Windfall monetary gains vs. Integrity
As a senior officer in the Ministry of PWD, you have access to important policy decisions The Ministry is about to announce a mega road project. Your son is a land dealer and realtor. Once it is announced, the land price in the vicinity would see a steep hike. Your son wants to know the complete details and he is insisting to buy the land at present rates which are very cheap in and around the soon to be announced project. He is trying to convince you by saying that he would purchase land confidentially and there would be no problem in future for you. You are aware that the Minister has already shared this information with his children who are also into the land business. In fact, the minister has asked you to do the same so that your son also makes huge profits. He has tried to convince you by saying that his and your children are buying land legally and there is no harm in it.
In this situation, Critically examine various conflicts of interests at play in this case study 250 Words)
Disclosure of information that may lead to the undue advantage to a particular group is against the professional code of conduct of executives. This situation involves the conflict of interest that is:
- Public interest vs private gains: Bureaucrats are trustees of public interest. They have access to secret information based on the trust that they will not leak it selectively. Disclosing that information to my son would betray public trust for private gains.
- Professional secrecy vs cronyism: Breach of secrecy is a fraud on professional ethics. It will amount to disciplinary action that will have disastrous consequences on both my job and career of my son.
- Professional commitment vs hobnobism: Partnering minister in his unethical and corrupt conduct tantamounts to being equally culpable in crime. Even if I don't disclose the information to my son, silence makes me a partner in crime.
This is a classic conflict of interest. I am privy to an information which is shared may help my son to a great extent financially. However, this is neither an ethical dilemma nor a legal one.
Legal aspect: The code of conduct for the public servants clearly proscribe me from sharing secret information except in the public interest. So I cannot share the information with my son.
Moral aspect: By sharing the information, I would rob the rights of the original landowners of the windfall gain that they might accrue. Honesty, integrity are the prerequisites for the honour of public servant. So I should be extra precautious than the general public to save my public image to justify public faith in the government.
Rational aspect: Even rationally helping my son in an illegal way would lead to moral degradation of my son as well.
Gandhiji has called "Wealth without Work" as a deadly sin. Moreover, immoral money only leads to moral and ethical fall.