Human Values – UPSC Ethics Case Study

In a recent incident, a robber snatched gold chain from a woman and pushed her out of moving train. Luckily, she survived with a minor injury. That day she was forced to commute in train as her usual mode of transportation – buses – were shut down due to a city-wide bandh called by an organization. She was given free medical treatment by the Railways. It is known fact that if unfortunately she had died, the government would have announced monetary compensation to her nearest relative.

Your friend who is aware of this incident is commenting that the woman should have stayed at home instead of going for work. He also tells you that the government should not compensate such victims as these are mere accidents and if government goes on compensating in this way, it is an injustice to honest taxpayers like him.
Identify the ethical issues in the above case (including your friend’s arguments) and critically comment on them. (250 Words)
The gravity of the given incident can be felt by realizing the importance of human ethics in private as well as public relationships.
Indulging in low moral, non-acceptable criminal activities like chain snatching, pushing a woman out of a moving train and diminishing the value of a human life; and undermining the capabilities of women workforce are clear cut evidences of crisis of human ethics at personal level.
Lack of security measures, improper handling of extra traffic in exceptional situations like shut down of another mode of transportation, inability to stop occurrences of situations related to public law and order like Bandh, lacunae in spreading human values and ethical awareness in masses, unable to provide ample employment opportunities, putting a price tag on human life by providing monetary compensation in case of loss of life, ineffective measures to stop furtherance of such criminal activities exemplify ethical issues in public relations.
Though monetary compensation provides some short term relief to victim’s family in financial terms but it cannot be used as a canon by government to unburden itself because social cost of a human life can never been calculated in monetary term.
Government should adopt preventive measures instead of curative. But providing monetary compensation in such cases cannot be declared as totally unethical
on government’s part and burden from tax payer’s perspective. Implementation of precautionary measures does not ensure complete weeding out of the criminal activities from our society. Providing one safety guard to each citizen does not seem practical.
Individuals also have to take responsibility by not indulging in such criminal activities. It is the duty of both government and citizens to ensure that public funds can be utilized more in constructive activities rather than preventing destructive activities. Participatory approach is the need of the hour.
Need to analyse:
(1). Robber — lack of human values
(2). Bandh callers — lack of public spirit
(3). Woman — commitment and dedication
(4). Friend — selfish and narrow minded. Lack of human values. Apathy


You are working a Superintendent of Police in a district where trafficking or women and children is rampant. Your wife who is very concerned and involved in many social works in the city insists you to come up with some innovative ideas to prevent trafficking, to identify trafficked persons and rescue them in your capacity as Superintendent of Police. The problem is severe and has affected thousands of families over the years and it has also brought bad name to the district. What measures will you come up with to address the issues raised by your wife? Suggest pragmatic and logical measures. (250 Words)
Sample 1 Trafficking of human beings is sad reality of society due to poor policing, lack of financial resources in family to take care of the women and children and lack of social and cultural sanction to stop it in poor families. India’s slavery index remains persistently high due to these facts. Moreover India has high number of bonded labours in spite of the practice being outlawed decades back. My action to counter this threat would be manifold
In Immediate terms
  1. I would mandate that all missing complaints of children and women by poor section of society would be taken down as FIR so that local police makes an effort to investigate the same
  2. I would set up remedial measure of direct approach to me if there is trouble by poor in getting registered their FIRs
  3. Make special police force to look into missing children and women case with wide authority and ambit
  4. Rope in media in fight against trafficking by publishing the name of missing and including them in some investigation to get the message against trafficking across to public
Medium and Long term solution
While major reason for trafficking remains poor financial position of the families which induces them to sell or send their children with unscrupulous people who then employ them as sexual or bonded labour. To counter this will try to align with NGOs, civil society and administration to create an environment where
  1. Children are given quality education free of cost
  2. Ensure delivery of govt mandated services to poor with monitoring
  3. Create support network with NGOs, administration and society to counsel, increase awareness and protect vulnerable
Sample 2
Article 23 of constitution of India prohibits traffic in human beings which include children and women. Also, govt has enacted laws like Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act to counter such activities. Trafficking leads to exploitation for forced labour, sexual exploitation, beggary and illegal organ trade. It has adverse physical, mental, economic and social impact on the victims. In given case, since the rate of trafficking is high, it seems that trafficking is organised on organised scale. Firstly, I would gather intelligence on who is who and what’s what of the organisation. Simultaneously I would constitute a team of competent officers to crack down on trafficking through strict implementation of existing laws. Also, a strong case would be made so that every perpetrator is punished following due process of law. Rule of Law needs to be established. Also, I would take help of NGOs, like the one for which my wife is working for, for rehabilitation and training of the freed victims so that they can be absorbed with dignity in the society.
It is very important to establish rule of law and integration of victims in the society as it will act as a deterrent of further trafficking and provide people the opportunity to live dignified life.


