- UPSC Mains-2017: Question Paper GS4 (Linear Format)
- Topicwise Ethics Papers since Syllabus Change (2013-17)
- [Block#1] Basic, Thinkers, EQ
- [Block#2] Surroundings
- [Block#3] Job
- [Block#4] Public organizations
- [Block#5] Private organizations
To see the question paper in linear format i.e. Question 1 to 14: Click ME to download PDF.
Here goes the analysis:
“How helpful are GSM4 case studies in judging real character of a candidate”, will be an interesting case study in itself when IPS Safeer Karim reappears, with a bluetooth device to cheat in the Mains-2017 exam.
- Anyways, GSM4 has ill-planned syllabus made up in haste. So, case studies lack depth or sufficient grey areas. Same clichéd things repeatedly asked, whether it’s easy to identify good vs bad, and then every aspirant goes crazy on portraying himself as a boy scout.
Here are the common and recurring themes / plots in the case studies of Ethics paper:
- There is a helpless weaker section (children, girl students, woman with no document, dalit cook) and you’ve to intervene. Until now, these case studies asked you to help them as an officer (i.e. after selection in Government service), but 2017 they asked you to help an accident victim on your way to Government job interview (i.e. before selection!).
- In work culture at office: sexual harassment, work deadline, Chalta hai mindset, hush-hush to windup a file/tender/acquisition, pressure from above to reveal information, help a relative etc.
- They list the problems faced by impractical honest upright officer, then ask your opinion as a friend of the said officer- should he leave, resign, whistlblow? 2014- two such questions. 2017- examiner made you the honest officer and asked you directly “betaa what do you think of this?”
- If you’re working in private organization: there are only four issues:
- Your boss / collegue is a sex maniac or a wife beater. Should you expose or keep mum?
- Trade union walla are creating trouble by 1) asking for jobs for their political party workers or 2) one of drunkard has died, they want compensation.
- You’ve to get an important contract or tender but the other party is asking bribe or doing something wrong (e.g. Road Accident) and asking you to hide it.
- Your company is indulged in rackless profiteering by 1) doing river pollution 2) shifting factory to residential area and disturbing inhabitants or 3) not doing drug research for tribal population because customers won’t be able to afford it.
- Displacement seems to be ‘recurring’ dilemma faced by public and private organizations each year.
- Sometimes examiner worried that landless poor have to migrate to urban areas. 2017: illegal construction and workers died.
- Sometimes he wants rural youth to stay within backward rural areas.
- Sometimes he’s worried about ‘influx’ of migrants coming to backward area due to new company!
- Sometimes you get GSM1, GSM2 or GSM3 related case studies on urban development, disaster management, role of civil services and pressure groups. In past they asked about environmental pollution (GSM3), issues related to women (GSM1). 2017- asked about illegal buildings in cities- it’s associated with GSM1 topic “urbanization problem remedies” or even GSM2- Government policies related to individual sector.
- Usually one case study pertains to woman related issues. But nothing in 2017, despite 24/7 News-media coverage on Kangna Ranaut and Hrithik Roshan, Honeypreet and Ramrahim. [may be too hot current topic to be asked for present year, they’ll ask next year, as they have been doing in GSM3.]
- 2013: asked politics and ethics can be together. 2017- asked why ethical young people are not joining active politics.
- 2015: asked about inclusive growth. 2017- again asked small minority having all wealth at the cost of majority population.
- 2015: asked about how to resolve conflict of interest? 2017: again asked same thing.
- Examiner lists 3-5 qualities of a good civil servant and ask you to elaborate it. Happened in 2013, repeated in 2017 again.
- 2015- officers afraid to take initiative due to RTI and media scrutiny. Same theory question now asked as a case study in 2017: As PIO how will you thwart attempts of RTI activists extorting money from Decision Makers and help genuine RTI applicants at the same time? Answer is verbatim available in chapter 6 page 47 of 2nd ARC report no.1.
- Ethical issues in international relation is such vague topic, they’re only asking essayish question – first in 2015, and now again in 2017.
- Nothing directly from “citizen charter” yet- since 2013.
- UPSC had habit of placing 2-3 अतरंगी (Crazy) questions each years in GSM2 and GSM4. In 2017, thankfully, both papers were saved. GSM2 i’ve already analysed (LINK)
- GSM4-2017: no crazy questions like “Environmental ethics”, “Max weber’s bureaucratic morality”, or “John Rawl’s Social justice in Indian context”. This time, they gave a quotation of Napoleon but straightforward asked who harmed society and who helped.
- Overall, most of the questions and case studies can be solved from the routine books on Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Roychaudhari & Subbarao or Moral Lexicon by Chronicle or M.Karthikeyan’s book or Arihant Publication’s Book. etc. along with 2nd ARC report.
- After two years (15 and 16), again theory portion gains slightly more prominence against case studies.
- Perhaps it’s simple arithmetic without any deep reflections
- OR perhaps examiner realized that the case studies in UPSC databank are not grey, deep and subtle enough to analyse a candidate’s character so better just ask direct theory.
|2017: GSM1 to 3||GSM4-2017|
|10 marks question = 150 words||Same|
|15 marks question = 250 words||20 marks question = 250 words|
|Total length= 4000 words for 250 marks.|
|2016’s GSM4 paper|
Total length: 3400 words
- In 2013, UPSC in its full wisdom (and haste), had changed mains syllabus. Fourth general studies paper is “ethics, integrity, aptitude”.
- Just like Demonetization, the GS4 Syllabus is noble in its objective but hastily thought and ill-planned. Too many topics, verbose, repeating. Hence difficult to do any ‘trend’ analysis against previous years, if we follow the syllabus sequence given by UPSC.
