[Download] UPSC Mains-GS4: Topicwise ALL Case Studies & Questions from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 papers of Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude

[Download] UPSC Mains-GS4: Topicwise ALL Case Studies & Questions from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 papers of Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude

  1. Trend Analysis of GS4 Ethics Paper 2016
  2. Themes in UPSC case studies
  3. [Block#1] Basic, Thinkers, EQ
    1. Ethics- Basic Theory
    2. Emotional intelligence & Allied Topics
    3. Thinkers and Reformers
  4. [Block#2] Surroundings
    1. Attitude
    2. Family, Society
    3. Social influence
  5. [Block#3] Job
    1. Sarkaari Job Values
    2. Work Culture @Office
    3. Compassion for others while on job
  6. [Block#4] Public organizations
    1. Public Org- Theory
    2. Public Org- Dilemma
    3. Public org- Code of conduct / ethics
    4. Public Org-Charter
    5. Public Org-Corruption
    6. Public Org-RTI
    7. IR and Funding
  7. [Block#5] Private organizations

Trend Analysis of GS4 Ethics Paper 2016

  • 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:

Analysis of UPSC mains GS Paper 4 Ethics integrity aptitude

Category Sub Topic 2013 2014 2015 2016
& Basics
Basic Theory 20 10 20 20
EQ 30 10 0 10
Thinkers 30 10 20 40
& Society
Family 0 30 35 30
Social Influence 0 0 0 10
Attitude 10 10 0 0
& Office
Neutrality 25 30 40 10
Work Culture 60 60 25 0
Compassion 25 0 20 20
Public Org Theory 10 20 0 10
Dilemma 0 40 20 20
Code of Conduct 0 0 0 10
Charter 0 0 0 0
Corruption 0 10 0 25
RTI 40 0 20 0
IR/Funding 0 0 10 0
Private Org Corporate 0 20 40 45
Total 250 250 250 250

This article contains topicwise questions sorted from 2013,14,15 and 16. if you only want 2016’s paper in Linear format (Hindi|English): Click ME.

Observations about GSM4-2016 paper

  • Like previous year- theory worth 120 marks and case studies worth 130 marks = total 250 marks.
  • Like 2013, affection for thinkers returns- four question x 10 marks. This time even Max Weber asked so I suppose those who dumped Public Administration due to adverse scaling- Weber is singing to them “काटा हमारा पानी न मांगे, हम भी है वो काले सांप!”
  • Except John Rowl’ straight forward question, rest of the thinker questions were difficult because that much death not covered about Kautilya or Weber or in most of the ethics books. And difficult to recall all seven sins of Gandhi, verbatim.
  • Each year minimum one question on family – society values vs. ideal values.
  • First time asked question on Social influence / persuasion as a tool for Swatchh Bharat Mission. Sufficient maal available in Kurukshetra Magazine October 2016 issue.
  • Civil service foundation values: easy question this year- on “impartiality” because same you’ve to prepare for GSM2 as well.
  • This time land aquisition policy asked- but topic is no longer in limelight since ordinance-raj of 2014-15. so here too, trend of asking topics which are 2-3 mains old.
  • First time asked direct question from 2nd ARC -on code of public services.
  • Nothing direct from citizen charter since inception.
  • This year “NRI Saraswati wants to open free school” plot directly lifted from Rajnikanth movie Shivaji the boss.
  • Seems every angle worth asking about RTI – has been asked. So won’t see another question for 2016, 17.
  • Examiner has grown more concerned about ethics within private companies- two case studies each year in 2015 and 2016.
  • Only once asked about ethical issues in international relation and funding. This topic is so vague and small that not possible to routinely ask from here. Hence I say- “ill-planned syllabus made up in haste”.

