#24 Ethics: Subject Importance & Previous Year Paper Analysis

What is Ethics? What is its importance in the CSE Mains exam? What are its attributes?

In UPSC CSE Mains Exam out of  the 9 papers conducted (7+2) general studies 4 papers deal with Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude. The Paper is of 250 marks which contains 12 questions divided into 2 parts .Part A deals with theoretical questions and Part B deals with case studies. It  tests your  approach to the issues related to integrity and probity while dealing with public life. It will also test your approach to problem-solving and conflict resolution with respect to society and moral obligations. This paper will not only test your fur system but also your attitude and emotional quotient. The main purpose to have this paper is to  inculcate the value system in you and also help build a connection with the society you will be working for. General studies paper 4 of Ethics is very important as it involves and builds our thought process and also ability to handle pressure situations.

What were the questions asked in the previous year’s paper ? How to approach the questions? How to write answers for Ethics?

In ethics papers different case studies are given , a proper understanding of the role and duties will yield you good marks . To understand the type of questions one should refer to previous year questions and practise the answer writing everyday to prepare for the mains exam. This will not only prepare you for the actual exam but also help you in managing your time.

Below is the paper analysis for the number of questions asked from ethics in GS 4 :


Number of questions


7(4 theory+3 case studies)


5(3 theory+2 case study)


4(2 theory+2 case study)


2(1theory+1 case study)

The type of question asked in 2020 from ethics are:

(a) Discuss the role of ethics and values in enhancing the following three major components of Comprehensive National Power (CNP) viz. human capital, soft power (culture and policies) and social harmony. (150 words) 10

 (b) “Education is not an injunction, it is an effective and pervasive tool for all round development of an individual and social transformation”. Examine the New Education Policy, 2020 (NEP, 2020) in light of the above statement. (150 words)10.

(a) “Hatred is destructive of a person’s wisdom and conscience that can poison a nation’s spirit.’ Do you agree with this view? Justify your answer. (150 words)10.

 (b) What are the main components of emotional intelligence (EI)? Can they be learned? Discuss. (150 words) 10.

(а) What teachings of Buddha are most relevant today and why? Discuss. (150 words)10

 (b) “The will to power exists, but it can be tamed and be guided by rationality and principles of moral duty.’ Examine this statement in the context of international relations. (150 words)10

(a) Distinguish between laws and rules. Discuss the role of ethics in formulating them (150 words) 10

 (b) A positive attitude is considered to be an essential characteristic of a civil servant who is often required to function under extreme stress. What contributes to a positive attitude in a person? (150 words)10

(a) What are the main factors responsible for gender inequality in India? Discuss the contribution of Savitr Bai Phule in this regard. (150 words) 10

 (b) “The current internet expansion has instilled a different set of cultural values which are often in conflict with traditional values.’ Discuss. (150 words)10


What do each of the following quotations mean to you?

 (а) “Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If not, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.” – Swami Vivekanand (150 words)10

 (b) “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi (150 words) 10

 (с) “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” – Socrates (150 words) 10

For Part B of the paper you should refer to case studies and analyse them.


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