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UPSC Mains 2022

Prabhat was working as Vice President (Marketing) at Sterling Electric Ltd., a reputed multinational company. But presently the company was passing through the difficult times as the sales were continuously showing downward trend in the last two quarters.....

General Studies Paper - 4, Topic: Case Studies

Jan 06, 2023

6 min read

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Question -

 

Prabhat was working as Vice President (Marketing) at Sterling Electric Ltd., a reputed multinational company. But presently the company was passing through the difficult times as the sales were continuously showing downward trend in the last two quarters. His division, which hitherto had been a major revenue contributor to the company’s financial health, was now desperately trying to procure some big government order for them. But their best efforts did not yield any positive success or breakthrough.

 

His was a professional company and his local bosses were under pressure from their London-based HO to show some positive results. In the last performance review meeting taken by the Executive Director (India Head), he was reprimanded for his poor performance. He assured them that his division is working on a special contract from the Ministry of Defence for a secret installation near Gwalior and tender is being submitted shortly.

 

He was under extreme pressure and he was deeply perturbed. What aggravated the situation further was a warning from the top that if the deal is not clinched in favour of the company, his division might have to be closed and he may have to quit his lucrative job.

 

There was another dimension which was causing him deep mental torture and agony. This pertained to his personal precarious financial health. He was a single earner in the family with two school-college going children and his old ailing mother. The heavy expenditure on education and medical was causing a big strain to his monthly pay packet. Regular EMI for housing loan taken from bank unavoidable and any default would render him liable for severe legal action.

 

In the above backdrop, he was hoping for some miracle to happen. There was sudden turn of events. His Secretary informed that a gentleman Subhas Verma wanted to see him as he was interested in the position of Manager which was to be filled by him in the company. He further brought to his notice that his CV has been received through the office of the Minister of Defence.

 

During interview of the candidate-Subhash Verma, he found him technically sound, resourceful and experienced marketeer. He seemed to be well-conversant with tendering procedures and having knack of follow-up and liaising in this regard Prabhat felt that he was better choice than the rest of the candidates who were recently interviewed by him in the last few days.

 

Subhash Verma also indicated that he was in possession of the copies of the bid documents that the Unique Electronics Ltd. would be submitting the next day to the Defence Ministry for their tender. He offered to hand over those documents subject to his employment in the company on suitable terms and conditions. He made it clear that in the process, the Sterling Electric Ltd. could outbid their rival company and get the bid and hefty Defence Ministry order. He indicated that it will be win-win situation for both-him and the company.

 

Prabhat was absolutely stunned. It was a mixed feeling of shock and thrill. He was uncomfortable and perspiring. If accepted, all his problems would vanish instantly and he may be rewarded for securing the much awaited tender and thereby boosting company’s sales and financial health. He was in a fix as to the future course of action. He was wonder-struck at the guts of Subhash Verma in having surreptitiously removing his own company papers and offering to the rival company for a job. Being an experienced person, he was examining the pros and cons of the proposal/situation and he asked him to come the next day.

 

A. Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case.

 

B. Critically examine the options available to Prabhat in the above situation.

 

C. Which of the above would be the most appropriate for Prabhat and why? 

 

Answer

 

A. The ethical issues involved in this case include:

 

  • Confidentiality: Subhash Verma has accessed confidential documents from his own company and is offering them to a rival company, potentially violating the confidentiality agreements he has with his current employer.

 

  • Bribery and corruption: Subhash Verma is offering access to confidential documents in exchange for employment, which could be seen as an attempt to bribe Prabhat and potentially influence the outcome of the tender process.

 

  • Loyalty: Prabhat's acceptance of Subhash Verma's offer could be seen as a lack of loyalty to his current employer and a willingness to betray their trust.

 

B. The options available to Prabhat in this situation include:

 

  • Accepting Subhash Verma's offer: This would allow Prabhat to secure the much-needed contract for his division and potentially save his job, but it would also involve compromising his own ethics and potentially engaging in corrupt and unethical behavior.

 

  • Refusing Subhash Verma's offer: This would allow Prabhat to maintain his integrity and avoid engaging in corrupt or unethical behavior, but it could also result in his division losing the contract and potentially being shut down, as well as Prabhat losing his job.

 

  • Reporting the incident to his superiors: This would allow Prabhat to expose Subhash Verma's unethical behavior and potentially prevent the company from engaging in corruption, but it could also result in Prabhat being ostracized or retaliated against by his colleagues and superiors.

 

C. The most appropriate option for Prabhat would be to report the incident to his superiors. While this option may be the most difficult and potentially risky for Prabhat, it is the only one that allows him to maintain his integrity and avoid engaging in unethical behavior. By exposing Subhash Verma's actions and cooperating with any internal investigation that may follow, Prabhat can demonstrate his commitment to ethical conduct and potentially prevent his company from engaging in corrupt or unethical practices. This option may also be the most effective in protecting the interests of the company in the long run, as engaging in corrupt or unethical behavior could have serious consequences for the company's reputation and financial health.

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