Case Study-2 Ethics

You are the CEO of a prominent IT Company, based in Bengaluru. Recently,
your company has successfully developed a software which seamlessly
translates many regional languages into English. The applications of this
software are multi-fold and are expected to generate a lot of revenue for the company.
A few days after the software is released, an employee of your firm informs you that a pirated version of the software is being used by a private skill
development institute. This institute has dozens of branches in many Indian
cities and is using this pirated version on a large scale in almost all its
branches. You are angry upon hearing about this and decide to take strict
action against this institute.
Upon enquiring further, you learn that the institute is actually run by an
NGO which freely trains poor graduates from the vulnerable sections of the
society. The NGO has a good reputation but is facing a severe scarcity of
funds. It is unlikely that the institute can procure the software officially from
your company, even as a bulk purchase. However, the illegal usage of the
software is bound to impact the economic interests of your company in the future.
In these circumstances:
i) What are the options available to you?
ii) What course of action would you adopt and why?
(250 words – 20 marks)



The different stakeholders involved in this situation are: Company management,
NGO and the poor unskilled graduates. In this context, the various actions which
can be taken are:
1.Resorting to legal action against the NGO.
2. Taking no action against the NGO.
3. Innovative approaches like:
 Meeting the apex leadership of the company for a joint venture with NGO.
 Taking support of Government to appeal on behalf of NGO.
 Raising money for NGO through CSR or equity market’s domestic funding.
 Appealing through media for collaboration through sale of products.
(a) Evaluation of the options:
Option 1: The problem can be solved immediately. It secures the company’s
economic interests and also sends a strong signal against piracy.
However, the potential of the product is not being reaped even in though it has
been demonstrated. It is a narrow option considering the need for skilling the
poor labour force and embracing greater social responsibility.
Option 2: This can be an indirect way where social activities are augmented. It
acknowledges the activities of NGO and can promote free skilling of poor
graduates.
But this option precludes the company’s economic motives. It also pays no
interest to furthering the potential of the product or expanding it. Also, it may give
wrong signals of laxity and others may exploit the product.
Option 3: The problem can be solved in a holistic manner. It can also become a
viable model for expanding the idea to other areas, which can boost the
company’s revenue and image, meet the private sector contribution to ethical
governance.
However, this requires capacity building of the NGO before implementing the
idea. Also, the NGO may not be able train freely in this case. The company may
also come under financial stress due to extra funding.
Considering all the above options, I will go for the third option, of pursuing a joint
venture with the NGO. This can safeguard the company’s true ownership of the
product and can also boost the NGO’s capacity. The funding issues can be made
partially with CSR obligations which can sustain low prices of the product. It can
effectively address the dilemma by taking an effective middle path. This step
reaffirms the role of Private- Civil Society partnership in Skill India and ethical
governance.

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Case Study Ethics

A jawan in the Indian Army is extremely disillusioned with his present
working conditions. Stationed at a high-altitude border post, he struggles
with the hostile weather, the risk of enemy gunfire and the stress of
constantly being in a state of high alertness. Such stress if further
compounded by the poor living conditions and a very meagre, often
inedible diet.
He approaches his seniors on multiple occasions, but they offer him only
superficial assurances, with no concrete solution to any of his problems. In
a moment of frustration, he makes a video wherein he describes the
hardships being faced by the soldiers and the apathy of the higher officials.
He then posts the video online, where it soon goes viral, attracting
international viewership and attention.
i) Do you believe he was correct in releasing this video in the open public
domain?
ii) What are the ethical issues involved in this case?
iii) What corrective actions would you suggest to prevent any such
incidents in the future?
(300 words – 25 marks)

No, he was not correct. I sympathize with the hostile working environment he
works in and the indifference he faces from his superiors. But given the fact that
his action may be seen as representative of the sentiments of all armed forces
personnel, it was a potentially disastrous step to take.
The error of his actions can be better understood by considering the ethical
issues involved in his action:
i) It has a detrimental impact on the morale of all armed forces personnel,
accentuating their dissatisfaction and dampening their willingness to do their
duties.
ii) It dilutes the authority of senior officers in commanding their forces and may
even lead to increased incidents of fratricide.
iii) It shakes public trust/confidence in the dedication and abilities of the armed
forces.
iv) It provides fodder to the propaganda machinery of other nations, to use in
further demoralizing our troops.
However, it would not be fair to assess the ethical issues without considering
them from the perspective of the senior officers of the army. These include:
i) A self-centered and apathetic attitude of the officers in ignoring the plight of
their own subordinates, leaving them with no option but to take drastic steps.
ii) The apparent lack of an appropriate grievance redressal mechanism through
which jawans can voice their problems and expect a meaningful resolution.
In these circumstance, the corrective actions that can be suggested
include:
i) Disciplinary action against the jawan for a breach of duties. This is especially
important to discourage similar actions by others in the future.
ii) Strict enquiry and action against officers whom this jawan had approached, who
chose to dismiss his concerns with sheer indifference.
iii) A thorough review of the working and living conditions of our jawans, with timebound implementation of appropriate improvements.
iv) Establishment of an appropriate grievance redressal mechanism so that similar incidents can be promptly identified and addressed.

