General Studies – 4 (Ethics) Question Paper: UPSC Civil Services Mains Exam – 2019

The UPSC 2019 Mains GS Paper IV (Ethics) was conducted on Sunday, September 22 (Afternoon Session).

The complete UPSC Question Paper for General Studies 4 – Civil Services Exam 2019 is given below.

IAS aspirants can refer these links for other UPSC 2019 Question Papers – Civil Service Mains Exam:

  1. UPSC Mains 2019 – Essay
  2. UPSC Mains 2019 – GS1
  3. UPSC Mains 2019 – GS2
  4. UPSC Mains 2019 – GS3

All UPSC 2019 Question Papers (Prelims + Mains) can be downloaded together from the linked article.

General Studies Paper-IV

Question Paper Specific Instructions:

  • Please read each of the following instructions carefully before attempting questions:
  • There are TWELVE questions printed in both in HINDI and in ENGLISH.
  • All questions are compulsory.
  • The number of marks carried by a question/part is indicated against it.
  • Answers must be written in the medium authorized in the Admission Certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this Question-cum-Answer(QCA) Booklet in the space provided. No marks will be given for answers written in a medium other than the authorized one.
  • Keep the word limit indicated in the question in mind.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank in Question-cum-Answer Booklet must be clearly struck off.


1.(a) What are the basic principles of public life? Illustrate any three of these with suitable examples. (150 words) 10

1.(b) What do you understand by the term “public servant”? Reflect on the expected role of public servant. (150 words) 10

2.(a) Effective utilization of public funds is crucial to meet development goals. Critically examine the reasons for under-utilization and mis-utilization of public funds and their implications. (150 words) 10

2.(b) “Non-performance of duty by a public servant is a form of corruption.” Do you agree with this view? Justify your answer. (150 words) 10

3.(a) What is meant by the term “ constitutional morality”? How does one uphold constitutional morality? (150 words) 10

3.(b) What is meant by “crisis of conscience”? How does it manifest itself in the public domain? (150 words) 10

4.(a) Explain the basic principles of citizens charter movement and bring out its importance. There is a view that the Official Secrets Act is an obstacle to the implementation of Right to Information Act. Do you agree with this view? Discuss. (150 words) 10

4.(b) There is a view that the Official Secrets Act is an obstacle to the implementation of Right to Information Act. Do you agree with this view? Discuss. (150 words) 10

5.(a) What do you understand by probity in governance? Based on your understanding of the term, suggest measures for ensuring probity in government. (150 words) 10

5.(b) “emotional Intelligence is the ability to make your emotion work for you instead of against you.” Do you agree with this view? Discuss. (150 words) 10

6. What do each of the following quotation mean to you?

6.(a) “An unexamined life is not worth living.”- Socrates (150 words) 10

6.(b) “ A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.”

-M.K. Gandhi. (150 words) 10

6.(c) “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 (150 words) 10


7. 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. (250 words) 20

8. 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 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. These 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 that honest civil servants are not implicated for bonafide mistakes on their part? Justify your answer. (250 words) 20

9. An apparel manufacturing company having 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 sometime, a woman employee lodged a formal complaint to the management against the marketing executive about sexually harassing her. Faced with the company’s indifference in not taking cognizance of her grievance, 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

10. In a modern democratic polity, there is the concept of political executive and permanent executive. Elected people’s representatives from the political executive and bureaucracy forms the permanent executive. Ministers frame policy decisions and bureaucrats execute these.

In the initial decades after independence, relationship between the permanent executive and the political executive were characterized by mutual understanding, respect and co-operation, without encroaching upon others domain.

However, in the 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, postings, etc. Under this scenario, there is difinitive trend towards “politicization of bureaucracy”. The rising materialism and acquisitiveness in social life has 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

11. 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 of 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 this crisis. (250 words) 20

12. In recent times, there has been an increasing concern in India to develop effective civil service ethics, codes 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 the civil services. These are as follows:

  1. Anticipating specific threats to ethical standards and integrity in the civil services,
  2. Strengthening the ethical competence of civil servants and
  3. 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

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