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Ethics GS 4 2023– Case Study 1

Q7. You are working as an executive in a nationalised bank for several years. One day one of your close colleagues tells you that her father is suffering heart disease and needs surgery immediately to survive. She also tells you she has no insurance and the operation will cost about 10 lakh. You are also aware of the fact that her husband is no more and that she is from a lower middle class family. You are empathetic about her situation. Howerer, apart from expressing your sympathy, you do not have the resources to fund her.

A few weeks later, you ask her about the well-being of her father and she informs you about his successful surgery and that he is recovering. She then confides in you that the bank manager was kind enough to facilitate the release of 10 lakh from a dormant account of someone to pay for the operation with a promise that it should be confidential and be repaid at the earliest. She has already started paying it back and will continue to do so until it is all returned.

(a) What are the ethical issues involved?

(b) Evaluate the behaviour of the bank manager from an ethical point of view.

(c) How would you react to the situation?


The case study is a classic example of a sensitive ethical scenario involving loyalty towards a close friendship,a human life and a mis-conduct for achieving right ends. As the bank manager and the colleague were involved in using unethical ways to transfer funds,it also raises questions about organisational values and work ethics.

  1. Ethical issues involved in the case are as follows
  • Loyalty to relations vs truth and honesty: Being an honest employee for several years, you have to weigh your loyalty towards your friend against your commitment and honesty towards your organisation.
    • Fair ends vs false means: Though your friend needed the money for her father’s surgery, the means of getting that money were unethical.
  • Family responsibility vs misconduct: The responsibility of the colleague to save her father’s life led her to indulge in the misconduct.
  • Misuse of authority: By the bank Manager.
  • Fairness and equity
  • Objectivity vs Compassion
  • Professional responsibility (Of upholding secrecy of bank customers) vs Moral duty (of helping a colleague who is distress to save a human life)


  1. Behaviour of bank manager from ethical point of view:

The behaviour of the bank manager involves both merits and demerits. On the one hand, it helped the employee to save her father’s life, on the other hand, it also resulted in unethical conduct.The pros and cons of his action are as follows;


Pros Cons
Empathy and Compassion: By facilitating release of the required amount in time of emergency. Abuse of Authority: By releasing the funds from a dormant account
Justifying the end(Teleological approach): The successful surgery and timely treatment from that money. Violation of Rules and Regulations: Being the bank manager, he needs to follow organisational rules.
Moral Duty: Helping the colleague and saving a human’s life. Against integrity and honesty: The conduct of the bank manager was against the core values of integrity and honesty.
Limited legal  and personal risk: As the account was dormant and the employee agreed to keep the actions confidential. Against Transparency and Accountability: Being a bank manager, the manager is accountable towards account holders. Transferring money from the account was unethical and against the principles of transparency and accountability.
Relations with employee: The behaviour of the bank manager resulted in the development of a goodwill towards the manager. Long term impact: It may lead to repetition of such activities and any unwanted consequences may lead to cognitive dissonance.


  1. Your Response to the situation (Your Course of Action)

My reaction to this action will be as follows:

  • Confronting my friend about her wrongdoing and encouraging her to take responsibility for her action.
  • I will ask my friend to return the money as soon as possible and to never repeat such action in future.
  • I will also try to persuade the bank manager to uphold the integrity of his office and explore alternative ways to help employees in case of emergency.


Public servants need to uphold the professional values of integrity, honesty and objectivity in discharging their official duties.In case of any unethical conduct,standing for the right cause is critical to ensure the trust of the general public in government institutions.


Check out the UPSC Mains GS Paper 4 2023 Analysis with detailed expatiation of the topics of Mains GS Paper 4 By the Study IQ Experts

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