What are the challenges associated with the institutional and societal framework for fighting corruption? (150 words – 10 marks)

The legal and institutional framework to curb corruption is well developed in the
country and there are various bodies in place for implementing anti-corruption
policies and raising awareness on corruption issues, but still it faces the following
problems:
 CVC: Needs prior sanction to prosecute. Cannot probe officials below Joint
Secretary level until government refers case and Limited staff.
 Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): Cannot probe or frame charges on its
own. Cases have to be referred. Is under government control and not
autonomous.
 The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C & AG): Limited to audits
and accounts. It cannot probe corruption as defined by the Prevention of
Corruption Act. It has powers only to recommend. It has no investigative or
prosecution powers.
 Chief Information Commission (CIC): Composition and the slow pace of
addressing the issues, Lack of training of information commissioners on
disposing off cases, lack of staff to man the offices, and unfilled positions for
information commissioners are all adding to the problem.
 One of the biggest substantial gap identified is the lack of whistleblower
protection.
 The institutional anti-corruption framework generally suffers from a lack of
coordination, and overlapping and conflicting mandates between institutions
addressing corruption.
Thus, the law enforcement is significantly weak, suggesting a lack of political
will to effectively address corruption challenges in the country.

Problems/challenges in Social framework
 Emergence of political elite which believes in interest oriented rather than nation oriented programmes and policies.
 Artificial scarcity created by people with malevolent intention wrecks the fabrics
of the economy.
 Corruption is caused as well as increased because of the change in the value
system and ethical qualities of men who administer. The old ideals of morality,
services and honesty are regarded as anachronistic.
 Tolerance of people towards corruption, complete lack of intense public outcry
against corruption and the absence of a strong public forum to oppose corruption
allows corruption to rein our people.
 Vast size of population coupled with widespread illiteracy and the poor economic infrastructure lead to endemic corruption in public life.

 In a highly inflationary economy, low salaries of government officials compel them to resort to corruption. Graduates from Indian institutes of management with no experience draw a far handsome salary than what government secretaries draw.

 Complex laws and procedures deter common people from seeking help from the government.
 Big industrialists fund politicians to meet high cost of election and ultimately to
seek personal favour. Bribery to politicians buys influences and bribery by
politicians buys votes. In order to get elected, politicians bribe poor, illiterate
people.
Way forward:

Reforms in Institutional framework

 E-Governance can considerably increase the speed of government services in a
number of areas and reduce opportunities for bribery.
 Citizens’ Charters should be made effective by stipulating the service levels and also the remedy if these service levels are not met.
 All the bodies against corruption should be provided with autonomy and
resources to fight corruption.
 Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill has been passed in 2013 but four years after that,
the Lokpal is yet to be appointed. The bill should be amended as soon as possible so that appointment of lokayukta can be done.
 A conducive whistle blower protection act can be enacted.
Reforms in Social framework
 The citizens’ voice can be effectively used to expose, denounce and restrain
corruption.
 School awareness programmes should be introduced, highlighting the
importance of ethics and how corruption can be combated.
 A free media has a crucial role in the prevention, monitoring and control of
corruption. Such media can inform and educate the public on corruption, expose
corruption in government, private sector and civil society organizations and help
monitor codes of conduct while policing itself against corruption.
 Social audit through client or beneficiary groups or civil society groups is yet
another way of eliciting information on and prevention of wrong doing in
procurement of products and services for government, in the distribution of
welfare payments, in the checking of attendance of teachers and students in
schools and hostels, staff in the hospitals and a host of other similar citizen
service-oriented activities of government.

A committed bureaucracy must be cautious about who it is committed to. Explain.

A committed bureaucracy is conducive to national development only when its
commitment is towards public welfare. If this commitment is misunderstood and
the bureaucracy unflinchingly starts serving a political leader or party, it can prove disastrous for the nation. E.g. German officers under the Nazi’s who blindly supported Hitler led to the downfall of their own nation.
A bureaucrat should serve the political office, which symbolizes the people’s
aspirations rather than merely the person who occupies that office. As such, he
must understand that he is duty-bound to obey orders, so long as they do not
jeopardize public welfare.
Unquestioning and blind loyalty to the political executive dilutes administrative
neutrality and creates a spoils system. The bureaucrat enjoys political patronage
and the politician may introduce only self-serving programs. In such a scenario,
the bureaucrat and politician prosper, but the people suffer.

Question on Growth of Naxalism

“Being the centers of concentration of the industrial proletariat, urban areas play an important part within the political strategy of the new Democratic Revolution”. Examine this statement in the light of rising Maoist activity in the urban areas and why is it essential to keep a close watch on Maoist activities in towns and cities?

