12 Solved Questions with Answers
Ethics - I
1. Discuss the role of ethics and values in enhancing the following three major components of Comprehensive National Power (CNP) viz. human capital, soft power (culture and policies), and social harmony.
Comprehensive National Power (CNP) is the comprehensive capability of a country to pursue its strategic objectives by taking the necessary actions internationally. It can also be defined as the degree of ability to mobilize and utilize strategic resources of a country to realize national objectives.
Role of ethics and values in enhancing human capital
- Ethics is all about the choices that an individual makes. People always face many dilemmas and choices that affect the quality of their lives.
- Ethics and values make an individual aware that their choices have consequences, both for themselves and others.
- Thus, ethics and values build credibility, improve decision making, and provide long term gains.
Role of ethics and values in enhancing social harmony
- Ethics and values are about character; the sum of qualities that defines a person. The same principle applies to society.
- Ethics and values develop norms of behaviour that everyone should follow in society. If every person acts with a selfish motive, society might fall into chaos and anarchy.
- There is nothing wrong with pursuing one’s interests. However, an ethical person must be willing – at least sometimes – to place collective interests ahead of self-interest.
Role of ethics and values in enhancing soft power
- International relations are largely driven by the ideology of realism, which propagates national interest precedes global interest.
- However, pursuance of national interest must not always be fulfilled with hard power (military power, economic power). The soft power (a country’s image due to its culture and values) also secures national interest without compromising others’ interest.
- In this regard, ethics and the country’s ancient values (for example, the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam in India) revive national pride and project a country’s rightful image.
Each country wants to have a respectful place in the global community. CNP is about pursuing it with the right course and action. Each citizen is a nation-builder, and their ethical righteousness help a country achieve wider acceptibility.
Ethics - I
2. Hatred is destructive of a person’s wisdom and conscience that can poison a nation’s spirit. Do you agree with this view? Justify your answer.
Hatred is a strong negative emotion or extreme emotional dislike that can drive oneself to extreme behaviors such as violence, murder, and war. It is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and a nation’s spirit. In the contemporary world, religious violence, communal polarization and intolerance have increased and it is a continuous obstacle in the progress and growth of a country.
One of the characteristics of hatred is the need to devalue the victim more and more. At the end, the object of the hatred loses all moral or human consideration in the eyes of the hater. Hatred severely destructs person’s wisdom and conscience as:
- Hatred produces energy for destructive power and the fission that ignites the explosion, which is driven by the intense hostility, fear, anger or sense of injury one feels.
- Hatred reduces an individual’s quality of making good judgements or having good experience and knowledge.
- It further reduces an individual’s quality of being wise.
Hatred may also lead to:
- Deprivation of Amenities: Victims of intolerance are found to be deprived of facilities and opportunities, thus excluding them from contributing to the overall development of the society and subsequently lose out on self-development too.
- Curbing of Individual Freedom: Any form of illogical intolerance often leads to taking away individual freedom and rights. Constructive criticism and debates over various aspects are absent and dominance of one ideology takes over. Any society plagued by this halts the overall growth and progress of the collective.
- Destruction of Social Harmony: Due to the communal intimidation and hatred being spread, the very fabric of a society is being diminished in the larger sense, rendering a weak and divided social strength. For example: Assimilation with accommodation, stable patterns of pluralism, inequality and integration etc. constitute the basic fabric of Indian society, which when tainted with communal intolerance get divided and internally threatened.
- Economy: Disturbances caused due to communal intolerance largely impact the local economy due to the disruptive activities like strikes, riots, destruction of public property, etc. against each other, and also disturb the macro-economic outlook of countries on the global sphere as a result of the apprehensions of investors or economic giants of a good work environment.
- Political Instability: At times massive such clashes result in political blame game, interference, and unnecessary measures, projecting an unstable political atmosphere. Welfare of the nation is mainly side-lined, and the representatives are caught in inconsequential issues.
