GS4 (Ethics) Strategy

Ethics is one paper which was usually considered scoring in past years but this year it suffered a blow due to strict marking (probably)

Reference Material

These are my Ethics notes from evernote –

Case study approaches

  • My strategy
    • Introduce one line with ethical dilemma involved. explicitly mention other ethical issues
    • mention stakeholders involved – mention values/decision premise – on basis on what values or ethical principles are you going to analyze the case
    • reasoning/justification
      • how the chosen option resolves the dilemmas and issues mention in the beginning using the values involved
      • how the chosen option affects stakeholder -could use table here
      • peripheral issues – how are they resolved
      • approach – base don what principles
    • merit/demrit
      • in each option give justification based on value and implication of the action
  • Atul Sir – framework for ethical decision making
    • Identify ethical issues/value concerns/ethical dilemmas
      • Sun diagram
      • Listing
    • Getting the facts
      • Relevant facts of the case
      • Avoid this due to paucity of space
    • Stakeholder ,- individual and groups that have stake in he outcome
      • Important steps
    • Various option
      • Only if asked
    • Have I identified creative options?
      • Middle path
    • Evaluate alternative options
      • Use 5 schools + leaders + emotional intelligence+ altitude
    • Decision
      • Can write some facts ,- sc judgement or constitution or society
      • Making it
      • Put it in people and society – that course of action is desired by them

Exam Paper Strategy

  • Use ethical theories, moral precedents, examples and anecdotes in reasoning for your decisions in case studies
  • Infant devote maximum time and space to reasoning – that is the area where you can really shine and create difference. Rest is run of the mill things
  • Never break the law in case study
  • Never show your prejudice of politician
  • Emphasis on exploration rather than prescription
  • Problem solving approach
    • Don’t reach conclusion in the starting
  • Personal biases need to be considered – don’t write them
  • Take a ethical stand wherever possible
  • Strict action must be taken
    • Deterrent approach
  • Avoid irrelevant information
  • Be optimistic
  • Attempt the case study with various options first – warmup
  • Quality of suggestions should be applicable to the situation and environment. Eg -Biometric system for school attendance in Bihar would not work
  • Stick to keywords in syllabus and previous year question papers
  • Don’t forget the appeal power – quintessential Indian things (ex – saat phere instead of marriage /mai-baap ) which show that you are integral part of the society
  • use tabular format as far as possible
  • don’t get too bogged down in nitty gritty. focus on the essence or theme of the question
  • Use hypothetical scenarios in Ethics answer
  • Be gender neutral in your answers. Use She/He or Him/Her
  • – Some parts of the syllabus must reflect in the answer
  • bring the language of ethics in the paper
  • – highlight the philosophy behind the answer
  • – contemporary examples
  • – Quote a thinker
  • – mention contradictory principles/values
  • In the quotes question in section a – connect it to one of the issues from syllabus in current context
  • Questions in which suggestions are asked
    • Mention ethical issue before
  • If not asked explicitly always write 1-2 line about why/reason behind the statement
  • Prepare yourself for all kind of SURPRISES IN PAPER
  • Remember the difference between eyesight and vision. Take people beyond what is minimum required.
  • Show your capacity to experience

For case studies

  • Introduce the case before coming to the point
  • should mention main stakeholder in the beginning
  • if stakeholders r not important then mention chief issues in the beginning if not even asked
  • don’t use I too much . try using indirect speech
  • Options are standalone. steps are discrete
  • course of action and justification is the main part of the answer
  • don’t give your best option as the first one- curtain raiser. arrows curiosity of the examiner
  • demerits are basically administrative challenges or limitation
  • try to list as many possible traits of leaders, reformer , administrators
  • If there are multiple stakeholder in the case study – then in your suggestion explain steps that you will take wrt each of them and their alternates if it doesn’t work out
  • Practical solution and not just vague suggestions (how to improve transparency rather than just improve transparency)
  • Also mention the most undesirable option in case study
  • Touch the peripheral issues and not just the core issues
  • Human values+Foundational values are the core of answering all case study

Things to take note

  • When gs 2 type questions are asked in paper 4
    • you have to address issues like why a particular thing is happening?
      • someone not performing their duty
      • lack of values,morals
      • role of family, society
      • it is not there empathy is not there?
    • eg  – migration case studies
      • gs2 perspective – implementation issues etc
      • gs4 perspective – deep rooted disvalues in society, some servants are not doing their duty, lacking commitment, not just systematic failure


Anything else you want to know, please post in comments.

All the best



14 thoughts on “GS4 (Ethics) Strategy

  1. Abhishek sir, some people say we have to use technical definitions of values mentioned in syllabus (GS4).. while some say it should be very simple and in layman’s terms… For example, “Emotional Intelligence” it can be written directly from ratta Wala definition but it looks too mechanical …

  2. Sir your dropbox notes are password protected. Please make them public or share the password here. Btw excellent job on notemaking, I wish I had such a remarkable organising ability.

  3. Abhishek sir, how to write definitions of values and terms in syllabus of GS4, like Emotional intelligence/Probity etc… If written directly from books (ratta Wala definition) it will look too mechanical vice versa of written in layman’s language then it would look like Bluffing …what was your approach?

  4. try to use certain keywords from the book but the language should be of your own. this will happen only if you’ve thought about the terms before.

  5. Sir can you please give the password for the dropbox pdfs? I am really looking forward to reading them.

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