Ethics and Integrity

  • In Mains 2018 only we Predicted the same Thirukkural that was asked in GS 4.
  • What does this quotations mean to you in the present context: “Falsehood takes the place of truth when                 it results in unblemished common good.”- Tirukkural. (150 words). (UPSC MAINS GS-4 2018).

UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-IV Syllabus & Structure

Structure of the Syllabus

  • The paper consists of twelve questions with these divided into two sections. Before 2018, there were fourteen questions, though now the complexity has been increased and the number of questions has been reduced.
  • All the questions are compulsory.
  • The questions are of 10 marks and 20 marks depending on the length of the answer required. The 10 marks questions need answers within 150 words while the 20 marks questions need answers within 250 words.
  • The total marks allotted to this paper are 250 marks.
  • The questions are of two types:
    • Conceptual understanding based questions to test the candidate’s understanding of ethical issues and concepts related to integrity and aptitude (125 marks).
    • Case studies based questions to test the candidate’s application of those concepts to situations involving the candidate and other stakeholders such as politicians, pressure groups, the public and other people (125 marks)
  • This paper is highly open ended and the most variable of all the four General Studies Papers and the nature of questions vary widely from year to year. Candidates should familiarize themselves with the syllabus, and the last few year’s patterns as well.
  • It is highly recommended that students must attempt the case studies first as it is time consuming area.

Detailed Syllabus – UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-IV

Below is the detailed Syllabus for General Studies IV – Ethics and Integrity Paper.

Topics Subtopics
Ethics and Human Interface
  • The Essence of Ethics, Determinants and Consequences of Ethics in Human Interaction
  • Dimensions of Ethics
  • Ethics in private and public relationships
  • Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators
  • Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating moral and ethical values
  • Content, structure and function of attitude
  • Influence of attitude in thought and behaviour
  • Relation of attitude to thought and behaviour
  • Moral and Political attitudes
  • Social influence and persuasion
  • Aptitude and foundational values of Civil Service
  • Integrity
  • Impartiality and non-partisanship
  • Objectivity
  • Dedication to public service
  • Empathy, tolerance, and compassion towards the weaker sections of the society
Emotional Intelligence
  • Concepts of emotional intelligence
  • Utility and application of emotional intelligence in administration and governance
Contributions of Thinkers and Philosophers
  • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and the world to the concepts of morality
Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration
  • Status and associated problems
  • Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions
  • Laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance
  • Accountability and ethical governance
  • Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance
  • Ethical Issues in international relations and funding
  • Corporate governance
Probity in Governance
  • Concept of public service
  • The philosophical basis of governance and probity
  • Information sharing and transparency in government
  • Right to Information
  • Codes of ethics
  • Codes of Conduct
  • Citizen’s Charters
  • Work culture
  • Quality of service delivery
  • Utilization of public funds
  • Challenges of corruption

UPSC GS-IV Strategy

General Studies Paper IV (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) is BOTH an easy paper and tough paper for the same reason. One must be well versed the micro-level nuances of the expectations w.r.t. this specific paper.

  • Understand the demand of syllabus – UPSC mentions that “ This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem-solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society. Questions may utilize the case study approach to determine these aspects”. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the ‘ethical competence‘, but not the ‘knowledge about ethics‘.
  • Overall, scoring in ethics paper is a game of keywords, awareness about self, and ability to project oneself as an individual who is pragmatic and productive while being committed to personal and professional ethics.
  • The nature of examination is of generalist kind. Hitherto UPSC has been asking questions that require the application of common sense while keeping ethical principles in mind.
  • Scoring well in ethics paper is the sine qua non for ESCALATING your RANK in final list and getting one’s desired service. Like the essay paper, this paper offers maximum returns. With CORRECT strategy one can easily score good marks.
  • Read only TWO BOOKS 1. Our Institute Booklet. 2. Second ARC – Ethics in Governance.

Our Class notes are highly dependable and time saver.