Hatred is a negative emotion and that is irrational and subjective. When hatred becomes all-pervasive in a society it can destroy a nation’s spirit and could further hurt social capital and cooperation among citizens. This can be explained as to how the hatred of Hitler for Jews led to the corruption of many German citizens which had devastating effects on the German nation and its conscience. Therefore, hatred is indeed a serious threat to a person’s wisdom, wellbeing, and national prosperity.
Ethics - I
3. What teachings of Buddha are most relevant today and why? Discuss.
The societies across the globe are facing serious issues ranging from moral and cultural degradation to religious conflicts, corruption, lack of food and water security, lack of economic opportunity and employment, environmental degradations etc. It is in these times that the values like compassion, solidarity and peace become even more relevant.
Teachings of Buddha most relevant today:
- The Buddha stressed in his teachings that the way to extinguish desire, which causes suffering, is to liberate oneself from attachments like greed, desire, ignorance, delusion, hatred and destructive urges.
- Buddha prescribed an eightfold path, the middle way for liberation. The eightfold path revolves around Wisdom (right understanding and intention), Ethical Conduct (right speech, action and livelihood) and Meditation (right effort, mindfulness and concentration).
- Right action and livelihood can liberate society from corruption, it can ensure food and water security and will enhance economic opportunity and employment, giving way to prosperity for all.
- Loving-kindness brings about positive attitudinal changes as it systematically develops the quality of ‘loving-acceptance’.
- Right understanding and intention can open the path for knowledge and can liberate the people from ignorance and delusion.
The Buddhist teachings inculcate compassion, calmness & composure, joy among humans and they can help maintain a sustainable balance between man and nature.
Ethics - I
4. Distinguish between laws and rules. Discuss the role of ethics in formulating them.
Any society is governed by certain sets of laws and rules. Although in common language, these are synonyms yet there is substantial difference between them.
- Laws: These have the backing of legislative bodies. These are enforced by the government and every citizen has to obey them. A person can be punished for violation of laws. For example: Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, when enforced by the Parliament became a law.
- Rules: These are the set of instructions which are concerned with do’s and don’ts. These are flexible in nature and these can be made by any organisation and people. Rules are broader in scope when compared to laws. For example: schools’ instructions can be considered as rules.
Role of ethics in formulating Laws and Rules
- For effective governance of the country, laws are made by the parliamentarians. These laws should be guided by ethical standards which the society and nation opt for. Ethics and laws work simultaneously to ensure that citizens act in a certain manner and also make sure that these coordinate efforts protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.
- Ethics is the guiding light that defines sound moral conduct and practices that ought to be followed by the individuals. This calls for framing of rules and regulations on the lines of ethics. For example, several institutions, business establishments etc. start their day by paying reverence to the almighty, a sort of ethical conduct. Several corporate houses, go beyond the legalised limit of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and work for the disadvantaged sections of society just because their rules have a sound ethical backing.
Ethics helps in framing the code of conduct in a society which is essential to its functioning, for example: the Indian Constitution.
Ethics - I
5. What are the main factors responsible for gender inequality in India? Discuss the contribution of Savitribai Phule in this regard.
Gender inequality refers to the unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles. It is women who have always been at the receiving end.
Gender inequality in contemporary India is the result of multiple factors which can be broadly classified as Cultural, Historical, Social, and Economic.
- Cultural: India has a long evil tradition of favouring boy child over a girl. Several ancient scriptures like Manusmriti justified the preference of boys over girls. It led to a rise in evil practices like femicide which is still prevalent.
- Historical: Frequent invasion of India from the ancient times pushed women downward in the social rank. During the medieval times, “veil” culture came in vogue confining women to walls of the house.
- Social: The culmination of cultural and historical factors has a long term effect on the mindset of the society. In Indian society, females are being considered as a secondary gender. It stigmatised women and they were regarded as mentally and physically weak.
- Women were not allowed to study and get an education.
- Speaking of women in public is still considered a taboo.
- The chastity and purity of women are considered as a matter of dignity and honour.
- Economic: The inadequate economic growth and widespread poverty has always prevented women from breaking social barriers. They were not allowed to work and left dependent on their male counterpart and nothing empowers a woman more than her financial independence.
