GS Paper 4 Question Paper (Analysis & Solutions) – UPSC Civil Services Mains 2023

UPSC Mains GS4 Question Paper 2023 (Analysis & Solutions)

The exam instructions provided on the question paper are as follows:

  • Total Marks: 250 marks, Time duration: 3 hours.
  • There are 12 questions divided into two sections and printed both in ENGLISH and HINDI.
  • All questions are compulsory.
  • The number of marks carried by a question/part is printed against it.
  • Answers must be written in the medium authorized in the admission certificate which must be stated clearly on the cover of this question-cum-answer (QCA) booklet in the space provided.
  • No marks will be given for answers written in a medium other than the authorized one.
  • Keep the word limit indicated in the questions in mind.
  • Any page or portion of the page left blank, must be struck off clearly.
  • The content of the answer is more important than its length.

This topic of “GS Paper 4 Question Paper (Analysis & Solutions) – UPSC Civil Services Mains 2023” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


Q1 (a): What do you understand by ‘moral integrity’ and ‘professional efficiency in the context of corporate governance in India? Illustrate with suitable examples. (Answer in 150 words)

(b)  International aid is an accepted form of helping resource-challenged nations. Comment on ethics in contemporary international aid. Support your answer with suitable examples. (Anawer in 150 words)

Q2 (a): “Corruption is the manifestation of the failure of core values in the society.” In your opinion, what measures can be adopted to uplift the core values in the society? (Answer in 150 words).

(b) In the context of work environment, differentiate between ‘coercion and undue influence’ with suitable examples.

Q3: Given below are three quotations of great thinkers. What do each of the quotations convey to you in the present context?

(a) “The simplest arts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”- Mahatma Gandhi

(b): To awaken the people, it is the women who must be awakened. Once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves, the nation moves”.- Jawaharlal Nehru

(c): “Do not hate anybody, because that hatred that comes out from you must, in the long run, come back to you. If you love, that love will come back to you, completing the circle- Swami Vivekananda

Q4 (a): “What really matters for success, character, happiness and lifelong achievements is a definite set of emotional skills -your EQ- not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” Do you agree with the view? Give reasons in support of your answer.

(b): Differentiate ‘moral intuition” from ‘moral reasoning’ with suitable examples.

Q5 (a): Is conscience a more reliable guide when compared to laws, rules and regulations in the context of ethical decision making. Discuss

(b) Probity is sential for an effective system of governance and socio-economic development. Discuss

Q6 (a): What were the major teachings of Guru Nanak? Explain their relevance in the contemporary world.

(b) Explain the term social capital. How does it enhance good governance?

Q7: You are working as an executive in a nationalised bank for several years. One day one of your close colleagues tells you that her father is suffering from heart disease and needs surgery to service. She also tells you that she has no insurance and the operation will cost about Rs 10 lakh. You are also aware of the fact that her husband and that she is from a lower middle class family. You are empathetic about her situation. However, apart from expressing your sympathy, you do not have the resources to fund her.

A few weeks later, you ask her about the well-being of her father and she informs you about his successful surgery and that he is recovering. She then confides in you that the bank manager was kind enough to facilitate the release of 10 lakhs from a dormant account of someone to pay for the operation with a promise that it should be confidential and be repaid at the earliest. She has already started paying it back and will continue to do so until it is all returned.

(a) What are the ethical issues involved?

(b) Evaluate the behavior of the bank manager from an ethical point of view.

(c) How would you react to the situation?

Q8: A landslide occurred in the middle of the night on 20th July. 2023 in a remote mountain hamlet, approximately 60 kilometers from Uttarkashi. The landslide was caused by torrential rains and has resulted in large-scale destruction of property and life. You, as District Magistrate of that area, have rushed to the spot with a team of doctors, NGOs, media and police along with numerous support staff to oversee the rescue operations.

A man came running to you with a request for urgent medical help for his pregnant wife who is in labour and in loosing blood. You directed your medal team to examine his wife. They return and convey to you that this woman needs blood transfusion immediately. Upon enquiry, you come to know that a few blood collection bags and blood group test kits are available in the ambulance accompanying your team. Few people of your team have already volunteered to donate blood.

Being a physician who has graduated from AIIMS, you know that blood for transfusion needs to be procured only through a recognized blood bank. Your team members are divided on this issue; some favour transfusing, while some others oppose it. The doctors in the team are ready to facilitate the delivery provided they are not penalised for transfusion. Now you are a dilemma. Your professional training emphasizes on prioritising service to humanity and saving lives of individuals.

(a) What are the ethical issues involved in this case?

(b) Evaluate the options available to you, being District Magistrate of the area.

Q9: At 9 pm on Saturday evening, Rashika, a Joint Secretary, was still engrossed in her work in her office. Her husband, Vikram, is an executive in an MNC and frequently out of town in connection with his work. Their two children aged 5 and 3 are looked after by their domestic helper. At 9:30 pm her superior, Mr. Suresh calls her and asks her to prepare a detailed note on an important matter to be discussed in a meeting in the Ministry. She realises that she will have to work on Sunday to finish the additional task given by her superior.

