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What does the UPSC expect aspirants to focus on while answering case studies in Ethics Integrity and Aptitude (GS 4)?

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UPSC CSE Mains Examination, General Studies Paper 4, i.e., Ethics Integrity and Aptitude, often frighten aspirants. But trust me, and it is not a subject to be frightened of. Rather, it is a subject to enjoy, and it is the only subject that you practice in your daily life in one or another ways.

The syllabus of Ethics Integrity and Aptitude has been divided into two parts:

  1. a) Section A: Theory
  2. b) Section B: Case Studies

So, more is less, one can easily solve the theory part as this is not applied, or one can say it is the static part. But if we have to talk about Case studies, it startles the aspirants. The reason for the same is there is not a single approach to solving the Case studies, and there are some common frameworks but not a single approach.

Case studies are a situation where one is stuck. What should be the decision? As for solving a problem, there could be multiple solutions, but here as it is part of ethics while solving the Case Studies, considering the ethical angle is a must. Though there is no common rule for solving case studies, some points that should be kept in mind are:

  • First of all, try to know the subject matter of your case study and define it in 2-3 lines in the introduction.
  • Every case study runs around some stakeholders. Try to write down those stakeholders after the introduction. For example, Land needed for mining, dams, and other large-scale projects is acquired mostly from Adivasis, hill dwellers, and rural communities, and are the district collector in the area.

Stake Holders: Yourself, Affected Families, Land Miners, Government, investors, Gram Pradhan, etc.

  • Then it would be best if you wrote about the ethical issues involved. For instance, the above case involves the development v/s deforestation of forest conservation dilemma, public interest v/s protection of tribal rights, and economic growth v/s equitable distribution, etc.
  • Then the next part comes, here you do write about the options available. Then the question involves only ethical options one needs to choose or simply any solution one can give.
  • Yes, it is right that ethics should be the cornerstone of your thought process, but your options should be practical. So, choose 2-3 possible options and explain their pros and cons. Your options could consider some extreme options too, even though they are generally avoided as your choice.
  • After writing all the possible solutions, you will have to write about your chosen option. Here you would write about the course of action that can combine the options mentioned above.
  • It should be follow by clearly articulating your arguments (more on this below) and quotes and examples to substantiate your point of view. The best option in any situation is not the most original but practical.

For example: In the above example, deciding to put a complete ban or a moratorium on mining in your district could be more practical and sub-optimal.

  • But whatever the option you have taken, you need to reason why you chose a particular option and elaborate on the further course of action. More than the option, it is the reasoning that led you to choose that particular option that matters more. So try to back your solution with any theories, philosopher’s point of view, mythological reason, constitutional framework, or legal reason.

Articulation is one of the important parts of ethics case study answer writing. So, answering many of these beforehand will give you the confidence to tackle any question. So join any of the good test series to practice. For me, EDEN IAS Ethics Test Series worked out.

Good Luck……Happy Reading and Writing!!!!!


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