attributed to such incidence on regular basis are discussed in following points –

    • The ease with which rule and regulations are bypassed by the builders remains the main concern. The National Building Code that provides guidelines for regulating building construction activities, are not adhered by builders.
    • Apathy towards laws make illegal construction a trend that continues to take life of innocent citizens.
    • Moreover, the standards prescribed for construction are at best poorly defined that people either do not understand or are not aware of.
    • Poor designs of buildings that could not withstand extra floors are also no less to be blamed. Poor quality materials used in construction makes any expansion a tough proposition.
    • At the root of such incidence is unplanned urbanisation that forces one to opt for accommodation that is built illegally on face of limited choices that people get in ever expanding urban areas.
    • Somewhere government has also failed in providing affordable accommodation to citizens hence they go for illegal properties.
    • Above all the builders’ moral attributes are to be blamed in totality that finds it alright to compromise people’s life in return for monetary gains.

    Measures to prevent such occurrences–

    • First and foremost, rules and regulations need to be defined in clear terms and enforced effectively. Standards defined in National Building Code need to be effectively adhered to.
    • Those who break laws should be given stringent punishment to deter others from breaking such laws.
    • Citizens should be made more aware about laws and rules regarding construction activities, so that they avoid purchasing any such illegally constructed property/building.
    • Crèche facilities and proper welfare mechanism should be put in place for children of women labourer working at construction sites.
    • Planned urbanisation will go a long way in addressing this concern. Satellite towns need to be built to ease the pressure on main cities.

  • Ethics - II

    14. You are a Public Information Officer (PIO) in a government department. You are aware that the RTI Act 2005 envisages transparency and accountability in administration. The act has functioned as a check on the supposedly arbitrarily administrative behaviour and actions. However, as a PIO you have observed that there are citizens who filed RTI applications not for themselves but on behalf of such stakeholders who purportedly want to have access to information to further their own interests. At the same time there are these RTI activists who routinely file RTI applications and attempt to extort money from the decision makers. This type of RTI activism has affected the functioning of the administration adversely and also possibly jeopardises the genuineness of the applications which are essentially aimed at getting justice.

    What measures would you suggest to separate genuine and non-genuine applications? Give merits and demerits of your suggestions. (2017)

    Over the year the RTI act has emerged as a milestone in assuring transparency in administration and governance. It has provided a tool in hands of citizens to bring the best out of the government but in many cases the act has also served as a way to harass government officials and extort money.

    To deal with such situations following measures are available –

    • Those filing RTI applications may be asked to mention about any connection/interest they have in the concerned department. Applicants might be given options to specify whether information asked serves public purpose or private interest.
    • Merit: It might help to identify the persons who indulge in misuse of RTI and other wrong doing.
    • Demerit: It makes the process a little cumbersome for the genuine applicants.
    • All the previous applications under the RTI could be scrutinized to bring out the trends in asking questions so that genuine applications can be segregated from the non-genuine ones. Habitual offenders can be closely monitored.
    • Merit: It will help in creating a robust database of almost all applicants for the future reference of the department and also identify the miscreants.
    • Demerit: It will create extra burden on the employees of the department as they might have to take help of other departments and law and order agencies.
    • Few changes regarding charges and fees associated with providing information can be made in the law. There should be no changes in the fee for initial filing of the applications. But if they are found to be false or serving the vested interests of someone in later investigations, then a suitable monetary fine may be imposed.
    • Merit: It will act as a check on insincere and unscrupulous applicants and hit others economically for wrong doing.
    • Demerit: It will create a divide and discrimination between rich and poor people. Economically well off and non genuine applicants will not hesitate to file applications while the poor will be discouraged to do so. 

    The above steps will help in segregating genuine applications from the non genuine ones and will help take the effective actions accordingly. However in the given question, there are RTI activists who are attempting to extort money from the decision makers. It indicates the systemic flaws in the government department itself. Besides it points to the fact that decision makers want to hide the information as it might expose the wrongdoings in the governance. Therefore the governance itself should be reformed and transparency and accountability should never be forsaken. The genuine applicants must be provided with the requisite information. Better option would be to play a pro-active role and put most of the information that are not exempted under the act in the public domain for easy accessibility by public.

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