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Day 55 – Q 5.

5. A poor widowed mother is pained at heart to see her small baby cry daily for a bottle of milk. She can’t afford the basic necessities of life and is frustrated to see her baby suffer from hunger. Even at the heights of personal pain and suffering, she doesn’t want to beg on the streets. She has tried everything in her capacity to find some work to sustain her family. However, there doesn’t seem a way out of her predicament. With each passing day, her hopes are getting dimmer by the ruthlessness of life and she is on the verge of being broken, from within.

However, as luck would have it, one fine day a neighbour approaches her and offers her money for a small favour. He wants her to deliver a parcel to a nearby locality. In return, she would be getting ten thousand rupees. She agrees to take up the job as she can’t wait to finally see her small baby have some milk and food. She takes the parcel and leaves for the location mentioned by her neighbour. While crossing a foot over bridge, the idea of looking into the parcel strikes her mind. She wants to ensure that she isn’t carrying anything illegal. However, to her utter surprise, she finds a kilo of heroin inside the parcel. She is shell shocked to see this. She stops walking immediately. Her thoughts start a battle in the mind. The image of her crying baby appears every second she thinks about abandoning the parcel. She tries to convince herself that if not her, then someone else would deliver the parcel. The heart of a mother seems to have overpowered her senses.

What should the mother do in this situation? Also comment upon the ethical dilemmas that she must overcome to make a decision. (250 words) (20)

Approach :

In a case study: It is better to analyse all available option and then chose one and justify why that is choice made by you


The above case study highlights the dilemma of poor mother who has to choose between her self-interest and interest of society at large

There are various stakeholders involved who will be impacted by decision she made

  1. She herself: She is caught between adhering to her principles and fulfilling her duty as a mother
  2. Baby: Who needs to be taken care of
  3. Neighbour: Who realised her vulnerability want her as a partner in crime
  4. Society at large: The increase in number of users of banned drug leads to loss of productive lives but also law and order problem

Ethical dilemma a mother faces

  1. Self-interest vs societal interest
  2. Means vs Ends

The mother has following options available to her

  1. To deliver the package as told:

Merit: She will get the desired money and she can fulfil temporary requirement of child

Demerit: She might be coerced by neighbour to continue the work and will be caught in vicious cycle of easy money.

  1. To return the package to the owner:

Merit: She will be true to her conscience and not involved in any illegal work

Demerit: She might not be able to feed the child also raise the suspicion of neighbour

  1. To rightfully inform the investigation authorities

Merit:  She will alert the investigation authorities, who can also help her rightfully.

Demerit: She might get entangled in work of police, and will be called for questioning also might be taken in custody.

The mother in this scenario can inform the investigation authority also explaining her situation and requesting their help, Authorities can then act on her tip and provide the women with the required assistance to help feed her child

In every moral dilemma it is better to remember that a right part might not always be easy path but in the end it is best path to take

Best Answer: Manisha

The above case study revolves around dilemma between doing the right thing for a larger public interest versus fulfilling maternal duty as expected of the widowed mother. The consequences of taking a decision involves many stakeholders which she needs to consider while taking an action.

Stakeholders involved and their interests:

  1. Widowed women: Providing basic facilities for her baby
  2. Baby: Fulfilment of hunger
  3. Neighbour: Delivery of parcel to the intended location
  4. Society and Investigating agency (invisible stakeholder): Ensuring rule of law and stability.

Ethical dilemma:

  1. Honesty versus self-preservation.
  2. Means taken (Deontological ethics) vs End-goal (Teleological ethics)

Course taken:

  1. Mother delivers the parcel

Merit: She receives the money which helps fulfil the basic demands while provides a better care for her child.

Demerit: Now she has become a drug mule. If she is caught, she cannot feign ignorance and might face trial and lose custody of her child.

  1. Mother returns the parcel to neighbour

Merit: She stops her chance of being implicated in this chain. This ensures her continued innocence and continued interaction with her child.
Demerit: She has a threat both on her and baby’s life. Since, she has returned the parcel she might raise suspicion of the neighbour who might create further difficulties for her.

  1. Mother informs the investigative agencies

Merit: According to utilitarianism principle, by taking this decision she has ensured the greatest good for greatest number of people as she provides information.
Demerit: She might be taken into judicial custody which might deter her chance to be with her baby and also create future difficulties.

The most logical choice is to take the third option. This choice is quite difficult for the mother, but she can tell her situation to the authorities while seeking help for women help centre in procuring her baby and keeping the child in safe custody. Authorities might try to step in and help her while identifying the chain, which might help in catching the mastermind of the drug chain. So she fulfils her moral duty of being a responsible citizen.

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