In India, groping and sexual assault are a problem for women who use buses, especially during peak hours when buses are overcrowded. Some cities have introduced “women only” buses to provide safe transportation for women. If you are a transport secretary for a state government and has powers to formulate a comprehensive policy to provide safety measures and address the issue of lack of safety for women at public places, especially in public transport, what priority policy measures will you formulate and why?
As Swami Vivekananda rightly said that “A nation which doesn’t respect women will never become great…..” .Therefore, in pursuit of making India a great nation, every citizen should work towards giving women their much deserved status. So being the transport secretary of a state, my role in ensuring safety of women increases manifold. Increase in countless cases of violence against women that infringe upon the rights of women, especially in overcrowded spaces and public transport buses and trains, demands for immediate priority policy measures.
  1. Improvement in getting reliable & meaningful data of violence against women to prioritize areas of concern.
  2. If a bus station is well-lit, but the walk to the station or the parking lot is dangerous or intimidating, people, not just women, won’t use the service. Interventions to improve public infrastructure can contribute to reducing violence against women.
  3. Introduction of new technologies like CCTVs, GPS facilities, panic button, etc. improve safety by helping women, in particular, to feel more secure.
  4. Separate and equal transport facilities or space in public transport will ensure women empowerment and their safe ridership.
  5. Promoting job opportunities for women in bus operations like female driver, conductor, etc.
  6. Encouraging communications media such as pamphlets, radio, television, and theatre serve to educate and promote change, as they can reach large audiences.
  7. Focusing on safety, security and access in transportation is also a must. Policies should be creative, incorporating environmental design, policing and security.
  8. Public education on gender awareness and outreach strategies is also necessary in region with persistent rates of assault.
  9. And, of course, ordinances should be in place for prosecuting men who harass women. Although no single intervention will eliminate violence against women, a combination of infrastructure, legal, judicial, enforcement, education, health, and other service-related actions can significantly reduce such violence and improve its negative consequences.
Sample 2
The growing incidents of physical assault on women paint a clear picture of the role of society in suppressing the most vulnerable and helpless sections i.e. girl child and women.
The incidents has more to do with an established set of negative attitudes held by majority percentage of people in the society than the failure of government in addressing the issue in the most effective way. Although changing the mind-set of each and every individual of the society by government regulation seems unviable, such incidents can be reduced to a greater extent at public places of interest with effective policies.
The below measures can reasonably be good in making a policy effective –
  1. Rigorous policing at the public places by constituting separate teams for women safety. Eg: ‘SheTeams‘ launched by Telangana government.
  2. Increasing the policing at selected places for certain duration of time in a day. Eg: After the suspension of office/college hours for women employees and students in the evening.
  3. Launching separate ‘women only’ transport systems.
  4. Recruiting the women drivers and conductors by providing them fair compensation and benefits.
  5. Formulation of the strategy for ‘quick response teams’ by use of technology
  6. Providing a ‘helpline number’ or 24*7 support.
  7. Making mandatory for the organisations, colleges, schools etc to conduct the self-defence training classes for their women employees and students.
  8. Strict counselling for the culprits along with hefty fines and effectively monitoring them after their release.


It is argued that is that spiritual awareness is innate and that it is an important component in human development. What do you  understand by spirituality? How will it help in human development? Examine. (200 Words)
Spirituality is a concept dealing with aspects of principles, purpose and meaning of Life. To lead a disciplined and meaningful life spiritual awareness is necessary. Spiritual Education is to Mind what Physical education is to body. For grooming a mind along the lines of morality and ethics it will help. It will teach about purpose of  life i.e. what one has to do in life so that eternal happiness is achieved. It teaches about service to mankind, humility, and attitude towards fellow beings, being down to earth and on how to live an austere life. In a way all these are necessary for a meaningful life as in one or the other situation when humans face difficulties along the life it is these qualities that can come to one’s rescue.
Spirituality will help in making a person a real human being who is not attached to material things and respecting the every person irrespective of the rich or poor economic status. All the riches can be shattered by a simple natural disaster but that resilience to recover from the ruins will be provided by the Spiritual awareness. The mental strength to endure difficulties or suffering, moral values, ability to live a dignified life, respecting people with equality, humility etc. all can be imbibed through spirituality and one can become a master of self-i.e. knowing self is possible which is a must before knowing the world. Human development is inevitable when one is aware of self and the world and Spirituality becomes a catalyst in such a process.
  • Harmony between mind, body and soul


