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Course of Action

A course of action is ‘a step or administrative decision to be taken for improvement, follow-up or further action with regard to the problem, policy etc. on the basis of the information given in the statement’. The question in this section, thus involve finding the appropriate course of action, considering the problem or policy being talked about in the statement.

In this type of question, a statement is given followed by two courses of action numbered I and II. The candidate is required to grasp the statement, analyze the problem or policy it mention and then decide which of the course of action logically follow(s).

Points to Remember

Key points to keep in mind with respect to courses of action.
  1. Course of action should be RELEVANT:
The problem or situation at hand should be directly related to the course of action and it should not overshadow the given situation.
  1. Course of action should have IMMEDIATE IMPACT:
The course of action should be such that there should be immediate action involved it in to solve the problem. Immediate action does not mean that problem is immediately solved, which is not possible in most of the cases. It refers to take immediate action which can take some time to handle the situation.
Statement: The city has been troubled with high pollution levels for the past ten years.
Course of Action: the polluting factories should be shifted outside the city.

The suggested course of action does not refer to shift the factories immediately. It mean to pass the suitable law and give the factories due time to shift. The course of action follows.
  1. LONG TERM AND SHORT TERM Courses of Action:
The problems in the statement can be generally divided into two categories: Short term and Long term. The problems related to poverty, pollution, corruption, unemployment, epidemic etc are long term. They can be followed by long term courses of action. Short term problems are generally not followed by long term courses of action.
Statement: There has been a drop of 10% literacy rate as compared to 2001 as mentioned in the latest census report.
Course of action: The government should allocate special funds for development of education in the yearly budgets and five year plans.
Being a long term problem, course of action can be long term.
  1. The Course of Action should be taken with reasonable proof.
Statement: The Chief Minister is suspected to have given illegal contracts of mining to family members.
Course of Action: The minister should be forced to step down as the Chief Minister.
This Course of Action is taken on the basis of suspicion; hence, it cannot be justified. The Course of action does not follow.
Statement: The investigation bureau evidently proved cases of illegal mining against the State’s Chief Minister.
Course of Action: The minister should be forced to step down as the Chief Minister.
This Course of action follows, as it is justified, with the evidences from the bureau.
  1. The Course of action cannot be illegal.
All the actions, no matter how big the problem is, should be under the legal jurisdiction. Even if the problem can be solved, no illegal means can be adopted.
Statement: In the year before elections, at least ten high profile cabinet ministers were convicted of corruption charges causing a loss of crores of rupees to the central government.
Course of Action: All the convicted ministers should be killed by hanging them publically.
This course of action doesn’t follow. No doubt with the killings, the corrupt minister will be removed forever and many will be afraid to do such acts in the future. But, it is an undemocratic and illegal act to follow.
  1. The Course of Action should not be EXTREME:
Let us study a course of action for the statement in the previous point.
Course of Action: The political parties which the ministers were representing, should never be allowed to contest for elections in the future.
This course of action cannot follow as it is an extreme step to take the contesting right away from all the party members.
Let study another example:
Statement: In the past few months, many cases have been reported against private courier companies for delays in scheduled delivery timing.
Course of Action: Such private courier companies should be banned.
It is an extreme course of action, as services given to millions of consumers would be disrupted and it would lead to bigger problems for the government.
  1. The course of action cannot follow for one off cases. (i.e. rules are not changed for exceptions)
Statement: The student entered the class when half of the lecture was already delivered. He requested the lecturer to repeat what he has already taught, as he met with an accident and couldn’t reach on time.
Course of Action: The lecturer should start the lecture again.
This course of action cannot follow as rules cannot be changed for exception. Other students cannot be made to suffer because of one student.
  1. A Course of Action cannot be repeated if it has previously failed. We cannot accept the optimism, that the previously failed step would be successful if implemented again.
  2. A Course of Action should be PREVENTIVE in nature. No matter, how convincing or relevant a course of action appears, it should have a tendency to reduce/remove the problem in future or handle a situation in hand.
Statement: A group of school students was reported to be enjoying at a picnic spot during school hours.
Course of action:
  1. The principal of the school should contact the parents of those students and inform them with a real warning for future.
  2. Some disciplinary action must be taken against those students for the awareness of all the other students.
Both the courses of action are relevant to problem and can be immediately implemented. Along with it, these actions tend to control the problem from occurring in the future, hence preventive in nature.
  1. OPINIONS are not Course of Action.
A valid course of action comprises of an act which is practical, feasible and falls within the domain of legal jurisdiction. Any action violating the above mentioned characteristics is an opinion, hence, not practically applicable.
Statement: A large number of people visiting India from Country X have been tested positive for carrying viruses of a killer disease.
Course of Action: The government of India should immediately put a complete ban on people coming from Country X including those Indians who are settled in Country X.
This course of action is neither practical nor feasible, being solely an opinion. It cannot follow.

Important Notes

  • While approaching a question set, read the statement carefully and understand the domain and extremity of the statement.
  • Observe key words like, “all”, “immediate”, “impossible”, “completely” etc for better understanding.
  • Always keep aside your personal opinion about the statement.
  • Read the Course of action carefully and try to correlate it with the statement, ignoring “any” other course of action in your mind that is not mentioned in the question.

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