Savitri Bai Phule was the social reformer of the 19th century who worked in the field of women empowerment. To understand the gravity of her contribution, It is important to know the milieu in which the young Savitri grew up. Public education was yet to emerge and there were only a few missionary schools which were “open to all”. Brahmins were the only caste group that received an education and could take a lead in setting up schools.
- In 1848, she with her husband Jyotirao Phule started their school at Bhide Wada (Maharashtra). It was India’s first girls’ school.
- She also initiated two educational trusts – The Native Female School, Pune and The Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs and Etceteras – which came to have many schools under them.
- In 1852, Savitribai started the Mahila Seva Mandal to raise awareness about women’s rights.
- She published Kavya Phule (1854) and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar in 1892. In her poem, Go, Get Education, she urges the oppressed communities to get an education and break free from the chains of oppression.
- The Phule couple started a home for the prevention of infanticide in their own house, for the safety of pregnant, exploited Brahman widows and to nurture their children.
- In 1890 when Jyaotirao passed away. Defying all social norms, she lit his funeral pyre.
- She initiated the first Satyashodhak marriage – a marriage without a dowry, Brahmin priests or Brahmanical rituals in 1873.
Savitribai was always at the vanguard of women social reforms. Her achievements were diverse and numerous, but they had a singular effect – posing a brave and pioneering challenge to the caste system and patriarchy.
Ethics - I
6. What do each of the following quotations mean to you?
“Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If not, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.” – Swami Vivekanand
The idea in this quote relates to the humanitarian aspect where one shall help people and not create hurdles for them. Whenever someone is in need one ought to help him/her if the capabilities of providing the support permit. If one cannot stretch the helping hand at the time of need, its better to stay away rather than interfering by means of wrong advice and acting under the influence of anger, jealousy or revenge to make the life worse.
The statement holds significance not only in day to day personal life but also in professional duties of, say, civil servants. A clerk at a pension sanctioning office can either help an old widowed lady get her rightful monthly pension or he can refuse her application for want of proper documents and worse off talk to her rudely and make her run from pillar to post for some forms and documents.
Thus, in the truest sense, the society can be more tolerant and flourishing if the actions of people are directed by humanity and acceptance.
Ethics - II
7. Rajesh Kumar is a senior public servant with a reputation of honesty and forthrightness, currently posted in the Finance Ministry as Head of the Budget Division. His department is presently busy organizing the budgetary support to the states, four of which are due to go to the polls within the financial year.
This year’s annual budget had allotted Rs. 8300 crores for the National Housing Scheme (NHS), a centrally sponsored social housing scheme for the weaker sections of society. `775 crores have been drawn for the NHS till June.
The Ministry of Commerce had long been pursuing a case for setting up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in a southern state to boost exports. After two years of detailed discussions between the centre and state, the Union Cabinet approved the project in August. The process was initiated to acquire the necessary land.
Eighteen months ago, a leading Public Sector Unit (PSU) had projected the need for setting up a large natural gas processing plant in a northern state for the regional gas grid. The required land is already in possession of the PSU. The gas grid is an essential component of the national energy security strategy. After three rounds of global bidding, the project was allotted to an MNC, M/s XYZ Hydrocarbons. The first tranche of payment to the MNC is scheduled to be made in December.
Finance Ministry was asked for a timely allocation of an additional Rs. 6000 crores for these two developmental projects. It was decided to recommend re-appropriation of this entire amount from the NHS allocation. The file was forwarded to the Budget Department for their comments and further processing. On studying the case file, Rajesh Kumar realized that this re-appropriation may cause inordinate delay in the execution of NHS, a project much publicized in the rallies of senior politicians. Correspondingly, non-availability of finances would cause financial loss in the SEZ and national embarrassment due to delayed payment in an international project.
Rajesh Kumar discussed the matter with his seniors. He was conveyed that this politically sensitive situation needs to be processed immediately. Rajesh Kumar realized that diversion of funds from the NHS could raise difficult questions for the government in the Parliament.
Discuss the following with reference to this case:
(a) Ethical issues involved in re-appropriation of funds from a welfare project to the developmental projects.
(b) Given the need for proper utilization of public funds, discuss the options available to Rajesh Kumar. Is resigning a worthy option?
