UPSC Mains General Studies Solved Paper (2013) - "Paper-5 : Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude"

UPSC Mains General Studies Solved Paper (2013) - "Paper-5 : Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude"

Section A

Q1. What do you understand by ‘Values’ and ‘Ethics’? In what way is it important to be ethical along with being professionally competent? (150 words) 10 marks (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Q2. (a) What do you understand by the following terms in the context of public service? (250 words) 3x5= 15 marks. (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

(b) Indicate two more attributes which you consider important for public service. Justify your answer. 10 marks. (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Q3.- Some people feel that values keep changing with time and situation, while others strongly believe that there are certain universal and eternal human values. Give your perception in this regard with due justification. (150 words) 10 Marks (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Q4. What is ‘emotional intelligence’ and how can it be developed in people? How does it help an individual in taking ethical decisions? (150 words) 10 marks (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Q5-. (a) What do you understand by the term ‘voice of conscience’? How do you prepare yourself to heed to the voice of conscience? (150 words) 10 marks (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

(b) 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. (150 words) 10 marks (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Q6. Given below are three quotations of great moral thinkers/philosophers. For each of these quotations, bring out what it means to you in the present context: (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Q7. “The good of an individual is contained in the good of all.” what do you understand by this statement? How can this principle be implemented in public life? (150 words) 10 marks (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Q8. It is often said that ‘politics’ and ‘ethics do not go together. What is your opinion in this regard? Justify your answer with illustration. (150 words) 10 marks (for Answer Join Online Coaching for IAS Mains Exam)

Section B

Q9. A Public Information Officer has received an application under RTI Act. Having gathered the information, the PIO discovers that the information pertains to some of the decisions taken by him, which were found to be not altogether right. There were other employees also who were party to these decisions. Disclosure of the information is likely to lead to disciplinary action with possibility of punishment against him as well as some of his colleagues. Non-disclosure or part disclosure or camouflaged disclosure of information will result into lesser punishment or no punishment.

The PIO is otherwise an honest and conscientious person but his particular decision, on which the RTI application has been filed, turned out to be wrong. He comes to you for advice.
The following are some suggested options. Please evaluate the merits and demerits of each of the option:

1. The PIO could refer the matter to his superior officer and seek his advice and act strictly in accordance with the advice, even though he is not completely in agreement with the advice of the superior.
2. PIO could proceed on leave and leave the matter to be dealt by his successor in office or request for transfer of the application to another PIO.
3. The PIO could weigh the consequences of disclosing the information truthfully including the effect on his career, and reply in a manner that would not place him or his career in jeopardy, but at the same time a little compromise can be made on the contents of the information.
4. The PIO could consult his other colleagues who are party to the decision and take action as per their advice.

Also, please indicate (without necessarily restricting to the above options) what you would like to advise, giving proper reason. (250 words) 20 marks.


The question can be a little complex. On the one hand, the person has committed some mistake for which he might face trouble; but, on the other hand, the person is honest and conscientious. Thus, taking a very strict action might not be practical as mistakes can happen by anyone. At the same time, it would be inappropriate to manipulate the information. Thus, you need to tackle the question tactfully.


Option (i) might be resorted to, but there is a possibility that the superior might advice some unethical path, which would be unethical on the part of the PIO. Thus, it would be inappropriate to follow the advise the superior by word. PIO might take his advise but should judge the value of the same and act by his wit.

Option (ii) might as well be followed, as the PIO has a vested interest in the matter, and the constitution provides for the declaration of such vested interests, and transfer of the case, to ensure impartiality and effectiveness of justice. Thus, the PIO might declare his vested interest in the matter and ask for the transfer of the case of another PIO.

Option (iii) would be unethical on the part of the PIO. As a public functionary, his duty is to communicate the facts objectively. By manipulating the facts, in order to save himself, the PIO would commit an unethical and unprofessional act.

Option (iv) is contentious, as the colleagues might advice him to take an unethical path. Since the PIO is an honest and conscientious person, he shall rely on his principles to take an appropriate action.
Thus, it would be advisable for the PIO to declare his involvement in the matter to his superiors in written, and follow the appropriate directions.

