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Ethics Case Study – 8: Decision Making

Ethics Case Study-8: Decision Making

Prateek, a young IAS officer,  was transferred to a Naxal affected district as its DM. In his previous postings, he had done tremendous good work and it was recognized and appreciated at the national level. In fact he was given PM’s Excellence Award for Public Administration in recognition of his work — one of the youngest officers to receive the award so far.

On the personal front, Prateek belonged to a higher caste and was married to a daughter of prominent political leader in the state. He was also a father to a two year old baby.

Few days before Prateek assumed responsibility as new DM, in the Naxal camp, a new local commander had assumed power. He was on the most wanted list and known for advocating ruthless violence against the state and its machinery to achieve the ends. Intelligence agencies were on vigil and the change in local Naxal organization was communicated to all the public offices in the affected and surrounding districts.

Prateek believed that development and dialogue were the cure for Naxal problem and he had hinted the same in his media briefings and also in his approach towards administration. He was proactive and was willing to travel extra mile, literally, to meet tribes and hear their problems in person. Of course he took enough precaution whenever he went inside forest to meet people.

His movement was being closely watched by the Naxal elements. In one of his official trips, while returning, his convoy was ambushed and hugely outnumbered by the heavily armed Naxals and except him all his companions including security personnel were executed. He was taken as a hostage.

This made international news and there was outcry all over the nation to safely bring back Prateek. Naxals released a press statement accepting the killings and taking hostage DM. In the statement they said that their demands would be released soon and if the government did not fulfill them, the DM would be beheaded.

Inside the forest, Prateek was tortured on the orders of the local commander.

Naxals released their long list of demands among them prominent were the demand for the release of all imprisoned Naxal leaders across the country and the immediate withdrawal of all paramilitary forces from the Naxal affected districts. To these demands the government clearly said no, but showed its willingness to hold dialogue by appointing neutral negotiators of Naxals’ choice.

The Naxals rejected the government offer.  Unlike the earlier leadership, the local commander meant business and he warned the government that if it did not heed to their demands soon, the head of the DM would be sent to district HQ.

The moment of truth arrived. In a final talk with the DM, the local commander gave him a choice between death and relinquishment of his job as an IAS officer. Prateek had to send his resignation letter with immediate effect, and with a caveat that if the government didn’t accept his decision immediately, he would be executed, if it accepts he would walk free. There was one day time left for him to take decision or hold dialogue himself and convince the Naxals to free him before his execution.

If you were to be in Prateek’s position, what would have been your decision? Would you give life for the country? Would you resign and walk free? Justify your answer on ethical basis.