As we all are acquainted with the changes brought about to the Civil Service Mains Examination in pattern and the syllabus, there are currently 4 General studies papers in Mains apart from Essay and Optional papers. Of these, Ethics and Integrity poses a big challenge for most candidates as it is tough to get quality resource and one needs to have a neutral opinion when it comes to approaching this paper. GS paper 4 happens to be one of the most intriguing papers amongst all GS papers.
The mantra given by UPSC goes like this:
“The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyse, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.”
The above statement acts like a guiding light for an aspirant’s preparation. One need not master all the topics but have a basic understanding and analysing abilities. Reading thoroughly and revisiting the topics time and again gives one the Basic understanding that UPSC demands and ability to analyse from that reading strengthens from Writing Practice.
THE RIGHT APPROACH:
Ethics is not a technical subject that requires one to study and remember a lot. It is simple application of ethical values and concepts in real life. Ethics and Integrity requires consistency in one’s thinking and acts as a key ingredient of success in this paper. It is close to impossible to fake ethical behaviour. Even if an aspirant manages to fake ethical behaviour, inconsistency would be seen all over the answer sheet. As a UPSC aspirant, one is expected to be considerate to almost everything in our surrounding like society, friends, relatives, foes etc. It might seem a little too much that is expected of us but it is crucial for one’s personal growth that as administrators will represent the country.
And this matters a lot for our preparation for GS paper 4 because our assessment of the situation is driven by our personality and character. Hence one should rely on an honest foundation which can’t be found in books or websites. This is something that needs to be ingrained in all of us. We need to get in touch with the innocent self that used to be a part of our childhood. As we grow up, we complicate things and assess our wrong doings by judging others. We look primarily for social acceptance and in the process compromise on our character and integrity. UPSC can sense this dilemma well and hence one is tested on many questions in such a short duration of time. Precooked answers stand a very thin chance in this paper.
Few pointers to note:
- Study according to the requirement and theme of the syllabus prescribed. As mentioned earlier, it is a simple application of one’s ethical values and concept in real life. One need not study ethics for hours and hours on a regular basis like one does for other GS papers.
- An aspirant need not cram up several complex jargons, different theories, thinker’s sayings and quotes, definitions and heavy philosophical things. It is crucial for one to understand and study only what is needed to handle ethical dilemma as an administrator.
- Create a repository of good words, examples etc. in your notes.
- An examiner is looking for a logical writing style rather than a deeply philosophical one. Hence focus should be more on presenting your arguments rather than philosophies.
- It is advised not to force morality in one’s answers. If it seems artificial, it will be punished severely.
- Understand your weaknesses well and be smart in answering such tricky questions.
- Scan previous years UPSC papers. Observe particularly the kind of case studies and personal opinion based questions.
- One of the most important requisites is to keep a track of latest developments in India and World and one can quote them as examples in his/her answers.
- Take up a good test series with a good coaching institute as one needs a lot of practice to write such long answers in a span of 3 hours.
How to write Ethics answers??
Keeping it as simple as possible is the key to approach this paper. Let’s look at a few do’s and don’ts.
- Try to keep the answer ethical, practical and hanging around values and concepts.
- Examples, illustrations and also current affairs flavour can be added as and when necessary.
- Use government policies, schemes, initiatives wherever possible.
- You can also use quotes of scholars, ethical concepts and terms contextually to enrich your answers wherever possible.
- Try not to write in a very generic manner
- Don’t try to quote technical jargons, theories, thinkers if not needed. It is important to write according to the context of the question and keep the answer as practical as possible.