Mrunal Ethics Paper Assignment

  1. Prologue
  2. Section-A (Total Marks 120)
  3. Section-B: Case studies (Total Marks 130)
    1. Q11: Transgender student [25 marks]
    2. Q12. Gender Equality [25 marks]
    3. Q13.Tobacco addict [25 marks]
    4. Q14. Artistic freedom of Expression [25 marks]
    5. Q15. Blue Whale game & Role of Family [30 marks]


  • Here is a full length (250 marks) mock test paper for UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-IV, Ethics, Integrity and aptitude, including case studies based on current and contemporary issues in India.
  • To gain maximum mileage of this paper, first finish your syllabus at least once. Also read the articles at
  • Then give this mock test within the prescribed time limit of three hours.
  • For answer writing use unruled A4 sized papers with 1-inch margin on all sides.
  • Use blue or black pen only.

Section-A (Total Marks 120)

Sr.QuestionWord limitMarks
1Government of Brazil runs a program known as ‘Bolsa Família’- a conditional cash-transfer program that rewards families for sending their kids to school and taking them to regular health check-ups. In this context, answer following:
1A. Is this not morally reprehensible ‘bribe’ to induce parents to do their basic duty?
1B. If ‘cash for schooling’ is justified, can we also justify cash for sterilization and family planning?
2April 19, 2017, the Union Cabinet decided to amend the Motor Vehicle Rules to end the use beacons except for the vehicles concerned with emergency and relief services, ambulance, fire service etc. To what extent do you think will this reduce the VIP culture in India?15010
3“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive”. Discuss this statement in context of the communal riots in India.15010
4Scandinavian countries rank very high in Human development reports. One of the reasons being the lack of tolerance towards corruption in their society. In this regard:
4A. List the factors responsible for relatively higher tolerance of Indian society against corruption
4B. China too suffers from high level of corruption, yet ranks far ahead of India in HDI, then does it mean the two factors- corruption and development are not as correlated contrary to the popular perception?
5“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Substantiate with a real example from recent times.15010
6“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.”-Dalai Lama. But given that a public official’s actions are always constrained by laws, rules and superiors’ orders, can a public official be really happy? Examine in context of good governance.15010
7Do you agree with the perception that the influence of organized religion on India’s political discourse has become more profound than ever? Examine in context of cow vigilantism and Triple Talaq controversies.15010
8The purpose of corporate governance is to enhance not just social responsibility but also profitability. Then, to what extent can we blame the twin balance sheet problem on the failure of corporate governance in India?15010
9As a consequence of global consumerism, the tendency to engage in blind imitation of the developed world’s consumption patterns has risen in developing countries, especially junk food. How can school and society can help reversing this trend?15010
10“Where the roots of private virtue are diseased, the fruit of public probity cannot but be corrupt.” Elaborate.15010

Section-B (Case Studies) (Total Marks: 130)

Q11: Transgender student [25 marks]

Sneha is a transgender student who completed schooling and then dropped out of a course in Bachelor of Commerce in Jaipur. “The boys had noticed that I was different. The way I used to walk, sit and talk was very feminine. They used to make fun of me, so I stopped going and eventually failed” she says. Later on, in Delhi, she joined the School of Open Learning(SOL) of DU in an undergraduate course. But in three months, she had decided to call it quits. The reasons were many, both financial and social.

“When basic needs become a luxury, higher education is a distant dream for a trans person,” she says. At the time, she was working for a community-building organisation, which had not paid her for 10 months. “I was in a lot of debt. I had paid the college fees using the borrowed money,” she says.

The academic environment in college also did not encourage her much. “Some students did not study, some teachers did not teach, and every time, I went for the class, I had to brave the glances and stares from people around,” she says.