- Therefore, I’ve combined and bifurcated syllabus topics; and I’m combining ‘case study’ marks within theory topics. The resultant classification is as following:
|Code of Conduct||0||0||0||10||0|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Ethics and Human Interface (essence, determinants, consequences of ethics in human actions); Dimensions of ethics; Ethics in public & private relationships
|The crisis of ethical values in modern times is traced to a narrow perception of the good life. Discuss.||2017|
|Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government, nor even the market economy will function properly. What do you understand by this statement? Explain with illustration in the contemporary times.||2017|
|Explain how ethics contributes to social and human well-being.||2016|
|Law and ethics are considered to be the two tools for controlling human conduct so as to make it conducive to civilized social existence. (a) Discuss how they achieve this objective. (b) Giving examples, show how the two differ in their approaches.||2016|
|What is meant by ‘environmental ethics’? Why is it important to study? Discuss any one environmental issue from the viewpoint of environmental ethics.||2015|
|Differentiate between the following (200 words); a) Law and Ethics; b) Ethical management and Management of ethics; c) Discrimination and Preferential treatment; d) Personal ethics and Professional ethics||2015|
|Human beings should always be treated as ‘ends’ in themselves and never as merely `means’. Explain the meaning and significance of this statement, giving its implications in the modern techno-economic society.||2014|
|What do you understand by ‘values’ and ‘ethics’? In what way is it important to be ethical along with being professionally competent?||2013|
|Some people feel that values keep changing with time and situation, while others strongly believe that there are certain universal and eternal human values. Give your perception in this regard with due justification.||2013|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Emotional Intelligence (concepts, utility & application in administration & governance)
|How will you apply emotional intelligence in administrative practices?||2017|
|Anger is a harmful negative emotion. It is injurious to both personal life and work life. (a) Discuss how it leads to negative emotions and undesirable behaviours. (b) How can it be managed and controlled?||2016|
|All human beings aspire for happiness. Do you agree? What does happiness mean to you? Explain with examples.||2014|
|What is ’emotional intelligence’ and how can it be developed in people? How does it help an individual in taking ethical decisions?||2013|
|What do you understand by the term ‘voice of conscience’? How do you prepare yourself to heed to the voice of conscience?||2013|
|What is meant by ‘crisis of conscience’? Narrate one incident in your life when you were faced with such a crisis and how you resolved the same.||2013|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Contributions of Moral Thinkers & Philosophers from India and world; human value lessons from great leaders, reformers & administrators
|“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.” – Napoleon Bonaparte. Stating examples mention the rulers (i) who have harmed society and country, (ii) who worked for the development of society and country.||2017|
|Discuss Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of seven sins.||2016|
|Analyse John Rawls’s concept of social justice in the Indian context.||2016|
|Corruption causes misuse of government treasury, Administrative inefficiency and obstruction in the path of national Development. Discuss Kautilya’s views.||2016|
|Max Weber said that it is not wise to apply to public administration the sort of moral and ethical norms we apply to matters of personal conscience. It is important to realise that the State bureaucracy might possess its own independent bureaucratic morality. Critically analyse this statement.||2016|
|“The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”||2015|
|We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.||2015|
|Which eminent personality has inspired you the most in the context of ethical conduct in life? Give the gist of his/her teachings giving specific examples, describe how you have been able to apply these teachings for your own ethical development.||2014|
|There is enough on this earth for every one’s need but for no one’s greed. Mahatma Gandhi.||2013|
|Nearly all men can withstand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.—Abraham Lincoln||2013|
|I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies.—Aristotle||2013|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Attitude (content, structure, function, influence & relation with thought & behaviour); Moral and Political Attitudes
|Young people with ethical conduct are not willing to come forward to join active politics. Suggest steps to motivate them to come forward.||2017|
|In the context of defense services, ‘patriotism’ demands readiness to even lay down one’s life in protecting the nation. According to you, what does patriotism imply in everyday civil life? Explain with illustrations and justify your answer.||2014|
|It is often said that ‘politics’ and ‘ethics’ do not go together. What is your opinion in this regard? Justify your answer with illustrations.||2013|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Role of family, society, educational institutions in inculcating values;
|Our attitudes towards life, work, other people and society are generally shaped unconsciously by the family and social surroundings in which we grow up. Some of these unconsciously acquired attitudes and values are often undesirable in the citizens of modern democratic and egalitarian society. (a) Discuss such undesirable values prevalent in today’s educated Indians. (b) How can such undesirable attitudes be changed and socio-ethical values be cultivated in the aspiring and serving civil servants?||2016|
|Social values are more important than economic values. Discuss the above statement with examples in the context of inclusive growth of a nation.||2015|
|The current society is plagued with widespread trust-deficit. What are the consequences of this situation for personal well-being and for societal well-being? What can you do at the personal level to make yourself trustworthy?||2014|
|What factors affect the formation of a person’s attitude towards social problems? In our society, contrasting attitudes are prevalent about many social problems. What contrasting attitudes do you notice about the caste system in our society? How do you explain the existence of these contrasting attitudes?||2014|
|We are witnessing increasing instances of sexual violence against women in the country. Despite existing legal provisions against it, the number of such incidences is on the rise. Suggest some innovative measures to tackle this menace.||2014|
Case-Study: Promoting Girl education while ensuring their safety (2015)
You are recently posted as district development officer of a district. Shortly thereafter you found that there is considerable tension in the rural areas of your district on the issue of sending girls to schools.
The elders of the village feel that many problems have come up because girls are being educated and they are stepping out of the safe environment of the household. They are of the view that the girls should be quickly married off with minimum education. The girls are also competing for jobs after education, which have traditionally remained in boys’ exclusive domain, adding to unemployment amongst male population.
The younger generation feels that in the present era, girls should have equal opportunities for education and employment, and other means of livelihood. The entire locality is divided between the elders and the younger lot and further sub-divided between sexes in both generations. You come to know that in Panchayat or in other local bodies or even in busy crossroads, the issue is being acrimoniously debated.
One day you are informed that an unpleasant incident has taken place. Some girls were molested, when they were en route to schools. The incident led to clashes between several groups and a law and order problem has arisen. The elders after heated discussion have taken a joint decision not to allow girls to go to school and to socially boycott all such families, which do not follow their dictate.
- What steps would you take to ensure girls’ safety without disrupting their education?