She reflects on how she had asked forward to the posting and had worked long hours for months to achieve it, he had kept the welfare of people uppermost in discharging her duties. She feels that she has not done enough Justice to her family and she has not fulfilled her duties in discharging essential social obligations. Even as recently as last month she had to leave her sick child in the nanny’s care as she had to work in the office. No, she feels that she must draw a line, beyond which her personal life should take precedence over her professional responsibilities. She thinks that there should be reasonable limits to the work ethics such as punctuality, hard work, dedication to duty and selfless service.

(a): Discuss the ethical issue involved in this case.

(b): Briefly describe at least four laws that have been enacted by the Government with respect to providing a healthy, safe and equitable working environment for women.

(c): Imagine you are in a similar situation. What suggestions would you make to mitigate such working conditions?

Q 10: Vinod is an honest and sincere IAS officer. Recently, he has taken over as Managing Director of the State Road Transport Corporation, his sixth transfer in the past three years. His peers acknowledge his vast knowledge affability and uprightness.

The Chairman of the State Road Transport Corporation is a powerful politician and is very close to the Chief Minister. Vinod comes to know about many alleged irregularities of the Corporation and the high-handedness of the Chairman in financial matters.

A Board Member of the Corporation belonging to the Opposition Party meets Vinod and hands over a few documents along with a video recording in which the Chairman appears to be demanding bribe for placing a huge order for the supply of QMR tyres. Vinod recollects the Chairman expediting clearing of pending bills of QMR tyres.

Vinod confronts the Board Member as to why he is shying away from exposing the Chairman with the so-called solid proof he has with him. The members inform him that the Chairman refuses to yield to his threats. He adds that Vinod may earn recognition and public support if he himself exposes the Chairman. Further, he tells Vined that once his party comes to power, Vinod’s professional growth would be assured.

Vinod is aware that he may be penalised if he exposes the Chairman and may further be transferred to a distant place. He knows that Opposition Party stands a better chance of coming to power in the forthcoming elections. However, he also realises that the Board Member is trying to use him for his own political gains.

(a): As a conscientious civil servant, evaluate the options available to Vinod.

(b): In the light of the above case, comment upon the ethical issues that may arise due to the politicization of bureaucracy.

Q 11: You have just been appointed as Additional Director General of Central Public Works Department. The Chief Architect of your division, who is to retire in six months, in passionately working on a very important project, the successful completion of which would earn him a lasting reputation for the rest of his life.

A new lady architect. Seema, trained at Manchester School of Architecture, UK joined as Senior Architect in your division. During the briefing about the project, Seema made some suggestions which would not only add value to the project, but would also reduce completion time. This has made the Chief Architect insecure and he is constantly worried that all the credit will go to her. Subsequently, he adopted a passive and aggressive behaviour towards her and has become disrespectful to her. Seems felt it embarrassing as the Chief Architect left no chance of humiliating her. He would very often correct her in front of other colleagues and raise his voice while speaking to her. This continuous harassment has resulted in her losing confidence and self-esteem. She felt perpetually tensed, anxious and stressed. She appeared to be in awe of him since he has had a long tenure in the office and has vast experience in the area of her work.

You are aware of her outstanding academic credentials and careeer in her previous organizations. However, you fear that this harassment may result in compromising her much needed contribution in this important project and may adversely impact her emotional well-being. You have also come to know from her peers that she is contemplating tendering her resignation.

(a) What are the ethical issues involved in the above case?

(b) What are the option available to you in order to complete the project a wall as to retain Seema in the organization?

(c) What would be your response to Seema’s predicament? What measures would you institute to prevent each occurrence from happening in your organization?

Q 12: You hold a responsible position in a ministry in the government. One day in the morning you received a call from the school of your 11-year-old son that you are required to come and meet the Principal. You proceed to the school and find your son in the Principal’s office. The Principal informs you that your son had been found wandering aimlessly in the grounds during the time classes were in progress. The class teacher further informs you that your son has lately become a loner and did not respond to questions in the class, he had also been unable to perform well in the football trials held recently. You bring your son back from the school and in the evening, you along with your wife try to find out the reasons for your son’s changed behavior. After repeated cajoling, your son shares that some children had been making fun of him in the class as well as in the WhatsApp group of the students by calling him stunted, duh and a frog. He tells you the names of a few children who are the main culprits but pleads with you to let the matter rest.

After a few days, during a sporting event, where you and your wife have gone to watch your son play, one of your colleague’s son shows you a video in which students have caricatured your son. Further, he also points out to perpetrators who were sitting in the stands. You purposefully walk past them with your son and go home. Next day, you find on social media, a video denigrating you, your son and even your wife, stating that you engaged in physical bullying of children in the sports field. The video became viral on social media. Your friends and colleagues began calling you to find out the details. One of your juniors advised you to make a counter video giving the background and explaining that nothing had happened on the field. You, in turn posted a video which you have captured during the sporting event, identifying the likely perpetrators who were responsible for your son’s predicament. You have also narrated what has actually happened in the field and made attempts to bring out the adverse effects of the misuse of social media.

