How to Prepare for General Studies (GS) Paper 4 for UPSC CSE Mains: Syllabus, Booklist & Strategy

Titled “Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude”, UPSC GS Paper 4 consists of several components including Ethics & Human Interface, attitude, aptitude, foundational values of civil services, code of conduct of governance. Through this paper, the commission assesses the candidate’s integrity and problem-solving approach on various issues and conflicts in society.

In this article, we have discussed the UPSC GS Paper 4 syllabus, preparation strategy, and booklist for UPSC GS Paper 4 for Civil Services Examination. We’ve also discussed how to prepare for GS Paper 4 for UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination! Let’s get started

UPSC GS Paper 4 Syllabus for Civil Services Main Examination

GS Paper 4: Ethics, Integrity & 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:

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Make small notes of concepts that are relevant to the topics that are a part of ethics and integrity. Knowledge about the grammar and jargon of ethics and integrity will be helpful while writing the answers for this paper. You can read basic books such as Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies Paper IV by Niraj Kumar.

  • Attitude: Content, Structure, Function; its Influence and Relation with Thought and Behaviour; Moral and Political Attitudes; Social Influence, and Persuasion.

  • Aptitude and Foundational Values for Civil Service, Integrity, Impartiality and Non-partisanship, Objectivity, Dedication to Public Service, Empathy, Tolerance, and Compassion towards the weaker-sections.

  • Emotional Intelligence-Concepts, and their Utilities and Application in Administration and Governance.

  • Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India and the World.

  • Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration: Status and Problems; Ethical Concerns and Dilemmas in Government and Private Institutions; Laws, Rules, Regulations, and Conscience as Sources of Ethical Guidance; Accountability and Ethical Governance; Strengthening of Ethical and Moral Values in Governance; Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding; Corporate Governance.

  • Probity in Governance: Concept of Public Service; Philosophical Basis of Governance and Probity; 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 the above issues

How to prepare for GS Paper 4: Strategy & Tips

This is one of the most scoring papers in the UPSC CS (Main) examination. To prepare this paper effectively, try to define and write about 100-150 words for each of the micro-topics like integrity, compassion, honesty, probity, etc. This could be used in answer-writing for different topics. Now, let us look at the preparation strategy for each of the broader components of UPSC GS Paper 4:

  1. #1 Ethics and Integrity : Make small notes of concepts that are relevant to the topics that are a part of ethics and integrity. Knowledge about the grammar and jargon of ethics and integrity will be helpful while writing the answers for this paper. You can read basic books such as Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies Paper IV by Niraj Kumar.

  2. #2 Governance and Emotional Intelligence : A similar approach should be applied for preparing topics under governance and emotional intelligence. Questions related to how ethics is put into practice by civil servants are asked from this area. Hence, make use of your analytical mind while answering questions from this area.

  3. #3 Philosophers & Thinkers & Literature and theories corresponding to social thinkers/philosophers and leaders such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Kautilya (Chanakya), Ashoka, Rousseau, Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, Dayanand Saraswati, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Rabindranath Tagore, M.N Roy, Ram Manohar Lohiya, Narayan Guru, Deen Dyal Upadhyay, Nelson Mandela, Subhash Chandra Bose, Mother Teresa, Swami Vivekanand, Ambedkar, and Sardar Patel must be read briefly. This will allow you to answer the questions in this paper very effectively.

  4. #4 Case studies on the above-mentioned topics Try to put yourself in the shoes of an administrator and think about what you’ve done while reading the newspaper reports of the related incidents. This will strengthen your thought process and crisis management to deal with such situations. Newspaper editorials, articles, and interviews of IAS/IPS officers can also be used as a reference point for strengthening this area.

Booklist for UPSC GS Paper 4

  1. Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude – G Subba Rao & P N Roy Chowdhury

  2. Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies Paper IV – Niraj Kumar

  3. Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude – Santosh Ajmera & Nanda Kishore Reddy

  4. Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude – M Karthikeyan

  5. Ethics in Governance: Innovations, Issues, and Instrumentalities – Ramesh K Arora

  6. ARC Reports

Previous Year Questions for GS Paper 4

  1. What are the basic principles of public life? Illustrate any three of these with suitable examples.

  2. What do you understand by the term ‘public servant’? Reflect on the expected role of a public servant.

  3. Effective utilization of public funds is crucial to meet development goals. Critically examine the reasons for under-utilization and misutilization of public funds and their implications.

  4. “Non-performance of duty by a public servant is a form of corruption”. Do you agree with this view? Justify your answer.

  5. What is meant by the term ‘constitutional morality’? How does one uphold constitutional morality?

  6. What is meant by the ‘crisis of conscience’? How does it manifest itself in the public domain?

  7. Explain the basic principles of the citizens’ charter movement and bring out its importance.

  8. There is a view that the Official Secrets Act is an obstacle to the implementation of the Right to Information Act. Do you agree with the view? Discuss.

