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  • 26 Dec 2020 GS Paper 4 Case Studies

    You are a senior forest official who has recently been posted in a forest range which is also a tourist spot, famous amongst trekking enthusiasts and a pilgrimage center of local hill tribes. However, the trekking site is open only for males as the local tribal culture doesn’t permit the entry of women to the hill site housing their deity.

    Recently, the State High Court has ruled that the site should be open for all without any gender discrimination. Following this, there has been relentless pressure from womens’ groups to allow women at the trekking site, while local tribal groups oppose the same. You fear that opening the site for women might lead to protests from tribals, compromising law and order situation and may also endanger the safety of trekkers to the site.

    (a) What are the options open to you in this scenario? Discuss along with their merits and demerits.

    (b) Which would be the most appropriate action that you would take in this situation and why? (250 words)

    Approach
    • Mention the stakeholders, values involved in the issue and laws/rules applicable. State the ethical dilemma involved in the issue in the introduction.
    • State different options available along with their merits and demerits.
    • Give arguments for adopting specific responses among the available options.

    Key Points

    • Stakeholders: Tribal community, Women, NGO groups promoting the idea of gender equality, Government (executive and law and order machinery) for ensuring the rule of law and implementing constitutional right of equality
    • Values involved: Equality, Preservation of tribal culture, Right to freedom of movement, Sense of duty of civil servants to promote public interest
    • Law/Rules/Rights involved: Equality before law (Article 14), Equality of access to public places (Article 15), Right to conserve distinct Language, Script or Culture (Art. 350:-tribal rights), cultural or linguistic minority has right to conserve its language or culture (Art.29).
    • Ethical Dilemma: Tribal Rights versus Value of Gender Equality.

    Introduction

    • As a Senior Forest official and public servant there I have a duty and obligation to implement the judgment of the High Court.
    • However, as tribal culture does not allow women to visit pilgrimage centers there is possibility of protest which may turn violent endangering life and property. Again it is my duty to protect life and property in the forest by ensuring that women get entry without protests.

    Body

    Available options along with their merits and demerits

    Option 1: Discourage women from going in close proximity of pilgrimage site to ensure peace in the area, and respect towards tribal culture.

    Merits

    • Peace in the area will be maintained.
    • I will be able to discharge my duty of protecting life and property under my jurisdiction.
    • Tribals will not be alienated as their cultural beliefs are respected and protected.

    Demerits

    • This alternative will be against the constitutional values of gender equality.
    • This will be against the court order.

    Option 2: Issue a stern warning to tribals to not oppose the women entry at any point in the entire region, with dire consequences if they disturb the peace or women safety in the region.

    Merits

    • This action is in accordance with the spirit of law and my call of duty.
    • It is also according to the constitutional value of gender equality.
    • It will also save me from the moral dilemma of going against my personal moral value of gender equality.
    • Through this option, the High Court order would stand obeyed.

    Demerits

    • Tribal culture’s sanctity being disturbed.
    • Possibility of escalation of conflict as tribal communities may see it as an attack on their cultural values.
    • Possibility of life and material loss and disturbance in the area.
    • May impact tourism in the long run due to disturbance in the area, affecting the local economy.

    Option 3: Setting up meetings with tribal elders and convincing them about the need for women entry at the same time ensuring tight security measures.

    Merits

    • Persuasion through peaceful discussion is likely to mellow down tribal opposition without antagonizing them further.
    • It will have a better chance of maintaining peace in the area thus protecting life and property.
    • It will help in promoting the goal of women empowerment by making the tribal community understand the rationale behind the court’s ruling.
    • It will be in line to constitutional values of gender equality and High Court directives.
    • It will meet the goals of performing duty conscientiously and sensitively.

    Demerit

    • Trying to manage tribal discontent may not bear results in the short term and there may still be the possibility of protest and conflict, for which needed security measures have to be in place. It also runs the risk of compromising on tribal rights and minority rights (article 25). However, in the long run this would be the most appropriate approach.

    Most appropriate action and reason for adopting it

    • I will choose option 3 as the most desirable option for the merits of this option far outweighs the demerits.
    • This option satisfies my duty as a public servant and adherence to constitutional values. It also promotes rule of law.
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