UPSC Mains 2015 : General Studies 4 Solved question paper

UPSC Mains 2015 : General Studies 4 Solved question paper

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Answer questions in NOT MORE than the word limit specified for each in the parenthesis. Content of the answer in more important than its length.


Q1. (a) What in meant by ‘environmental ethics? Why is it important to study? Discuss any one environmental issue from the viewpoint of environmental ethics.

Environmental ethics is a branch of ethics that studies the relation of human beings and the environment and how ethics play a role in this. Environmental ethics believe that humans are a part of society as well as other living creatures, which includes plants and animals. These items are a very important part of the world and are considered to be a functional part of human life. Thus, it is essential that every human being respect and honor this and use morals and ethics when dealing with these creatures.

Why is it Imp.

1.To understand the essential features of moral or ethical thinking;

2.To learn about the important and distinguishing characteristics in environmental ethics;

3.To develop the skills to recognize and deploy moral discourse for leadership in environmental fields etc.

In the most general sense, environmental ethics invites us to consider three key propositions:

1.the Earth and its creatures have moral status, in other words, are worthy of our ethical concern;

2.the Earth and its creatures have intrinsic value, meaning that they have moral value merely because they exist, not only because they meet human needs;

3.drawing from the idea of an ecosystem, human beings should consider “wholes” that include other forms of life and the environment.

The relationship between environmental ethics and the environmental sciences, however, is a complex and often contested one. For example, debates over whether ecologists and conservation biologists should also be advocates for environmental protection — a role that goes beyond the traditional profile of the “objective” scientist — have received much attention in these fields. Likewise, we will see that issues such as the place of animal welfare concerns in wildlife management, the valuation and control of non-native species, and the adoption of a more interventionist approach to conservation and ecological protection frequently divide environmental scientists and conservationists.

(b) Differentiate between the following

(1) Law and Ethics

Ans. Ethics regulates and con­trols both the inner motives and the external actions. It is concerned with the whole life of man. Ethics is variable. It changes from man to man and from age to age. Every man has his own moral principles.

Ethics is a set of standards, or a code, or value system, worked out from human reasonand experience, by which free human actions are determined as ultimately right orwrong, good or evil. If acting agrees with these standards, it is ethical, otherwise unethical. Morality is studied under a separate branch of knowledge known as Ethics.

Law is a code of conduct which the authority in power prescribes for society. It basicallydiffers from ethics in its option to use force if and when necessary and by the fact that itis backed by power. Laws are, by and large, fair and moral. But it is not easy to acceptthat laws can be the foundations of ethics, or even that laws can ensure ethical behaviour.

 Law is an enactment made by the state. It is backed by physical coercion. Its breach is punishable by the courts. It represents the will of the state and realizes its purpose. Laws reflect the political, social and economic relationships in the society. It determines rights and duties of the citizens towards one another and towards the state. Law is universal in a particu­lar society. All the individuals are equally subjected to it. It does not change from man to man.

(2) Ethical management and Management of ethics

Ans. Ethical management refers to corporate management that not only fulfills economic goals and legal responsibilities, but also meets the ethical expectations imposed by social norms in conducting business.All standards for businesses are based on ‘Ethical Standards’ for transparent, fair, logical operations. Keeping the ethical standards means that the company’s decision making is not only based on economical principals, but also on the premise of ethical judgments including transparent accounting, fair terms, legal tax-paying, environment protection to abide by the standards fairly and uprightly, stricter than the law or government regulations. Thus, ethical management is what CEOs and executives should implement when engaging in business activities.

Management of Ethics is the ethical treatment of employees, stockholders, owners and the public by a company. Ethics Management studies the behavior of employees and of the employers in business transactions of the Corporate world and in public administration of Government and lays down the requisite guidelines for corporate governance or governance in public administration, as the case may be. EthicsManagement is a managerial tool or function to bring about corporate governance or governance in  public administration. Professional Ethics studies the behavior of professionals and lays down there quisite guidelines for regulating their conduct. The behavioral study covers acts both in the real world and in the cyber world. An employee living in the real world behaves indifferently in the cyber world.While sending emails to his superior, he uses unethical language whereas in the real world he is quite polite to his superior.

