Solved Paper of General Studies Paper-4 (Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude) for UPSC Civil Services Examination 2013
Section A
1. What do you understand by 'values' and 'ethics'? In what way is it important to be ethical along with being professionally competent? (150 words) 10
Answer
Value means the principles or standards of behaviour and one's judgement of what is important in life. Ethics is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. Ethics is a necessary condition for success but not sufficient to success. You must have the necessity knowledge and skill to succeed in any profession. You can’t become a good doctor unless you have the sound knowledge of medical profession. In the same way a tax officer must have in-depth knowledge of the tax laws. When you are ethical, you are trusted by the people because people believe you to be fair and just. Your conscience is clear because you are doing your profession not for selfish gain but for the benefit of the society. When a professional has the trust of people, he enjoys his job and achieve great success in his endevour. (149 words)
2. (a) What do you understand by the following terms in the context of public service? (250 words) 3x5=15
(i) Integrity
(ii) Perseverance
(iii) Spirit of service
(iv) Commitment
(v) Courage of conviction
Answer
(1) Integrity
Integrity means the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It also implies the state of being whole and undivided. A public servant must be honest intellectually and financially. He must do what is legally correct without any fear or temptation.
(2) Persevere
Public servants must be persistence in doing whatever they do despite facing difficulty or delay in achieving success. It takes a long time for an action to bear fruits and the public servants must consistently pursue the task to bring it to the logical conclusion.
(3) Spirit of service
A public servant should never forget that he is appointed to serve the people and the nation. He must take consider his job as an opportunity to serve the people and make their life happier. If public servants have the spirit to serve, they shall enjoy their work and also make the people happy.
(4) Commitment
Commitment is the willingness to give your time and energy to something that you believe in. It means a promise or firm decision to do something which is important. A public servant must not do his job as a routine, but do it with commitment and passion devoting their all their time and energy for the public cause.
(5) Courage of conviction
A public servant must have the courage of conviction so that they have the confidence to do what they believe is right, even though other people may not agree or approve. They must convert their ideas into reality and gain the respect in the society by virtue of the results achieved for common good of people. (271 words)
(b) Indicate two more attributes which you consider important for public service. Justify your answer. (100 words) 10
Answer
The two other important attributes of public servants are:
(1) Compassion
A public servant must have compassion for the common people. Compassion means ‘co-suffering’ with others. A compassionate person wishes to alleviate the suffering of other people as if it is his own. When a public servant has compassion, he does not perform his job merely as a duty, but with a purpose to reduce the suffering of the people.
(2) Tolerance
Tolerance means the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with. This is an important quality of a public servants because there are many religions, castes, languages, cultures in India. Public servants must have respect all types of values and cultures to perform their functions effectively and efficiently. (100 words)
3. 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. (150 words) 10
Answer
According to metaphysical theories of ethics, there are two opinions about the origin of ethics, which are called ‘Absolutism’ and ‘Relativism’. Absolutism state that ethical values are spiritual and they are eternal and universal. The ethical values are divine creation. Plato supported this view and the Indian concept of dharma is based on absolutism. Some ethical values like ‘don’t kill’, ‘don’t steal’, don’t lie’ etc. are universal as they are followed all over the world.
However, many philosophers believe that ethics is this-worldly and created by human minds only. They deny the universality of any ethical principle and believe that these values change with time and situation. For example, marrying to more than one spouse is considered unethical in many part of the world. However, in some religions, a man is allowed to have many wives, which is not considered to be unethical. Similarly killing people is justified in case of war or in case of the acts terrorism. (147 words)
4. What is 'emotional intelligence' and how can it be developed in people? How does it help an individual in taking ethical decisions? (150 words) 10
Answer
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It involves the understanding emotions of self and others, using emotions for solving complex problems of life and managing emotions to lead a happy and successful life.
We can develop emotional intelligence like we develop any other virtues by practice and habituation. Emotional intelligence improves when we closely interact with people, use our intuitive mind more, share the suffering of other people and help them to lead better lives. We must also develop positive thinking so that we can see brighter side of the life and develop emotional attachment with other people.
An emotionally intelligent person has empathy because he is connected with everyone around him emotionally. When you have compassion and love for other people, your decisions are likely to be ethical because you would keep the impact of your decisions on others instead of only thinking about your own interest. (160 words)
5. (a) What do you understand by the term 'voice of conscience'? How do you prepare yourself to heed to the voice of conscience? (150 words) 10
Answer
Voice of conscience is the ‘inner voice’ that we hear from within, particularly when we are trying to do something which in unethical or immoral. Our conscience is developed since our childhood when we start learning about the concept of good and evil. It is developed with our thoughts and actions as we progress in our lives. The concepts of right and wrong gradually gets into our deepest conscious and take deep roots. Our voice of conscience helps us follow the right path. Whenever we do something wrong, this inner voice warns us and advices us to do the right thing.
