[Ethics] Sample Questions, Case studies for UPSC General studies paper 4 based on Donald Menzel’s book

[Ethics] Sample Questions, Case studies for UPSC General studies paper 4 based on Donald Menzel’s book

  1. Prologue
  2. Essay-ish / Abstract Questions
  3. Ethics Case Studies / Role playing Questions
    1. Disobeying an informal order
    2. Returning unspent money
    3. Misleading for good purpose
    4. Private matter of Public employee?
    5. Political neutrality
    6. Political neutrality Part.2
    7. Salary hike vs Team spirit
    8. Holding Charity Auctions in the Office
    9. Spouse in the same office
    10. Private endorsement by Public Official
    11. Man of Word or Man of Money?
    12. Courage with a price tag


So far in the [Ethics] mock-question series

  1. UPSC’s sample paper for GS4
  2. Samples questions based on ethics courses of San Diego and Texas University

Now this this articles contains case-studies/questions are based on Donald C. Menzel’s book Ethics Moments in Government:Cases and Controversies.

  • For the Essay-ish questions I’ve merely lifted statements from the book. Because UPSC seems to be doing similar thing for Public Administration (lift sentences from some book and ask the candidate to ‘comment’ on it).
  • for the case-studies questions, I’ve given Indian flavor to those American cases and included a few answer key points but by no means they’re sacred/official/final/marksworthy- they’re only meant to serve as lighthouse for the utterly confused.

Essay-ish / Abstract Questions

Answer following questions 12 marks/120 words each:

  1. What do you understand by ethics audit? How is it different from financial audit?
  2. Are ethics practices and behaviors in the business world different than those found in public service? If so, why?
  3. Describe an ethical issue you have had to address in your school or college life and the way you handled it. If confronted with the same issue today, would you handle it in the same way?
  4. Are ethical standards in business organizations higher or lower than those in public service organizations?
  5. Is there more unethical behavior in government than in business?
  6. Do you believe the ethical performance of an employee can be evaluated fairly and accurately? Yes/No/Why?
  7. Is a professional code of ethics that is not enforceable a satisfactory code? Yes/No/Why?
  8. How does corrupt behavior resemble or differ from unethical behavior?
  9. Should we hold appointed officials, such as collectors and tehsildaars, to a higher standard of behavior than elected officials such as municipal councilors? Yes/No/Why?
  10. Gandhi always advocated the purity of means- with respect to that, do you think it is unethical for a military officer to mislead the enemy? Yes/No/Why?

Comment on following statements (12 marks/120 words each)

  1. Ethics are less a goal than a pathway, less a destination than a trip, less an inoculation than a process.
  2. Righteous disobedience is better than Moral muteness.
  3. Exemplary leadership is critical to encouraging ethical behavior in government organizations.
  4. Openness and transparency are critical safeguards that keep our democracy alive and well.
  5. Ethical codes are merely veneers. Shiny on the outside but hollow on the inside.
  6. Living up to the public trust is much more than just an act of compliance.
  7. Ethics is the cornerstone of effective, efficient, democratic governance.
  8. Ethics may be only instrumental, it may be only a means to an end, but it is a necessary means to an end.
  9. The relationships between ethics, service, and trust are mutually reinforcing.
  10. Ignorance is not an excuse for misconduct.
  11. Those who commit misconduct out of ignorance should be treated less harshly.
  12. If men were angels, no government would be necessary
  13. Humans roam the earth, not the heavens, so ethics are indispensable.
  14. Honesty and truthfulness have to be practiced and balanced with delicate diplomacy on some occasions.
  15. List the reforms necessary to encourage ethical behavior and prevent misconduct in public organizations of India.

Ethics Case Studies / Role playing Questions

Disobeying an informal order

DevAnand is working as a clerk in Collector’s office. Due to staff shortage, Dev also performs the task of raising flag over the office building every morning and taking it down every evening, although it is not part of his official job description.

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