(a) Based on the above case study, discuss the ethical issues involved in the use of social media.

(b) Discuss the pros and cons of using social media by you to put across the facts to counter the fake propaganda against your family.

GS4 Syllabus Mapping

QuestionUPSC Mains GS4 (Ethics) Syllabus Topic
Q1 (a)Corporate governance, Probity in Governance: Concept of public service, Philosophical basis of governance and probity.
Q1 (b)Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions.
Q2 (a)Role of family, society, and educational institutions in inculcating values.
Q2 (b)Work culture, Quality of service delivery
Q3Quotes & Philosophers: Their teachings and its relevance
Q4 (a)Emotional intelligence: concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
Q4 (b)Moral and political attitudes
Q5 (a)Ethics in private and public relationships
Q5 (b)Probity in Governance: Concept of public service, Philosophical basis of governance and probity.
Q6 (a)Quotes & Philosophers: Their teachings and its relevance
Q6 (b)Corporate governance
Q7Case study (Ethical dilemmas in public governance)
Q8Case study (Ethical dilemmas in public governance)
Q9Case study (Work culture, Quality of service delivery)
Q10Case study (Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions, Challenges of corruption)
Q11Case study (Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Gender issues and ethics)
Q12Case study (Ethical concerns in social media, Ethical dilemmas in public and private institutions)

Prelims Sureshots – Most Probable Topics for UPSC Prelims

A Compilation of the Most Probable Topics for UPSC Prelims, including Schemes, Freedom Fighters, Judgments, Acts, National Parks, Government Agencies, Space Missions, and more. Get a guaranteed 120+ marks!

Analysis & Approach

Question No.AnalysisApproach to Solve
Q1 (a)The question delves into the understanding of two significant concepts in the realm of corporate governance in India – ‘moral integrity’ and ‘professional efficiency’.Define both ‘moral integrity’ and ‘professional efficiency’. Relate them to the Indian context of corporate governance by providing relevant examples for both.
Q1 (b)It focuses on the ethical aspect of international aid, particularly in the contemporary scenario.Begin with a brief explanation of international aid. Discuss its ethical implications, providing examples to support the stance.
Q2 (a)The question highlights the issue of corruption and its root causes. It seeks solutions to revive core values in society.Provide a brief understanding of corruption and its link to societal values. Suggest measures to uplift these core values, underlining practicality and effectiveness.
Q2 (b)It aims to differentiate between two workplace behaviors – ‘coercion’ and ‘undue influence’.Define both terms and illustrate the differences through relevant workplace examples.
Q3This is an interpretative question about three quotations, aiming to gauge the respondent’s understanding and perspective.Interpret each quote separately, explaining its meaning and relevance in today’s context.
Q4 (a)The focus is on the importance of emotional skills (EQ) compared to cognitive abilities (IQ) in determining life success.Agree or disagree with the statement, providing reasons. Use research findings or examples to strengthen the answer.
Q4 (b)It delves into the understanding of two moral concepts – ‘moral intuition’ and ‘moral reasoning’.Define both terms and use examples to highlight the differences between them.
Q5 (a)The question addresses the reliability of conscience vs. laws/rules in ethical decision-making.Compare conscience with laws/rules and argue which one is a more reliable guide in ethical decision-making. Provide supporting examples.
Q5 (b)It emphasizes the importance of probity in governance and socio-economic development.Define probity. Discuss its importance in governance and socio-economic development, providing reasons and examples.
Q6 (a)This focuses on the teachings of Guru Nanak and their relevance today.List major teachings of Guru Nanak and explain their contemporary relevance, providing practical examples.
Q6 (b)The question revolves around the concept of social capital and its role in good governance.Define social capital. Discuss how it enhances good governance, providing examples or arguments.
Q7This is a situational ethics question related to unauthorized use of bank funds for a personal cause.(a) Identify and discuss the ethical dilemmas. (b) Analyze the bank manager’s actions. (c) Discuss the appropriate reaction to the colleague’s disclosure.
Q8This presents a scenario testing professional decision-making against immediate human needs.(a) Identify the ethical dilemmas. (b) Evaluate and prioritize options available, keeping in mind the medical urgency and professional protocols.
Q9The scenario touches upon work-life balance, prioritizing work over personal life, and the laws regarding a healthy work environment for women.(a) Discuss the ethical issues in the work expectations vs. personal life. (b) Mention four laws about a healthy work environment for women. (c) Provide suggestions to balance work and personal life in such scenarios.
Q10This addresses potential corruption in bureaucracy and the ethical challenges of exposing it.(a) Evaluate the options for Vinod considering his professional duties and potential consequences. (b) Discuss the ethical issues related to political influences in bureaucracy.
Q11The case revolves around workplace harassment and its repercussions.(a) Identify the ethical issues. (b) Discuss potential solutions to ensure project completion and Seema’s well-being. (c) Address Seema’s predicament and suggest preventive measures for the organization.
Q12This is a situational question addressing the misuse of social media.(a) Discuss the ethical concerns about social media misuse. (b) Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using social media to counter false narratives.
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