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[ Day 10 – Synopsis ] 75 Days Mains Revision Plan 2023 – Indian Society & Ethics


Indian Society


Q1. How do cultural norms and societal expectations impact the status and agency of women in Indian society? Illustrate using examples. (10M)


The role and behaviour of women in the society is determined by our social structure, cultural norms, value system and social expectations etc. to a great extent. Norms and standards of our society do not change at the same pace as changes take place due to technological advancement, urbanization, cost and standard of living, growth in population, industrialization and globalization.

Social and educational policies fail to cope with desired changes in various fields. Particularly, social status of women in India is a typical example of the gap between position and role accorded to them by Constitution and the restrictions imposed on them by social traditions.


Cultural and societal expectation impacting the status and agency of women in Indian society:

  • Traditional gender roles and expectations: it assigns women the role of a homemaker and caregiver, while men are typically seen as the breadwinners and decision-makers. These roles and expectations limit women’s opportunities for education, career advancement, and overall agency in decision-making processes.
    • For example, women may be considered to be less reliable as workers because of their child-rearing functions.
  • Arranged marriage: it sometimes perpetuate gender inequality. Women may face pressure to conform to societal expectations and marry at a young age, often with limited say in the selection of their life partner. This can restrict their personal choices and autonomy.
    • Additionally, the dowry system, although illegal, continues to persist in certain communities. It places a financial burden on the bride’s family and can lead to exploitation and abuse of women.
  • Code of conduct: cultural norms often dictate strict codes of conduct for women, emphasizing modesty, obedience, and adherence to traditional values. This can result in the control and regulation of women’s behaviour, restricting their freedom and agency.
    • Women may face societal scrutiny and stigma if they deviate from prescribed norms, leading to self-censorship and limited expression.
  • Differentiation in the Socialisation Process: In many parts of India, especially in rural regions, there are still different socialisation norms for men and women.
    • Women are expected to be soft-spoken, calm, and quiet. They should walk, talk, sit and behave in a certain manner. Whereas men ought to be confident, loud, and could display any behaviour as per their wish.
  • Restrictions on mobility and independence: Cultural norms often impose restrictions on women’s mobility and independence.
    • For example, in some conservative communities, women may be expected to adhere to purdah (seclusion) practices, which limit their interactions with men outside their immediate families.
  • Unequal access to resources and opportunities: Cultural norms and societal expectations contribute to gender disparities in access to education, healthcare, employment, and political representation. These disparities limit women’s ability to exercise agency and participate fully in society.
    • For instance, gender-based violence and discrimination often dissuade women from seeking education or employment opportunities outside their immediate communities.



However, it is important to note that Indian society is not monolithic, and there are significant variations in cultural norms and societal expectations across different regions and communities. Over the years, there have been notable efforts to challenge and redefine these norms, promote gender equality, and empower women.


Q2. Urbanization in Indian cities poses challenges to cultural heritage and social cohesion, necessitating concerted efforts towards this. Discuss with examples. (10M)


Urbanization is a transformative process that has been rapidly reshaping the landscape and society of Indian cities. With its vast population and diverse cultural fabric, India has witnessed a significant influx of people migrating from rural areas to urban centres in search of better opportunities and a higher standard of living. This mass migration, coupled with natural population growth, has led to the rapid growth of cities, resulting in numerous challenges and opportunities.


Urbanization challenging cultural heritage and social cohesion:

  • Loss of Cultural Heritage: Rapid urbanization often leads to the demolition of old structures and the loss of cultural heritage sites. Many traditional buildings, temples, and historical landmarks have been replaced by modern infrastructure.
    • For example, in cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, old neighbourhoods and heritage structures have been demolished to make way for high-rise buildings and commercial complexes.
  • Commercialization of Cultural Practices: As cities grow and become more commercialized, there is a tendency to commodify cultural practices for tourism and economic purposes. Traditional festivals, art forms, and crafts are often transformed into commercial products, losing their original cultural significance.
    • For example, many folk dances like Bhangra, Garba and crafts are now performed solely for the purpose of entertainment, diluting their traditional value and significance.
  • Loss of traditional practices: Urbanization can contribute to the erosion of traditional practices and customs as cities embrace modern lifestyles. The younger generation may become disconnected from their cultural roots due to the influence of urban trends and globalization.
    • For example, the decline in the traditional art form of terracotta pottery in urban areas can be attributed to the shift towards mass-produced ceramics.
  • Social fragmentation: Urbanization brings together people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, creating a melting pot of ideas and opportunities. However, it can also lead to social fragmentation and the breakdown of community bonds.
    • In many urban areas, people live in segregated neighbourhoods based on income, religion, or language, leading to limited interaction and reduced social cohesion.
    • g. The existence of slums alongside affluent areas in cities like Mumbai.
  • Displacement of indigenous and marginalised sections: Urbanization often results in the displacement of indigenous and marginalized communities. Rapid urban growth and the expansion of infrastructure projects have led to the eviction of people from their traditional lands and neighbourhoods.
    • g. displacement of tribal people from various urban centres.



Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts to safeguard cultural heritage and promote social cohesion. This can be achieved through strategies such as:

  • Heritage preservation: Implementing policies and regulations to protect and restore cultural heritage sites, ensuring their integration into urban development plans.
    • for instance, the heritage walks organized in cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Community participation: Engaging local communities in decision-making processes, especially those affected by urban development projects, to ensure their voices are heard and cultural practices are respected.
    • g. Pune has implemented participatory slum upgrading programs.
  • Cultural education: Promoting awareness and appreciation of cultural heritage through educational programs, workshops, and events to instil a sense of pride and responsibility among the younger generation.
    • g. Bengaluru’s “Namma Pride” parade, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Inclusive urban planning: Creating inclusive urban spaces that foster interaction, understanding, and social cohesion among diverse communities through mixed-use developments, public spaces, and cultural festivals.
    • g. Dilli Haat in Delhi, which brings together artisans from across India to showcase and sell their crafts.
  • Cultural exchange programs: Encouraging intercultural dialogue, exchanges, and collaborations to celebrate diversity and bridge gaps between different communities.
    • g. Kolkata International Film Festival, which showcases films from various cultures and countries, promoting cultural exchange and understanding among different communities.


By addressing these challenges and implementing measures to preserve cultural heritage and promote social cohesion, Indian cities can harness the benefits of urbanization while ensuring that their cultural diversity and social fabric remain vibrant and inclusive.



Syllabus: Role of family, society and educational institution in inculcating values.

Q3. The hierarchical nature and notions of Indian family might breed attitudes that reinforce power imbalances that can result in an immoral growth of the country. Critically Examine (10M)


The family, as the primary social unit, holds a unique position in shaping an individual’s attitudes. From early childhood family members act as socializing agents, transmitting values, beliefs, and behavioral patterns that contribute to the formation of attitudes.


Indian family systems are mainly hierarchical, and this might breed attitudes that reinforce power imbalances.

  • Lack of Equality and justice: hierarchy promotes hierarchical mindset in other relationships. For example, the educated but homely housewife mindset which has led to low female participation of workspace further affecting countries economy and GDP.
  • False understanding of power and empowerment: Questioning elders within family is considered rude and this notion of power without accountability has affected the country. For Instance, Ashok Khemka, IAS, has been transferred 53 times in 28 years, every time he displeased his political bosses.
  • Lack of Gender equality: gender-specific roles and reinforcing patriarchal norms has led to son preference and skewed sex ratio where there are 933 females per 1000 males.
  • Nepotism and favoritism: a culture of preferential treatment and unfair advantages based on family connections. A record 30% of the new Lok Sabha MPs belong to political families. This hinders merit further affecting the country.
  • Normalization of Domestic Violence: against children and women within families. NFHS-5 reports that approximately 29% of women aged 15-49 in India have experienced physical or sexual violence by their spouse or partner.
  • Promoting social prejudices: According to Census 2011, only 5.8% of Indian marriages were inter-caste, a rate that remained similar over 40 years. This hinders assimilation, further hindering social harmony within the country.

At the same time, It is important to note that there can be positive aspects to hierarchical structures.

  • Social Order and Stability: From local village panchayats to state and central government bodies, hierarchies provide a systematic approach, contributing to stability and continuity in the country.
  • Sense of Responsibility and Duty: This sense of duty can manifest in caring for aging parents, supporting siblings, and participating in community activities, which can contribute to the social fabric and the overall development of the country.
  • Cultural Continuity and Identity: where older family members play a crucial role in passing down rituals and customs to younger generations. This helps promote unity in diversity.
  • Stability and Emotional Security: Novelist VS Naipaul opinions that The Indian family is a clan that gives protection and identity and “saves people from the void”.


Striking a balance between preserving cultural values and promoting individual autonomy and equality is essential for the healthy development and progress of the country.


Case Study


You are the principal of a very famous school in the country. Despite your recognition throughout the country, you routinely have to seek for charitable donations to not just keep ahead of the competition but also to keep education as affordable as possible and also qualitatively good by ensuring good access to the required things for both teachers and students.

