Ethics Case Study – 68

Shuchita Kishore could not clear the Prelims in her first attempt at the UPSC due to want of proper guidance. In her second attempt she succeeded to reach the interview stage. Finally, in her third attempt, Shuchita’s efforts paid off as she secured 39th rank in the Civil Services exam.

During her foundation training at LBSNAA (Mussorie), Uttarakhand she learnt that as a civil servant she is only permitted to accept gifts from her near relatives or from her personal friends having no official dealings with her, on occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, funerals and religious functions when giving gift is in conformity with the prevailing religious and social practice. But she shall report to the state government should the value of such gift exceeds Rs. 25,000. Further she has to avoid accepting lavish hospitality or frequent hospitality from persons having official dealings with her or from industrial or commercial firms or other organisations.

On completion of her two-year’s probation she is appointed as Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in Malappuram district of Kerala. As SDM she will look after law and order, general administration, revenue work and such developmental work as may be assigned to her. She arrives home from the office on the first day and finds a new TV, DVD player, washing machine, air conditioner and a refrigerator on her doorstep with a note that says: “A personal gift for out long friendship to come. Enjoy it with your family in good health. Mr. John Kallatt – member of the advisory council of the Kerala Bar Hotels Association (KBHA)”. She also finds the visiting card of the sender which mentions that he owns 7 Bars in her administrative area.

It takes very less time for her to understand that the appliances sent by him are camouflaged bribes to turn a blind eye to his various infractions. Gift giving by business managers, and gift receiving by public officials is not always condemned, nor is it considered unethical in many countries around the world, yet there is a fine line dividing a gift from a bribe in business transactions and not all gift-giving is bribery. One would recognise bribery easily but many a time bribery makes its debut under the cloak of gifts.

  1. How does one distinguish between the two? What are gifts and bribes?
  2. What do gifts and bribes have to do with ethics?
  3. What ethical dilemmas do gifts and bribes present?

20 marks / 250 words.

Please write the answer in comments section

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