Why in your opinion some educated people join extremist and terrorist organizations and fight against legitimate governments? What values do they lack? Critically comment. (200 Words)
  1. Feeling of alienation in the land, when government doesn’t address their grievances. Like many Minorities in UK, France and US joined IS because they felt that government doesn’t care for them and discourages them in all aspects.
  2. Many youths feel thrill to join, kill, use heavy weapon like video games. They feel it as a way to live an extreme life than usual boring life.
  3. Due to social media and active campaigning of these extreme groups, these people are exposed to these ideas at very vulnerable ages and the tragedy is there is no similar counter ideological campaign either online or offline to provide them an alternative narrative and they fall prey to these ideas.
  4. Absence of Safety Outlets: This further leads to alienation as these youths are not able to express their frustration and anger thus leading to search for alternative means for fulfilling their goals. For e.g. the State not responding to the needs of the Youths, unemployment etc.
The lack values like:
  1. Basic values of love and humanism.
  2. Kindness, brotherhood and compassion.
  3. Patience: they believe in immediate gratification of their emotions
  4. Morality of right and wrong
They fail to realize that use of violence will never lead to a just society as Gandhi Ji often said that “Noble Goals can be achieved only through Noble Means”. They also fail to realize the essence of values of brotherhood and equality that all people are same. Thus, a cause which is achieved by killing by innocent people can never bring justice to another group/community.
We need to secure our educated people by:
  1. Making sure that every community representation is there in governance, administration and other civil societies. All their grievances need to be addressed as per the constitution.
  2. Promote the feeling of oneness and unity.
  3. Catch the youths by strict online surveillance who shows leaning toward subscription of extremist ideas.


You and your wife are travelling in a public bus. The bus is full. The conductor of the bus is making indecent gestures to a destitute girl sitting alone in the last seat. From their conversation it appears that the girl hasn’t paid sufficient money to buy the bus ticket. The conductor is making an issue out of her helplessness. Emboldened by her silence, he starts making indecent comments against the girl and tries to touch her at inappropriate places. When an elderly person raises his voice against conductor’s behaviour, he is silenced by driver and cleaner. They argue that the girl has illegally boarded the bus and needs to be thrown out. They make indecent comments against the girl about her appearance and character. Many passengers nod in agreement. When you try to raise your voice against bus staff’s conduct, your wife pulls you down and asks you to sit silently. She tells you that the issue might get complicated and you might miss your next train if the issue gets out of control. You both get down at next stop to catch the train. Next day you read in a local daily that the poor girl was molested and thrown out of the bus. The girl died.
Critically comment on the conduct of yours, your wife and co-passengers. Explain, ideally, what should have been done by you in this situation. (200 Words)
Conduct of me and my Wife:
As said “World suffers more because of Silence of good people than the violence of bad people.”. Here my wife is also at fault and passively became a part of whole episode by not raising and stopping me to raise voice against ill-happening. As an educated and responsible part of society it was duty of everyone to raise voice and mediate the on-going because such things always had bad happening.
Conduct of co-passengers:
Most of the bus travellers are in hurry and for them incident of molestation, eve-teasing has become common. This probably has made people lesser sensitive toward it. Also as per the concept of “Tragedy of Commons” which says that people internally keep looking for other’s to initiate the help and not to start helping, they need just a push from others.
Hence, in such situations we must initiate a voice of protest or helping the victim.
What I will do:
I will pay the remaining amount of the ticket and confront the ticket collector on his behaviour. I will note down the credentials of the Bus and warn him of complaints, if he doesn’t stop. Further, I would ask the elder members who were sympathetic to the cause of the girl to ensure that she reaches her destination safely. Also, in case something untoward happens, they may call me or police. Finally, I’ll call one of the elders next morning [i.e. at a suitable time] to confirm whether the girl reached safely or not.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top