UPSC has retained its credence for the dynamic changes they have brought about periodically in the syllabus which aims at preparing civil servants more relevant to the contemporary society. Adding Ethics and its dimensions as General Studies IV (GS-IV) paper is part of this long term agenda of UPSC. Initially the Prelims exam had 8 questions on decision making whose tone and tenor was largely similar to the way in which GS-IV questions are designed.
GS-IV is a paper that completes the general studies cycle with an exclusive paper that will have questions that will test the aspirants on ethics, integrity and aptitude. The paper is designed to dynamically test the understanding, relevance and application of the same along with real time check on the authenticity.
UPSC has initial remarks on the syllabus as follows:
General Studies IV: Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude
• This paper will include questions to test the candidates’ attitude and approach to issues relating to integrity, probity in public life and his problem solving approach to various issues and conflicts faced by him in dealing with society.
• Questions may utilize the case study approach to determine these aspects. The following broad areas will be covered.
It is interesting and worth acknowledging that this is the only paper of the 4 General Studies papers which has part A and B divisions.The relevance of the same is important as it is completely different in orientation than the other three papers.
As for any paper of UPSC it is important to have an understanding of the syllabus which gives a picture of what and how to pursue studies. The paper has topics relating
• Ethics and Human Interface
• Human Values
• Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
• Aptitude and foundational values
• Emotional Intelligence
• Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration
• Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions
• Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance
• Probity in Governance
• Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.
• Case Studies on above issues.
A glance of the above will reveal that each of the same is connected and concerning everyday life, society, individual personality and the dynamics along.
Some FAQs on GS-IV paper-
• How do we study GS-IV?
• What are the relevant books?
• Some say no books or coaching is relevant. Is it so?
• It has the highest scope of scoring among the four GS papers. How do we score high?
• Can we bluff when answering questions or case studies?
• What are case studies? How to deal with them?
• Help me understand via some questions and topics touched in question papers till now.
Let us try answering each of the above:
How do we study GS-IV? – Since paper involves asyllabusthat is contemporary and everyday life, pure book oriented study is not the right way to go by. This is true to all other papers also. But for Ethics paper this is more relevant as this is one paper which connects to aspirant’s unprepared self more than the prepared self.
Ok let’s not make it sound so complex. Put in simple words- if the other papers are a test of your aptitude and competency this paper is attest of your attitude and personality. A glance over the last few year’s questions of both part A and B of the papers will give us an idea that the papers are designed with brilliant contemporary relevance and alacrity to test the real time orientation of aspirants.
What are the relevant books? – The above answer would have given a fair idea that any single book will not be sufficient and enough. It’s a paper testing something beyond book knowledge. But some books listed below in order are considered good for basic reference ideas and language to develop a vocabulary of ethics much necessary to write answers.
• LEXICON for Ethics Integrity and Aptitude
• Ethics Integrity and Aptitude of Arihant Publishers
• Ethics Integrity and Aptitude – G SubbaRao P N Roy Chowdhury
These books are more than sufficient and will give a fair idea of the subject and the fundamental understanding necessary. It is a cautionary statement: The more you try to read it will be repetition and hence read less, think more and apply it almost all that happens around. That is how ethics papers works.
Some say no books or coaching is relevant. Is it so? – It is partly relevant and partly not. There are rank holders who claim they didn’t study anything and have brilliant marks in the paper. We will find the other end of the story too. But Buddha’s middle ground is a must. We will suggest books are necessary and a round of class room understanding is necessary for that orientation which is crucial. The need to separate cream from the milk happens in the classroom and hence a classroom understanding is essential. Application can be original and justifiably so.
It has the highest scope of scoring among the four GS papers. How do we score high?–By far the highest scoring among the 4 GS papers has been in this paper. Hence the scope is immense. It is upon us as aspirants of how we shape our answers.Hence when we do get to see scores like 140 we also see scores like 60 which have acted spoils literally destroying the entire result of that year….
For the question how to score high – Thebest answer is be as realistic and contemporary. Almost all answers should be constructed then and there and no prepared content should seem to have been reproduced. This is not appropriate technique to write answers at least in this paper.
Can we bluff when answering questions or case studies? – Bluffing isn’t recommended in any UPSC paper for that matter. It can have serious negative consequences. We are sure you would have heard stories of people making up answers and getting good marks. But these are largely conjectures and good to listen but not to implement. A strict NO!!!
We suggest you read the questions and write a structured answer as per the thoughts flow in the mind at that time. We at DRACS will train you and tutor you to orient your thinking as such. It is important you prepare keeping all these aspects in mind.
What are case studies? – Case studies are real life or imaginary situations that are presented where aspirants are made part of and questions put to arrive at solutions and relevant responses. These are many times more close to events that have happened in near future and will seek the aspirant’s response in different ways –
Developing options available and selection of a best with reason
Giving a course of action which gives a series of steps choosing in order of execution.
Immediate response to the situation as the demand of the case is.
Hence it is important to note that GS-4 is not a paper as other GS papers are. It does require a different approach and preparation than others.
Help me understand via some questions and topics touched in question papers till now.
Let us just enumerate the larger topics touched till now.
• Environmental Ethics
• Governance – Good Governance
• Patriotism in civil life
• Values and ethics
Now these are the larger topics with relation to syllabus that have found presence in theory questions.
To understand the pattern of the questions, we can classify them into these categories:
• Term based – definition questions
o What is ’emotional intelligence’ and how can it be developed in people? How does it help an individual in taking ethical decisions? (10 marks | 150 words)
o 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? (10marks | 1500 words)
• Personal experience based – opinion oriented questions
o What do you understand by the term ‘voice of conscience’? How do you prepare yourself to heed to the voice of conscience? (10 marks| 150 words)
o What does happiness mean to you? (10 marks| 150 words)
• Quote based questions
o 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. (10 marks| 150 words)
o “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? (10 marks| 150 words)
• Topics of Case studies
o Corruption related
o Social issues oriented
o Real life situation simulated
Ps: Please keep close watch of all social events that would raise larger ethical questions which can be simulated as case studies as done in the past.
As you can see through the clarity in the clarity we wish to present the same to you exclusively. At DRACS we will have a mix of theory and case studies very well interlaced with simultaneous practice. GS-4 will be a smooth journey aiding the selection chances and also the rank for that matter, On pursuit of excellence and quality we assure you your journey with us will be thoughtful and memorable.
Beyond UPSC… Ethics is relevant to life as such. As individuals and responsible citizens it is important that we inculcate ethics to our living. The pursuit is an ongoing one…