Approach:
 Introduce the first statement of the question
 Evidences of Maoist activities in urban centres
 Causes for the rise in Maoist activities

Answer:

The urban movement has a defined role in the political strategy and military strategy of the CPI (Maoist). They believe that in the absence of a strong revolutionary urban movement, the growth of the people’s war will face limitations and difficulties in its advancement. Working class leadership is the indispensable condition for the Maoist design in India. Working class has to send its advanced detachments to rural areas. The rebels stress on forming secret party units in the bastis and slums of the urban areas. Their main focus is that of mass political mobilization by inculcating the leadership qualities in the urban working class: the real class, according to Karl Marx, which possesses the consciousness of revolution.
Evidences:

 The basic task of the Communist Party of India (Maoists) in the urban domain is to deal with the problem of coordination between open and secret work. Another chief component is to retain contacts between city organization and leadership in the rural areas – the heartland of the insurgency.
 Propaganda through student-worker organizations would be the mainstay of their strategy
 According to latest estimates, 104 districts in 13 states are affected by the Maoist movement.
 With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the Naxalite movement, security forces
stationed in the so-called Red Corridor have sounded the alarm that recent attacks on security forces could signal the start of a resurgence of anti-state activity by the armed insurgents. On March 11, 12 personnel of the CRPF were killed by Maoists in Sukma of Chhattisgarh.
Causes:
 India’s central and eastern parts, home to about 84 million adivasi, or indigenous people,is rich in mineral resources. Renewed mining activity pose a threat to their livelihoods. Most of them are subsistence farmers or landless, mainly living in extreme poverty.
 The Naxalite movement heavily draws intellectual support from urban intelligentsia.
 Maoists from Andhra Pradesh helped organize tribals in Chhattisgarh over the issue of land rights and displacement during the 1980s. The state has emerged as the stronghold of the Maoists in recent decades since 2000 when mining was initiated.
 The movement keeps on reappearing like a phoenix because the basic socio-economic factors, which are responsible for it, remain unaddressed. Poverty continues to be a problem and, according to the expert group headed by C Rangarajan, 29.5% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2011-12. Wealth is increasing, but its distribution is unequal.
 Unemployment is another area of concern. Land reforms have been forgotten. Tribals are an alienated lot, largely due to their displacement as a result of developmental activities in the forest areas.
 Home Ministry has identified several org. in Delhi & National Capital Region as Maoist front organizations.
 These organizations and political parties try to gain inroads by talking about issues
like “bijli, paani, sadak aur rojgaar “, issues that are relevant to the common person. At the same time, the masterminds work on their bigger strategy of disruption and taking over control of government.

Way forward:
 The state police to take the terrorists/extremists head-on, to win the battle against terrorism/extremism.
 Government departments to establish themselves in areas when the Maoists have been driven away, so that it does not surface again.
 Step up human intelligence network and continue to nab the urban outfits of the Maoists as they had been doing for some time recently.
 Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, equipped with cameras, data and video links are the latest weapons can be deployed against Naxals in India.
 Government service delivery should be improved in these tribal areas. Both state and government must ensure that things such as statutory minimum wages, access to land and water sources initiatives are implemented.
 By opening dialogue, the government can give opportunity for the rebels 2join the
mainstream by showing them that solutions can be created together with the government, by being part of the political system in a legitimate way

 

What is dynamic pricing? Examine the ethical issues involved in dynamic pricing by a private firm and by a govt. organization. (150 words – 10 marks)

Dynamic pricing is a pricing strategy wherein the price is not firmly set; instead it changes based on changing circumstances, such as increases in demand at certain times, type of customer being targeted or changing marketing conditions.
The fundamental concern w.r.t. dynamic pricing strategies is the availability of
viable alternatives. This ensures that any such mechanism provides benefits to
the organization but not at the expense of customer welfare.
Therefore, dynamic pricing by the private sector poses relatively fewer risks since
the risk of customer exploitation is offset by the presence of competition and
impartial regulation by the govt. offset. As such, the customer now pays willingly
to get access to a service that has limited supply and perceives this as a
convenience/premium.
However, since the govt. functions as a monopoly in many services, such actions
can be perceived as exploiting the citizen’s helplessness. The concerns that arise
include:
i) The perception that it is an attempt to compensate for the govt’s inefficiencies
by imposing a burden on the citizens.
ii) Concerns about a conflict of interest since the govt is the service provider as
well as the regulator.
iii) For vital services, there is no value addition for the customer. Yet, he is
compelled to pay the additional charge that is levied.

Discuss the Seven Principles of Public Life given by the Nolan Committee. (150 words – 10 marks)

The Nolan Committee provides 7 Principles which state that holders of public
office should:
i) Selflessness: act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in
order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their
friends.
ii) Integrity: Not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside
individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance
of their official duties.
iii) Objectivity: should make choices on merit in carrying out public business,
including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending
individuals for rewards and benefits.
iv) Accountability: hold themselves accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
v) Openness: be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they
take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only
when the wider public interest clearly demands.
vi) Honesty: declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take
steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
vii) Leadership: promote and support these principles by leadership and example.