Public Organisations Questions for UPSC Mains

The topic, ‘Public Organisations’ is a broad one in the general studies paper 4 of the Civil Services Examination (CSE). In the IAS Exam, the topic encompasses:

  • 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 and,
  • Corporate Governance

This article will provide you with the set of questions asked in GS 4 of the UPSC Mains exam that fall under the topic, ‘Public Organisations.’

Candidates can get other subject-wise/topic-wise GS 4 questions from the links provided in the table below:

Attitude Questions for UPSC Mains GS 4 Aptitude Questions for UPSC Mains GS 4
Emotional Intelligence Questions for UPSC Mains GS 4 Ethics Questions in UPSC Mains GS 4
Moral Thinkers & Reformers Questions for UPSC Mains GS 4 Probity in Governance Questions for UPSC Mains GS 4

GS 4 Public Organisations Questions (Year-Wise)

We have segregated the public organisations questions from the GS 4 papers of 2019-2013. There are two sets:

  • Theoretical Questions
  • Case Studies.

Candidates can find both the sets under each year one after another. Public Organisations being a broad topic in GS 4 has both theoretical and case studies-bound questions revolving around this topic. You can get a complete trend analysis of general studies 4 in our GS Paper 4 Strategy, Structure and Syllabus page.

Public Organisations Questions (Year-Wise)

2019 – Public Organisations Questions Theory-Based

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.

2019 – Public Organisations Questions Case Study
  1. 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 the line of 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 fibre of the civil servants. 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.
  2. 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 an 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 definite 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.
  3. In one of the districts of a frontier state, 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.
2018 – Public Organisations Questions Theory-Based
  1. What is meant by public interest? What are the principles and procedures to be followed by civil servants in the public interest?
  2. “In doing a good thing, everything is permitted which is not prohibited expressly or by clear implication”. Examine the statement with suitable examples in the context of a public servant discharging his/her duties.
  3. Explain the process of resolving ethical dilemmas in Public Administration.
2018 – Public Organisations Questions Case Study
  1. Rakesh is a responsible district level officer, who enjoys the trust of his higher officials. Knowing his honesty, the government entrusted him with the responsibility of identifying the beneficiaries under a health care scheme meant for senior citizens. The criteria to be a beneficiary are the following:
    1. 60 years of age or above
    2. Belonging to a reserved community
    3. Family income of less than 1 Lakh rupees per annum
    4. Post-treatment prognosis is likely to be high to make a positive difference to the quality of life of the beneficiary.

One day, an old couple visited Rakesh’s office with their application. They have been the residents of a village in his district since their birth. The old man is diagnosed with a rare condition that causes obstruction in the large intestine. As a consequence, he has severe abdominal pain frequently that prevents him from doing any physical labour. The couple has no children to support them. The expert surgeon whom they contacted is willing to do the surgery without charging any fee. However, the couple will have to bear the cost of incidental charges, such as medicines, hospitalization, etc., to the tune of rupees one lakh. The couple fulfills all the criteria except criterion ‘b’. However, any financial aid would certainly make a significant difference in their quality of life. How should Rakesh respond to the situation?

  1. It is a State where prohibition is in force. You are recently appointed as the Superintendent of Police of a district notorious for illicit distillation of liquor. The illicit liquor leads to many deaths, reported and unreported, and causes a major problem for the district authorities. The approach till now had been to view it as a law and order problem and tackle it accordingly. Raids, arrest, police cases, and criminal trials – all these had only limited impact. The problem remains as serious as ever. Your inspections show that the parts of the district where the distillation flourishes are economically, industrially and educationally backward. Agriculture is badly affected by poor irrigation facilities. Frequent clashes among communities gave a boost to illicit distillation. No major initiatives had taken place in the past either from the government’s side or from social organizations to improve a lot of the people. Which new approach will you adopt to bring the problem under control?
2017 – Public Organisations Questions Theory-Based
  1. Conflict of interest in the public sector arises when
    1. official duties,
    2. public interest, and
    3. personal interest

are taking priority one above the other. How can this conflict in administration be resolved? Describe with an example.

  1. Strength, peace and security are considered to be the pillars of international relations. Elucidate.
  2. “Corruption causes misuse of government treasury, administrative inefficiency and obstruction in the path of national development.” Discuss Kautilya’s views.
2016 – Public Organisations Questions Case Study
  1. 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 fulfills the eligibility criteria. But after meeting her and listening to her you feel that she certainly needs support. Your enquirers 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 necessary documents would clearly be a 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.
  2. Saraswati was a successful IT professional in the 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 Government agencies. The rules and procedures were quite confusing and cumbersome. What frustrated her most was delays, callous attitude of officials and constant demand for bribes. Her experience and the experience of many others like her have 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 and corrupt manner. What measures can you suggest to ensure that due control is exercised but well meaning, honest NGO efforts are not thwarted?
2015 – Public Organisations Questions Theory-Based
  1. At the international level, bilateral relations between most nations are governed on the policy of promoting one’s own national interest without any regard for the interest of other nations. This leads to conflicts and tension between the nations. How can ethical considerations help resolve such tensions? Discuss with specific examples.
  2. Public servants are likely to confront 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.
2014 – Public Organisations Questions Theory-Based
  1. 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 – Public Organisations Questions Case Study
  1. 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 environments are quite prevalent, individual attempts to stick to ethical principles may cause a lot of problems in one’s career. It may 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 t 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?
2013 – Public Organisations Questions Theory-Based
  1. What do you understand by the term ‘voice of conscience’? How do you prepare yourself to heed to the voice of conscience?
  2. 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 – Public Organisations Questions Case Study
  1. 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 a 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. What are the options available to you? Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons.

Candidates can get UPSC Previous Year Question Papers from the linked article.

Public Organisations Questions for UPSC Mains GS 4:- Download PDF Here

To get the topic-wise GS 4 questions for UPSC Mains in one place, check the linked article.

GS 4 Related Links:

Difference between Democracy & Dictatorship Difference Between Ethics & Morality-
Difference Between Democracy and Monarchy Difference Between Communism, Capitalism and Socialism


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