We must respect and follow the voice of our conscience to make our inner voice stronger. When we ignore our voice of conscience, it becomes weaker and gradually we stop listening to it totally. When we listen to our inner voice, it leads us to an ethical and moral life, which gives us the true happiness and joy. (154 words)
(b) 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. (150 words) 10
Answer
Sometimes, our voice of conscience shows two different paths, which contradict each other. If you follow one voice, it defies the others. There is also no possibility to follow both the paths and hence we face crisis of conscience in such moments.
This happened with me during the time of my marriage. My parents were middle class people who have brought up six children in their limited income. We were five brothers and one sister. My father was facing tremendous problem in getting my sister married due to the demands of dowry. I was well placed and I was offered good dowry. I could have accepted dowry and got my sister married. I was against dowry, but I also loved my sister and wanted to help my parents.
I, however, refused to accept dowry and worked hard with parents to find a suitable match for my sister who wanted an educated girl and good family rather than dowry. I could this follow my values and also fulfilled my duty as a son and a brother. (175 words)
6. Given below are three quotations of great moral thinkers/philosophers. For each of these quotations, bring out what it means to you in the present context:
(a) "There is enough on this earth for every one's need but for no one's greed.'' Mahatma Gandhi (150 words) 10
Answer
Our needs are limited but our greed has no limit. We only easily satisfy our basic needs like food, clothing or housing. There are sufficient resources today in our world to easily satisfy the needs of all people of the world.
However, there is no end to greed. A greedy man is never satisfied because the more he gets, the more he desires. Even the entire wealth of the world is provided to a person, it still can’t fulfill the greed of one person since he would still desire more. Moreover, in order to fulfil greed, men do many illegal and immoral acts, which makes the poor people even poorer and create imbalance in the society. It is, therefore, important for us to control over greed because we can never satisfy it. If we only focus on our needs, we can satisfy our needs and also share the surplus with other people and make their life better. (157 words)
(b) "Nearly all men can withstand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power".-Abraham Lincoln (150 words) 10
Answer
When people are facing difficulties in life, they strive for survival and hence give their best to fight the external threats or aggression. However, their actions don’t reflect their true character since these actions are not voluntary but a reaction to the given adverse situation. When the adverse situation is removed, they are back to their original ways. Most of the people do the right things because of the fear of punishment by the people who are more powerful than them. If there is no fear of punishment, the real character of a person is exposed.
When people gets power, they don’t have to fear punishment as less powerful people can’t act against then. In such a situation, their real character is manifested. If they are good people, they shall use their power to do good to others; and if they are evil, they would use this power do harm others. Therefore power is a better method to test one’s character. (158 words)
(c) "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies".- Aristotle (150 words) 10
Answer
It is possible to overcome our enemies by the use of force, strategies and even deceit. It is, however, difficult to overcome our desires because that comes from within and we don’t know how to win one part of the self with another. However, our victories of enemies are only temporary since there is always a fear of revenge and losing the next battle. Hence, a person who defeats his enemy can’t enjoy lasting peace and happiness because he always fear anxiety over the next battle as the losing person would always try to take revenge.
However, when we overcome our desires, we remain happy and satisfied with whatever we have. We even lose desire to defeat others or gain more from the world for our happiness. This creates harmony within ourselves and gives lasing joy. Aristotle has thus rightly advised us to focus on internal victories since the person who had control over the self, fears none. (157 words)
7. "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? (150 words) 10
Answer
Man is a social animal. Hence, his joys and sorrows are the result of his interaction with the society. No person can become happy if he always behaves in selfish manner, because such a person would be discarded by the society. On the contrary, if we work for the betterment of the society, society helps us achieve success as our success is beneficial to the society.
Hence, a person who is doing good to everyone is actually doing good to himself since all his good deeds comes back to him from the society following the laws of karma. A public servant must try to do good to everyone because that earns him the goodwill and trust of all the person. When people like you and trust you, they collaborate with you instead of opposing your actions. This makes a public servant more efficient, successful and happier. (146 words)
8. It is often said that 'politics' and 'ethics' do not go together. What is your opinion in this regard? Justify your answer with illustrations. (150 words) 10
Answer
Politics is the game of power and money, which often attract people who seek wealth and power. Since politicians are actually paid very less salaries and they are expected to serve the people instead of ruling them, it is difficult to achieve these objectives lawfully. Hence, politics often attract the people who are corruptible. For an honest and noble person, power is not a perquisite, but a responsibility because it should be used to help the poor and develop the society.