- How would you manage and mould matriarchic attitude of the village elders to ensure harmony in the inter-generational relations? (250 words) (25 Marks)
Answer: DDO neednot become Teleugu action star to beat the baddies himself. Nor he should encourage any vigilante groups. He should simply request SP to handle the rowdy elements and eve-teasers. if SP taking it casually then complaint to collector. Simultenously, take elders in confidence to send girls to school using variety of IEC tools.
Case-Study: Wife-beater Boss: To do something or not? (2016)
You are a young, aspiring and sincere employee in a Government office working as an assistant, to the director of your deportment. Since you’ve joined recently, you need to learn and progress. Luckily your superior is very kind and ready to train you for your job. He is a very intelligent and well-informed person having knowledge of various departments. In short, you respect your book and are looking forward to learn a lot from him.
Since you’ve good tuning with the boss, he started depending on you. One day due to ill health he invited you at his place for finishing some urgent work. You reached his house and you heard shouting noises before you could ring the bell. You waited for a while. After entering, boss greeted you and explained the work. But you were constantly disturbed by the crying of a woman. At last, you inquired with the boss but his answer did not satisfy you. Next day, you were compelled to inquire further in the office and found out that his behavior is very had at home with his wife. He also heath up his wife.
His wife is not well educated and is a simple woman in comparison to her husband. You see that though your boss is a nice person in the office, he is engaged in domestic violence at home. In such a situation, you are left with the following options. Analyse each option with its consequences.
- Just ignore thinking about it because it is their personal matter.
- Report the case to the appropriate authority.
- Your own innovative approach towards the situation. (250 words)
Answer: Option A- Ignore. Because, we don’t know if you’re the sole bread-winner of the family like that fresh Engineering girl in chemical industry walli case study (2016); and even in Government office, fresh Class-3 employee is not IAS to get protection from persecution.
- Anonymous complaints can be made but they’re not taken seriously by the authorities as per Vigilance manual.
- If personally signed and stamped complain is made- and boss punished then next boss will definitely ostracize you lest you pull same stunt on whatever social ills he’s involved in (bribe, liquor, drugs, gambling or debauchery).
- Innovative approach like pravachan (lecture) or stunt (black-ribbon by whole office etc) unlikely to work because this is not “Tarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma” TV serial, so Boss unlikely to have हृदय-परिवर्तन (Change of heart).
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Social Influence and Persuasion
|How could social influence and persuasion contribute to the success of Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan?||2016|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Civil Service aptitude & foundational values (integrity, impartiality, non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service:
|Examine the relevance of the following in the context of civil service: (a) Transparency (b) Accountability (c) Fairness and justice (d) Courage of conviction (e) Spirit of service.||2017|
|One of the tests of integrity is complete refusal to be compromised. Explain with reference to a real life example.||2017|
|Conflict of interest in the public sector arises when (a) official duties, (b) public interest, and (c) personal interest are taking priority one above the other. How can this conflict in administration be resolved? Describe with an example.||2017|
|Why should impartiality and non-partisanship be considered as foundational values in public services, especially in the present day socio-political context? Illustrate your answer with examples.||2016|
|Public servants are likely to confront with the issues of ‘Conflict of Interest’. What do you understand by the term ‘Conflict of Interest’ and how does it manifest in the decision making by public servants? If faced with the conflict of interest situation, how would you resolve it? Explain with the help of examples.||2015|
|How do the virtues of trustworthiness and fortitude get manifested in public service? Explain with examples.||2015|
|A mere compliance with law is not enough, the public servant also has to have a well-developed sensibility to ethical issues for effective discharge of duties.” Do you agree? Explain with the help of two examples, where (i) an act is ethically right, but not legally and (ii) an act is legally right, but not ethically.||2015|
|Two different kinds of attitudes exhibited by public servants towards their work have been identified as the bureaucratic attitude and the democratic attitude. A) Distinguish between these two terms and write their merits and demerits. B) Is it possible to balance the two to create a better administration for the faster development of our country?||2015|
|What does ‘accountability’ mean in the context of public service? What measures can be adopted to ensure individual and collective accountability of public servants?||2014|
|Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, but knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. What do you understand by this statement? Explain your stand with illustrations from the modern context.||2014|
|There is a heavy ethical responsibility on the public servants because they occupy positions of power, handle huge amounts of public funds, and their decisions have wide-ranging impact on society and environment. What steps have you taken to improve your ethical competence to handle such responsibility?||2014|
|What do you understand by the following terms in the context of public service? (5 terms x 3 marks each: a) Integrity b) Perseverance c) Spirit of service d) Commitment e) Courage of conviction f) Personal opinion||2013|
|Indicate two more attributes which you consider important for public service. Justify your answer. (10 marks |100 words)||2013|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Work Culture
From this topic, case studies are formed instead of theoretical question. These case studies are usually related to sexual harassment, work deadline, Chalta hai mindset, pressure from above etc.
|Discipline generally implies following the order and subordination. However, it may be counter-productive for the organisation. Discuss.||2017|
Case-Study: Engineer: Bogus flyover vs deadline (2013)
10. You are working as an Executive Engineer in the construction cell of a Municipal Corporation and are presently in-charge of the construction of a flyover. There are two Junior Engineers under you who have the responsibility of day-to-day inspection of the site and are reporting to you, while you are finally reporting to the Chief Engineer who heads the cell. While the construction is heading towards completion, the Junior Engineers have been regularly reporting that all construction is taking place as per design specifications. However, in one of your surprise inspections, you have noticed some serious deviations and lacunae which, in your opinion, are likely to affect the safety of the flyover. Rectification of these lacunae at this stage would require a substantial amount of demolition and rework which will cause a tangible loss to the contractor and will also delay completion. There is a lot of public pressure on the Corporation to get this construction completed because of heavy traffic congestion in the area. When you brought this matter to the notice of the Chief Engineer, he advised you that in his opinion it is not a very serious lapse and may be ignored. He advised for further expediting the project for completion in time. However, you are convinced that this was a serious matter which might affect public safety and should not be left unaddressed.
What will you do in such a situation? Some of the options are given below. Evaluate the merits and demerits of each of these options and finally suggest what course of action you would like to take, giving reasons. (20 marks |250 words)
- Follow the advice of the Chief Engineer and go ahead.
