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UPSC Ethics Simplified | Greed and Desire: The caselet | UPSC Current Affairs News

UPSC Ethics Simplified draws your attention to a topic of greed and desire in the form of a caselet. This caselet is an extension of the concept discussed on September 24 (A moral journey from Greed to Desire: 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.


Adbhut was preparing hard to qualify for the exam. He was sure that burning midnight oil would not go in vain. From his early childhood, he dreamt of becoming an IAS officer. He qualified for the Prelims and Mains four times, but missed the interview every time and those single-digit numbers stood between him and his dream.

He was not willing to work anywhere else as depression and self-doubt eclipsed him. But his aspirations were still looming large and he was trying to compensate by earning as much money as he could. He was moving as a jet and there was a hidden superiority that was influencing his hunger in the form of greed and desire.

One day his parents asked him to get married. His response was vague. He said, “I will only marry that girl who will be of my stature.” Then, he found a suitable girl, Pratibha, who was a civil servant. They got married and Adbhut was somewhere feeling contented, and Pratibha was already in love with him.

Festive offer

Then came the day, after five to six years of marriage, when they bought a big house. Their grand terrace was facing the sea shore and Adbhut always loved to do everything in a grand way. He asked Pratibha, “So how is our new home? As a bureaucrat, you can have a big bungalow. But to have a home worth 30 crore is not a joke.” Prathibha smiled and replied, “You are right. But for me you are priceless.”

After a while, a person came with a decorated wooden nameplate in which the names ‘Adbhut’ and ‘Pratibha’ were engraved. Also, in small font, the designation of Prathibha — IAS — was mentioned too. While Adbhut continued to talk to Pratibha about their home, Pratibha was touching her name and designation on the nameplate. She was extremely happy to see her designation below her name. Adbhut noticed that Pratibha was concentrating more on the nameplate and then noticed the nameplate attentively for the first time. He paused for a while and then went to the balcony.

Adbhut was fuming, but Pratibha was busy putting that nameplate at the entrance as she was extremely happy. “Mom, we have bought an expensive house. My dreams have come true — power and money all in one place. And Adhbhut loves me a lot,” she expressed to her mother.

While she was gleaming with job, Adbhut, on the other hand, saw the image of the admit card and while remembering Rabindranath Tagore, he murmured, “I missed Gurudev. I missed. You have rightly said that everything that belongs to us, comes to us if we create the capacity to receive it. But I didn’t deserve it, I missed.”

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Ethicist View:

Adbhut was struggling with inferiority as well as superiority complex. And complex brings self-doubt as well. Greed begets inferiority and a boundless desire, for superiority. On the other hand, Pratibha was in her world of ego and desire. Between them, the value of love was treated as a synonym for money, power, comfort, material possessions, and so on. For becoming a better human being and civil servant, it is the human values that make us proper. We act with the vision of empathy and humbleness only through the lens of values and herein. In this case, Pratibha and Adbhut were acting mediocre.

(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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