One of the golden principle of politics is to ‘divide and rule’, which is never accepted by an ethical person who would always strive to unite the people for a strong nation. The rise of Hitler, Stalin or Mao in the international politics is a great example of how unscrupulous people succeed in politics. However, we also find Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi succeeding in politics, which illustrate that politics needs ethical and good people because they alone can change the world for the better. (166 words)
Section B
In the following questions, carefully study the cases presented and then answer the questions that follow:
9. 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.
The POI is otherwise an honest and conscientious person but this particular decision on which the RTI application has been filed, turned out to be wrong. He comes to you for advice.
The following are some suggested options. Please evaluate the merits and demerits of each of the options:
(i) The POI could refer the matter to his superior officer and seek his advice and act strictly in accordance with the advice, even though he is not completely in agreement with the advice of the superior.
(ii) The POI could proceed on leave and leave the matter to be dealt by his successor in office or request for transfer of the application to another PIO.
(iii) The POI could weigh the consequences of disclosing the information truthfully, including the effect on his career, and reply in a manner that would not place him or his career in jeopardy, but at the same time a little compromise can be made on the contents of the information.
(iv) The POI could consult his colleagues who are party to the decision and take action as per their advice.
Also please indicate (without necessarily restricting to the above options) what you would like to advise, giving proper reasons. (250 words) 20
Answer
(i) Under the RTI Act, the PIO himself has to take the decision for providing information to the applicant. This is a quasi-judicial function of the PIO and he has to apply his mind for taking decision in this regards. He is not expected to follow the orders of his senior officers. He is also not bound by their order, if it is given by them. He can, however, consult any person and take their experienced advice, but he alone is responsible for the decision.
(ii) If the PIO proceed on leave and leave the matter of another officer, it is not going to help him since the other officer would provide the information under RTI and the same consequence would follow to him. In the same way, he also can’t get any benefit if the application is transferred to another PIO.
(iii) PIO has to disclose the full information unless it falls in the exempted category. He may go through the different case laws to find out if the information falls in the exempted category. He can deny the information, if it falls in such category, else he must provide the information as sought by the applicant.
(iv)There is no prohibition in consulting the colleagues under RTI Act for knowing different options available in the law. However, he has to bear the final responsibility of the decision. He must take advice from everyone, but take the final decision himself.
He must provide information according to law as per the law. He must inform his superior about the mistakes committed by him and also try to rectify them, if possible. Government officers are protected under the law for their bonafide mistakes and no actions may be taken if the decision has been taken in good faith. He must learn from the mistake and not repeat them in future. (264 words)
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 the 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.
(i) Follow the advice of the Chief Engineer and go ahead.
(ii) 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.
(iii) Call for explanation from the Junior Engineers and issue orders to the contractor for necessary correction within targeted time.
(iv) Highlight the issue so that it reaches superiors above the Chief Engineer.
(v) Considering the rigid attitude of the Chief Engineer, seek transfer from the project or report sick. (250 words) 20
Answer
(i) This can’t be the right option. The executive engineer can’t shift the responsibility on the junior engineers. If he is convinced that the lacuna is serious in nature, he must not follow the advice of the Chief Engineer since it would hazard public safety and he would be held responsible if some accident happens in future.
(ii) This is a possible option because one of the golden principle of administration is to disclose the information to your senior officer and seek their written approval and guidance. In case the Chief Engineer give a clear cut advice, the executive engineer must follow such a written advice. However, the Chief Engineer may also order investigation and enquiry against the EE instead of helping him.
(iii) This is the right option. He must investigate the matter himself. If the Junior Engineers have played mischief or did dereliction of duty, he must report the matter to the senior officers for necessary actions with facts and evidences. At the same time the contractor must be asked to make the necessary corrections within the stipulated time or face legal consequences including blacklisting, because it was his fault to not construct the flyover according to the specification.
(iv) This is not the right option within the government since you must follow hierarchy. Moreover, you are yourself responsible for the lapse. It would make the Chief Engineer defensive and he may incriminate you in his report. You may finally be held responsible for your supervisory failure and face action.
(v) This is also not the right option since running away from the responsibility won’t solve problem. You lose the opportunity to correct the problem if you are transferred or stay home.
(284 words)
11. 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.
(a) Bring out and discuss the ethical issues involved in the above case.
(b) What would be your reaction after your above visit? (300 words) 25
Answer
(a) It is the duty of every government officer to comply with the law and ensure its compliance by the people. According to law, children below the age of 14 should not be employed in hazardous industries like the industry manufacturing fire-crackers. By deploying the children in such factories at such young age, their parents and the industries have broken the law and played with the future of the children.
