You are the Sarpanch of a Panchayat. There is a primary school run by the government in your area. Midday meals are provided to the children attending the school. The Headmaster has now appointed a new cook in the school to prepare the meals. However, when it is found that the cook is from Dalit community, almost half of the children belonging to higher castes arc not allowed to take meals by their parents. Consequently the attendance in the school falls sharply. This could result in the possibility of discontinuation of midday meal scheme, thereafter of teaching staff and subsequent closing down the school. (a) Discuss some feasible strategies to overcome the conflict and to create right ambience. (b) What should be the responsibilities of different social segments and agencies to create positive social ambience for accepting such changes? (20 marks) (250 words)

In India, social inequality is a reality, particularly in rural areas where caste plays a significant role in establishing one’s social standing. Using caste identification to practise untouchability was criminalised at the start of modern India, but it has yet to be totally eradicated.

(a) Conflict resolution strategy

Setting a good example

As a sarpanch, my first step would be to provide a good example for people to follow. I would send children from my family and similar-minded acquaintances to the school and eat food prepared by the new cook. If the sarpanch is willing to go the extra mile to set an example, others will be willing to accept change as well. It is more important than everything else to change people’s perceptions.

Gathering of the community

Gatherings, where people socialise with each other without regard for caste or religion, might be held to improve relations between all the communities in the village. This will lead to a more positive perception of equality in the future.

Legal redress

If all else fails to work, this must be the last resort. This may cause friction among communities, but given the need of proving the seriousness of equality, it must be carried out.

(b) Responsibilities of different social segments and agencies 

The family plays the most important role in fixing this type of problem. If children are taught human equality in the home, they will undoubtedly be progressive and will avoid evils such as casteism.

As Sarpanch, it is my responsibility to inform all Gram Sabha members about the evils of casteism and untouchability.

Similarly, administrative agencies can play a significant role in resolving this type of issue. People should be made aware of such issues by administrative institutions, and those who violate the law should face consequences.

As a result, if various social sections and administrative agencies carry out their responsibilities honestly, a positive and socially pleasant environment can undoubtedly be created.

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