Bring out and discuss the ethical issues involved in Moral and Constitutional ideals, Empowerment, Autonomy & Sovereignty.

Civil Services Main Examination

General Studies (Paper - 4) : Model Question & Answers


Question: You are preparing for the Civil Services exam and residing in the State Capital. After Prelims you visit your native village for few days to meet your parents. While being there, you get to know that Community Panchayat has issued a Charter of Duties for the girls and women of the village. As per the dictates, the women folk ought not to wear jeans and shall not carry personal mobiles. You also learn that the sex ratio of girl child vis-à-vis boy, in the age group of 0-5, is dismal. At the same time, there have been alleged cases of honour killings for marrying among the taboo gotras. All these developments outrage you to the core and you resolve to make amends. However, your family advises you to focus on your forthcoming Mains exam rather than wasting time in the futile exercise.

Answer: (i) What would you do under the given circumstances?

I believe it is the responsibility of every individual to act as a moral aspirant in every walk of the life. By ‘moral aspirant’ I understand having critical outlook towards life, whereby one ought to question dogmas, prejudices and uncritical assumptions of life and value system. Thus, under the given circumstances I would have no option but to act like a moral aspirant and to uphold moral and Constitutional ideals. Unfortunately women have been subjugated in every possible form in every sphere of human life. The structure of the human society has remained androcentric, men have occupied the central position while women have been at the periphery. Men are regarded as ends while women are treated as means. The discrimination and subordination of women have been justified on grounds of biological differences.

However, feminists distinguish between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. ‘Sex’ refers to biological differences whereas ‘gender’ refers to differences that are imposed by social norms. As Simone de Beauvoir says, “One is not born, but is made a woman”. The dictates of the Community Panchayat and poor sex-ratio manifest the same world-view. Customs and conventions cannot be reformed overnight, however, in this case if we strive to empower women folk through right orientation and education, and inculcate a sense of self reliance in them whereby they can be given right to self determination then significant improvement can be noticed in a short period of time. Thus, I would try to sow the seeds of such engagement at the level of community and by involving administrative institutions. Specific problems like gotra taboo etc. will be dissolved on its own once we try to restructure the very fabric of patriarchal society with androgynous society, an equal opportunity society.

I believe education goes beyond the realm of books and the best way to learn is to study the book of life. Thus, I can continue with my preparation and at the same time I will try to spread awareness about the issues of women in my village through different mode of communication.

(ii) Bring out and discuss the ethical issues involved in the above case.

The principal ethical issues are subordination of women, subverting their right to life, not granting them autonomy and respect as equal. Imposing unjust and illegal restrictions and limitations on them by undermining their basic right to self determine. It involves uncritical assumption that socio-cultural identities are too sacrosanct to be questioned or defied and even killing is a just punishment for such an act of violation.

(iii) What do you understand by empowerment? Suggest measures for women empowerment.

Empowerment can be regarded as a state of autonomy, sovereignty, where one can have complete control over one’s life and one shall be treated as an end rather than as a means. Thus, an empowered woman will be self-reliant and will have independence in every sphere of life- social, economic, political and religious. In order to realize women empowerment, education can play the most significant role. Women have to be educated to be aware of their rights and privileges. Most importantly, we ought to get rid of patriarchal mindset and conventions from every sphere of life. It is argued that equality within home would make gender equality possible in all other areas of life. Political equality through reservation of seats in the parliament and legislative assembly can be a major step.

The process of land and property distribution within the family is crucial in determining the status of women as social beings and as citizens. The prevailing patterns of male ownership and control over resources have further consolidated and perpetuated the gender bias against women. Another serious challenge is to eradicate female foeticide and infanticide. Unless women are empowered and take a decisive part in the social, political and economic life of the country, the very development of the country will be adversely affected.