In the face of acute famine in the district, you, as an area officer, have instructed your subordinates to procure food grains from the FCI godowns located in the adjoining districts. This would make the food grains available to the public through PDS shops. Considering the gravity of the situation, this task has to be done immediately, because the majority of the people in the district are poor, and therefore can’t buy the food at the market prices. However, you were told that all the truck operators have formed a cartel and are asking for three times the usual transportation rate, in order to exploit the situation. This would nullify your effort, as the prices of the food grains would increase due to high transportation charges. (a) Following are some suggested options. Please evaluate the merits and demerits of each of the options: 1) Threaten the truck owners of severe consequences if they do not fall in line and cancel their transportation permits. 2) Transport the food grains by Railways, though it may take a week. 3) Agree to pay the truck owners the transportation charges they are demanding, so as to ensure the availability of food grains, but searching for alternative and affordable transportation. However, take legal actions against the truck owners at a later time. 4) Asking the state government for sending some help. (b) Also indicate (without necessarily restricting to the above options) the course of action you would like to follow, giving proper reasons for the same. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comments:

The answer should begin with the context and the gravity of the situation. In this context, one should evaluate all the given options with possible merits and demerits. In conclusion, one should choose any of the given options or any other option of his/her choice with adequate reasons.

Answer:

The situation is characterized as acute famine and general shortage of food. Considering that the majority of the people are poor, they can’t buy food at the market prices. Being the area officer, it is my responsibility to make the food grains available at affordable prices, so that all individuals in the district have access to food. 

In this context:

1) Threaten the truck owners of severe consequences if they do not fall in line and cancel their transportation permits.

This option would ensure that the truck owners are punished for their undue exploitation of the situation. As an area officer, it is my duty to ensure that the prices of essential commodities, including the transportation charges, are not artificially and unfairly inflated through some mischievous means. From that end, it could be successful in performing my duty. However, this would not necessarily ensure the availability of food grains in the district, which is more important in the given situation. Therefore, this option is not advisable, as the main objective would not be served.

2) Transport the food grains by Railways, though it may take a week.

If I were to transport the food grains by railways then I may be able to reduce the transportation charges to a very great extent. However, it could take a longer time to transport the food grains and in the mean-time, the situation could become worse, as there is already an acute famine. Therefore, I need to ensure the delivery of food grains in the shortest time possible, which would be difficult with this option.

3) Agree to pay the truck owners the transportation charges they are demanding, so as to ensure the availability of food grains, but searching for alternative and affordable transportation. However, take legal actions against the truck owners at a later time.

Going by the third option, I can ensure the availability of the food grains in the immediate time, which is imperative in the given situation. At the same time, I may search for some other means of transport, like arranging for public transport etc. It would be more desirable to take action against the erring truck owners at some later time, because it would serve the dual purpose of making available food grains in the immediate situation, and punishing the erring truck owners.

4) Asking the state government for sending some help.

Asking the state government for help may ensure the availability of food grains at cheaper rates. However, it may not be advisable, in the first instance, because it may take some time for the state government to provide help and in the mean-time, there may be deaths due to starvation. Therefore, the whole purpose of the help would be defeated.

(b) Also indicate (without necessarily restricting to the above options) the course of action you would like to follow, giving proper reasons for the same. 

So, the best option for me to go by is third. It is because it would ensure the availability of food grains in the immediate time and would ensure action against the erring truck owners. It is necessary to take action against them so that in future they do not unduly exploit the situation. Meanwhile,I would also ask the state government for help, so that any unforeseen situation in the future could be proactively addressed.

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