UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing (10-11-2022)

UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing

Questions

Case Study: You have been newly appointed as the District Magistrate of a district, which is known for its rich mineral deposits. Following the news being circulated in the media about the illegal mining in your district, you have initiated an enquiry into it. When the State's Minister of Mines and Minerals gets to know of the enquiry initiated by you, he directs you to name some junior government employees as being involved in the wrongdoing and make them scapegoats. He also points out that elections to the State Assembly are around the corner and the present government wishes to stay clear of any political corruption. This Minister is a very influential figure in the present regime and there are high chances of the present ruling party being voted back to power. In due course of the enquiry, it has come to your notice that the said Minister has also been involved in illegal mining through his cronies. The findings of the enquiry can affect the outcome of the elections as well as completely derail your career, if the incumbent party wins the elections, which looks very likely as per the polls. Answer the following with reference to this case:
(a) Identify the stakeholders and the ethical issues in the given case.
(b) Critically evaluate the options in the given scenario and state your course of action, giving reasons. (20 marks)


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Model Solutions

Case Study: You have been newly appointed as the District Magistrate of a district, which is known for its rich mineral deposits. Following the news being circulated in the media about the illegal mining in your district, you have initiated an enquiry into it. When the State's Minister of Mines and Minerals gets to know of the enquiry initiated by you, he directs you to name some junior government employees as being involved in the wrongdoing and make them scapegoats. He also points out that elections to the State Assembly are around the corner and the present government wishes to stay clear of any political corruption. This Minister is a very influential figure in the present regime and there are high chances of the present ruling party being voted back to power. In due course of the enquiry, it has come to your notice that the said Minister has also been involved in illegal mining through his cronies. The findings of the enquiry can affect the outcome of the elections as well as completely derail your career, if the incumbent party wins the elections, which looks very likely as per the polls. Answer the following with reference to this case:
(a) Identify the stakeholders and the ethical issues in the given case.
(b) Critically evaluate the options in the given scenario and state your course of action, giving reasons. (20 marks)

Model Structure
Introduction:

  • The above case-study reflects the situation often seen in mineral rich states, where political corruption has historically remained high and officers are threatened, and made scapegoats in order to save the culprits.

Main Body:
(a) Stakeholders involved in the given case:

  • News agency: It highlighted the illegal activities in the district and did its duty as the fourth pillar of democracy by questioning wrongdoings in governance.
  • Minister: He not only misused his power but is also trying to harm the career of an innocent employee.
  • District Magistrate: Who is at the position of establishing facts and bringing culprit(s) to the book. He also has the responsibility to uphold the spirit of the civil service by being impartial in the probe. His job and promotional aspects are also at stake here.
  • Innocent government employee: Having no knowledge of what is happening behind the curtains and chances of becoming scapegoats for someone else's wrongs.
  • Ruling political party: Intention of projecting a corruption free image just before the elections is morally wrong and is against the spirit of democracy for not taking actions.
  • Voters of the Minister’s constituency: Since the Minister is confident of returning to power, it is the duty of voters now to vote for the same and uphold democratic values.

Ethical issues in the given case:

  • The reputation of an innocent employee is at stake: With ministerial pressure on the District Magistrate to take action against an innocent junior officer, the fortitude of the DM is tested to protect his junior employees from powerful people.
  • Illegal exploitation of natural resources: Natural resources, which belong to the public, are being exploited by powerful people against public interest.
  • Government’s image: Because only one Minister is engaged in corrupt acts, exposing such wrongdoings so close to the elections may cast doubt on the efforts of the rest of the Cabinet and tarnish the government's image.
  • Upholding Objectivity: It is the duty of the civil servant to uphold the fundamental values of public service (7 principles as suggested by the Nolan Committee). Establishing the facts of the case without tampering and presenting the real culprit ensures objectivity in the case.
  • Public trust needs to be upheld: It is the duty of the DM to uphold the trust of citizens in the bureaucracy by protecting the natural resources and naming the actual culprits irrespective of whatever post, in this case a minister, he is holding.

(b) As District Magistrate, I have the following options:

  • Going ahead with the probe and naming the Minister in report:
    • Merits
      • This will fulfill the welfare agenda and establish the rule of law, which abhors corruption.
      • Protects the innocent government employee.
      • Strong signal to the future Ministers as well, thus protecting the natural resources of
      • the district.
    • Demerits
      • May tarnish the image of the ruling party and lead to a loss in upcoming elections.
      • It can lead to the DM’s transfer or suspension on false charges.
  • Protecting the minister by naming a junior government employee:
    • Merits
      • It will be a win-win situation for both the DM and the Minister as the Minister will help the DM in his career growth if the party comes into power.
    • Demerits
      • Punishing the innocent is a violation of justice.
      • It leads to an erosion of ethical standards in discharging public service for the personal gains of the DM.
      • It misguides the public trust, which is the core driving factor for the bureaucracy.
  • Taking issue to the Chief Minister of the State:
    • Merits
      • This will ensure that the hierarchy is respected.
      • This may lead to at least political action against the concerned Minister.
    • Demerits
      • The CM may put pressure on the DM to follow the Minister's orders in order to protect the government's image, which may help the return the party to power.

(b) Considering the available options, an option which involves naming the Minister in the report, will be the best course of action. The reason being:

  • Objectivity cannot be compromised for personal gains: The Minister being the real culprit in the given case, it is unethical to punish some other person.
    • Threats to personal career are common in the service, and if a civil servant tries to compromise, then he will not do justice to his duty.
  • Courage of conviction: By showcasing courage of conviction, the DM in this case can set an example for the fellow employees, which encourages them to take the right action irrespective of the culprit’s position in the system.
  • Protecting public property: Such actions against the concerned Minister will create fear in the minds of corrupt individuals and thus help in protecting natural resources, which are the property of the public.

Conclusion:

  • Just as it generally happens in the case of exposing illegal mining in India, civil servants should uphold the ethical standards and should keep personal benefits at bay when it comes to discharging their duties.
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