2. You have been posted as an election observer in a remote district of a naxal effected state in central India. The political atmosphere in the district is highly toxic as the naxalites have threatened to disrupt the elections and kill the voters if they come out to caste their voters. The government has issued special instructions to the field officers that polling has to be conducted at any cost. Your district is highly sensitive and therefore you request your superiors for added security. However, despite multiple requests and reminders, you have been denied adequate police reinforcement. Rather your superiors have instructed you to conduct the election with the available manpower. The situation has become quite frustrating and frightening to you and your colleagues. There is fear for life everywhere.
One day, you receive the news of a media crew getting attacked by the naxalites in your district. Three media persons and two paramilitary officers have died in the attack. This makes the situation even worse for you. You colleagues and subordinates have started to pack their bags and return to their homes. They don’t want to risk their lives for the job.
In the midst of this chaos, one of the senior officers of the paramilitary force deputed in the district offers you a suggestion. He suggests that he can fake an attack on the base camp housing the election officers and show it as an emergency. This would force the government to send reinforcements to your district. It would increase the morale of the officers and they would be ready to perform their duties. The suggestion involves a small lie but it has got the potential to address the chaos.
What decision would you take in this situation? Also provide the reasoning for taking this decision. (250 Words) (20)
- While solving case studies in GS IV, a good answer should have a proper flow to solution of the case. Try to include following aspects in your answer:
- Provide a brief summary of the case in few lines. We can mention the values which are at stake or being challenged in the case.
- Enlist ethical issues and stakeholders involved in the case. According to issues and stakeholders, start giving solutions.
- Sequence of the solutions indicates your priorities, so be careful while selecting course of actions.
- While elaborating course of action, build a strong case to justify your solutions. Do not neglect the consequences and mention possible demerits of your proposed course of action. Give sub-options to contain demerits of your course of action.
- Conclude with mention of ethical and professional values which your are trying to uphold by the prescribed course of action.
During elections, violence and attacks on polling booths, voters and staff on duty are rampant in Naxal affected areas. Above case study is a typical example of ethical dilemma for a civil servant; duty versus security.
There is limited manpower, with the coordination of whom, as an election observer, I have to make sure that election is being conducted freely and fairly despite the security threats from Naxalites.
Stakeholders and respective issues here are;
- Security personnel: Superiors denied adequate police re-inforcement.
- Polling booth team: Colleagues and subordinates do not want to risk their lives for job
- Voters: Naxalites have threatened to disrupt the elections and kill the voters
- Me as an Election observer: Polling has to be conducted at any cost
At the end in the given case, a suggestion is given by senior paramilitary force deputed in election bound district to fake an attack, it will force government to send additional force. At the face of it this suggestion provides a solution to all problems, but I will not choose this course of action, because;
- It is against my honesty and integrity as a civil servant/ election observer.
- It may create chaotic situation for general public, and will further demotivate them and they will abstain from voting.
- There may be some rationale behind superiors not sending additional force in my district.
- It will set a bad precedent for other colleagues, subordinates and public in general.
What else I can do?
- Try to get additional forces by sending reports of the ground situation and evidences of casualties of media persons and paramilitary officers to appropriate authorities.
- Using emotional intelligence, I will try to convince my colleagues that their job can help the voters to end the menace of Naxalism forever and that if we stay firm and united we can conduct elections safely.
- I will try to divide area under my observation into smaller pockets and ask available public transport and paramilitary forces to escort the voters safely in groups to and fro. And simultaneously I will keep doing radio and loudspeaker announcements for naxalites about consequences of any attack on civilians or personnel.
- Even after all these, if situation doesn’t come under control, I will contact presiding officer and other respective authorities to consider for rescheduling of elections to a later date when more manpower will be available.
- For me as an empathetic and pragmatic officer, security of the voters is also important. Any loss to life of the voters will further aggravate the situation and people will lose faith in election or, broadly, in democracy.
Actions for long term:
- Days before elections, ground situation should be continuously monitored.
- Proper planning and adequate security manpower according to situation of the district should be readily available.
- Campaigning and announcements for all, public and naxalites, should be conducted to change behaviour and create awareness about potential benefits of participative governance.
- By taking all aforementioned steps, I can uphold my own integrity, people’s right to vote, and my duty to ensure free and fair elections. Convincing my colleagues will be proof of my leadership qualities and success of teamwork.
- Conduct of election without compromising security will be the test of efficient utilisation of available and limited sources.
- I will not succumb to any such solutions or suggestions which are against my professional ethics.
- Throughout the process, I will ensure free and fair elections without any fear and favour and with fortitude.
Best Answer: SID