- Make an exhaustive report of the situation bringing out all facts and analysis along with your own viewpoints stated clearly and seek for written orders from the chief Engineer.
- Call for explanation from the Junior Engineers and issue orders to the contractor for necessary correction within targeted time.
- Highlight the issue so that it reaches superiors above the Chief Engineer.
- Considering the rigid attitude of the Chief Engineer, seek transfer from the project or report sick.
Answer: do whatever boss says. And if your principles don’t permit then seek transfer like Manthan Movie ka dairy officer.
Case-Study: Favoritism in Job recruitment (2013)
You are heading a leading technical institute of the country. The institute is planning to convene an interview panel shortly under your chairmanship for selection of the post of professors. A few days before the interview, you get a call from the Personal Secretary (PS) of a senior government functionary seeking your intervention in favour of the selection of a close relative of the functionary for this post. The PS also informs you that he is aware of the long pending and urgent proposals of your institute for grant of funds for modernization, which are awaiting the functionary’s approval. He assures you that he would get these proposals cleared. (20 marks | 250 words)
- What are the options available to you?
- Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons.
Answer: Whether good professor or bad professor, students don’t attend lectures these days. So doesn’t matter- select the relative of PS, then at least you get funds to buy new AC or high-powered gaming PC in your cabin.
Case-Study: Sexual Harassment (2013)
You are the Executive Director of an upcoming InfoTech Company which is making a name for itself in the market.
Mr. A, who is a star performer, is heading the marketing team. In a short period of one year, he has helped in doubling the revenues as well as creating a high brand equity for the Company so much so that you are thinking of promoting him. However, you have been receiving information from many corners about his attitude towards the female colleagues; particularly his habit of making loose comments on women. In addition, he regularly sends indecent SMS’s to all the team members including his female colleagues.
One day, late in the evening, Mrs. X, who is one of Mr. A’s team members, comes to you visibly disturbed. She complains against the continued misconduct of Mr. A, who has been making undesirable advances towards her and has even tried to touch her inappropriately in his cabin. She tenders her resignation and leaves your office. (20 marks | 250 words)
- What are the options available to you?
- Evaluate each of these options and choose the option you would adopt, giving reasons.
Answer: Forward resignation to HR department and Inform main boss about Prem Chopra of Marketing team. Because the safest and most practical ‘real’ answer to any work-culture problem is “pass the buck”.
Case-Study: Bogus rape complaint (2014)
You are a no-nonsense, honest officer. You have been transferred to a remote district to head a department that is notorious for its inefficiency and callousness. You find that the main cause of the poor state of affairs is the indiscipline of a section of employees. They do not work themselves and also disrupt the working of others. You first warned the troublemakers to mend their ways or else face disciplinary action. When the warning had little effect, you issued a show cause notice to the ringleaders. As a retaliatory measure, these troublemakers instigated a woman employee amongst them to file a complaint of sexual harassment against you with the Women’s Commission. The Commission promptly seeks your explanation. The matter is also publicized in the media to embarrass you further. Some of the options to handle this situation could be as follows :
- Give your explanation to the Commission and go soft on the disciplinary action.
- Ignore the Commission and proceed firmly with the disciplinary action.
- Brief your higher-ups, seek directions from them and act accordingly.
Suggest any other possible option(s). Evaluate all of them and suggest the best course of action, giving your reasons for it.
Answer: Plot lifted from Shyam Benegal movie Manthan. Solution from the movie:- seek transfer to another place.
Case-Study: Ethics not essential (2014)
Suppose one of your close friends, who is also aspiring for civil services, comes to you for discussing some of the issues related to ethical conduct in public service. He raises the following points :
- In the present times, when unethical environment is quite prevalent, individual attempts to stick to ethical principles may cause a lot of problems in one’s career. It may also cause hardship to the family members as well as risk to one’s life. Why should we not be pragmatic and follow the path of least resistance, and be happy with doing whatever good we can?
- When so many people are adopting wrong means and are grossly harming the system, what difference would it make if only a small minority tries to be ethical? They are going to be rather ineffective and are bound to get frustrated.
- If we become fussy about ethical considerations, will it not hamper the economic progress of our country? After all, in the present age of high competition, we cannot afford to be left behind in the race of development.
- It is understandable that we should not get involved in grossly unethical practices, but giving and accepting small gratifications and doing small favours increases everybody’s motivation. It also makes the system more efficient. What is wrong in adopting such practices?
Critically analyze the above viewpoints. On the basis of this analysis, what will be your advice to your friend? 250 words.
Answer: tell friend “Betaa, selection in UPSC has nothing to do with how honest you are or want to be. First you clear exam then come with this question!”
Case-Study: Disillusioned UPSC topper (2014)
Rameshwar successfully cleared the prestigious civil services examination and was excited about the opportunity that he would get through the civil services to serve the country. However, soon after joining the services, he realized that things are not as rosy as he had imagined.
He found a number of malpractices prevailing in the department assigned to him. For example, funds under various schemes and grants were being misappropriated. The official facilities were frequently being used for personal needs by the officers and staff. After some time, he noticed that the process of recruiting the staff was also not up to the mark. Prospective candidates were required to write an examination in which a lot of cheating was going on. Some candidates were provided external help in the examination. Rameshwar brought these incidents to the notice of his seniors. However, he was advised to keep his eyes, ears and mouth shut and ignore all these things which were taking place with the connivance of the higher-ups. Rameshwar felt highly disillusioned and uncomfortable. He comes to you seeking your advice.
Indicate various options that you think are available in this situation. How would you help him to evaluate these options and choose the most appropriate path to be adopted? 250 words.
Answer: Rameshwar should seek transfer like Manthan ka dairy officer. If in the next posting, he is facing same disillusionment, then he should resign and start a pan ki dukaan– because any job or business bigger than that-he’ll face same dilemmas and disillusionment.