Ethical issues involved in re-appropriation of funds
- Economic Development vs Social Justice:
- By setting up a Special Economic Zone and natural gas processing plant, economic development would help in the region’s economic growth and eventually lead to the overall development of society and people.
- However, finances’ non-availability would cause a financial loss in the SEZ and national embarrassment due to delayed payment in an international project.
- Social justice, as re-appropriation may cause undue delay in the execution of the National Housing Scheme and may hamper the welfare of vulnerable sections of the society.
- Empathy vs Professional Duty:
- As a senior public servant, Rajesh Kumar’s responsibility is to exhibit empathy and compassion for society’s downtrodden section’s upliftment and welfare.
- Further, Rajesh Kumar is the head of the Budget Division in the Finance Ministry. Thus, his primary responsibility is to act with an objective analysis of demand without getting influenced by the political situation.
Diversion of Entire Amount
- It will help in boosting exports and help increase clean energy accessibility.
- It will help in economic development and eventually lead to a trickle-down of benefits to society.
- It may cause undue delay in the execution of the NHS and may leave the poor section of society vulnerable.
- It could set a wrong precedent of fund utilisation.
Reject the proposal
- It will uphold the principle of social justice and help the poorer section of society.
- It will meet the populist demands that majorly influence political decisions.
- Would cause financial losses in the SEZ and may bring national embarrassment due to delayed international project.
- Delay in gas project would have implications on energy availability and subsequent employment generation.
Partial re-appropriation of Funds
- It will help in balancing the twin goals of economic development and social justice.
- Partial re-appropriation of funds will require time for calculating the modalities.
- On the contrary, due to the politically sensitive situation, funds’ re-appropriation needs to be processed immediately.
Conclusion: The Final Course of Action
- Thus, given the long-term implications of SEZ and the associated issue of national embarrassment (if delayed), Rajesh Kumar should recommend re-appropriating funds for SEZ projects only as an exceptional measure.
- He shall recommend that money for gas project can be mobilised through market bonds.
- Further, the firms engaged in SEZ and gas projects can be asked to fund housing projects under Corporate Social Responsibility.
Lastly, resigning cannot be considered a good idea. Resigning may reflect the escapist mindset and may set a bad example for other fellow civil servants. Being a public servant, it is the duty and moral responsibility to act in public service, following objective standards and without being influenced by vindictive politics.
- Economic Development vs Social Justice:
Ethics - II
8. The Chairman of Bharat Missiles Ltd (BML) was watching a program on TV wherein the Prime Minister was addressing the nation on the necessity of developing a self-reliant India. He subconsciously nodded in agreement and smiled to himself as he mentally reviewed BML’s journey in the past two decades. BML had admirably progressed from producing first generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to designing and producing state of the art ATGM weapon systems that would be the envy of any army. He sighed in reconciliation with his assumptions that the government would probably not alter the status quo of a ban on exports of military weaponry.
To his surprise, the very next day he got a telephone call from the Director General, Ministry of Defence, asking him to discuss the modalities of increasing BML production of ATGMs as there is a possibility of exporting the same to a friendly foreign country. The Director General wanted the Chairman to discuss the details with his staff at Delhi next week.
Two days later, at a press conference, the Defence Minister stated that he aims to double the current weapons export levels within five years. This would give an impetus of financing the development and manufacture of indigenous weapons in the country. He also stated that all indigenous arms manufacturing nations have a very good record in international arms trade.
(a) As Chairman of BML, what are your views on the following points?
(b) As an arms exporter of a responsible nation like India, what are the ethical issues involved in arms trade?
List five ethical factors that would influence the decision to sell arms to foreign governments.
Ethical Issues involved in arms trade:
- The primary use of weapons is to kill other humans. The earnings made from the arms trade are like blood money. Killing is inherently wrong and it is against humanity which is one of the central ideas of the Indian way of life.
- India has been a land of Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi. They have advocated non-violence. But by indulging in arms trade, India will be endorsing violence, but in a different region of the world.
- Article 51 of the Directive Principle of State Policy says that the government should aim for promotion of international peace and security.
