Q: Rampura, a remote district inhabited by a tribal population, is marked by extreme backwardness and abject poverty. Agriculture is the mainstay of the local population, though it is primarily subsistence due to the very small land holdings. There is insignificant industrial or mining activity. Even the targeted welfare programs have inadequately benefited the tribal population. In this restrictive scenario, the youth has begun to migrate to other states to supplement the family income. Plight of minor girls is that their parents are persuaded by labour contractors to send them to work in the Bt Cotton farms of a nearby state. The soft fingers of the minor girls are well suited for plucking the cotton. The inadequate living and working conditions in these farms have caused serious health issues for the minor girls. NGOs in the districts of domicile and the cotton farms appear to be compromised and have not effectively espoused the twin issues of child labour and development of the area.
You are appointed as the District Collector of Rampura. Identify the ethical issues involved. Which specific steps will you initiate to ameliorate the conditions of minor girls of your district and to improve the over-all economic scenario in the district? (250 words) (20 marks)
It is evident from the case that the main issue is poverty and backwardness of the tribal population of Rampura, which is leading to the exploitation of minor girls. The first ethical issue is that employment of child labour in hazardous jobs is against the principle of paternalism and in contravention of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention. The second ethical issue is that girls are not getting education as mandated under the Right to Education in India.
It is evident that the condition has arisen due to the failure of the welfare scheme in the district, lack of job opportunities in the district and the ineffectiveness of NGOs and government agencies in tackling the problem of child labour. As the District Collector, I would take the following steps to overcome the problems:
·I shall ensure the implementation of all the welfare schemes effectively by directly interacting with people, finding out the implantation problems and then taking action against the errant officers.
·I shall improve the conditions of schools including mid-day meal schemes so that girls can attend schools and get proper nourishment.
·I shall meet with public representatives of different sections of society and through them persuade parents not to send their girls for Bt cotton farming.
·I shall inform the Collectors of the cotton-growing districts to take action against farmers employing minor girls in the field.
·I shall take up the matter with the state government to provide incentives for the promotion of business and industries in the district.
Source : ‘Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for Civil Services Examination’by Dr Awdhesh Singh, available at