Q10. You are working as an Executive Engineer in the construction cell of a Municipal Corporation and are presently in-charge of the construction of a flyover. There are two Junior Engineers under you who have the responsibility of day-to-day inspection of the site and are reporting to you, while you are finally reporting to the Chief Engineer who heads the cell. While the construction is heading towards completion, the Junior Engineer have been regularly reporting that all construction is taking place as per design specifications. However, in one of your surprise inspections, you have noticed some serious deviations and lacunar which, in your opinion, are likely to affect the safety of the flyover. Rectification of these lacunae at this stage would require a substantial amount of demolition and rework which will cause a tangible loss to the contractor and will also delay completion. There is a lot of public pressure on the Corporation to get this construction completed because of heavy traffic congestion in the area. When you brought this matter to the notice of the Chief Engineer, he advised you that in his opinion it is not a very serious lapse and may be ignored. He advised for further expediting the project for completion in time. However, you are convinced that this was a serious matter which might affect public safety and should not be left unaddressed.

What will you do in such a situation? Some of the options are given below. Evaluate the merits and demerits of each of these options and finally suggest what course of action you would like to take, giving reasons. (250 words) 20 Marks

Follow the advice of the Chief Engineer and go ahead.

1. Make an exhaustive report of the situation bringing out all facts and analysis along with your own viewpoints stated clearly and seek for written orders from the Chief Engineer.
2. Call for explanation from the Junior Engineer and issue orders to the contractor for necessary correction within targeted time.
3. Highlight the issue so that it reaches the superiors above the Chief Engineer.
4. Considering the rigid attitude of the Chief Engineer, seek transfer from the project or report.


This is a very important issue, that often comes before the government employees. Here, the important issues involved are: whether to abide by the deadlines for the projects, or whether to protect the public interest, and prevent any possibility of an accident.


Option (I) would be unethical to follow. Although it is in compliance with the norms of the organizational structure, but it violates the ethical principles. Since the project has been observed for severe lapses in quality, it is unwise to carry forward with it.

Option (ii) might be appropriate from a formal perspective, as it would make sure that the Chief Engineer has noticed the lacunae in the project, and still is ordering to carry on with it. This would save the concerned Executive Engineer from any implications. However, from an ethical point of view, it is highly unwise to carry on with the project.

Option (iii) is a plausible option, as the Junior Engineers, directing in-charge of the project should be called for explanation for the lapses in the project. Also, all possible moves shall be made to make sure that the project is completed in a stipulated timeframe. The contractor should also be dealt with strictly, and held answerable for the shortcomings in the quality standards.

Option (iv) might be resorted in case the Chief Engineer is adamant about going on with the project. Since there would be no option left, if the Chief Engineer is adamant about his decision, the Executive Engineer would have to approach the superiors with a detailed report.

Option (v) would be an attempt to escape from the problem, while ignoring one’s moral responsibility. Thus, it would be unethical on the part of the Executive Engineer to run away from his duty.

An ethical, and required course of action would be to halt the project immediately, and make the preparations for the re-work. Since the matter involves public safety, it cannot be left to chances. Any outburst from the public shall be dealt appropriate. Also, those responsible for the lapses in the project shall be dealt strictly.

Q11. So far as child labor norms for hazardous industries like firecrackers industry are concerned, International Labour Organization (ILO) has set the minimum age as 18 years. In India, however, this age is 14 years.

The units in industrial clusters of firecrackers can be classified into registered and non-registered entities. One typical unit is household based work Though the law is clear on the use of child labour employment norms in registered/non-registered units, it does not include household based works. Household based work means children working under the supervision of their parents/relative. To evade child labor norms, several units project themselves as household-based works but employ children from outside. Needless to say that employing children saves the costs for these units leading to higher profits to the owner.

On your visit to one of the units at Sivakasi, the owner takes you around the unit which has about 10-15 children below 14 years of age. The owner tells you that in his household-based unit, the children are all his relatives. You notice that several children smirk, when the owner tells you this. On deeper enquiry, you figure out that neither the owner nor the children are able to satisfactorily establish their relationship with each other.

a. bring out and discuss the ethical issues involved in the above case.
b. What would be your reaction after your above visit? (300 words) 25 marks


This is a different type of situation based questions, as it does not provide the candidate with the options. Secondly, it does not specify whether you are an administrative officer, or a common person. Thus, you should write it assuming that you are a common man.

