Bioethics is a field of applied ethics which involves ethical issues related to living beings and concerns three broad areas namely medical ethics (health care, health science, and health policy), animal ethics, and environmental ethics. It involves not just doctors, but patients,scientists, activists and policy makers and public at large. The increase of the importance of bioethics can be attributed primarily to parallel and exponential increase of science and
technology that allows for interventions at biological levels that are at the same time highly ambitious and startling. Technologies like CRISPR which enable gene editing can give humans the power to optimize the genetic makeup of their progeny like editing an image on photoshop (in aesthetic detail). The skepticism and self-reflective pondering arising out of such power created the increased space for the discipline of bioethics. Another reason for the increase is the information revolution propelled by cybernetics that can spread awareness about things faster than ever before, it allows for organization of people across different communities and societies creating active organizations like PETA and International Bioethics Committee. Some of the protests that we often witness against the use of genetic
crops and the thriving of a niche market catering in ‘organic foods’ is a manifestation of such activity, though the demands made by such groups may sometimes be anti-scientific and irrational.
One bio ethical issue of eminence in recent times has been abortion in special circumstances when conditions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 are not
allowing abortion. The matters have gone to court and the judgments have been widely reported in press. In one case, a 24-week pregnant woman facing danger to her life due to abnormality in fetus was granted permission to terminate her pregnancy. As per Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, a woman has right to terminate her pregnancy till 20 weeks if certified by doctor to do so in interest of mother / fetus. Beyond 20-week permission in this case was based on the doctor’s report which said that there was very little chance of survival of the fetus and the lady’s life would have engendered if it was not aborted. The court interpreted the same as right of the petitioner to preserve her life. Thus, courts have taken a different stance in case of abortion by minors on case to case basis. We also see that the topic of abortion occupies a lot of debate space in political communities in countries like USA and Ireland.
The leader of a prominent social group has been facing trial in a criminal
case. The court is expected to deliver the verdict in two days. Ahead of the
verdict, a large number of members of this group from various parts of
State have flocked en masse to the city where the court is located. They
threaten to go on a rampage if their leader is convicted and jailed. They
have started camping in the city, along many roads and in various public
parks. There are reports that the followers may be stocking up on arms,
petrol and blunt weapons. The rampage threatens to spill into the
neighbouring States also.
You are the Chief Secretary of the State.
i) What are the measures you will take to ensure that there is no disruption of
public order, regardless of the verdict?
ii) What intervention would you consider to prevent any similar mass hysteria
in the future?
(300 words – 25 marks)
This case present ethical issue where a section of society following a cult blindly,
which led to the formation of negative attitude against that State, and which in
turn may guide undesirable behaviour. Change in attitude is beyond the scope of
this question but should be a long term strategy.
Myself i.e. as Chief Secretary
Followers of the cult
Society at large
In this situation, a civil servant not only apply her administrative skill but also
aptitude, emotional intelligence, foundational values etc. Since followers of cult
gathered includes women, children and many good people came in blind faith,
any violent repressive action would be detrimental. At the same time, those who
are with arms & ammunitions and gathered to violate law & order should be dealt
with sternly, ensuring minimum damage to loss of lives or properties.
Following measures must be taken:
Talk to prominent leaders of the cult and request them to maintain peace.
Reach out to all political parties requesting them to not issue any controversial
statements on the case.
Prohibitory orders to be imposed across all relevant districts in the State
(Section 144) to ensure that there is no build up of crowd.
Sealing of State borders and suspend the rail/road service to ensure cult
supporters from gathering as well as safeguarding passengers and property.
Suspend mobile Internet services and bulk SMS services to disrupt any
moves to organise and coordinate violence on a large scale.
Keep the general public aware through regular briefings on the situation
through regular media and social media.
Coordinate with the administration of the adjacent states to prevent violence
from one state spilling into another, and set up joint control rooms if
Call required number of companies of paramilitary forces to assist the police
forces in maintaining law and order.
Deploy drones to keep an eye on the situation.
Search & seizure operation to ensure that no arm & ammunition remains with
Preventive detention of elements known to be prone to violence.
Awareness campaigns must be run to ensure people don’t blindly follow any
cult, and so they learn of exploitation of followers happening behind the
In many cases, blind followers of such cults are those belonging to the socially
and economically disadvantaged, looking for an identity. Addressing their
basic grievances may help them from getting induced into these cults
Proceedings in serious accusations of crime, like that of rape, especially
against leaders of such cults should be expedited as they have ready access
to large number of potential victims. Allowing them to function due to political
reasons will only help increase their charisma and power projections.
Lessons should be learnt from such incidents and Standard Operating
Procedures (SOP) may be prepared so the administration is more geared up
to tackle such situations in the future.