- By indulging in arms trade, India might be endorsing the actions and policies of foreign governments by which India may not stand. For example, selling weapons to autocratic countries and regimes known to suppress dissenting voices. In India, the government is accountable to parliament and weapons should be sold to democratic countries so that users can be held accountable.
- While engaging in arms trade, India should ensure that arms exported are not being used to suppress dissent or subvert democracy or invasion of peaceful neighbours. India should ensure use of exported weapons in self-defence and also not against India’s own interest short term or long term.
Ethical factors that would influence the selling of arms to foreign governments are:
- Responsible Nations: The nations to which arms are being exported, should be a democratic and rational actor in international relations. There should be accountability for the actions of the government as governance is based on democratic ethics.
- Upholding Human Rights: Some nations simply deny their people certain basic rights, while many actively harm those under their control for political or religious reasons. If the foreign government has a proven past record of human rights violation, then it is advisable that weapons either must not be sold or sold only after a strict scrutiny.
- Use of Weapons: It should be preferred that weapons are being used in self-defence as defined under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Weapons must not be used for invasion of another nation or suppressing dissent or protests of people within the nation.
- Military Values: Indian Defense Forces have a long tradition of upholding human rights, respecting prisoners of wars, respect for international law in the battlefield. But if the military of a nation has a record of routinely taking civilians in the battlefield as prisoners, forcing young men to serve, even allowing children to be soldiers. Such factors must be considered.
- International Law: While exporting critical technologies, it must be noted that the recipient nation is following the norms made by the International Export Groups such as Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
Ethics - II
9. Rampura, a remote district inhabited by a tribal population, is marked by extreme backwardness and abject poverty. Agriculture is the mainstay of the local population, though it is primarily subsistence due to the very small landholdings. There is insignificant industrial or mining activity. Even the targeted welfare programs have inadequately benefited the tribal population. In this restrictive scenario, the youth has begun to migrate to other states to supplement the family income. Plight of minor girls is that their parents are persuaded by labour contractors to send them to work in the Bt Cotton farms of a nearby state. The soft fingers of the minor girls are well suited for plucking the cotton. The inadequate living and working conditions in these farms have caused serious health issues for the minor girls. NGOs in the districts of domicile and the cotton farms appear to be compromised and have not effectively espoused the twin issues of child labour and development of the area.
You are appointed as the District Collector of Rampura. Identify the ethical issues involved. Which specific steps will you initiate to ameliorate the conditions of minor girls of your district and to improve the overall economic scenario in the district?
The tribal area, which has minimal interaction with the outer world, is shrouded in abysmal condition which reflects the extent of poverty and deprivation. The ineffectiveness of the targeted welfare programs highlights the level of unawareness and helplessness.
The major stakeholders in this scenario are tribal people, the youth that has started migrating to other states and minor girls who are forced to work in the Cotton farms. The ethical issues involved are:
- Livelihood vs Well-being: The meagre livelihood opportunities have forced the local population to send their minor children to Bt-Cotton farms.
- Distress Migration: Migration of youth in search of better working opportunities leaving their families behind in abysmal conditions.
- Child Labour: Tribal people who are compelled to send their minor girls in the Bt-Cotton farms as their small landholdings are not earning well.
- Well-being of Minors: Forced labour which is leading to the deterioration of health of minor girls. This affects their education as well.
- Corruption: The NGOs are compromised and have proved ineffective in highlighting the plight of the tribals.
There are plethora of government schemes and programmes which when implemented effectively will ensure the upliftment of the tribal population. Following steps are needed to improve the well-being of minor girls and economic scenario:
- Article 24 of the Constitution prohibits the employment of children below 14. Actions shall be initiated against labour contractors under Child Labour Amendment (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2016.
- Minors Girls shall be encouraged to attend school as it is their right under Article 21A. It shall be ensured that they receive the benefits of Integrated Child Development Services Scheme and Midday Meal. Eklavya residential school can be promoted to provide tribal children a better education.
- To enhance their earning, steps shall be taken to market their local products under the guidance of TRIFED. It will fetch them better livelihood opportunities. Their products can be listed on websites like TribesIndia or marketplace like Hunar-Haat for sale.