After quitting college, Sneha joined a traditional hijra community for two months, out of sheer helplessness. “The debt was rising and one can earn nearly Rs 3,000 a day while working with the toli,” she says. “It is a very exploitative system. The gurus do not want any governmental schemes to reach them as it will disrupt the status quo,” says Anjan Joshi, who runs Space, a Delhi-based NGO working with the transgender community. [Ref: IndianExpress Article in August 2017. ]

Q11(a): According to you, who among the stakeholders narrated in this case study, owns biggest responsibility for Sneha’s plight? And why? [100 words]-10m

Q11(b): Sneha’s case highlights the failure of court judgements and government schemes in making any positive impact in the lives of transgender. Identify the short term and long term reforms to solve this conundrum. [150 words]-15m

Q12. Gender Equality [25 marks]

Fauzia is known as Ajmer’s topchi, the one who fires the cannon, part of a practice said to have been introduced in the 16th Century by Mughal emperor Akbar who apparently patronized the shrine. Besides Ramzan, the cannon is fired for Friday prayers and other special occasions surrounding Moinuddin Chishti, such as his birth and death anniversaries.

But, this year, Fauzia’s uncle Mohammad Rafique didn’t let her fire the cannon. “It is a religious matter. Fauzia’s father allowed her to fire the canon but as such Women aren’t supposed to do such things, people get offended. Now that her father is dead, I myself will do this ceremony from henceforth. Besides even going by the norm of age and seniority, I should have this privilege before my niece.”

“Though there is a separate category for hereditary staff, it is usual for staff of other categories to follow the hereditary system, with preference given to son, grandson, brother, or brother’s son, in that order. Therefore”, asserts Mohammed Adil, assistant to the Nazim or the administrative head of the dargah who is appointed by the Union government, “going purely by rules, only men are supposed to carry out the assigned tasks.” [Ref: IndianExpress Article. ]

Q12(a) Identify the stakeholders and the social issues involved in this case study. (100 words)-10m

12(b) Suppose, as district collector, you’re given complete authority to settle this dispute- whom will you allow to fire the canon- Fauzia or Rafique and Why? Would you consider banning the practice of firing cannon altogether to settle this dispute? Yes / No? and why? (150 words)-15m

Q13.Tobacco addict [25 marks]

Fourty three-years-old Sunita likes playing with the amulets around her neck, including a metal chain with a padlock. “This chain,” she says, “is both spiritual and fashionable. My throat used to ache so I tied this chain and lock around as a mannat, a prayer. I’ve thrown away its key. One day, it will unlock on its own. I have always had a boy-cut hairstyle and I have always been like the boys — playing cricket, football and gilli-danda, It’s from them that I picked up this habit of chewing tobacco. I started when I was around 15. But nobody had a problem with anything I did. Nobody,” she says.

Sunita, who dropped out after Class 4, supports her family through “jhaad-phoonk (exorcism) to cure people of illnesses” while her mother sells soft drinks from a shack by their home.

Her mother adds, “She takes care of us. We never needed a man here to do chores like shifting stuff around or running errands. She does what any boy would do. When there are long power cuts, she calls up the electricity office to enquire. She doesn’t like to cook. People are jealous of her. Somebody fed her something and her health has been deteriorating for years now. She gets thinner every year. The padlock is a mannat to restore her health.”

Their neighbor, Nurse Juhi Sikdar, is agonized at this spectacle, “This heavy lock is aggravating her throat pain. Time and again, I’ve told her to come to our clinic for free treatment. But she doesn’t listen!”

Q13(a): If you were in the place of Nurse Juhi, how would you convince Sunita to seek medical help. If she disagrees, would you consider forcibly removing her lock and chain? (100 words)-10m

Q13(b): “This woman, who is 43 years old, has no education, knows no skill expect ‘exorcism’. She is doomed in this poverty and disease stricken life. No amount of government schemes or NGO help can change it.” Would you agree with this statement? Justify. (150 words)-15m

Q14. Artistic freedom of Expression [25 marks]

Jharkhand government has assured the Assembly that it would take strict action against Sowvendra Shekhar Hansda, a Santhali novelist and government doctor, for allegedly portraying Santhal women in poor light in one of his books. According to the news report, the third story in Hansda’s book The Adivasi Will Not Dance talks about a Santhal woman who agrees to go to bed with a man in exchange for food. Some tribal groups have burnt effigies and taken out marches in protest.