Due to many political-social-economic issues prevailing in society, these
unethical practices are prominent where people are used as means by cult
personalities to achieve their end goals. Immanuel Kant states that it is immoral
to use another person merely as a means to an end and that people must, under
all circumstances, be treated as ends in themselves.
As Swami Vivekananda said “The awakening of masses must come first then
only can any real good come about for the country”. The state with the assistance
of society can foster and promote the common interest of people, which can bring
justice, honesty, peace etc
No, I do not completely agree. There may be situations where information would
need to be withheld for larger public interest. Such circumstances can arise when the matter concerns:
i. Preserving national security e.g. it would be wrong for the media to relay live
coverage of a terror attack while the operation is still in progress, as happened in Mumbai in 2008.
ii. Matters that are sensitive in the socio-political context and likely to arouse
negative public sentiment e.g. if a political leader is assassinated by a person
from a different religion, disclosing the assassin’s religion could lead to communal
iii. Protecting the privacy of an individual e.g. the personal details of a rape victim.
iv. Policies and programs that are still under consideration e.g. the master plan for an upcoming project which is likely to lead to a spurt in land prices.
v. Privileged and sensitive information that few people have access to e.g. writing a
book that chronicles the private functioning and inter-personal relations of a highranking functionary.
vi. Privileged information that is confidential and can be misused for speculative gains e.g. Insider trading.
Such ethical concerns can be considered in two time-frames.
i. Greater strain on scarce national resources, at the expense of ones own citizens.
ii. Security risks, since the refugees are more vulnerable to recruitment by terror
iii. Provides no clear benefits to the host country, apart from possibly a moral high
i. Turning down refugees will make it difficult for them to survive; will resort to
trafficking, arms dealing etc. In an inter-connected, such problems are bound to
adversely affect other nations too.
ii. Creates further hostility against some nations, perceived as dominating the world
community e.g. it is very unlikely that an American refugee seeking asylum would
be treated similarly.
iii. Reflects a weak and selfish national character; further polarizes the international
You are Ms. A, an investigator working with an insurance company.
Recently, a case was forwarded to you for investigation. This case pertains
to an insurance claim of Rs. 2 crores, made with respect to the maturity of a
life insurance policy. The company’s suspicion has been aroused because
only 6 instalments of this policy were paid before the policy holder, a young
and apparently healthy man, died suddenly of cancer.
As you begin the investigation, you realize that the policy was approved by
Mr. B, a senior employee of the company, with whom you share a cordial relation. You meet him personally and he confides in you that the policy was issued in the name of the son of a company peon, Mr. C. You know that Mr. C is a good-natured person, whom everyone at office is fond of. Mr. B
tells you that he knew that Mr. C’s son, the policy holder, was suffering
from cancer. Since Mr. C had to spend a lot on his son’s treatment, his
financial condition soon became precarious. This was when the two
decided to fraudulently book this policy, so that atleast some good would
come out of this tragedy. They bribed the doctor concerned to hide the
details of the disease while filing his clearance report to the company for
the approval of the policy.
Mr. B says that he is proud of what he has done, especially since the
company did not help Mr. C when he was going through such difficult times. He also tells you that the matter is completely in your hands. You can choose to benefit a company which has a 5-lakh crore rupee turnover
or a poor, grieving father who has no financial security left for his family.
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)
This is a case of deliberate fraud perpetrated by two employees of the company.
Their understanding of what constitutes a just action is grossly misplaced,
especially since they are old employees of the company. Hence, they must be
The options available to me include:
i) Compromising the investigation and passing the claim.
ii) Rejecting the claim, but advocating leniency for the two employees.
iii) Rejecting the claim, but advocating penalties for Mr. B and the doctor, and
leniency for Mr. C.
iv) Rejecting the claim, and advocating strict penalties for all three.
I would certainly not pass the claim, since this would constitute a dereliction of my
own duties. My decision is based upon the understanding that the amount of
premium charged for an insurance policy is directly correlated to the element of
risk the company bears in issuing the policy. Had the company been informed
about the son’s illness, the premium may have been higher but it certainly would
not have been a case of fraud. Further, there may be many other policy holders
who may be facing even more extenuating tragedies but are not resorting to
similar dishonest tactics. Passing the claim would be a gross injustice to them.
Therefore, I would place the true facts of the case before the concerned
authorities and leave it to them to decide the quantum of punishment and how it
should be awarded. I would especially recommend strict action against Mr B and
the doctor, for a very poor understanding of their duties and a misplaced sense of
compassion. The argument that I have a choice between a rich company and a
poor employee is extremely fallacious because it is only through its financial
corpus that the company can provide succor to its clients- it holds the money not
for any one individual but in the public’s trust that it will be used for their welfare
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
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
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