- As far as the return of migrants is concerned, it will require a calibrated approach. It will require better employment opportunity and adequate earnings.
- Avenues for the establishment of industries can be explored in consultation with all the stakeholders.
- Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana shall be harnessed which is a market-linked tribal entrepreneurship development program for forming clusters of tribal SHGs and strengthening them into Tribal Producer Companies.
- Tribals shall also be encouraged to pool their land together and start contract farming.
- To bring transparency and efficiency among NGOs, a better surveillance mechanism shall be implemented under the EAT (Expenditure Advance Transfer) Module.
- The guidelines pertaining to the functioning of NGOs in the regions shall also be revamped.
While implementing all the mentioned steps tribals shall always be taken into confidence to assure that the reach of benefits is universal.
Ethics - II
10. You are a municipal commissioner of a large city, having the reputation of a very honest and upright officer. A huge multipurpose mall is under construction in your city in which a large number of daily wage earners are employed. One night, during monsoons, a big chunk of the roof collapsed causing instant death of four labourers including two minors. Many more were seriously injured requiring immediate medical attention. The mishap resulted in a big hue and cry, forcing the government to institute an enquiry.
Your preliminary enquiry has revealed a series of anomalies. The material used for the construction was of poor quality. Despite the approved building plans permitting only one basement, an additional basement has been constructed. This was overlooked during the periodic inspections by the building inspector of the municipal corporation. In your enquiry, you noticed that the construction of the mall was given the green signal despite encroaching on areas earmarked for a green belt and a slip road in the Zonal Master Plan of the city. The permission to construct the mall was accorded by the previous Municipal Commissioner who is not only your senior and well known to you professionally, but also a good friend.
Prima facie, the case appears to be of a widespread nexus between officials of the Municipal Corporation and the builders. Your colleagues are putting pressure on you to go slow in the enquiry. The builder, who is rich and influential, happens to be a close relative of a powerful minister in the state cabinet. The builder is persuading you to hush up the matter, promising you a fortune to do so. He also hinted that if this matter is not resolved at the earliest in his favour; there is somebody in his office who is waiting to file a case against you under the POSH Act.
Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case. What are the options available to you in this situation? Explain your selected course of action.
The decision making of the civil servant is predominantly guided by the ethical principles in public interest and not by any kind of luring or fear by seniors or political veterans. In the given case, as a municipal commissioner, my role is to ensure that larger interests of the society are not the vested interests of few individuals. Any unethical decision by me favoring the builder or pleasing my senior or political veterans would not only be violating the code of conduct but are also against the basic values of impartiality, objectivity, and fairness.
Ethical issues involved in the given case:
- Personal vs. Professional ethics: Personal ethics involve morals and values that have been induced in me since my childhood, by parents, family and relatives and friends & teachers. Professional ethics on the other hand involve a strict adherence to code of conduct laid down at the workplace. Any violation of these rules and regulations can be termed as unprofessional. In this case, my personal ethics forces me to take personal interest in the case, conduct the enquiry at a fast pace and send the culprits behind the bars irrespective of consequences. But professional ethics suggest me to follow law and rules and involve my other teammates and seniors in the investigation process, or even quit from the enquiry if asked to do so by the authority concerned.
- Personal Interest vs. Public Interest: The given situation may drive me as an officer to gain in terms of promotion or financial gains from higher authorities. This can be done if I keep my personal interest above public interest. Personal interest relates to ignoring the widespread nexus between officials of the Municipal Corporation and the builders and resolving the case at the earliest in the favour of the builder, while public interest lies in transparent and quick enquiry into the case and sending the culprits behind the bars thereby giving justice to victims and their families.
- Honesty & Courage vs. Flattering: Honesty is a facet of moral character that connotes truthfulness and straightforwardness of conduct. Similarly, courage means the ability to control fear by ignoring consequences while critical decision making. Flattery, on the other hand, is done to seek attention or try to win favor for unethical reasons.
