How To Study Ethics Paper in IAS Mains GS?

Ever since the introduction of Ethics Paper in IAS Mains General Studies (GS Paper 4), Civil Services aspirants are in a dilemma. As ethics is not a conventional area taught in schools/ colleges, it is quite natural from the candidates point of view to ponder about the questions to be asked from the same. But there is no need to panic and if properly handled, this area can in-fact turn high scoring.

Decision Making/Interpersonal Skills section seen at the last pages of Prelims CSAT Paper 2, is the first stage where UPSC check the ethics angle of Civil Services aspirants. But Ethics as part of Civil Services GS Mains has much wider dimensions.

Ethics as a Subject in IAS Mains GS

Yes, this is how you should treat ethics for IAS Mains from the year 2013 – treat it as a subject. Just like History, Geography or Polity, consider Ethics as a separate subject with more or less a definite syllabus. Ethics as a subject has its roots in Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and Public Administration. But at the same time, UPSC does not seem to expect candidates writing too much technical answer into ethics paper, as this paper is part of General Studies.

A fresh writing style, clear thinking and wide reading is what you need to score high in ethics paper. Now let’s take a quick look at what UPSC’s view on the newly introduced ethics paper:

“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.”

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What should you expect in Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude Paper for IAS Mains?

Ethics for IAS

The below mentioned areas can be expected based on UPSC syllabus of ethics for GS Mains as well as 2013 ethics question paper.

  • The areas tested in this paper : Candidates’ attitude and approach.
  • Field of testing : Integrity, Probity in public life and Problem solving approach.
  • The presence of case studies is more or less certain.
  • As the paper is of 250 marks, expect theory questions apart from the mentioned case studies.

Areas mentioned in Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude Paper of GS Paper 4

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Comment : This is one area where you can expect theory questions covering the basics of ethics, human values and lessons from the life of great leaders.
  • Attitude : Your attitude in relation with thought and behavior.
  • Aptitude : Checks whether you have an aptitude for Civil Services.
  • Emotional Intelligence : A crucial mental quality, don’t confuse with IQ.
  • Contribution of moral thinkers and philosophers : Comment : See the relationship of the ethics paper with Philosophy and Sociology.
  • Ethics in Public Administration : This is one major area where you can expect lot of quality questions covering topics like Corporate Governance, Rules, Laws, Conflicts etc.
  • Probity in Governance : RTI related matters.

What to Study for Ethics paper in IAS Mains GS?

As mentioned before, treat Ethics as a separate subject like History or Polity. Going through the UPSC Mains ethics (GS4) previous year question papers, it becomes clear that conventional rote learning will not turn fruitful here. What one needs is awareness about himself/herself. Good writing skills are a must. Devote time for preparation and reading; that will make you better equipped. Treating Ethics paper as a subject to attempted directly at exam hall without preparation may not turn beneficial for you. Though extensive preparation for other subjects might not turn necessary for this paper, a casual approach is not advised. Toppers who scored well in ethics paper was serious about this paper, and didn’t take this lightly. Reference books available in the market related to the ethics topic of UPSC Civil Services GS are given below.

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Ethics Books for GS Mains – IAS  [Ethics, Aptitude, Attitude : GS Paper 4]

  1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Mains. ( Ethics – GS4)
  2. IAS Mains General Studies – Ethics. ( Arihant Manual – GS4)

If time permits, read any book which helps: Some suggestions

  1. Ethics and Integrity of Governance: Perspectives Across Frontiers
  2. Public Administration Ethics for the 21st Century
  3. Corruption, Ethics and Accountability: Essays by an Administrator
  4. Ethics and Integrity in Public Administration: Concepts and Cases
  5. Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution
  6. Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions
  7. Managerial Ethics: Managing the Psychology of Morality
  8. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Mains. (Written according to UPSC syllabus)
  9. Ethics – by Frankena K William (Used in many universities)
  10. Human Values and Professional Ethics with Case Studies

Apart from the reference text books, the best way to start Ethics paper of IAS Mains GS is by building basic ideas related to the areas mentioned in this from post from the IGNOU text books related to ethics (BA and MA philosophy). NCERT text books of Sociology and Psychology (available online and offline) can also help to write better answers. 4th report of ARC – Ethics in governance – can help in getting insights about lot of aspects related to governance and public administration. Also build your fundamentals on ethics and moral philosophies from basic philosophy books.

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