UPSC Ethics Simplified | Greed vs Need — The caselet | UPSC Current Affairs News

UPSC Ethics Simplified draws your attention to a topic of greed vs. need in the form of a caselet. This caselet is an extension of the concept discussed on August 20 (Greed vs Need — The concept). It is advisable to revisit the concept article before reading the caselet below.

Relevance: The topic is a part of UPSC CSE General Studies Paper-IV Ethics syllabus. Concepts are particularly relevant in the theory section. Aspirants will also find the article useful for their Essay paper and situation-based questions in personality tests. Moreover, the essence of the article will help aspirants in their professional lives or in life in general. Nanditesh Nilay writes for UPSC Ethics Simplified fortnightly on Sundays. The first article will be a concept while the second article will be a caselet based on the concept. Don’t miss the Points to ponder and Express Inputs below.


Swarth had called Namit after five years. For Namit, Swarth was just an acquaintance. But all of sudden he found Swarth calling him continuously. Finally, Namit picked up the call. After half an hour of conversation, nothing was coming out as an urgent subject. Swarth was only talking about his achievements. After a while, he said, “Namit, I met an accident last year. Now it is fine. My friends supported me a lot. And that financially too. You know I have taken voluntary retirement from the government. There was a lot of financial pressure. But God is kind.”

Namit as usual was busy in his book writing. He received an SMS. It was from Swarth. “Can you send me two lakh rupees, Namit? Still, there is a loan on my head. It will be a great help.” Namit was perplexed. He just acknowledged the text. After a while, Swarth called him. “Namit, if possible, send me at the earliest. You are a kind and successful person. I hope you don’t feel uncomfortable by me asking for help. Due to that accident, I cannot drive confidently now. Sitting behind is my luck. My wife can drive. Yesterday I told her about your generous behaviour. ” After that call, Namit felt that Swarth considered him more than just an acquaintance. His tone suggested that he saw himself as Namit’s ‘friend’.

Namit was a helping soul. He took out his cheque book.  In the meantime, he received another call. ” Namit Bhai Sahab, I am Swarth’s wife.  Please help your friend. There is a huge loan and only good beings like you can be trusted. You will not believe it. We bought a huge house before the accident. The loan is in crores. ” The moment Namit was disconnecting the phone he heard something, ” Madam, you are driving a Benz but without the number plate. Why? I understand it is a new car. ” Namit was perplexed. He asked himself, “If someone is in so much need of money, how can he or his wife afford a luxury car?” It was natural for Namit to have this question. But what should be his future course of action, that is a challenge.

Post Read Questions:

1. Identify the problem and ethical dilemma in the above caselet.

2. What are the options available with Namit in the above caselet with reference to the course of action and which one should he adopt?


Thought Process

Any decision without moral reasoning is not ethical decision making. Wisdom should guide you in situations where you already have a hint of the intentions and outcome. Has borrowing become a habit? Is there a doubt about the money getting returned? Is the ask genuine or just a temptation to loan and borrow? These are some of the genuine questions which should be the part of Namit’s thought process and yours too.

In general, whenever one finds that borrowing has become a habit out of greed, it is important to at least find out the reason for constant borrowing. Find out how often and why the person needs money. Is it because of poor financial management skills or is it a habit or addiction? In both the cases, you may help by providing him a proper counseling by an expert. If the counselling doesn’t help and the person refuses to change – refuse to help. However, do not take a situation or your doubts at face value. Try to get in the core. May be the friend really needs your help, or may be it is just greed.

The above caselet is a logical continuation of the previous concept article on greed vs. need. It brings you to think on a point when greed may lead to a habit of borrowing. In the above situation, you may ponder over three course of action:

1. Refusing to help: Following the information in the last few lines of the caselet, Namit may refuse to help, reply to further calls and remain out of touch to teach Swarth a lesson.

2. Provide help without questioning: Believing in whatever Swarth has told, Namit, in all goodness should help. But is there any goodness in this act without reasoning?

3. Face to face interaction: Talking with Swarth and letting him know his doubts, understanding Swarth’s true condition and then making a decision.

You may have more options to suggest for Namit’s course of action. But the real question is which one should he follow?

NOTE: Do let us know how would you approach the different questions of this caselet?

Points to ponder: A friend without greed is a friend indeed. Discuss.

(Answer in the comment box or through your email)

(The writer is the author of ‘Being Good and Aaiye, Insaan Banaen’. He teaches courses on and offers training in ethics, values and behaviour. He has been the expert/consultant to UPSC, SAARC countries, Civil services Academy, National Centre for Good Governance, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Competition Commission of India (CCI), etc. He has PhD in two disciplines and has been a Doctoral Fellow in Gandhian Studies from ICSSR. His second PhD is from IIT Delhi on Ethical Decision Making among Indian Bureaucrats. He writes for the UPSC Ethics Simplified (Concepts and Caselets) fortnightly.)

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