[Answered] UPSC Mains 2021 GS Paper 4 – Case Study 1(Q. No. 7)

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Sunil is a young civil servant and has a reputation for his competence, integrity, dedication, and relentless pursuit of difficult and onerous jobs. Considering his profile, he was picked up by his bosses to handle a very challenging and sensitive assignment. He was posted in a tribal-dominated district notorious for illegal sand mining. Excavating sand from river belts and transporting it through trucks and selling them in black market was rampant. This illegal sand mining mafia was operating with the support of local functionaries and tribal musclemen who in turn were bribing selected poor tribals and had kept the tribals under fear and intimidation.

Sunil being a sharp and energetic officer immediately grasped the ground realities and the modus operandi followed by the mafia through their devious and dubious mechanism. On making inquiries, he gathered that some of their own office employees are in hand and glove with them and have developed close unholy nexus. Sunil initiated stringent action against them and started conducting raids on their illegal operations of movement of trucks filled with sand. The mafia got rattled as not many officers in the past had taken such strong steps against the mafia. Some of the office employees who were allegedly close to mafia informed them that the officer is determined to clean up the mafia’s illegal sand mining operations in that district and may cause them irreparable damage. The mafia turned hostile and launched counter-offensive. The tribal musclemen and mafia started threatening him with dire consequences. His family (wife and old mother) were stalked and were under virtual surveillance and thus causing mental torture, agony, and stress to all of them. The matter assumed serious proportions when a muscleman came to his office and threatened him to stop raids, etc. otherwise; his fate will not be different than some of his predecessors (ten years back one officer was killed by the mafia).

a. Identify the different options available to Sunil in attending to this situation.
b. Critically evaluate each of the options listed by you. 
c. Which of the above, do you think, would be the most appropriate for Sunil to adopt and why?


a) The different options available to Sunil in this case are:

Option 1: Sunil can continue his actions against the Mafia, local functionaries, his corrupt sub-ordinates. He can further, apply for police protection. At the same time, he should inform his superiors about the whole situation.

Option 2: Sunil can stop taking any action/measure, and can continue his tenure in his office.

Option 3: Sunil can request his superiors for his transfer from the district, describing the whole situation to them.

b) The above options can have the following consequences:

Option 1

1. It will reinforce the rule of law in the tribal district.

2. It will aid in checking corruption in the public offices.

3. Police protection will ensure security for Sunil, his mother and his wife.

4. It will also free the tribals from the fear and intimidation of the sand mafias.

1. Sunil’s family may have to face the brunt of his actions.

2. It might be a possibility that some police personals too are hand in glove with the mafia.

3. Sunil will face continued resistance from his sub-ordinates.


Option 2

1. It will stop the aggression of the mafias towards Sunil and his family members.

2. Sunil will be able to complete his tenure in peace.


1. It will compromise the law and order situation in the district.

2. Continued illegal sand mining will adversely affect the state exchequer, tribals and the environment.

3. The will of the corrupt officials and the sand mafia will be emboldened.

4. Sunil, being an honest officer, will be mentally frustrated.

5. The reputation of Sunil in the eyes of his superiors as a dedicated and competent officer will be compromised.

Option 3

1. It will stop the stalking, mental agony and trauma for the family members.

2. Sunil could work in peace in his next assignment.

1. It will aggravate the problem of illegal sand mining.

2. It will compromise the obligation and commitment of Sunil towards his public duty.

3. The corruption in the public offices will continue without any hinderance/check.

4.       The rule of law in the district will be compromised.

c) Even though the first option, is difficult and full of mental agony/trauma, it is still the most suitable option because:

  1. It will check the incidents of illegal sand mining and uphold the rule of law in the region.
  2. The police protection will deter the mafias/goons from intimidating Sunil and his family members.
  3. Sunil will fulfil his duty by checking corruption in government departments, and restoring law and order.
  4. This option will make Sunil an even braver and experienced civil servant, who stood his ground in the face of adversities. It will help him in his future career.
  5. This option is also beneficial for the local tribals, who are living in the fear of the Mafia. Also, it will restore the ecological wealth of the river in the district.
  6. Action can be taken against corrupt officials.


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