Themes in UPSC Mains GS4 case studies

  1. There is a helpless weaker section (children, girl students, woman with no document, dalit cook) and you’ve to intervene. In some of these cases, they may not be even eager to get helped.
  2. 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.
  3. There is a friend with  impractical idealism and he/she seeks your help about whether to join civil services, whether to whistleblow on her river-polluting company?
  4. Displacement seems to be ‘recurring’ dilemma faced by public and private organizations each year.
    1. Sometimes examiner worried that landless poor have to migrate to urban areas.
    2. Sometimes he wants rural youth to stay within backward rural areas.
    3. Sometimes he’s worried about ‘influx’ of migrants coming to backward area due to  new company!
  5. Sometimes you get lucky and directly cutpaste points from GSM2 and GSM3 in case studies related to disaster management, role of civil services and pressure groups.

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 fake a “Boy scout Raja Harishchandra” answer.

Mains-2016: GS papers over, what’s the big picture?

  • 2013: In their enthusiasm, UPSC reformers prescribed truckload of topics the syllabus of GS1 to 4
  • and now fumbling to even come up with unique questions each year- so same old themes repeated and recycled over and over again- be it jobless growth, dem.dividend in essays to urban floods, landslides, “Smart Cities vs PURA” in GSM1 to GSM3 or the “displacement dilemma” case study in GSM4.
  • And still their question-database so bankrupted that last minute whatever Google “I’m feeling lucky” term is turned into a question- be “Macbride commission” or “Allelopathy”.
  • End result? since too many syllabus topics vs. too little time to cover. So, rather than studying any topic genuinely from standard reference books, everyone forced to rely on ready made bullet point digests made by third party. So, UPSC itself is becoming an impediment against the broader objectives of real learning and demographic dividend.

Anyways, let’s check the topicwise papers since ethics was introduced in 2013.

[Block#1] Basic, Thinkers, EQ

UPSC Mains GS4 Syllabus philosophical thinkers

Ethics- Basic Theory

GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Ethics and Human Interface (essence, determinants, consequences of ethics in human actions); Dimensions of ethics; Ethics in public & private relationships

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

Emotional intelligence & Allied Topics

GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Emotional Intelligence (concepts, utility & application in administration & governance)

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

Thinkers and Reformers

GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Contributions of Moral Thinkers & Philosophers from India and world; human value lessons from great leaders, reformers & administrators

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

[Block#2] Surroundings

UPSC Mains GS4 Syllabus family values


GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Attitude (content, structure, function, influence & relation with thought & behaviour); Moral and Political Attitudes

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

Family, Society

GSM4 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

Society Attitude 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.

  1. What steps would you take to ensure girls’ safety without disrupting their education?
  2. 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.

Family matter 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.

  1. Just ignore thinking about it because it is their personal matter.
  2. Report the case to the appropriate authority.
  3. Your own innovative approach towards the situation. (250 words)


  1. 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).
  2. Therefore, Make anonymous call to 181 Abhayam helpline. Their Councillors will approach the victim of domestic violence. If nothing happens after that then Option A- Ignore.
  3. Besides, 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 (esp. फिक्सड पगारवाला) is not IAS to get protection from persecution by officer-lobby.
  4. Innovative approach like pravachan (lecture) or stunt (black-ribbon by entire office-staff 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) on the issue of Domestic Violence.

Social influence

GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Social Influence and Persuasion

How could social influence and persuasion contribute to the success of Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan? 2016

[Block#3] Job


Sarkaari Job Values

GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Civil Service aptitude & foundational values (integrity, impartiality, non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service,

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

Work Culture @Office

GSM4 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.

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)

  1. Follow the advice of the Chief Engineer and go ahead.
  2. 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.
  3. Call for explanation from the Junior Engineers and issue orders to the contractor for necessary correction within targeted time.
  4. Highlight the issue so that it reaches superiors above the Chief Engineer.
  5. 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)

  1. What are the options available to you?
  2. 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)

  1. What are the options available to you?
  2. Evaluate each of these options and choose the option you would adopt, giving reasons.

Answer: Put the resignation on hold. Inform top boss about the Prem Chopra of Marketing Team. Convene meeting of anti-sexual harassment Committee. Also give chance to Prem Chopra to explain himself.

Case: 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 :

  1. Give your explanation to the Commission and go soft on the disciplinary action.
  2. Ignore the Commission and proceed firmly with the disciplinary action.
  3. 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 :

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 friendBetaa, 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.

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