Case-Study: Dubious plot acquired for school (2015)
You are heading a district administration in a particular department. Your senior officer calls you from the State Headquarters and tells you that a plot in Rampur village is to have a building constructed on it for a school. A visit is scheduled during which he will visit the site along with the chief engineer and the senior architect. He wants you to check out all the papers relating to it and to ensure that the visit is properly arranged. You examine the file which relates to the period before you joined the department. The land was acquired from the local Panchayat at a nominal cost and the papers show that clearance certificates are available from the two of the three authorities who have to certify the site’s suitability. There is no certification by the architect available on file. You decide to visit Rampur to ensure that all is in order as stated on file. When you visit Rampur, you find that the plot under reference is part of Thakurgarh Fort and that the walls, ramparts, etc., are running across it. The fort is well away from the main village, therefore a school here will be a serious inconvenience for the children. However, the area near the village has potential to expand into a larger residential area. The development charges on the existing plot, at the fort, will be very high and the question of heritage site has not been addressed. Moreover, the Sarpanch, at the time of acquisition of the land, was a relative of your predecessor. The whole transaction appears to have been done with some vested interest.
- List the likely vested interests of the concerned parties.
- Some of the options for action available to you are listed below. Discuss the merits and demerits of each of the options :
- You can await the visit of the superior officer and let him take a decision.
- You can seek his advice in writing or on phone.
- You can consult your predecessor/colleagues, etc., and then decide what to do.
- You can find out if any alternate plot can be got in exchange and then send a comprehensive written report.
Can you suggest any other option with proper justification? (250 words) 25
Answer: pass the buck to superior officer. That’s the safest and most practical ‘real’ answer to any work-culture problem is “pass the buck”.
GS4 Syllabus Topic: empathy, tolerance & compassion towards weaker sections
From this topic, case studies are formed e.g. old lady needing social welfare, child labourers etc. Scroll down to see them
Case-Study: Help accident victim on interview day? (2017)
Q10. You are aspiring to become an IAS officer and you have cleared various stages and now you have been selected for the personal interview. On the day of the interview, on the way to the venue you saw an accident where a mother and child who happen to be your relatives were badly injured. They needed immediate help. What would you have done in such a situation? Justify your action. (250 Words, 20)
Ans. What eye doesn’t see, heart doesn’t grieve. Will UPSC clerk be merciful to extend interview date on this ‘excuse’?
Case-Study: Child Labourers in Sivakasi (2013)
Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is known for its manufacturing clusters on firecrackers and matches. The local economy of the area is largely dependent on firecrackers industry. It has led to tangible economic development and improved standard of living in the area.
So far as child labour norms for hazardous industries like firecrackers industry are concerned, International Labour Organization (ILO) has set the minimum age as 18 years. In India, however, this age is 14 years.
The units in industrial clusters of firecrackers can be classified into registered and non-registered entities. One typical unit is household-based work. Though the law is clear on the use of child labour employment norms in registered/non-registered units, it does not include household-based works. Household-based work means children working under the supervision of their parents/relatives. To evade child labour norms, several units project themselves as household-based works but employ children from outside. Needless to say that employing children saves the costs for these units leading to higher profits to the owners.
On your visit to one of the units at Sivakasi, the owner takes you around the unit which has about 10-15 children below 14 years of age. The owner tells you that in his household-based unit, the children are all his relatives. You notice that several children smirk, when the owner tells you this. On deeper enquiry, you figure out that neither the owner nor the children are able to satisfactorily establish their relationship with each other.
- Bring out and discuss the ethical issues involved in the above case.
- What would be your reaction after your above visit?
Answer: Do nothing because even if you ‘rescue’ them they’ll get back to where they were. And if your heart is so disturbed then seek transfer like Manthan Movie kaa dairy officer.
Case-Study: Dalit Cook in Mid-day Meal (2015)
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 are 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.
- Discuss some feasible strategies to overcome the conflict and to create right ambience.
- What should be the responsibilities of different social segments and agencies to create positive social ambience for accepting such changes?
Answer: have to take their caste leader / elders in confidence.
Compassion Case-Study: Poor woman without documentary proof? (2016)
Suppose you are an officer in-charge of implementing a social service scheme to provide support to old and destitute women. An old and illiterate woman comes to you to avail the benefits of the scheme. However, she has no documents to show that she fulfils the eligibility criteria. But after meeting her and listening to her you feel that she certainly needs support. Your enquiries also show that she is really destitute and living in a pitiable condition. You are in a dilemma as to what to do. Putting her under the scheme without are documents would clearly be violation of rules. But denying her the support would be cruel and inhuman.
- Can you think of a rational way to resolve this dilemma?
- Give your reasons for it. (250 words)
Answer: Approach tehsildar to get her required documents and then give her scheme benefit! It’s one-line solution, why does examiner want 250 words out of it!
- And If you don’t have that much goodwill-network with local tehsildar than you ought to be an impractical idealist like UPSC Topper Rameshwar (seek transfer or resign and open Pan-ki-Dukan an in that case!).
- Must not give scheme benefit without documentary proof, lest any ill-wisher file RTI against you! Then you’ll face same dilemma as the first RTI case study asked in 2013- “to hide or not!”.
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Public service values & Ethics in Public Administration; Strengthening of ethical & moral values in governance; Accountability & ethical governance; Philosophical basis of governance and probity
|What do you understand by the terms ‘governance’, ‘good governance’ and ‘ethical governance’?||2016|
|What do you understand by ‘probity’ in public life? What are the difficulties in practicing it in the present times? How can these difficulties be overcome?||2014|
|What does ethics seek to promote in human life? Why is it all the more important in public administration?||2014|
|The good of an individual is contained in the good of all. What do you understand by this statement? How can this principle be implemented in public life?||2013|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: problems, dilemmas in Public Administration and public service.
From this topic, mainly case studies are formed- related to land acquisition; environmental conservation vs. economic development etc.
Case-Study: Environment degradation (2014)
Now-a-days, there is an increasing thrust on economic development all around the globe. At the same time, there is also an increasing concern about environmental degradation caused by development. Many a time, we face a direct conflict between developmental activity and environmental quality. It is neither feasible to stop or curtail the development process, nor it is advisable to keep degrading the environment, as it threatens our very survival.