Note that it is a 25 marks questions, and the word limit is 300 words, for both the parts. However, the word limit is only indicative, and not mandatory.


(a) This case involves very crucial issues relating to human and child rights. First, there is an employment of the small children in hazardous factories, putting their lives under threat. This is a clear violation of their child rights. Secondly, since it is highly probable that the children working in those units are not the relatives of the owner, it might be possible that those children have been forcefully brought to the production centre. Thus, this involves a case of child trafficking, which is a criminal offense under the Indian Constitution.

Thirdly, it is also highly probable that the children are being kept forcefully under inhuman conditions, while depriving them of the opportunity of education and development.

Such confinement of the minor children is highly unethical and uncalled for. It is a clear case of violation of the child rights as well the fundamental rights, enshrined under our constitution. By making the children work under hazardous conditions, the owner of the production unit is putting their lives in jeopardy, while infringing every opportunity of self-development.

(b) My reaction, as a common man, would be to inform the owner of the unit about the provisions of the Constitution regarding the employment of children under hazardous conditions. Next, I would try to know if the children really are his relatives. On the basis of my strong suspicion, I would report the matter to the local police station, and request them to make an inquiry in the matter. Also, it would be necessary to report the matter to the local NGOs and the Child Rights Commission, so that an adequate enquiry might be initiated.

As a long-term measure, I would file a PIL in the Supreme Court regarding the confinement of the minor children in hazardous production units, in the guise of relative. Also, I would write to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) regarding the gross violation of child rights in the concerned region.

Also, I would also try to make an investigation about the number of such children employed in the domestic units in that area.

Q12. You are heading a leading technical institute of the country. The institute is planning to convene an interview panel shortly under your chairmanship for selection of the post of professors. A few days before the interview, you get a call from the Personal Secretary (PS) of a senior government functionary seeking your intervention in favor of the selection of a close relative of the functionary for this post. The PS also informs you that he is aware of the long pending and urgent proposal of our institute for grant of funds for modernization, which are awaiting the functionary’s approval. He assures you that he would get these proposals cleared.

a. What are the options available to you?
b. Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons. (250 words) 20 marks


This kind of situation comes very often before an administrative officer. It should be remembered in such situations that one must not bow down before these kinds of pressures. One must tackle the situation tactfully, while not compromising with one’s integrity.


(a) Since the Personal Secretary (PS) is asking for an undue favor, it would be highly unethical to succumb to the pressure and make an unethical decision. Thus, following are the possible course of action, that might be legitimate:

1. Outrightly reject the offer of the PS, and prepare to face the consequences.
2. Negotiate with the PS trying to make him understand that this would be unethical and unprofessional.
3. Informing to the PS that I would talk to the interview board in this regard, and do as per their suggestion.
4. Contact the superior authority of the PS, regarding the PS’s action, and ask for their help.
5. Lodge a complaint with the Anti-corruption cell.

(b) Although it is would be unethical to comply with the PS directions, but since the stake of the institute depends on the grant of the aid, an outright attitude might bring negative consequences for the institute. Thus, it might not be rational to reject his offer outrightly. An attempt should be made to make the PS understand that his course of action is ethical unjust and unprofessional. However, this course might not address the concern if the PS did not change his mind. Trying to communicate the interview board about the PS’s proposal is a justifiable idea, as the interview board takes the decision together. However, such communication should make it clear that any demand of such unjust favor would not be answered. Contacting the interview board would also help the chairman to know about the different opinion in the interview panel, and if the PS had tried persuade any other member of the board. However, this option might not address the concern of the institute’s grants.

Lodging a complaint with the anti-corruption cell might not be practical as there would be no evidence to support the allegations and the case would ultimately be discarded without any disciplinary action. This might also offend the PS and he may create complications in approving the grants.

The most practical solution to this problem could be, to reject the demand of the PS tactfully, and contacting the superior authority of the PS, regarding the PS’s action and the unjust basis of it.

In any case, there shall be no submission to the unjust demand of favor. Even if the PS attempts to delay the grants approval without any reason, the option of RTI might be resorted to know the reasons for disapproval. On further problems, the institute may lodge a compliant with the appropriate authority.