  9. What do you understand by probity in governance? Based on your understanding of the term, suggest measures for ensuring probity in government.

  10. “Emotional Intelligence is the ability to make your emotions work for you instead of against you”. Do you agree with this view? Discuss.

  11. What do each of the following quotations mean to you?

  12. “An unexamined life is not worth living”. – Socrates

    “A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.” – M.K. Gandhi

    “Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

  13. You are heading the rescue operations in an area affected by severe natural calamity. Thousands of people are rendered homeless and deprived of food, drinking water, and other basic amenities. Rescue work has been disrupted by heavy rainfall and damage to supply routes. The local people are seething with anger against the delayed limited rescue operations. When your team reaches the affected area, the people there heckle and even assault some of the team members. One of your team members is even severely injured. Faced with this crisis, some team members plead with you to call off the operations fearing threats to their life.

    In such trying circumstances, what will be your response? Examine the qualities of a public servant which will be required to manage the situation.

  14. Honesty and uprightness are the hallmarks of a civil servant. Civil servants possessing these qualities are considered as the backbone of any strong organization. In line with duty, they take various decisions, at times some become bonafide mistakes. As long as such decisions are not taken intentionally and do not benefit personally, the officer cannot be said to be guilty. Though such decisions may, at times, lead to unforeseen adverse consequences in the long-term. In the recent past, a few instances have surfaced wherein civil servants have been implicated for bonafide mistakes. They have often been prosecuted and even imprisoned. The instances have greatly rattled the moral fiber of the civil servants.

  15. How does this trend affect the functioning of the civil services? What measures can be taken to ensure the honest civil servants are not implicated for the bonafide mistakes on their part? Justify your answer.

  16. An apparel manufacturing company having a large number of women employees was losing sales due to various factors. The company hired a reputed marketing executive, who increased the volume of sales within a short span of time. However, some unconfirmed reports came up regarding his indulgence in sexual harassment at the workplace. After some time a woman employee launched a formal complaint to the management against the marketing executive for sexually harassing her. Faced with the companies’ indifference, in not taking cognizance of her grievances, she lodged an FIR with the police. Realizing the sensitivity and gravity of the situation, the company called the woman employee to negotiate. In that, she was offered a hefty sum of money to withdraw the complaint and the FIR and also give in writing that the marketing executive is not involved in the case. Identify the ethical issues involved in this case. What options are available to the woman employee? (250 words) 20

  17. In a modern democratic polity, there is a concept of the political executive and permanent executive. Elected people’s representatives form the political executive and bureaucracy forms the permanent executive. Ministers frame policy decisions and bureaucrats execute these. In the initial decades after independence, the relationship between the permanent executive and the political executive was characterized by mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation, without encroaching upon each other’s domain. However, in subsequent decades, the situation has changed. There are instances of the political executive insisting upon the permanent executive to follow its agenda. Respect for and appreciation of upright bureaucrats has declined. There is an increasing tendency among the political executive to get involved in routine administrative matters such as transfers, posting, etc. Under this scenario, there is a definitive trend towards the ‘politicization of bureaucracy’. The rising materialism and acquisitiveness in social life have also adversely impacted upon the ethical values of both the permanent executive and the political executive.

    What are the consequences of this ‘politicization of bureaucracy’? Discuss. (250 words) 20

  18. In one of the districts of a frontier state, the narcotics menace has been rampant. This has resulted in money laundering, mushrooming of poppy farming, arms smuggling, and near stalling of education. The system is on the verge of collapse. The situation has been further worsened by unconfirmed reports that local politicians as well as some senior police officers are providing surreptitious patronage to the drug mafia. At that point in time a woman police officer, known for her skills in handling such situations is appointed as superintendent of police to bring the situation to normalcy. If you are the same police officer, identify the various dimensions of the crisis. Based on your understanding, suggest measures to deal with the crisis. (250 words) 20

  19. In recent times, there has been an increasing concern in India to develop effective civil service ethics, code of conduct, transparency measures, ethics and integrity systems, and anti-corruption agencies. In view of this, there is a need being felt to focus on three specific areas, which are directly relevant to the problems of internalizing integrity and ethics in civil services. These are as follows:

    Anticipating specific threats to ethical standards and integrity in the civil services,

    Strengthening the ethical competence of civil servants and Developing administrative processes and practices which promote ethical values and integrity in civil services.

    Suggest institutional measures to address the above three issues. (250 words) 20

So, this is a brief discussion on how to prepare GS Paper 4 for UPSC Mains preparation. Incorporate these tips into your preparation strategy and notice the difference! You can effectively cover the entire syllabus of General Studies paper by enrolling in our comprehensive course for General Studies. .

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