Read the passage given below and solve the questions based on it.
The modern world requires us to repose trust in many anonymous institutions. We strap ourselves in a flying tin can with two hundred other people not because we know the pilot but because we believe that airline travel is safe. Our trust in these institutions depends on two factors: skill and ethics. We expect that the people who run these institutions know what they are doing. That they build and operate machines that work as they are supposed to and that they are looking out for our welfare even though we are strangers.
When one of these factors in weak or absent, trust breaks down and we either pay a high price in safety-as in the Bhopal tragedy-or a large welfare premium such as the elaborate security measures at airports. Trust-deficient environments work in the favour of the rich and powerful, who can command premium treatment and afford welfare premiums. Poor people can command neither; which is why air travel is safer than train travel, which in turn is safer than train travel, which in turn is safer than walking by the road side.
Every modern society depends on the trust in the skills and ethics of a variety of institutions such as schools and colleges, hospital and markets. If we stopped believing in the expertise of our teachers, doctors and engineers, we will stop being a modern society.
As the Institution among institutions, it is the duty of the state to ensure that all other institutions meet their ethical obligations. The Indian state has failed in its regulatory role schools to turn out good graduates, we out well trained engineers and we cannot guarantee that our engineers will turn out to be good products.
Last year, I was invited to speak at an undergraduate research conference. Most of the participants in this conference were students at the best engineering colleges in the State. One student who was driving me back and forth recounted a story about the previous year’s final examination. One of his papers had a question from a leading text book to which the textbook’s answer was wrong. The student was in a dilemma: should he write the (wrong) answer as given in the textbook or should he write the right answer using his own analytical skills. He decided to do the latter and received a zero on that question. Clearly, as the student had suspected, the examiners were looking at the textbook answer while correcting the examination papers instead of verifying its correctness.
The behaviour of these examiners is a breakdown of institutional morals, with consequences for the skills acquired by students. I say institutional morals, for the failure of these examiners is not a personal failure. At the same conference I met a whole range of college teachers, all of whom were drafted as examiners at some time or the other. Without exception, they were dedicated individuals who cared about the education and welfare of their students. However, when put in the institutional role of evaluating an anonymous individual, they fail in fulfilling their responsibilities. When some of our best colleges are run in this fashion, is it any wonder that we turn out unskilled engineers and scientists? It, as we are led to expect, there is a vast increase in education at all levels and the regulatory regime is as weak as it is currently is not it likely that the trust deficit is only going to
We are all aware of the consequences of ignoring corruption at all jewels of society. While institutional failures in governance are obvious, I think the real problem lies deeper, in the failure of every day institutions that are qu9ite apart from institutions that impinge on our lives only on rare occupying on our lives only on rare occasions. It is true that our lives are made more miserable by government officials demanding bribes for all sorts of things, but what about the everyday lying and cheating and breaking of rules with people who are strangers?
Let me give you an example that many of us have experienced. I prefer buying my fruits and vegetables from roadside vendors rather than chain stores. To the vendor, I am probably an ideal customer, since I do not bargain and I do not take hours choosing the best pieces, instead, letting the vendor do the selecting. The market near my house is quite busy: as a result, most vendors are selling their wares to strangers. It takes a while before a particular vendor realizes that I am a repeat customer, in such a situation trust is crucial. I have a simple rule: if a vendor palms off a bad piece whose defects are obvious, I never go back to that person again it is amazing how often that happens.
In my opinion, the failure of institutional ethics is as much about these little abuses of trust as anything else. Everyday thievery is like roadside trash: if you let it accumulate the whole neighbourhood stinks.
What is the meaning of the phrase palms off as used in the passage?