[Answered] UPSC Mains 2021 GS Paper 4 – Case Study 1(Q. No. 8)

You are Vice Principal of a degree college in one of the middle-class towns. Principal has recently retired and management is looking for his replacement. There are also feelers that the management may promote you as Principal. In the meantime, during annual examination the flying squad which came from the university caught two students red-handed involving in unfair means. A senior lecturer of the college was personally helping these students in this act. This senior lecturer also happens to be close to the management. One of the students was son of a local politician who was responsible in getting college affiliated to the present reputed university. The second student was son of a local businessman who has donated maximum funds for running of the college. You immediately informed the management regarding this unfortunate incident. The management told you to resolve the issue with flying squad at any cost. They further said that such incident will not only tarnish the image of the college but also the politician and businessman are very important personalities for the functioning of the college. You were also given hint that your further promotion to Principal depends on your capability in resolving this issue with flying squad. In the meantime, you were intimated by your administrative officer that certain members of the student union are protesting outside the college gate against the senior lecturer and the students involved in this incident and demanding strict action against defaulters. 

a) Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case.

b) Critically examine the options available with you as Vice Principal. What option will you adopt and why?

Solution

a) Theethical issues involvedin the above case are:

  1. Integrity: The foremost ethical issue in this case is that of professional integrity. While the senior lecturer has compromised his professional integrity, the situation is also a test of my own integrity, as it creates a conflict between my values/duty and personal interest. 
  2. Test of moral strength (morality): The present situation is also a test of my moral strength, as one hand it is the lucrative opportunity to become the principal of the college and on the other hand it is the duty to do the right thing. 
  3. Impartiality: The present situation involves the ethical issue of impartiality, as the examination procedure has to be fair for all, any leniency for a few students will make the process partial for other students. 
  4.  Professional ethics: The situation involves a test of my professional ethics. As it remains to be seen, if I can carry out my duty without any considerations of fear or favour. 

b) Theoptions available to meas a vice-principal are: 

  1. To listen to the advice of the school management and try to resolve the issue, at any cost, without taking any actions against the students. 
Merits  Demerits 
  1. This option will save the reputation of the college, in short term. 
  2. The college will continue to gain, political and financial patronage from the politician and the businessman. 
  3. It might make the possibility of my elevation as principal more certain. 

  

  1. It will compromise the sanctity of procedures. 
  2. It will be impartial for the other students. 
  3. It will tarnish the credibility of the college. 
  4. It will set a bad precedent for the future. 
  5. It will compromise my own professional ethics/morality and integrity. 
  6. It will aggravate the student protests. 

2. To let the flying squad/concerned authorities take strict action against the senior lecturer, and the two students, according to the procedure, in a fair way. 

Merits  Demerits 
  1. It will enforce the sanctity of procedures. 
  2. It will enhance the credibility of the college. 
  3. It will set a right precedent for the future. 
  4. It will ensure check against corruption/malpractices by teachers. 
  5. It will calm the protests by other students. 
  1. It might jeopardise future of the two children 
  2. It might have financial implications for the college. 
  3. It might lead to a bad publicity for the college. 
  4. It will/might tarnish the reputation of the families of the concerned students. 
  5. My chances of elevation will be diminished. 

3. To convince the flying squad not to take any action, and thereafter, punishing the boys and the lecturer after conducting an internal enquiry. 

Merits Demerits 
  1. It will save the reputation of the college in the short term and its patrons. 
  2. It will save the career of the two students and the lecturer. 
  3. It will show my capability for crisis management. 

  

  1. It will aggravate the protests. 
  2. It might encourage more such incidents in the future. 
  3. It will compromise the sanctity of fair procedures. 

I will adopt the second option. Even though, it might bring a bad name to the college and may sabotage my promotion, it is the right course of action because: 

  1. College is a place for students to learn righteous values. This option will teach the students importance of ethics and morality. 
  2. Also, involvement of a senior lecturer in the incident, highlights that the situation requires strict action. 
  3. As gaining promotion by unfair ways, will defy the sanctity of means, violating the principle of purity of means and ends. 
  4. This option will be fair towards all the students who were honestly writing their exams. 
  5. This option will aid in pacifying the protests by the students. 
  6. This option will uphold the credibility of the college as a fair and impartial institution. 

 

 

 

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