An online petition has been launched seeking withdrawal of Hansda’s Sahitya Akademi award. ansda had received the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar 2015 for his book, The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey.

Handa has defended his work by giving a press statement, “The story revolves around migration and its curse on the tribal women. I see thousands of tribal women in Pakur, where I am posted, migrating for work to other states and hear innumerable stories about their sexual exploitation. This is a well-accepted fact and I stand by what I had written. Those protesting should focus on the theme rather than the content. I have a basis for writing it.” [Ref: The Hindu Article.]

Q14(a): As the President of Sahitya Akademy, would you consider taking away Hansada’s award for the previous book which did not have any objectionable content? Justify your stand. (100 words)-10m

Q14(b): Is it possible to come up with a practical set of principles for balancing the artistic freedom of expression vs the sentiments of a particular community while banning a book or a movie? Discuss your views. (150 words)-15m

Q15. Blue Whale game & Role of Family [30 marks]

The Blue Whale game is a 50-day online challenge which demands that players complete tasks given by an anonymous “handler”. The “handler” instructs the players to cause self-harm, leading up to suicide. The lethal trend in the country came to light when a 14-year-old boy jumped from the fifth floor of a building in Mumbai earlier this month. To ensure safety of people on the internet, especially of children, the Indian government has asked social media and internet giants like Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, Instagram among others to get rid of the links to the ‘Blue Whale’ suicide game.

“If governments think that the Blue Whale Challenge is the only danger around, they are horribly mistaken! There are so many others and something or the other keeps popping up. How many can the government track and how many will they ban? For teenagers, trying something that is banned definitely ups the thrill-level and further feeds on their curiosity,” says Mumbai-based counselor and psychotherapist, Divya Srivastava. [Ref: Yahoo News, August 2017.]

Q15(a): What are your views on Divya Srivastava’s opinion? Identify stakeholders and their responsibilities in addressing this particular issue of internet abuse. (150 words)-15m

Q15(b): If you were tasked to draft a national policy on suicide prevention, what’ll be your major policy prescriptions? (150 words)-15m

  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:

CategorySub Topic2013201420152016
& Basics
Basic Theory20102020
& Society
Social Influence00010
& Office
Work Culture6060250
Public OrgTheory1020010
Code of Conduct00010
Private OrgCorporate0204045

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

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 ethics2015
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 Lincoln2013
I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies.—Aristotle2013

[Block#2] Surroundings


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 opinion2013
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.


Governance doesn’t require honest officers. It needs “EFFECTIVE” Officers. Rameshwar type impractical idealists only create trouble for themselves, their family, colleagues and organizations. 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.

  1. List the likely vested interests of the concerned parties.
  2. Some of the options for action available to you are listed below. Discuss the merits and demerits of each of the options :
    1. You can await the visit of the superior officer and let him take a decision.
    2. You can seek his advice in writing or on phone.
    3. You can consult your predecessor/colleagues, etc., and then decide what to do.
    4. 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!

Compassion for others while on job

GSM4 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.

Compassion 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.

  1. Bring out and discuss the ethical issues involved in the above case.
  2. 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.

Compassion 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.

  1. Discuss some feasible strategies to overcome the conflict and to create right ambience.
  2. 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.

  1. Can you think of a rational way to resolve this dilemma?
  2. 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!”.

[Block#4] Public organizations

Public Org- Theory

GSM4 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

Public Org- Dilemma

GSM4 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—

  1. Educated rural youth are trying to shift to urban areas;
  2. Landless poor people are migrating to urban slums;
  3. 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: Cutpasteprevious ordinance on land acquisition.

Public org- Code of conduct / ethics

GSM4 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

Public Org-Charter

GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Citizens Charters; Quality of Service Delivery; Probity in Governance, concept of public service;
Nothing directly asked so far.

Public Org-Corruption

GSM4 Syllabus Topic: Challenges of Corruption; Utilization of public funds

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: “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”.

Public Org-RTI

GSM4 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- 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.

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