[Answered] UPSC Mains 2021 GS Paper 4 – Case Study 1(Q. No. 12)

Pawan is working as an officer in the State Government for the last ten years. As a part of routine transfer, he was posted to another department. He joined in a new office along with five other colleagues. The head of the office was a senior officer conversant with the functioning of the office. As a part of general inquiry, Pawan gathered that his senior officer carries the reputation of being difficult and insensitive person having his own disturbed family life. Initially, all seem to go well. However, after some time Pawan felt that the senior officer was belittling him and at times unreasonable. Whatever suggestions given or views expressed by Pawan in the meetings were summarily rejected and the senior officer would express in the displeasure presence of others. It became a pattern of boss’s style of functioning to show him in bad light highlighting his shortcomings and humiliating publically. It became apparent that though there are no serious work-related problems/shortcomings, the senior officer was always on one pretext or the other and would scold and shout at him. The continuous harassment and public criticism of Pawan resulted in loss of confidence, self-esteem and equanimity. Pawan realized that his relations with his senior officer are becoming more toxic and due to this, he felt perpetually tensed, anxious and stressed. His mind was occupied with negativity and caused him mental torture, anguish and agony. Eventually, it badly affected his personal and family life. He was no longer joyous, happy and other family members contented even at home. Rather without way reasons he would lose his temper with his wife and other family members. The family environment was no longer pleasant and congenial. His wife who was always supportive to him also became a victim of his negativity and hostile behavior. Due to harassment and humiliation suffering by him in the office, comfort and happiness virtually vanished from his life. Thus it damaged his physical and mental health. 

  1. What are the options available with Pawan to cope up with the situation? 
  2. What approach Pawan should adopt for bringing peace, tranquility and congenial environment in the office and home? 
  3. As an outsider, what are your suggestions for both boss and subordinate to overcome this situation and for improving the work performance, mental and emotional hygiene? 
  4. In the above scenario, what type of training would you suggest for officers at various levels in the government offices? (Answer in 250 words) 


This is a case of poor work culture, abuse of authority, lack of emotional intelligence and inability to compartmentalize personal and professional life 

a. Following options are available with Pawan to cope up with the situation: 

    1. Resign from the current position: This amounts to escapism and lack of courage. His personal responsibilities would also suffer. 
    2. Take leave from office: This will give a short respite to Pawan but he will face same problems on rejoining.  
    3. Seek transfer to other department: This is an administrative decision with little control of Pawan over it. 
    4. Ignore his senior at work: Coordination in and quality of work will suffer. This may make him indifferent to work as whole. 
    5. Address the root cause of the problem as discussed in the next part.  

b. Pawan should develop and exhibit emotional intelligence for bringing peace, tranquillity and congenial environment in the office and home. This can be done through:  

Office Home 
  1. Introspect his own action to answer two questions (i) Were his actions annoying his senior? (ii) What is the behaviour of his senior towards other newly transferred colleagues?  
  2. Have an open conversation with his senior to (i) explain his concerns (ii) understand reason for his senior’s action.  

This will give opportunity for course correction to Pawan and his senior.  

3. If this does not work, bring the matter to the knowledge of his senior’s boss and lodge a written complaint.   

  1. Discuss the matter with his wife explaining the issue he is facing in office. His wife will understand and support him. 
  2. Develop adversity quotient and learn to separate professional and personal life. 

    c. As an outsider, my suggestion to the boss and subordinates are:  

Boss Subordinates 
  1. Respect your subordinates. They are the productive force behind your organization. 
  2. Develop emotional intelligence, act like a leader and a role model. 
  3. Give constructive criticism, not belittle others. 
  1. Work with dedication and commitment but not at the cost of self-respect/self-worth. 
  2. Work is ‘just a part of the life’ not ‘the life’. 
  3. Enjoy small things in life and do not let work related tensions spill into your personal life.  

d. I would suggest following type of training to the officers in government offices:  

  1. Sensitivity training: Being sensitive to how one’s actions are impacting people around them. 
  2. Role playing training: To look into the situation from perspective of others to understand their problems and constraints. 
  3. Assertiveness training: Exercising authority without being condescending to others; build team spirit and foster cooperation. 
  4. Relaxation training: Physical exercise and meditation to keep body and mind in good shape; decreases negative thoughts and frustrations.  
  5. Communication training: Using verbal and non-verbal cues for effective communication.  

The motive of this exercise is to increase positivity in outlook, promote inclusiveness and make work culture conducive for performance.         


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