Discuss some feasible strategies which could be adopted to eliminate this conflict and which could lead to sustainable development. 250 words
Answer: Not possible to end conflict. If India has that much “hushiyaari” to develop without conventional mining and energy sources, then international forums में CBDR की पुंगी नही बजानी चाहिए.
Case-Study: Why villagers migrate? (2014)
In our country, the migration of rural people to towns and cities is increasing drastically. This is causing serious problems both in the rural as well as in the urban areas. In fact, things are becoming really unmanageable. Can you analyze this problem in detail and indicate not only the socio-economic but also the emotional and attitudinal factors responsible for this problem? Also, distinctly bring out why—
- Educated rural youth are trying to shift to urban areas;
- Landless poor people are migrating to urban slums;
- Even some farmers are selling off their land and trying to settle in urban areas taking up petty jobs.
What feasible steps can you suggest which will be effective in controlling this serious problem of our country?
Answer: Cutpaste Rurban mission and skill India from GSM3
Case-Study: Disaster management (2015)
There is a disaster-prone State having frequent landslides, forest fires, cloudbursts, flash floods and earthquakes, etc. Some of these are seasonal and often unpredictable. The magnitude of the disaster is always unanticipated. During one of the seasons, a cloudburst caused devastating floods and landslides leading to high casualties. There was major damage to infrastructure like roads, bridges and power generating units. This led to more than 100000 pilgrims, tourists and other locals trapped across different routes and locations. The people trapped in your area of responsibility included senior citizens, patients in hospitals, women and children, hikers, tourists, ruling party’s regional president along with his family, additional jail. As secretary State and prisoners in jail.
As a civil services officer of the State, what would be the order in which you would rescue these people and why? Give justifications.
Answer: Cutpaste disaster management points from GSM3.
Case-Study: Draft better Land-acquisition policy (2016)
Land needed for mining, dams and other large-scale projects is acquired mostly from Adivasis, hill dwellers and rural communities. The displaced persons are paid monetary compensation as per the legal provisions. However, the payment is often tardy. In any case, it cannot sustain the displaced families for long. These people do not possess marketable skills to engage in some other occupation. They end up as low paid migrant labourers. Moreover, their living is destroyed. Thus, the benefits of traditional ways of community development go to industries, industrialists and urban communities whereas the costs are passed on to these poor helpless people. This unjust distribution of costs and benefits is unethical. Suppose you have been entrusted with the task of drafting a better compensation-cum-rehabilitation policy for such displaced persons, how would you approach the problem and what would be the main elements of your suggested policy? (250 words)
Answer: Cutpaste previous ordinance on land acquisition.
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Codes of Ethics; Codes of Conduct; Laws, rules, regulations, conscience as sources of ethical Guidance.
|Discuss the Public Services Code as recommended by the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission.||2016|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Citizens Charters; Quality of Service Delivery; Probity in Governance, concept of public service;
Nothing directly asked so far.
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Challenges of Corruption; Utilization of public funds
|“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. they are father, the mother and the teacher.” – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Analyse.||2017|
|It is often said that poverty leads to corruption. However, there is no dearth of instances where affluent and powerful people indulge in corruption in a big way. What are the basic causes of corruption among people? Support your answer with examples.||2014|
Case-Study: illegal building collapse? (2017)
Q13. A building permitted for three floors, while being extended illegally to 6 floors by a builder, collapses. As a consequence, a number of innocent labourers including women and children died. These labourers are migrants of different places. The government immediately announced cash relief to the aggrieved families and arrested the builder. Give reasons for such incidents taking place across the country. Suggest measures to prevent their occurrence. (250 Words, 20)
Case-Study: Opinion as honest officer (2017)
Q9. You are an honest and responsible civil servant. You often observe the following:
- There is a general perception that adhering to ethical conduct one may face difficulties to oneself and cause problems for the family, whereas unfair practices may help to reach the career goals.
- When the number of people adopting unfair means is large, a small minority having a penchant towards ethical means makes no difference.
- Sticking to ethical means is detrimental to the larger developmental goals
- While one may not involve oneself in large unethical practices, but giving and accepting small gifts makes the system more efficient.
Examine the above statements with their merits and demerits. (250 Words, 20)
Ans. There is no demerit in doing just what everyone else is doing.
Case-Study: “Shivaji-the Boss”: Movie plot (2016)
Saraswati was a successful IT professional in USA. Moved by the patriotic sense of doing something for the country she returned to India. Together with some other like-minded friends, she formed an NGO to build a school for a poor rural community.
The objective of the school was to provide the best quality modern education at a nominal cost. She soon discovered that she has to seek permission from a number of Governments agencies. The rules and procedures were quite confusing and cumbersome. What frustrated her most was the delays, callous attitude of officials and constant demand of bribes. Her experience and the experience of many others like her has deterred people from taking up social service projects.
A measure of Government control over voluntary social work is necessary. But it should not be exercised in a coercive or corrupt manner. What measures can you suggest to ensure that due control is exercised but well meaning, honest NGO efforts are not thwarted? (25 marks)
Answer: Plot directly lifted from the movie Shivaji-the Boss. Therefore, answer is unless you’re Rajnikanth, don’t fight just surrender. Any attempt to reform this will enrage owners of self-financed college/school and they’ll not finance next election of ruling party. so, no sane minded politician is going to agree for reform here.
Saraswati is to be blamed for watching SRK’s “Swadesh” instead of watching “Shivaji: the Boss”.