Q13. 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 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.

(a) What are the options available to you?
(b) Evaluate each of these options and choose the options which you would adopt, giving reasons. (250 words) 20 marks


The question puts before you two condition-

1. The builder is known for his quality work.
2. The builder is close to the superior officer, who wants to divulge some information to him.
It shall be kept in mind that decision shall be made in an ethically just way. A rule is a rule, and cannot be broken on the directions of any senior officer.


(a) the various options available are-

1. Tell the senior of the wrongfulness of the act, and try to persuade him.
2. Ask him for written instructions, as it is against the procedure, and you would require special permission do to the same.
3. Outrightly reject his claim and complaint to his seniors.
4. Lodge a complaint against him.
5. Divulge the information as the builder has a good quality service record.

(b) Since it is against the established procedure, in no way can the information be leaked. If the builder is really good, he would automatically get the contract from the government.

You should try to persuade the senior of the unjust and unprofessional action that he is suggesting. However, if the senior does not change his mind, you should ask him to give his written instructions for the mater, as divulging the information to any particular builder is against the established procedure, and you would require the special written orders of the senior to execute the command. It is most probable that the senior would not agree to give the written order, as he would be aware of the illegal nature of these directions.

Outrightly rejecting the directions of the senior might offend him, for not complying with his directions. However, in no case shall the inappropriate act be done.

Lodging a complaint with the anti-corruption cell might also prove ineffective, due to the lack of evidence against the senior. Thus, the most practical solution in this case would be consult the superior authorities regarding the matter, and reporting to them the details.

Q14. You are the Executive Director of an upcoming Infotech Company which is making a name for itself in the market.

Mr. A, who is a star performer, is heading the marketing team. In a short period of one year, he has helped in doubling the revenues as well as creating a high brand equity for the company so much so that you are thinking of promoting him. However, you have been receiving information from many corners about his attitude towards the female colleagues; particularly his habit of making loose comments on women. In addition, he regularly sends indecent SMS’ to all the team members including his female colleagues.

One day, late in the evening, Mrs. X, who is one of Mr. A’s Team members, comes you visibly disturbed. She complains against the continued misconduct of Mr. A, who has been making undesirable advances towards her and has even tried to touch her inappropriately in his cabin.

She tenders her resignation and leaves your office.

(a) What are the options available to you?
(b) Evaluate each of these options and choose the options you would adopt, giving reasons. (250 words) 20 marks


This is a very serious issue in the contemporary times, as we get to read about such incidents of sexual harassment everyday. The central point while making decisions in cases is that- no matter what, those guilty of proven sexual harassment charges shall not be forgiven.


(a) This is a very sensitive matter, and shall be dealt with great responsibility. The various legitimate options available are-
Option (I) Explain the female employee about the credentials of Mr. A and ask her to ignore the issue.
Option (II) call an urgent meeting about the issue and take disciplinary action.
Option (III) immediately expel Mr. A for such act.
Option (IV) First, talk to Mrs. X and calm her, as she is under a traumatic condition. And assure her that a strict disciplinary action would be taken at the earliest.

(b) Option (I) might not be resorted as it would be highly unethical to expect Mrs. X to forget the issue. Issues of sexual harassment shall not be ignored.

Option (II) might be considered, as no decision can be taken arbitrarily, and proper channels have to be followed. However, given the exigency of the case, it is of an urgent need to take some immediate actions, while protecting the privacy of the lady employee.

Option (III) might appear just, but might not be the best course of action, because in an organization decisions are made through proper channels and procedures. Thus, while there is no doubt that Mr. A shall be given severe punishment for his offense, this shall be done through organizational procedure.

The Option (IV) is the most apt course of action, as it addresses the immediate as well as long-term needs. Since Mrs. X has faced an assault, she is in a disturbed state. It is the foremost duty of the head, to calm her, and make her understand that justice would be done. She shall also be assured that her privacy would be protected. Further, the perpetrator should be dealt strictly, as there are multiple proved incidences of sexual advances from his side. Thus, as the final decision, Mr. A shall be expelled from service, with an appropriate legal action against him.

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