(3) Discrimination and Preferential treatment

Ans. Discrimination is action that denies social participation or human rights to categories of people based on prejudice. This includes treatment of an individual or group based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or social category, in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated. In general women are not discriminated against, but there are instances of discrimination which no one can deny. So please dont form your opinion on the basis of miniscule part of population who are discriminating. The existence of high and low shelves are a function. They’re nothing more than a means of displaying products. They’re not erected as tall as they are for the purpose of disadvantaging anyone. But if you choose, knowing someone requires help because of actual or perceived membership in a certain group or social category, to refuse to help them- that could be called discrimination. Because in that case, it’s your refusal to help that’s disadvantaged that person. It would be a fair action, from your viewpoint, but discriminatory nonetheless.

In short, if you don’t want to discriminate against people, treat them the way you would want to be treated in their position. But discrimination is in the way we treat people, not in the way we design our grocery stores.

Preferential treatment is sometimes viewed as reverse discrimination, since it rewards someone for being in the “correct” race, gender, economic status, religious affiliation or other category. An employer may not be allowed by law to discriminate against any applicant protected under law, but he or she can still show a preference towards applicants who meet certain unspoken standards. An employer may prefer to work with men instead of women as a rule, or may hire a candidate based on his or her physical attractiveness. Preferential Treatment literally refers to “job or employment preference given to someone who is of the right race, ethnicity, or gender” as defined in the government’s approved list of historically disadvantaged.

The policies and programs of preferential treatment, or reverse discrimination have aroused much controversy in many countries all over the world. These policies and programs gave rise to arguments, law-suits, riots and bloodshed in many countries, including India. The significant moral question associated with the problem of preferential treatment is-whether we should set aside the principles of justice for the sake of attaining some larger social good. “preferential treatment” is equivalent to favoritism, or giving preference to certain classes or types over other classes or types. By itself, the term is not politically charged.

(4)Personal ethics and Professional ethics

Ans.Personal ethics is a category of philosophy that determines what an individual believes about
morality and right and wrong. This is usually distinguished from business ethics or legal ethics. These branches of ethics come from outside organizations or governments, not the individual’s conscience. These branches of ethics occasionally overlap. Personal ethics can affect all areas of life, including family, finances and relationships. An important point to address in the domain of personal ethics is identifying when some matter is personal in the sense of “private” as opposed to public. While  Professional ethics is the study of the principles and standards that underlie a profession’s responsibilities and conduct. It examines the ethical dilemmas and challenges met by practitioners of a profession, the way in which professionals organize and develop ethical standards for members of their profession, and how these standards are applied in everyday practice.

Michael Davis describes Professional Ethics in this way:-

A profession is a number of individuals in the same occupation voluntarily organized to earn a living by openly serving a certain moral ideal in a morally permissible way beyond what law, market, and morality would otherwise require. Professions organize all, or part, of a single occupation in a certain way. Professional ethics are the special standards defining the. way the would-be profession is to pursue its moral ideal. These standards are arbitrary (more or less) in the way promises are. Ordinarily morality sets limits on professional ethics without determining the content. One cannot deduce professional ethics from morality or moral theory.”

Q2. Given are two quotations of moral thinkers/philosophers. For each of these, bring out what it means to you in the present context

(a) The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mahatma Gandhi- The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. I think it means that in order to forgive someone, you have to feel secure in who you are and in your position in the situation. If you have been hurt by someone, you need to be sure that you are the stronger person, or in the stronger position.  If someone breaks your heart, you have to know that while it hurts, you will be ok in the long run. The same is true if someone has cheated you or stolen from you. You know that you are the better person  and so you can forgive them.
Saying you forgive someone doesn’t mean that what they did is all right. You may never trust them again, never put yourself in a position to be hurt by them again. All forgiving them means is that you accept that they are sorry, and you won’t pursue any action against them. It’s hard to do when you’re still hurting inside, and it may take some time if you’re still really angry. But in the long run, it’s a way of not letting them have power over you. You know where you stand, and you’ll act accordingly, but not to get even. It takes a burden off your mind and heart, and shows that you are the better person. 