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Information (sharing & transparency in government); RTI;
|Some recent developments such as introduction of RTI Act, media and judicial activism, etc., are proving helpful in bringing about greater transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government. However, it is also being observed that at times the mechanisms are misused. Another negative effect is that the officers are now afraid to take prompt decisions. Analyze this situation in detail and suggest how this dichotomy can be resolved. Suggest how these negative impacts can be minimized.||2015|
|Today we find that in spite of various measures like prescribing codes of conduct, setting up vigilance cells/commissions, RTI, active media and strengthening of legal mechanisms, corrupt practices are not coming under control. A) Evaluate the effectiveness of these measures with justifications. B) Suggest more effective strategies to tackle this menace.||2015|
Case-Study: PIO should do RTI stonewalling™ (2017)
Q14. You are a Public Information Officer (PIO) in a government department. You are aware that the RTI Act 2005 envisages transparency and accountability in administration. The act has functioned as a check on the supposedly arbitrarily administrative behaviour and actions. However, as a PIO you have observed that there are citizens who filed RTI applications not for themselves but on behalf of such stakeholders who purportedly want to have access to information to further their own interests. At the same time there are these RTI activists who routinely file RTI applications and attempt to extort money from the decision makers. This type of RTI activism has affected the functioning of the administration adversely and also possibly jeopardises the genuineness of the applications which are essentially aimed at getting justice. What measures would you suggest to separate genuine and non-genuine applications? Give merits and demerits of your suggestions. (250 Words, 20)
Ans. Just follow UPSC’s own standard practice of stonewalling RTIs i.e. don’t give any information even if petitioner wins @CIC level, Just file stay order at HC.
Case-Study: RTI: To hide or not to hide (2013)
In the following questions, carefully study the cases presented and then answer the questions that follow:
Q9. A Public Information Officer has received an application under RTI Act. Having gathered the information, the PIO discovers that the information pertains to some of the decisions taken by him, which were found to be not altogether right. There were other employees also who party to these decisions were. Disclosure of the information is likely to lead to disciplinary action with possibility of punishment against him as well as some of his colleagues. Non-disclosure or part disclosure or camouflaged disclosure of information will result into lesser punishment or no punishment.
The PIO is otherwise an honest and conscientious person but this particular decision, on which the RTI application has been filed, turned out to be wrong. He comes to you for advice.
The following are some suggested options. Please evaluate the merits and demerits of each of the options:
- The PIO could refer the matter to his superior officer and seek his advice and act strictly in accordance with the advice, even though he is not completely in agreement with the advice of the superior.
- The PIO could proceed on leave and leave the matter to be dealt by his successor in office or request for transfer of the application to another PIO.
- The PIO could weigh the consequences of disclosing the information truthfully, including the effect on his career, and reply in a manner that would not place him or his career in jeopardy, but at the same time a little compromise can be made on the contents of the information.
- The PIO could consult his other colleagues who are party to the decision and take action as per their advice.
Also please indicate (without necessarily restricting to the above options) what you would like to advise, giving proper reasons. (20 marks| 250 words)
Answer: do same as UPSC PIO i.e. don’t reveal, hide behind section 8/1/d. FAA will always take your side. Petitioner will then approach CIC, even if CIC passes adverse remark then PIO should approach HC. Ultimately petitioner will leave the matter because he won’t have deep pockets to afford lawyer.
Case-Study: 5: Leaking information (2013)
Q13.As a senior officer in the Finance Ministry, you have access to some confidential and crucial information about policy decisions that the Government is about to announce. These decisions are likely to have far-reaching impact on the housing and construction industry. If the builders have access to this information beforehand, they can make huge profits. One of the builders has done a lot of quality work for the Government and is known to be close to your immediate superior, who asks you to disclose this information to the said builder. (20 marks| 250 words)
- What are the options available to you?
- Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons.
Answer: don’t reveal without taking bribe. Because immediate superior has asked- so even if you say no to builder, the officer can demand to see file by himself and then personally he can pass on the information to builder! So there is no way you can prevent the inevitable outcome i.e. information will be leaked. And if you’re an impractical idealist like UPSC topper Rameshwar from another Case-Study: then seek transfer or resign.
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Ethical issues in international relations and funding
|Strength, peace and security are considered to be the pillars of international relations. Elucidate.||2017|
|At the international level, the bilateral relations between most nations are governed on the policy of promoting one’s own national interest without any regard for the interest of other nations. This leads to conflicts and tensions between the nations. How can ethical consideration help resolve such tensions? Discuss with specific examples.||2015|
GS4 Syllabus Topic: Corporate Governance; Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government & private institutions
|Corporate social responsibility makes companies more profitable and sustainable. Analyse.||2017|
|Increased national wealth did not result in equitable distribution of its benefits. It has created only some “enclaves of modernity and prosperity for a small minority at the cost of the majority.” Justify.||2017|
Case studies have been asked from this topic, rather than direct questions. Theme is usually bribing, displacement, environmental degradation.
Case-Study: Give compensation to dead drunkard worker’s family (2017)
Q11. You are the head of the Human Resources department of an organisation. One day one of the workers died on duty. His family was demanding compensation. However, the company denied compensation because it was revealed in investigation that he was drunk at the time of the accident. The workers of the company went to strike demanding compensation for the family of the deceased. The Chairman of the management board has asked for your recommendation. What recommendation would you provide the management? Discuss the merits and demerits of each of the recommendations. (250 Words, 20)
Ans. If a company is big enough to have a separate HRM department, it should have the aukaat to purchase insurance policy against work-accidents in advance. Therefore, they should put onus on insurance company to decide merit of the case. Else, tell striking workers if they’re so concerned with drunkard’s family then company will provide compensation provided that 50% of the amount is borne from those workers’ salaries.
Case-Study: Fake testimony to save manager? (2017)
Q12. You are the manager of a spare parts company A and you have to negotiate a deal with the manager of a large manufacturing company B. The deal is highly competitive and sealing the deal is critical for your company. The deal is being worked out over a dinner. After dinner the manager of manufacturing company B offered to drop you to the hotel in his car. On the way to hotel he happens to hit motorcycle injuring the motorcyclist badly. You know the manager was driving fast and thus lost control. The law enforcement officer comes to investigate the issue and you are the sole eyewitness to it. Knowing the strict laws pertaining to road accidents you are aware that your honest account of the incident would lead to the prosecution of the manager and as a consequence the deal is likely to be jeopardised, which is of immense importance to your company. What are the dilemmas you face? What will be your response to the situation? (250 Words, 20)
Ans. There is no dilemma. Simply save the manager with a fake testimony, and get the business deal done.
