General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics): Information sharing and transparency in government

RTI

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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)

 

Case Study: Information sharing and transparency in government

Mr Manoj is working as a public information officer in the ministry of urban development. He receives an application under RTI act, seeking information regarding method of allocation of contract, to a local construction company, owned by an influential business man. The contract pertains to a flyover construction, made by a aforesaid company. The flyover just before the completion had collapsed resulting in death of two labours. Since the case didn’t attain much hype by media, or NGO, it was suppressed. Mr Manoj knows that some of his superiors were involved in suppressing the case. They got high bribe for coordinating with the construction company.

If Mr Manoj provides correct information, his superiors along with company officials will be in trouble. He is also being pressurized by his superiors to manipulate the information. Moreover the company officials have offered him huge amount of money in return of this work. Mr Manoj is also in need of financial assistant as his father is admitted in private hospital for kidney transplantation.

Analyze the situation and explain what options are available for  Mr Manoj along with their merits and demerits? Which option should he go with?

 

In the above case Mr Manoj may be in a state of dilemma to choose between his professional integrity and well being of his family.

Mr Manoj is in need of money due to medical condition of his father. But his professional ethics and public service commands that he should furnish the correct information to the RTI application.

  • As RTI is a tool to bring transparency in government providing correct information upholds the real meaning of RTI.
  • There has been a death of two labours due to collapse of flyover, if it was due to usage of poor quality of material then the labours should get justice for death.
  • Stopping corruption must be a priority of every public servant as it is a major challenge to our socio-economic development.

Following are the options of Mr Manoj.

  1. Cooperate with seniors and officials and manipulate the information.

Merits:

  • His professional and social well being will be ensured.

Demerits:

  • Integrity of Mr Manoj will be compromised.
  • RTI act will render less effective due to dishonesty of PIO.
  • Work culture will be affected, and corruption practice continues in future.
  • Injustice to people who lost their life.
  • Social injustice and also more corruption practices continue in public tender, and the ultimate sufferer will be common public.
  1. Take leave or Resign

Merits

  • Mr Manoj may escape from the pressure by his senior officials.

Demerits

  • Dereliction from office duty, he will be complicit in act of corruption.
  • Compromise of integrity and no direct help in treatment of his father.
  • Guilt and inner dissonance.
  • Injustice to people who lost their life.
  1. Furnish the correct information: this option is the Best option, which Manoj need to choose.

Merits:

  • Integrity and uprightness will be maintained.
  • Upholds RTI act.
  • Will improve work culture and reduce chances of corruption in future.
  • Justice to people who lost their lives.
  • Crony capitalism will be checked.
  • Encourage many public servants to act courageously and honestly.

Demerits:

  • Mr Manoj may suffer professionally and personally as he faces difficulty in treatment of his father.

 

Mr Manoj must choose to furnish the correct information. Because all our principles, philosophies and fact also point towards doing correct action at right time. Gandhiji concept of satyamev jayate  also says that, honesty is morality uplifting, it boosts dignity and self respect. Virtue like happiness must be desired for themselves.  Corruption has addictive effect, demonstrative effect, domino effect an bandwagon effect.

So Mr Manoj must furnish correct information. He can borrow money from his friends, relations and colleagues for his father treatment, or he can take loan or help of medical insurance. Taking money in the form of bribe will be a short term gain but will come along with a long term loss of one’s integrity, ethical values and loss of happiness.

Mr Manoj can use persuasion technique to bring people on his side like

  • Group some like-minded official and build social capital within the organization.
  • Make a joint representation to the DM and persuade him to change his mind.
  • Bring our poor condition of the district to invoke empathy and compassion among all officials.
  • Manoj must take his stand firmly that he won’t bend for any pressure.
  • In case of over pressure he must offer his resignation. This may create suspicion in the media and DM and other officials may actually not force him too much. Here emotional intelligence of Manoj will help him.

 

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