One of the possible donors that you approached is willing to donate sizeable money, however he has put a condition that you have to start a dedicated programme that includes bringing kids in slum areas under the umbrella of your school education.

though you support this idea , when you pitched the same to the school committee consisting of representatives from teachers as well as parents of the kids , they were unwilling to support you. Their primary concern was that the kids from these areas might dilute the moral nature and discipline amongst other kids.

In the context of the above case study, answer the following questions,

1) What are the ethical challenges for you as a principal in this situation?

2) Evaluate the pros and cons of various course of actions available.

3) Which course of action would you choose? Justify.



The principal in the given case study faces ethical challenges as multiple stakeholders influence the decision-making process. These stakeholders include the potential donor, the school committee (comprising teachers and parents), the existing students, and the children from slum areas. Balancing their interests and concerns becomes crucial in addressing the ethical dilemmas at hand.

  1. Ethical Challenges for the Principal:
  • Access vs. Affordability: providing access to quality education for all students with the need to maintain affordability and financial sustainability of the school.
  • Equity vs. Concerns of Existing Students: promoting equity by including children from slum areas and addressing the concerns of existing students and their parents.
  • Inclusivity vs. Cultural Clashes: Ensuring inclusivity and the challenge of potential cultural clashes and disruptions that may arise from integrating students from different backgrounds.
  • Moral Responsibility vs financial responsibility: to provide quality education against accepting the condition set by the donor, which may conflict with the school’s mission and values.
  • Transparency vs. Confidentiality: transparency in decision-making processes while respecting the confidentiality and privacy of all stakeholders involved in discussions and negotiations.
  • Long-Term Impact vs. Short-Term Gains: weighing school committees long term vision against potential short-term benefits such as financial support.
  • Stakeholder Interests vs. Greater Good: Balancing concerns of multiple stakeholders with the ethical objective of maximizing the greater good for all parties involved.
  • Parental Consent vs. Inclusivity: challenge of obtaining parental consent and involvement in decision-making while promoting inclusivity and ensuring equal opportunities for all children.
  1. Pros and Cons of Various Courses of Action:
  • Accepting the Donor’s Condition:


  • Increased financial support: enabling the school to enhance its resources, infrastructure, and educational offerings.
  • Promoting inclusivity and social impact: Fostering cultural understanding, empathy, and promoting a sense of community among all students.


  • Resistance from the school committee: due to potential dilution of moral values and discipline among existing students.
  • Increased workload and resource demands: included more children without prior learning would need specialized staff potentially straining the school’s existing capacity.
  • Declining the Donor’s Condition:


  • Preserving the existing school community: the moral nature and discipline.
  • Avoiding potential conflicts: with the school committee and maintain harmony within the institution.


  • Missed opportunity for social impact: on children from slum areas.
  • Financial challenges: as no other sources of funding are available as of now.
  • Negotiating a Modified Approach: Engaging in open dialogue and negotiation with the school committee to allow for children from slums in a phased manner with a short term pilot project and negotiating with the donor for continued long-term support . This can help address all concerns.


  • Maintaining a sense of community: while considering the well-being and values of both existing students and children from slum areas.
  • Gradual integration and further expansion: through long-term support. This can help mitigate potential disruptions and allow for proper support systems to be put in place.


  • Compromising the initial vision: might involve making concessions that deviate from the original idea, potentially diluting the intended impact.
  • Time and resource constraints: which could strain the school’s capacity and budget.
  1. I would choose the modified approach. This decision is guided by the ethical principles of equity, social justice, and respect for diverse perspectives.

This approach would help us in

  • Addressing fear of diluting moral nature and discipline: I would share the example of Dr. Sugata Mitra, known for his “Hole in the Wall” experiment, where he provided computers in slum areas and observed that children could teach themselves using technology. This demonstrates that given the opportunity, children from underprivileged backgrounds can thrive.
  • Implement phased plan of action: in a controlled manner so that other kids aren’t affected. It involves Research and Preparation, Stakeholder Engagement, small-scale pilot program and then based on this experience gradually expand the program.
  • Long term equality: Exploring the possibility of establishing a partnership or sponsorship model, where the donor’s contribution can be recognized and acknowledged through naming rights or branding opportunities.
  • Bring social change: For Instance, Kailash Satyarthi’s “Bachpan Bachao andolan” has highlighted the transformative power of education in breaking the cycle of poverty and exploitation.
  • Get rid of stereotypes: that slum children lack discipline and morals. For Instance, the Akanksha Foundation runs educational centers in slums and has demonstrated that these children can excel academically.

As Herbert Spencer said ‘The great aim of education is not knowledge but action’. Finding a modified approach ensures that the school continues to uphold its commitment to quality education while addressing social inequalities.

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