Options available with me are:
- The first option is to lose all my moral values and read the situation as an opportunity to take executive favour in terms of posting and promotion by seniors and politicians. This can be done if I totally ignore the nexus between officials of the Municipal Corporation and the builders and end up an enquiry with results in their favour.
- The second option is to remain stuck to my moral principles of impartiality, integrity and probity thereby conducting a fair and transparent enquiry. If the builder and my senior officers are found guilty, a report regarding their conduct can be sent to the judicial and quasi-judicial authorities for further course of action.
My selected course of action:
- My moral principles drive me to adopt the second option as my final course of action. Being honest and courageous since childhood, I hardly have any fear of consequences. Also, if I find that there is too much political and administrative pressure on me to perform unethical action, then I may even breach the principle of hierarchy, and report the same to the higher central authorities and request them to tackle the situation. Also, I will bring the issue in public limelight through the media, which will continue the pressure of transparent enquiry on public officials on this matter.
Ethics - II
11. Parmal is a small but underdeveloped district. It has rocky terrain that is not suitable for agriculture, though some subsistence agriculture is being done on small plots of land. The area receives adequate rainfall and has an irrigation canal flowing through it. Amria, its administrative centre, is a medium sized town. It houses a large district hospital, an Industrial Training Institute and some privately owned skill training centres. It has all the facilities of a district headquarters. A trunk railway line passes approximately 50 kilometres from Amria. Its poor connectivity is a major reason for the absence of any major industry therein. The state government offers a 10 years tax holiday as an incentive to new industry.
In 2010 Anil, an industrialist, decided to take benefits to set up Amria Plastic Works (APW) in Noora village, about 20 km from Amria. While the factory was being built, Anil hired the required key labour and got them trained at the skill training centres at Amria. This act of his made the key personnel very loyal to APW.
APW started production in 2011 with the labour drawn fully from Noora village. The villagers were very happy to get employment near their homes and were motivated by the key personnel to meet the production targets with high quality. APW started making large profits, a sizable portion of which was used to improve the quality of life in Noora. By 2016, Noora could boast of a greener village and a renovated village temple. Anil liaised with the local MLA to increase the frequency of the bus services to Amria. The government also opened a primary health care centre and primary school at Noora in buildings constructed by APW. APW used its CSR funds to set up women’s self-help groups, subsidize primary education to the village children and procure an ambulance for use by its employees and the needy.
In 2019, there was a minor fire in APW. It was quickly extinguished as fire safety protocols were in place in the factory. Investigations revealed that the factory had been using electricity in excess of its authorized capacity. This was soon rectified. The next year, due to a nationwide lockdown, the requirement of production fell for four months. Anil decided that all employees would be paid regularly. He employed them to plant trees and improve the village habitat. APW had developed a reputation of high-quality production and a motivated workforce.
Critically analyse the story of APW and state the ethical issues involved. Do you consider APW as a role model for development of backward areas? Give reasons.
Critical analysis of the story of APW:
- Business activities, especially like setting up a small-scale manufacturing industry are done with the sole purpose of profit maximization and involve capital risk. Also, we know that proper and right choice of location is instrumental in future success of the industry. In our case, the condition of Parmal district, the Amria administrative centre within the district and the small Noora village is no more hidden after reading the given story. Despite such existing circumstances, the initiative to set up industry in such remote areas and ensure livelihood of villagers, that to with least government support, is a commendable and appreciable job. As far as excess use than granted capacity of electricity is concerned an enquiry can be initiated and prima facie a warning can be issued to administrative staff of the industry. Liaising with the local MLA to increase the frequency of the bus services to Amria can be considered a good initiative as it is the duty of the MLA to work in public interest and liaising is a part of long standing bureaucratic and corporate culture.
Ethical issues involved:
- Selflessness vs. Business Ethics: Selflessness is being more concerned about the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own. Business ethics talks about profit maximization and rapid growth instead. In the given case, Anil despite being a businessman, was less concerned about business ethics and instead showed selfless character in decision making.
- Accountability vs. Transparency: The case of accountability is worsened by the perceived lack of transparency in the system. Anil’s industry should have maintained transparency in utilisation of allocated resources as running businesses brings accountability towards stakeholders.
