2. You have joined as the Director of Operations in a government department. After joining the office, you start getting signals from your colleagues and subordinates that your’s is a plum posting. Your predecessors have made fortunes out of this post and you are lucky to have got this position without actually even having bribed the superiors. They also start sharing ideas on how to extract quick fortunes by misusing your powers. Being an honest officer, you squarely refuse the ideas and tell them you have no such intentions. Within a week, you are called by your reporting officer who ridicules you for being naive and stupid for having refused to earn good money. He tells you that he is fine with your honesty though and that you are free to choose your saintly path. However, you must keep your mouth shut and don’t interfere with the processes already defined and established by your predecessors. He also threatens that you shall be shunted to a remote location if you don’t copy with his directions.
How would you respond to this situation? Don’t you think being honest doesn’t only mean non-participation in corrupt activities but also standing firmly against them? But if the entire system is against you and forcing you to toe the line, what are the options available to you? Which one would you choose and why? Substantiate.
Corruption refers to the act of misuse and abuse of power especially by those in the government for personal gains either pecuniary or a favor. The menace of corruption is pervasive in India, where it is not only limited to government authorities but can be seen within the private sector as well. In the present case, corruption in the governmental agencies is highlighted with the involvement of all where the values of integrity and honesty are at stake.
- As the Director of operations in the department, I would try and uphold the values of integrity, honesty, professionalism and maintaining clean and transparent government structures in my conduct while responding to the present situation.
- Following upon this line of thought, I certainly think being honest doesn’t only mean non-participation in corrupt activities but also standing firmly against such practices in day to day functioning.
- In this regard, Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings and ideals would be helpful in dealing with such situations where his quote “ Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” would stand clearly.
- This line of thought would necessitate standing for truth even if the whole world is against you. For example, IAS officer Ashok Khemka demonstrates this quality of fearlessness in face of adversity and his courage of conviction has led to his frequent transfers.
- Further, many officers like qualities expected from officers require officers to stand their ground in face of odds and adverse situations on the side of right. Here, not participating in the corrupt dealings as well as not being a mute spectator to the practices would be the correct thing to do.
In the present situation, following are the options available to me:
- Accept the suggestion of reporting officer and others by being mute to the happenings in the surrounding and maintaining honesty individually.
Merits- Would help in maintaining personal integrity, wouldn’t antagonize other co workers and help in career progression.
Demerits- Would be against principle of probity and professionalism, future prosecution by anti-corruption agencies possible, ethically and morally against every tenet.
- Considering the suggestions of juniors and example of predecessors, involve in some practices to gain materially as well as improve career prospects.
Merits- Would help in material enrichment taking care of all needs, would help in better acclimatization to the present work environment.
Demerits- Would be completely illegal act, risk of future prosecution by anti-corruption agencies, immoral and unethical practice.
- Approach seniors with regard to wrong doings in the department by suggesting enquiry in the departmental workings while also reprimanding the juniors at department to avoid corrupt practices.
Merits- Would be the most appropriate measure, will help bring in clean administration, morally and ethically the most sound measure.
Demerits- Can jeopardise future career prospects due to transfer to remote place, will defame the department in public.
In the given scenario, I , as director of operations, would go with option III for the future course of action. This would be the most correct step to go forward and will help in maintaining my high ethical and moral ground as well as will be a professionally competent step.
Constitutional obligations and personal ideals would demand not succumbing to the temptations of corruption, so this step would be helpful in maintaining my peace of mind and maintaining a clear conscience.
Further, as the post was offered to me without any bribes, it would indicate that seniors expect me to correct things in the department and I would do justice to their expectations which would be in line with my moral understanding. I would also be ready to face the unintended consequences of the action, if any.
India being signatory to the UN convention against corruption(UNCAC), it becomes important to conduct in line with its ideals and make sure India adheres to its international obligations while at the same time, fight against corruption is also important from social justice point of view, which I, as officer will uphold.