Case Study 28

You are a District Magistrate posted in a backward district of the country; Panchayat polls are due in the state. However, tribal groups are protesting against the decision to conduct polls and have called for a boycott of the panchayat election. They are saying that panchayat elections are not being held as per The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 which protects the traditional self-governance institutions of tribals. But the state government has taken the decision to conduct panchayat elections. Following this, there have been cases of wide-scale protest and violence.

What are the ethical dilemmas faced by you? Give one principle that will guide your action in this scenario.


  • Introduction – Give the definition/concept of an ethical dilemma.
  • Body – Enumerate the ethical dilemmas in the case. Mention one ethical principle for the scenario.   
  • Conclusion – emphasize the importance of resolving ethical dilemmas and following moral principles.

The case presents difficulty in governance where the goal set by the government may come in conflict with the traditional practices and aspirations of some sections of people.

Ethical dilemmas:

  1. Law Vs ethics: as per the law panchayat elections must be held on time. But this will erode the traditional self-governing structure of tribal society.
  2. Use of force to control the violence Vs empathetic attitude towards the grievances.
  3. The integrity of the process of election Vs the aspiration of the people.

A principle that will guide your action in this scenario – Larger public interest

Elections are the bedrock of democracy. It enables people to express their will. It brings efficiency to administration, resulting in good governance and ethical governance. This will result in the larger welfare of people.

Public administration includes various ethical dilemmas. However, the very purpose of the existence of administration is to serve people. Larger public interest must be the guiding principle to resolve dilemmas.     

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