Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest is a term we usually see in legal contracts. According to the dictionary here is the synonym for Conflict of interest: “a situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity”

Tuitions

We do not notice it, however, we get exposed to Conflict of Interest at a very young age. Private and Government schools restrict teachers from taking tuition for kids from the same school. When I was in school, I used to wonder why the teacher shouldn’t be allowed to take tuition. While it is perfectly fine to take tuition, the problem arises when the teacher is also taking tuition for the kids attending the same class in school.  

Conflict of interest in Private tuition
Source

What are the problems here? 

  1. The teacher may not be motivated enough to spend quality time teaching the class lessons. This forces students to take tuitions from the teacher.
  2. It is also a common perception that if the student takes tuition, he may be awarded higher grades.  
  3. There are also problems where the teacher advises the students on the questions to prepare for the exam (This also leads to ethical concerns) 

All this may look easy in primary or middle school. However as the kid prepares to enter his board exams or enter the workforce, these methods force kids to not be honest. As we watch from Dhar Mann’s videos ‘What happens in the dark always comes to light. There are also genuine cases where a student will need help. The student or their parents approach the teacher and ask for help. This is perfectly fine as long as we do not cross ethical boundaries.

Unfortunately, we take ethics very lightly. In private or corporate culture, (at least in well-run companies), ethics and conflict of interest are taken very seriously. 

Public Offices

It is a very common occurrence in the State that someone close to the officials in the Government is awarded public contracts. This has been happening for several decades. Political outfits run Television channels and based on the party in power private companies advertise on the respective channels. This is a classic example of Conflict of Interest. The party in power should not be focused on Television channels. 

Source

Conflict of Interest, Ethics, Integrity should not just be taught in schools, we should walk the talk. Unfortunately, the way we are brought up or exposed – ‘Conflict of Interest is very common and based on who we know, we can get away’. No one is perfect and there is a lot of change that needs to happen (even from within). A culture change across the country will not be possible immediately. It needs to start from the top. It takes a period of time (maybe 20 years). However, we will see progress and little successes along the way if we begin working on it.

Thank you for reading.  

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Further reading

Karthik Chidambaram