  • Ethics answer writing is wordplay of key jargons. Make a list of key jargons. Workout all previous year papers. Prepare a Definition for Each of the Terms with illustrations. If the question pertains to a specific ethical value, you must introduce the answer with a crisp definition, followed by an example. The definition can be a personal one, reflecting what it means to you.
  • Incorporate examples from current, social issues, professional life, your areas of interest etc. Examples related to Administration – Civil Services form the core of answer writing in Ethics paper. For Example – Khemka Syndrome, Sagayam IAS – Incidents. Examples are what make your answer come alive. Without them, an ethics answer would be a pointless theoretical rambling.
  • Use PICTORIAL TOOLS in Ethics to be innovative and unique. This will give you a competitive edge over others.
  • Also, be ready to use a hypothetical situation if there are no real-life examples or anecdotes. Always start such examples with SUPPOSE….. ASSUME…. and so on.
    • To illustrate, for a question on ‘conflict of interest’, you can write an example as suppose an IAS officer is a part of an interview panel. While taking interviews, he/she discovers that a candidate is a son of his friend. Then that IAS officer should disclose that fact. He should abstain from taking interview of that candidate.
    • These kinds of scenarios have to be created in the exam hall depending upon the nature of the question. So, that kind of thinking has to be developed beforehand.
  • One more important tip – every case study you solve is a hypothetical scenario. So, you can use the case studies you may have practiced as hypothetical scenarios for your answers in the exam.
  • There is never a set answer for a case study. The idea should be to learn from the format:
    • Actors
    • Dilemmas
    • Answer Body
    • Points
    • Keywords
    • Theory
    • Diagram
    • Conclusion
  • Try to provide practical solutions. Ideal solutions, if unworkable, would not fetch you marks. Give out-of-the-box yet practical solutions.
  • Try to provide specific solutions. Avoid generalized solutions. To illustrate, don’t say, “I would take steps to promote transparency. Mention how you would promote transparency.
  • When you are asked to give all the options available to you – give even the most undesirable course of action as one of the options. However, don’t choose that option. To illustrate, in a case that mentions the offer of a bribe to you, mention ‘acceptance of bribe’ as one of the options. But prefer the options that entail ‘rejection of bribe’.
  • Do not touch upon only core issues. Also, touch upon peripheral issues in a case study. To illustrate, suppose a case study in which “you are the head of the committee investigating the irregularities of colleges. You are in the dilemma whether to recommend for the derecognition of college and spoil the career prospects of students or to recommend their regularization in the light of future of thousands of students. You have been offered a bribe of Rs. 5 crores.” In this case study, a core issue is ‘whether to regularize colleges’. Most candidates would just address this issue in their answer. However, there is another issue, the ‘peripheral issue’, that is, the offer of a bribe. Try to address that issue as well. While addressing bribe issue, please don’t just say – “I won’t accept the bribe”. Also, say – “I would lodge a complaint against the person who has offered me the bribe”.
  • Let your solutions try to balance conflicting options as much as possible. (Caution – such balancing may not happen always). Consider the examples mentioned in the previous point. Most candidates would say, either “I shall recommend derecognition of colleges because errant colleges have to be punished” or “I shall recommend for regularisation of colleges because of the future of students”. Rather, try to think of a solution that penalizes the colleges and at the same time rescues the career prospects of thousands of students. One such solution can be – allowing already enrolled students to finish their course and recognizing their degrees while prohibiting any fresh admissions. Or, accommodation of students of such colleges in other recognized colleges.
  • Last but not the least – Ethics paper has an emphasis on articulation and practical examples, which comes only with adequate practice. Besides, case studies across the years tend to have similar themes and ideas. So answering a lot of these beforehand will give you a sense of confidence to tackle any type of question.

Sample Questions and Answers – GS-IV – Ethics and Integrity

Q 1. “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they do not have the first, the other two will kill you.” – Warren Buffett. What do you understand by this statement in the present-day scenario? Explain. (150 words) 10. UPSC – 2019 Question.

Integrity – refers to the use of powers and resources entrusted to an individual effectively, honestly and for legally destined purposes. Additional related ethical standards that the individual is expected to uphold include transparency, accountability, efficiency and competence. The concept of public integrity has been defined as “the consistent alignment of, and adherence to, shared ethical values, principles and norms for upholding and prioritizing the public interest over private interests in the public sector” (OECD, 2017).

Integrity ensures reliability and establishes one as trustworthy. Public integrity is essential for advancing the public good and ensuring the legitimacy of public organizations. It is also considered an antithesis to corruption.

The above statement highlights the importance of integrity. It says that without it, intelligence and energy can be detrimental to an organization and the person himself.

An intelligent and energetic man is capable enough to do unethical tasks and tricks a system. Without integrity, he is more likely to do so.

For Example – Nirav Modi is an intelligent and energetic businessman who has built his business empire. Unfortunately, he lacked integrity and hence it proved dangerous to him as well as the system.

Hence, integrity holds primacy over all other values.

Q.2. 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. (25 Marks). 2017 UPSC Question.

  • Subject matter: Dilemma between achieving career ambition Vs responding to accident as a good samaritan.
  • Stakeholders involved: The mother, child, me, my family, society at large and the UPSC.
  • Ethical dilemmas:
  • • Personal ambitions vs. Moral responsibility to help others
    • Being punctual to the interview vs Saving life
    • Personal and family’s dream to be civil servant vs Moral
  • obligation to relatives
  • Options Available
Options Merits Demerits
Ignore the accident and head to the interview Punctuality will be maintainedPersonal ambition will be fulfilled Morally abdicating my duty to save life and against my conscience Poor example of an aspiring civil servant
Skip the interview and help the victims Moral obligation towards my relatives will be metA good example to the society Hampers the years of hard work to be a civil servant. Failing my and my family’s dream.Unbalanced decision making in response to multiple needs
Admit them to a nearby hospital and quickly try to reach the interview venue Rescue the relativesRealise my career goalsClear conscience • Risk of missing the interview

My preferred Course of action

  • I shall choose the last option because I have a moral responsibility to help the victims, and a personal responsibility to myself, my family and my career. I worked hard to reach the interview stage, so it makes sense to balance both these obligations.
  • So my immediate response would be to quickly move the victims to my cab. Using Google Maps, I’ll check for nearby hospitals and find the shortest route possible to get there. I will call the hospital and ask them to arrange emergency services by the time we reach.
  • Along the way, I will also call the relatives’ family and ask them to reach the hospital. I will admit the victim to the hospital and pay any charges, if required. If it gets late for the relatives to reach, I will entrust the cab driver to kindly look after her, pay him his waiting charges and proceed to the interview.
  • In the meantime, I will also check if I can reach out to anyone who can inform the interview panel about my situation and that I may reach late. If I do get delayed, I will make every attempt to convince the authorities involved as to the reasons why it happened. As soon as the interview is done, I will come back to the hospital and check on the victims’ condition and help them in anyway I can.
  • As remarked by Gandhiji “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. By helping people, we not only make the world a better place but also stay true to our conscience. It leads to harmony, balancing social good with personal ambition.

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