Approach to Ethics Paper

Hi learners, welcome to IASBulletin. Since its inception in 2013, GS-IV paper has raised so many questions like: 'How to start this subject?', 'What are the sources?', 'What kind of questions will be asked?' and alike. Even though 5years has been passed, still there is no clear cut answer for these questions. After reading this article you'll be able to confidently answer these questions. It is easy to take a path which is very clear and visible rather than mysterious and invisible. We'll show you that clear and visible path for this GS-4 Ethics paper. We'll show you Step wise approach.


Q1. How to Start GS-4 Ethics Paper?

The key element in starting any subject is to go through its syllabus thoroughly. Read, re-read the syllabus. Each and every word and line has to be imprinted in your mind. It seems very difficult to remember every word and every sentence. But there is a simple solution to this: every time you start a topic, open syllabus paper and ready the whole contents in that chapter with special attention to present topic. By the end of all topic in that chapter, you'll be alteast have read those contents for atleast 10 times, which is sufficient to make you remember.


    • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; 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 values
    • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
    • Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service: integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.
    • Emotional intelligence: concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
    • Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
    • Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and 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; 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.
    • Case Studies on above issues.


Q2. What kind of questions will be asked?

After going through the syllabus, the second step is to take a look at the previous year question papers. Read all previous year question papers.

Caution: Please dont try to find any kind of patter or important topics, because UPSC has tendency to deviate very often.

Previous Years question papers can be downloaded from below:

Types of Questions:

After thorough studying of all question papers, you can find following types of questions:

    1. Direct/Straight forward Questions: These are the most easy and scoring questions. In this, the question asks about a particular theory or concept. No opinion or analysis is required. For Example:
      1. What is Human Action? How is it different from actions of Human?
      2. Give 3 most important qualities of a Public Servant.
    2. Analytical Questions: In these kind of questions two are more concepts will be asked and you need to evaluate both. For Example:
      1. Does Conflict of Interest shows lack of Emotional Intelligence?
      2. It is often said that 'Politics' and 'Ethics' do not go together. What is your opinion in this regard? Justify your answer with illustrations.
    3. Statement Based Questions: In these questions, a statement will be given and you'll be asked to express your opinion on that. For Example:
      1. "A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury" - John Stuart Mill.
      2. "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions" - Dalai Lama
    4. Indirect Questions on moral thinkers: In these kind of questions, two or more theories will be given and you'll be asked to evaluate them. For Example:
      1. With regard to morality of actions, one view is that means are of paramount importance and the other view is that ends justify the means. What view do you think more appropriate? Justify your answer.
    5. Case Studies


Q3. What are the Sources?



Self Assessment through assignments and practice tests.