Mains Daily Question
March 13, 2020
You are working as a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in a district facing recurring floods. Like every year, during this year’s monsoon too, 1/3rd area of the block is flooded up to dangerous level. As SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) you had floated tenders and awarded contracts for the supply of relief material in fair and transparent way well in advance. You are the officer responsible to ensure providing relief material to all the affected people.
A group of people, led by a local political leader, is making irrational demands from the administration. One day, the politician along with his followers is staging a sit-in on the national highway going through your area. The moment media started covering the news you get a call from your senior from state secretariat questioning your handling of relief operations.
However, you suspect that the real motive of the politician is to jeopardize relief efforts and to build general opinion against your efficiency, because the contracts were not awarded to his people.
a) What different issues do you see to be resolved in the case?
b) What will be your course of action? Justify.
(First brief the case introducing the issue and ethical angles involved)
Facts in the case:
- You are SDM
- Recurring flood
- 1/3rd area is flooded at a dangerous level
- Contracts awarded for the supply of relief material in fare manner
- Political leader making irrational demands
- Staging sit-in on NH
- Media covering
- Call from state HQ
- You suspect his intentions
- Opinion against your efficiency
Challenges in front of me:
- Flood-affected people to receive relief material without delay
- Blocking of national highway
- Media used for devaluing your capability and efficiency
- Call from HQ doubting your efficiency
The given case depicts a situation where the struggle is required to fulfil my duty amidst the dubious opposition and an attack on my efficiency. It also indicates responsibility about the work to be finished to be of paramount importance, which would be getting hampered in case of irrational action on my part. The additional angle to be inquired about is - how the misuse of media can be tackled. I also need to restore the trust of senior administration and of the public in me.
- a) Issue before me:
In this scenario in the role of SDM, following are the issues before me:
Issue 1: Ensuring that all the flood-affected victims receive relief material due to them. This is my most important responsibility. Not just as a government official but also as a fellow human being.
Issue 2: National Highway is blocked by followers of the political leaders. That is needed to be opened as early as possible so that traffic is normal. This is an illegal act by a group of people. And appropriate action is required to be taken. This is to be addressed in an urgent manner.
Issue 3: Misuse of media is being done to malign the image of the administration in general and the officer in particular. It needed to be responded accordingly so that the trust of the public is restored.
Issue 4: Proper explanation and justification are required to be given to HQ administration clarifying their doubts. It is my duty to report the details to HQ in order to convey the information and seek suggestions, in case they are relevant.
- b) Course of action:
1) First and the foremost the National Highway has to be unblocked as much interstate traffic is stuck in the middle of the road. It is the most urgent issue. So, without any prejudice, talks can be initiated with the groups of the people protesting there. Here I need to act according to emotional intelligence. It can be conveyed to the protesters that already the relief materials are being delivered to the victims of the flood. Also they will be convinced that their demands are irrational. They would be convinced to vacate the National Highway with the pretext that talks.
2) Press and Media will be called to send corrected message about flood relief work going in the right direction and speed. The examples of such efficient implementation can be made visible to the normal public so that the trust of people in the administration can be restored. The right message on media can be sent about the officer also to restore the image about his capability as well.
3) The most crucial and vital responsibility is that of distributing relief material to flood victims. Real-time monitoring will be done to ensure that the distribution of the material is being done with not only efficiency but also sensitivity and compassion. Special care will be taken with respect to children and elderly persons. Immediate and strict action will be taken on miscreants. It would be ensured that no person is left wanting the material.
4) As a response to the call from Head Quarter, in addition to explanation over the call, a written report will be sent clarifying their doubts. The report will also talk about positive work done so far and the plans to extend the work further. The senior authorities must be made aware of the real situation, as they have the right to receive the information.
Any emergency situation, especially flood, requires an extremely responsible and sensitive approach from the administration. The goal of the whole exercise to ensure reaching of relief material to flood victims.