IAS Mains 2014 GS-4 Paper Analysis and Review

The Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude Paper of 2014 was a bit different from the 2013 as it contained questions requiring more brain-storming.

Again, the UPSC has failed the pseudo-coaching gurus by not going into the technical-legal aspects. The questions were general in nature, and asked were based on general awareness and aptitude of the aspirant.

In terms of the questions, UPSC did not ask many statement-based questions this time. Rather, questions sought to derive the views of the candidate.

Though the number of questions, as per the UPSC paper was lesser, we have, here, considered each sub-part as a question. Thus, the total number of question in this analysis are much more than the original question paper.

Here is the analysis of the Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude paper of 2014. For the sake of better understanding, Aspirant Forum has divided the questions in the following categories:

Section Questions Total Marks
Theoretical 2 20
Application Based 4 40
Statement Based 2 20
Thinker Based 1 10
Personal Experience and Suggestions 4 40
Case Studies (Section B) 6 120
Total 19 250

GS4 Analysis




Question 1 A simply asks about the meaning of happiness. However, you cannot write naively that happiness is the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain. Rather, while answering this question, you must consider the broader happiness of the society, that is, a general prosperity and fulfillment. Thus, this question should be attempted by bringing a harmony between one’s personal interest and the broader-human interest. You could use the ideas from various schools of thoughts, like- utilitarianism, liberalism, socialism etc. But your answer should not appear as if it has been adopted from some textbook. The more original your answer, the better your prospects of scoring well.

Question 1 B was a simpler one, that is available and (luckily) taught by most of the coaching-gurus. You were expected to write about the link between ethics and human life, and the former’s significance. Further, you were expected to explain the significance of ethics in public administration. Most of the candidates must have read well about this question, thus, this was a easier question for the aspirants.

Application Based

Question 2 A was an interesting question. It asks about the concept of patriotism, and how a civilian could prove as a good patriot. It is often debated, whether a common man, or a woman for that matter, can be as patriot as a soldier protecting the frontiers of his motherland. You have to focus upon the factors that make a person a good citizen. In the context of the public services (UPSC) it is specially a relevant question, as a civil servant is the one who has to sacrifice a number of things for his country and administrative system. You could use some examples to enrich the answer.

Question 2 B was, again, directly from the prescribed syllabus. Probity in Public Administration is a common ground in Ethics Paper as well as the Public Administration Paper. However, the question did not continue with the mainstream studies and, instead, asked about the difficulties in practicing probity in Public administration. It further asked about the suggestions that could work to overcome those difficulties.

Question 7 is a directly-from-the-syllabus type of question. You are required to write down the steps that could be taken to ensure individual and collective accountability. Please remember the word limit and do not get too much involved while writing these questions.

Question 8 is based on the sensitive issue of sexual harassment. You should know that sexual harassment does not limit to sexual abuse, but extends to a range of unethical acts. This question requires suggestions from the candidate that could be used to control the incidences of sexual harassment. While attempting this answer, you should note limit the suggestions to legal-judicial steps, and make some reformative suggestions as well.

Statement Based

Question 3 A was based on the statement that made a contrast between integrity and knowledge. You were required to write, why is integrity an important and integral part for a knowledgeable person. The statement is an axiom, in the sense that no good can be done without integrity. Knowledge could prove as a fatal weapon if used by a person of bad-character. You could use different examples to illustrate the question, like from the life of Gandhi, Hitler, modern-day God-man etc.

Question 3 B gave a statement telling that human beings should be considered as an end in themselves. This idea has been propagated by a number of thinkers, including Gandhi himself. Notice that the question makes a specific reference to the modern techno-economic society. In this regard, it is important to highlight in the question that many of the means of modern technology, disregard the value of human life. Further, you could also incorporate the aspects of sustainable life, that seek to increase the pleasure of the present rich-generation, at the cost of millions of poor across the world.

Thinker Based

Question 4 A asks you to write about the personality, from whom, you are inspired. Do not write any random name in this answer, as you are also expected to write a gist of the teachings of the person. You should write only about the person, about whose teachings you know well. Since you are also expected to write about how you have incorporated the ideas of that personality, you should write about the teachings of that person in your own words. Remember to include the point on how the teachings help you lead an ethical life.

Personal Experience and Views

Question 4 B seems as a question on problems of public servants. But, the questions makes a twist by asking the candidate about the steps taken by him/her to prepare himself/herself for the pressure and responsibilities of a public servant. This is an interview-type of question, where you might not get much help from the textbooks. It is better to write through the personal experiences and in the context of public services.

Question 5 A is based on Trust. It ask about the steps and ideas that could increase your trustworthiness. Such questions are a good test of the originality of your answers. While writing this answer, keep in mind, that your trustworthiness has to be public-oriented, and not confined to your personal relations.

Question 5 B was based on your understanding of corruption. The question already makes it clear that the correlation between corruption and poverty is a falacy. Thus, you are needed to go deeper than such judgements, and find an answer in the ethical-moral character of a person. You are also required to substantiate your points with examples.

Question 6 was a broad one, touching upon the topic of social problems. However, the question makes a specific reference to the caste system and the formation of views on caste. You could use a number of perspectives while answering this question, but it is important to put down your own views as well. Further, you are also required to justify the existence of multiple number of views on such social issues (clearly, it means that you cannot refute a particular view as incorrect).


Case Studies

UPSC asked different types of case studies this time. The difficulty level of different case studies differed as well. We will soon post some probable answers/responses to the case studies.

Difficulty Level

Theoretical:  Easy

Application Based:  Easy to Moderate

Statement Based:  Easy

Thinker Based:  Easy/Moderate

Personal Experience/Suggestions:   Easy to Moderate

Case Studies: Easy-Moderate-Slightly Difficult to understand


Answer key coming soon…

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