People come and go, they hurt you badly, you feel miserable and those who leave you win everytime you lose yourself to past and feeling of hurt. Dont let them win this time. Defeat them by moving on. Life is beautiful in many ways. Move on my friend. Its the only way out. Remember people are selfish, you become the same. Be selfish.
 Stop clinging to your past. Realise that its over. Don’t enjoy living in memories. Tune your mind into believing  that it was destined this way. Think about other good things you have in life and people who love you from heart. Those who have hurt you deserve no remembrance. Forgiveness makes you strong. You might need to live with the thoughts of someone forever but they will fade away when you find pleasure in other things or people you love.


(b) ‘We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.’



Q3. (a) “A mere compliance with law is not enough, the public servant also have to have a well developed sensibility to ethical issues for effective discharge of duties” Do you agree? Explain with the help of two examples where

(i) an act is ethically right, but not legally and

(ii) an act is legally right, but not ethically.

(b) How do the virtues of trustworthiness and fortitude get manifested in public service? Explain with examples


Q4. (a) Social values are more important than economic values. Discuss the above statement with examples in the context of inclusive growth of a nation.


(b) Some recent developments such as introduction of RTI Act, media and judicial activism, etc. are proving helpful in bringing about greater transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government. However, it is also being observed that at times the mechanisms are misused. Another negative effect is that the officers are now afraid to take prompt decisions. Analyse the situation in detail and suggest how the dichotomy can be resolved. Suggest how these negative impacts can be minimised.

Q5. Two different kinds of attitudes exhibited by public servants towards their work have been identified as bureaucratic attitude and the democratic attitude.

(a) Distinguish between these two terms and write their merits and demerits.

(b) Is it possible to balance the two too create a better administration for the faster development of our country?

Q6. Today we find that in-spite of various measures of prescribing codes of conduct, setting up vigilance cells/commissions, RTI, active media and strengthening of legal mechanism, corrupt practices are not coming under control.

(a) Evaluate the effectiveness of these measures with justifications.

(b) Suggest more effective strategies to tackle this menace.

Q7. At the international level, bilateral relations between most nations are governed on the policy of promoting one’s own national interest without any regard for the interest of other nations. This lead to conflicts and tension between the nations. How can ethical consideration help resolve such tensions? Discuss with specific examples.

Q8. Public servants are likely to confront with the issues of “Conflict of Interest”. What do you understand by the term “Conflict of Interest” and how does it manifest in the decision making by public servants? If faced with the conflict of interest situation how would you resolve it? Explain with the help of examples.


Q9. A private company is known for its efficiency, transparency and employee welfare. The company though owned by a private individual has a cooperative character where employees feel a sense of ownership. The company employs nearly 700 personnel and they have voluntarily decided not to form union.

One day suddenly in the morning, about 40 men belonging to political party gate crashed into the factory demanding jobs in the factory. They threatened the management and employees, and also used foul language. The employees feel demoralized. It was clear that those people who gate crashed wanted to be on the payroll of the company as well as continue as the volunteers/members of the party.

The company maintains high standards in integrity and does not extend favours to civil administration that also includes law enforcement agency. Such incident occur in public sector also.

(a) Assume you are the CEO of the company. What would you do to diffuse the volatile situation on the date of gate crashing with the violent mob sitting inside the company premises?

(b) What can be the long term solution to the issue discussed in the case?

(c) Every solution/action that you suggest will have a negative and a positive impact on you as (CEO), the employees and the performance of the employees. Analyse the consequences of each of your suggested actions.

Q10. You are the Sarpanch of a Panchayat. There is a primary school run by the government in your area. Midday meals are provided to children attending the school. The headmaster has now appointed a new cook in the school to prepare the meals. However, when it is found that cook is from Dalit community, almost half of the children belonging to higher castes are not allowed to take meals by their parents. Consequently the attendance in the schools falls sharply. This could result in the possibility of discontinuation of midday meal scheme, thereafter of teaching staff and subsequent closing down the school.

(a) Discuss some feasible strategies to overcome the conflict and to create right ambiance.

(b) What should be the responsibilities of different social segments and agencies to create positive social ambiance for accepting such changes?