- Spirit of Service and Sacrifice vs. Professionalism: Spirit of Service and Sacrifice is the major quality required in public officials, while professionalism is the major quality required in a businessman or industrialist for boosting business growth. In the given case, Anil despite being a businessman showcased the quality of spirit of service and sacrifice & remained less professional in approach.
My take on APW’s initiative:
- Yes, I consider APW as a role model for development of backward areas. Firstly, we all know profit maximization is the sole purpose of any kind of business by private individuals. But the same cannot be found true in case of Amria Plastic Works (APW) and its owner Anil. Despite low expectation of return, he decided to set up industry in the backward Noora village, tried to ensure livelihood for village people and give hope to villagers for prosperity reaching their doorsteps in near future. His works can be more related to multi-dimensional philanthropic agenda rather than pure business motive. Secondly, even during lockdown, when his profit from industry went to zero, in fact might be facing losses because of huge investment done earlier, Anil decided to pay all employees regularly and ensured food, nutrition and livelihood security for them. Thirdly, he employed villagemen to plant trees and improve the village habitat. This work in itself is a highly philanthrophic and altruistic activity as it does common good to mankind without any discrimination and irrational thinking. Finally, as far as works like using electricity in excess by his industry and liaising with the local MLA to increase the frequency of the bus services to Amria are concerned, they cannot be rated unethical, especially at the cost of what good he has done to the society. It is the duty of the government’s executive authority to ensure smooth functioning of the system, if any small fault occurs, it can be dealt accordingly.
Ethics - II
12. Migrant workers have always remained at the socio-economic margins of our society, silently serving as the instrumental labour force of urban economics. The pandemic has brought them into national focus.
On announcement of a countrywide lockdown, a very large number of migrant workers decided to move back from their places of employment to their native villages. The non-availability of transport created its own problems. Added to this was the fear of starvation and inconvenience to their families. This caused the migrant workers to demand wages and transport facilities for returning to their villages. Their mental agony was accentuated by multiple factors such as a sudden loss of livelihood, possibility of lack of food and inability to assist in harvesting their rabi crop due to not being able to reach home in time. Reports of inadequate response of some districts in providing the essential boarding and lodging arrangements along the way multiplied their fears.
You have learnt many lessons from this situation when you were tasked to oversee the functioning of the District Disaster Relief Force in your district. In your opinion what ethical issues arose in the current migrant crisis? What do you understand by an ethical care giving state? What assistance can the civil society render to mitigate the sufferings of migrants in similar situations?
Ethical issues that arose in the current migrant crisis:
While monitoring the District Disaster Relief Force, I witnessed certain ethical issues in fulfilling the responsibility of managing disasters.
- Conscience vs. administrative constraints: While monitoring disaster management authority, I had limited resources to be spent. This posed the challenges of caring well for elderly migrants especially those suffering from any disease. Assisting elder family members with physical care, emotional support, managing crises, maintaining connections with others, tested the conscience & decision–making of professionals.
- Selfish vs. selfless: Selfish means lacking consideration for other people and preoccupation with one’s own pleasure, profit or welfare, while selfless means having little or no concern for oneself, and helping society as a whole. Migrants in their barefoot long journeys witnessed both kinds of people in the society. While some helped the migrants on their way to home in a selfless approach, many others hardly showed any interest and took care of their family only.
Meaning of an ethical care giving state:
- The ethics of care giving involves helping the needy without expecting for any reward in return. ‘Ethical care giving state’ is a government or nation which ensures implementation of such policies that provide social, economic, and medical facilities for free to the needy. To provide the same, besides constructing necessary infrastructure, also needs both professionals and volunteers providing caregiving.
Assistance that the civil society can render to mitigate the sufferings of migrants in similar situations
- Civil society can construct temporary health centers, rehabilitation centers, avail doctors & nurses, and other care giving professionals, to take care of migrants in their way. Also, civil society can provide direct financial assistance to migrants, providing them with essentials such food & water and necessary medicines, arranging transportation facilities to their destination. Civil societies and many individuals took responsibility and were highly successful in helping migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic in India.