Case-Study: give bribe or end career (2014)
Suppose you are the CEO of a company that manufactures specialized electronic equipment used by a government department. You have submitted your bid for the supply of this equipment to the department. Both the quality and cost of your offer are better than those of the competitors. Yet the concerned officer is demanding a hefty bribe for approving the tender. Getting the order is important both for you and for your company. Not getting the order would mean closing a production line. It may also affect your own career. However, as a value-conscious person, you do not want to give bribe.
Valid arguments can be advanced both for giving the bribe and getting the order, and for refusing to pay the bribe and risking the loss of the order. What those arguments could be? Could there be any better way to get out of this dilemma? If so outline the main elements of this third way, pointing out its merits. 250 words.
Answer: Give bribe. Because if you complaint to higher officer, he’ll demand bigger bribe! Can’t approach ACB because delay in tender passing will affect revenue flow.
Case-Study: Trade union issue (2015)
A private company is known for its efficiency, transparency and employee welfare. The company though owned by a private individual has a cooperative character where employees feel a sense of ownership. The company employs nearly 700 personnel and they have voluntarily decided not to form a union.
One day suddenly in the morning, about 40 men belonging to a political party gatecrashed into the factory demanding jobs in the factory. They threatened the management and employees, and also used foul language. The employees feel demoralized. It was clear that those people who gate-crashed wanted to be on the payroll of the company as well as continue as the volunteers/members of the party. The company maintains high standards in integrity and does not extend favours to civil administration that also includes law enforcement agency. Such incidents occur in public sector also.
- Assume you are the CEO of the company. What would you do to diffuse the volatile situation on the date of gate-crashing with the violent mob sitting inside the company premises?
- What could be the long-term solution to the issue discussed in the case?
- Every solution/action that you suggest will have a positive and a negative impact on you (as CEO), the employees and the performance of the employees. Analyze the consequences of each of your suggested actions. (250 words)
Answer: Either Give bribe to parent political party of the trade union OR give bribe to police to do dandaa-baazi.
You can also send Best friend Rajesh Khanna as your undercover agent among trade trade union- as in the movie “Namak Haram” provided that your friend is not an impractical idealist like that UPSC topper Rameshwaran in previous case study.
Case-Study: To do Drug Research on non-profitable disease or not? (2015)
One of the scientists working in the R & D laboratory of a major pharmaceutical company discovers that one of the company’s best selling veterinary drugs, B has the potential to cure a currently incurable liver disease that is prevalent in tribal areas. However, developing a variant of the drug suitable for human beings entailed a lot of research and development having a huge expenditure to the extent of 50 crores rupees. It was unlikely that the company would recover the costs as the disease was rampant only in poverty-stricken area having very little market otherwise.
If you were the CEO, then—
(a) Identify the various actions that you could take;
(b) Evaluate the pros and cons of each of your actions.
Answer: Give rights to CSIR or ICMR- let them pursue non-profitable research.
Case-Study: To Whistle-blow against Polluting industry or not? (2016)
A fresh engineering graduate gets a job in a prestigious chemical industry. She likes the work. The salary is also good. However, after a few months accidentally discovers that a highly toxic waste is being secretly discharged into a river nearby. This is causing health problems to the villagers downstream who depend on the river for their water needs. She is perturbed and mentions her concern to her colleagues who have been with the company for longer periods. They advise her to keep quite as anyone who mentions the topic is summarily dismissed. She cannot risk losing her job as she is the sole bread-winner for her family and has to support her ailing parents and siblings.
At first, she thinks that if her seniors are keeping quiet, why should she stick out her neck. But her conscience pricks her to do something to save the river and the people who depend upon it. At heart she feels that the advice of silence given by her friends is not correct though she cannot give reasons for it. She thinks you are a wise person and seeks your advice.
- What arguments can you advance to show her that keeping quiet is not morally right?
- What course of action would you advise her to adopt and why?
Answer: she should keep quite. Private company engineers are not protected under Article 311, unlike IAS. And given the mushrooming of self-financed engineering college, if she kicked out of here, may not get another job elsewhere because too much competition. Then she’ll have either become
- NGO (and face problems like USA-return Saraswati in another case study) or
- appear in UPSC exam (and passing that is even bigger headache than original problem! And if she clear- she may still face disillusionment like that UPSC topper Rameshwaran from another case study!).
Case-Study: New Project hurting lifestyle of locals? (2016)
ABC Ltd. is a large transnational company having diversified business activities with a huge shareholder base. The company is continuously expanding and generating employment. The company, in its expansion and diversification programme, decides to establish a new plant at Vikaspuri, an area which is underdeveloped. The new plant is designed to use energy efficient technology that will help the company to save production cost by 20%. The company’s decision goes well with the Government policy of attracting investment to develop such underdeveloped regions. The Government has also announced tax holiday for five years for the companies that invest in underdeveloped areas. However, the new plant may bring chaos for the inhabitants of Vikaspuri region which is otherwise tranquil. The new plant may result in increased cost of living, aliens migrating to the region, disturbing the social and economic order. The company sensing the possible protest tried to educate the people of Vikaspuri region and public in general that how its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy would help overcome the likely difficulties of the residents of Vikaspuri region. In spite of this the protests begin and some of the residents decided to approach the judiciary as their plea before the Government did not yield any result. (25 marks)
(a) Identify the issues involved in the case.
(b) What can be suggested to satisfy Company’s goal and to address the resident’s concern. (300 words)
Answer: Kuchh nhi. Whenever a new Engineering, IT or Mfg. company is set up, the locals are bound to feel annoyed with daaru-baaj non-vegetarian bachelor migrants and their ‘live-in’ partners. But the needs of economy demand society to ‘open’ up. There is nothing ABC ltd. can do about it, except bribing the right officials to ensure files are cleared rapidly.
PS: I’ve written sarcastic “real-world” solutions below each case study. They should not be taken seriously. In official exam, every effort must be put to a fake “Boy scout Raja Harishchandra” answer.
Visit Mrunal.org/ethics for more study material and case studies on Ethics.