Q11. One of the scientists working in the R&D laboratory of a major pharmaceutical company discovers that one of the company’s bestselling veterinary drugs has the potential to cure a currently incurable liver disease which is prevalent in tribal areas. However, developing a variant of the drug suitable for human being entailed a lot of research and development having a huge expenditure to the extent of Rs. 50 crores. It was unlikely that company would recover the cost as the disease was rampant only in poverty stricken areas having very little market otherwise.

If you were the CEO, then

(a) Identify the various actions that you could take

(b) Evaluate the pros and cons of each of your actions

Q12. There is a disaster prone state having frequent landslides, forest fires, cloudbursts, flash floods and earthquakes, etc. Some of these are seasonal and often unpredictable. The magnitude of the disaster is always unanticipated. During one of the seasons a cloudburst caused a devastating floods and landslides leading to high casualties. There was major damage to infrastructure like roads, bridges and power generating units. This led to more than 100000 pilgrims, tourist and other locals trapped across different routes and locations. The people trapped in your area of responsibility includes senior citizens, patients in hospitals, women and children, hiker, tourist, ruling parties, regional presidents along with his family, additional chief secretary of the neighboring state and prisoners in jail.

As a civil services officer of the state, what would be the order in which you would rescue these people and why? Give Justifications (200 Words)

Q13. You are heading a district administration in a particular department. Your senior officer calls you from the State Headquarters and tells you that a plot in Rampur village is to have a building constructed on it for a school. A visit is scheduled during which he will visit the site along with the chief engineer and the senior architect. He wants you to check out all the papers relating to it and ensure that the visit is properly arranged. You examine the file which relates to the period before you joined the department. The land was acquired for the local panchayat at a nominal cost and the papers showed that clearance certificates are available for the two of the three authorities who have to certify the site’s suitability. There is no certification by the architect available on file. You decide to visit Rampur to ensure that all is in the order as stated on file. When you visit Rampur, you find that the plot under reference is a part of Thakurgarh fort and that the walls, ramparts, etc., are running across it. The fort is well away from the main village, therefore a school here will be a serious inconvenience for the children. However, the area near the village has potential to expand into a larger residential area. The development charges on the existing plot, at the fort, will be very high and question of heritage site has not been addressed. Moreover, the Sarpanch, at the time of acquisition of the land, was a relative of your predecessor. The whole transaction appears to have been done with some vested interest.

(a) List the likely vested interest of the concerned parties.

(b) Some of the options for action available to you are listed below. Discuss the merits and demerits of each of the options:

(i) You can await the visit of the superior officer and let him take a decision.

(ii) You can seek his advice in writing or on phone.

(iii) You can consult your predecessor/ colleagues, etc, and then decide what to do.

(iv) You can find out if any alternate plot can be got in exchange and then send a comprehensive written report.

Can you suggest any other option with proper justifications?

Q14. You are recently posted as district development officer of a district. Shortly thereafter you found that there is considerable tension in the rural areas of your district on the issue of sending girls to schools.

The elders of the village feel that many problems have come up because girls are being educated and they are stepping out of the safe environment of the household. They are the view that the girls should be quickly married off with minimum education. The girls are also competing for jobs after education, which have traditionally remained in boys’ exclusive domain, adding to unemployment amongst male population.

The younger generation feels that in the present era, girls should have equal opportunities for education and employment, and other means of livelihood. The entire locality is divided between sexes in both generations. You come to know that in Panchayat or in other local bodies or even in busy crosswords, the issue is being acrimoniously debated.

One day you are informed that an unpleasant incident has taken place. Some girls were molested, when they were en route to schools. The incident led to clashes between several groups and a law and order problem has arisen. The elder after heated discussion have taken a joint decision not to allow girls to go to school and to socially boycott all such families, which do not follow their dictate.

(a) What steps would you take to ensure girls’ safety without disrupting their education?

(b) How would you manage and mould patriarchic attitude of the village elders to ensure harmony in the inter- generational relations?


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UPSC Civil Services (Main) Examination 2015: GENERAL STUDIES Paper – 3

UPSC Mains 2015 – Solved Question Papers