Protection Money – UPSC Ethics Case Study

You are posted as Block Development Officer in a Naxal activities hit region. As soon as you assume your office, you receive a note from an unknown source. It asks you to transfer “X” amount of money every month to a local Naxal leader failing which you would be abducted and killed. The note asks you to meet an unknown person at “Y” place and get details about where, when and how to pay the money. The note tells you that in case you inform the police, you and your family would be killed.

You show this note to your friends and family. Some suggest you to go back to old posting by paying bribe to concerned authorities; some suggest you to resign; others suggest you that the practice of giving “protection money” is common in the region and if you too pay this money regularly you could live a peaceful life.
What are the options before you? Analyse their merits and demerits and explain which course of action would you take in the end and why. (200 Words)
A classic case of “protection money”, this is where a struggle ensues between the instinct of survival and standing on your principles. The options available in this situation are:
  1. Succumbing to the pressure: This will involve just giving in to the demands of the extortionist. Though, it will give mental peace for a few days, the problem will inflate in time and will consume the efficacy of my official and personal life. Also, if the matter gets disclosed, it will bring defamation in the public eye, leading to increased frustration.
  2. Asking for a transfer/resign: A safe or old posting may help in keeping me and my family safe. But shirking away from my duty at one place will make the job difficult to pursue at other location too, as I will always try to seek the easy way out. Moreover, by paying bribe, I will strengthen the very system, I had wished to eliminate.
  3. Rooting out the issue: It will be difficult to pursue in the beginning but the long term effects will surely benefit myself and the society at large. This includes:
    1. Informing my seniors and colleagues about the letter.
    2. Involving the police into the matter to try to catch hold of the person who has sent the letter
    3. Relocating my family to a safer place, till the matter is sorted out.
    4. Discussions with the locals about the malaise of Naxalism in the locality and come out with short and long term plans to tackle it.
So, I would prefer the third option as a way forward.



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