The law does not include household-based works under its ambit because it assumes that if parents and close relatives are employing their children for some job, they shall be taking care of the safety and security of the children. However, when children are employed by a third person purely for making more profit, it can’t be expected that he would taking care of their safety in the similar manner. This is clearly a case where the manufacture has violated the law and the ethical principles of the society.
Employing children in hazardous industries violates the principle of paternalism which requires people to assist others in pursuing their best interests when they cannot do so themselves.
(b) The right course of action would be to thoroughly investigate the case and gather sufficient evidence by the help of the statements of the children, their parents and collect documents like Aadhar to make a foolproof case against the manufacturer, who must be booked for violating the law and punished accordingly. The parents of the children must be counselled to send their children to schools for their better future.
It should also be appropriate for the officer to bring this matter to the notice of the government and request them to set up good schools and provide other facilities for the upliftment of the poor families in the area.
(302 words)
12. 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 proposal 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.
(a) What are the options available to you?
(b) Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons. (250 words) 20
The different options are as following.
Accept the request of PS: This is the easier option and it also seems to be in the interest of the institute because the PS would help clearance of many important proposals of the institute. However, the benefits of following such a proposal is short term because the grants would be exhausted soon, but the damage to the institution would be long term as the professor shall be there for decades. Hence, this proposal can’t be accepted.
Decline the Request of PS: The other option is to straightway say no to the PS. This is not advisable. How do you know that the relative of the functionary is not deserving even before taking his interview? He may actually be the best choice even without the recommendation. This is also not a right option.
Explain to the Board Members: You can tell the Board Members that you have received the phone call from the PS and they must award high marks to him during interview. This is also not a good option because it would project you a weak Head of Department who has no courage to take the pressure and follow his conviction. Everyone would know soon that the professor was selected due to pressure. This would cause loss of reputation to you and the professor for all time to come.
Explain to the PS: Discuss the matter with the PS and tell him that the selection can be made only if the candidate is deserving. You can assure him of all your best wishes and tell him that you would try to help him best. If the candidate has merit, select him. If he does not have merit, reject him. This in my opinion is the best option.
(274 words)
13. As a senior officer in the Finance Ministry, you have access to some confidential and crucial information about policy decisions that the Government is about to announce. These decisions are likely to have far-reaching impact on the housing and construction industry. If the builders have access to this information beforehand, they can make huge profits. One of the builders has done a lot of quality work for the Government and is known to be close to your immediate superior, who asks you to disclose this information to the said builder.
(a) What are the options available to you?
(b) Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons. (250 words) 20
Answer
A civil servant must always follow law using the Deontology principles of Immanuel Kant irrespective of the outcome.
In this instant case, following options are available.
The first option is to follow the order of our superior and disclose the information to the builder. By doing do, we shall be illegitimately benefiting the builder because other builders won’t have access to such an information. This will give undue advantage to the builder which is ethically and legally wrong because a public servant must be fair and just to everyone. We are also breaking the law of secrecy by revealing the classified information, which is a punishable offence. We should, therefore, not follow the orders of our superior because it is legally wrong.
The second option is to discuss the matter with the superior and explain him the law point in this regards. If he still wants the information to be disclosed to the builder, a firm no should be said.
The third option is to record the oral order and file a complaint to the vigilance section or CBI along with the evidence. This will give a lesson to such officers who misuses their office to provide undue benefit to their favourites.
It is never advised to break the law as a civil servant. You can make strict criteria during the tender so that unscrupulous builders can’t bid for the government contract. However, under no condition you must disclose secret information or give someone undue advantage illegally. (248)

14. 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.
(a) What are the options available to you?
(b) Evaluate each of these options and choose the option you would adopt giving reasons. (250 words) 20
Answer
An organization is always more important than any individual and no one is indispensable in a professional organization. A good organization must be able to produce great results due to the its strong values rather than due to some individuals who are committing immoral, unethically and illlegal deeds.
The first and easiest option is to let the matter go. Mrs. X has already resigned and she has not even launched any complaint against the Mr A. However, this is a sort-sighed approach because Mr A would commit the same mischief again with someone else. The entire organization would get a bad name if the matter is then reported to police in future. Hence this is not the right option.
The second option is take action against Mr A once you have come to know the facts. You may remove him from the company without giving publicity to the matter. This is a decent option, but still not the best one because Mr A would keep playing mischief in whichever company he goes.
The third option is to request Mrs X to withdraw her resignation and promise her that the action shall be taken against Mr A according to law. She may be encouraged to give the complaint in writing along with the evidences and documents. Thereafter, a team or a committee may be formed to investigate the matter and submit report in a short time. After you get the report, take action against Mr A as per the law. This is the best option in the given situation. (257 words)