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How To Prepare UPSC Civil Services Mains Paper – V (GS – 4 – Ethics, Aptitude and Integrity))


How to prepare GS – 1 (i.e, Paper-II)

How to prepare GS – 2 (i.e, Paper-III)

How to prepare GS – 3 (i.e Paper – IV)

UPSC has brought changes to the Civil Services Mains examination in both the pattern and the syllabus. We know that now there are 4 General Studies Papers apart from one Essay and Optional paper each. Of these, new paper on Ethics Aptitude and Integrity has been a headache for many aspirants as quality source is elusive even now when the exam is nearing.

This article discusses preparation strategy for General Studies – 4 (i.e Paper-IV -Ethics Aptitude and Integrity )

Before you start reading further, please remember the following important mantra given by the  Almighty UPSC:

The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio‐ economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and succinct answers.” 

This sentence is the guiding light for your preparation. You don’t have to master the topics, all you need is BASIC UNDERSTANDING and the ability to analyze. Basic understanding comes from reading and re-reading. Ability to analyze what you have understood from reading comes from WRITING PRACTICE.

This article was tough to write as it’s new and sources for this article were difficult to find.

Sources for this article are diverse. Books published by Oxford, Cambridge university presses, Springer, Sage publications have been referred. Britannica encyclopedia and IGNOU materials were of immense help too.

Many PDFs are of advanced nature. You don’t have to read all the PDFs in toto. Read first few paragraphs to understand the essence. Remember the above UPSC mantra.

Question paper will have questions on theory and case studies.

Case studies will be covered every day as an article where you can write answers and get comments from fellow aspirants.

I have given only links to sources. I am no authority  to explain  the topics.


 Ethics and Human Interface

Let’s start with basics:

Introduction to Ethics

  • Essence, determinants and Consequences of Ethics in human actions

What is Ethics? – Cambridge University

Source– Authentic and Good one (read this completely to get conceptual clarity)

  • Dimensions of ethics

Read Chapters One and Two from this book

  • Ethics in private and public relationships.

Ethics in private relationships – Read chapter 3 in the link. It’s in Google Books and the chapter has all pages. It is very good with lots of case studies.  If any IT guy can extract pages and covert them to PDF, please send me a copy.

Ethics in Private Relationship– Good one

Ethics in Public Relations

  • Human Values

Human values – IGNOU Material

  • Lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators

You can read about them from school books or from website. Will provide a list later.

  • Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

Chapter Ten of this book. Google Books – Value Education.


  • Structure and Function

Source – 1 – Very Basic

Source – 2 – Structure

source – 3 – Functions

Source – 4 – Complex and Specialized (if you can understand! Page no. 38,39…)

  • Its influence and relation with thought and behaviour

Source – 1 – Attitude and Behaviour

Source – 2 – Values, Attitudes and Behaviour –

Source – 3 – Very Advanced

  • Moral and political attitudes

Source 1 – Political Attitudes

Source – 2 – Moral Attitudes

  • Social influence and Persuasion

Source – 1 – Simple and Straight to the point. Good one.

Source -2 – Very Advanced

Related Article

Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service

  • Integrity

Critical Look at Integrity

Integrity and Transparency – critical article

  • Impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.

These are actually civil service values recommended by the second ARC in its report (10th Report, Chapter 16)

Emotional intelligence

  • Concept

Source – 1 – Very Basic – Excellent one.

Source – 2 – Conceptual clarity

  • Their utilities and application in administration and governance

Emotional Intelligence and Public Leadership

Emotional Intelligence in Bureaucracies

Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration:

  • Status and problems

Public Service Values – Status

Professionalism and Ethics in Public Service – UN Document. Read only Chapter One and Conclusion. Problems and Issues about Public service values is given in it.

  • Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions

Ethical Concerns in Public Administration

Ethical Dilemma –  In this, read only Chapter One. It is written in foreign context but it’s applicability is universal.

Ethics in Public Administration – Don’t neglect this document because it’s written by a research scholar. It is simple and lucid.

  • Laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance

Didn’t get any credible source. I will post it when I get one.

  • Accountability and ethical governance

Ethical Governance in twenty first century – This is culled from a costly and an authentic book. Read it to understand the importance of ethics in governance.

Ethics As element of Good Governance 

Ethics and Governance – T N Chaturvedi (he was CAG and Governor of Karnataka) – His reflections are insightful.

  • Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance

Above PDFs reflect on this topic too.

  • Ethical issues in international relations and funding

Ethics in International Relations –  Taken from a reputed book and is a primary source on the topic.

Ethics in International Relations  – This is in relation to corporate responsibility. It covers some aspects of ethical issues in ‘funding’ mentioned in the syllabus.

  • Corporate governance

Corporate Governance – Read it as it contains many new facts and ideas. (not so good, though)

Corporate Governance – An Ethical Perspective – It is critical article, a research paper.

News Report – Economic Times

PPT Presentation – IIT Bombay

Probity in Governance

This part of the syllabus is completely covered in the following book. It is written by two retired IAS officers of Gujarat cadre. All the topics of this part of the syllabus and other topics of importance are covered in this book.

I am giving below PDFs to some topics taken from some UN sites, books and ministries websites.

  • Probity in Governance

Probity in Governance – Excellent one  – It is published by Law Ministry and contains many concepts.

What is Probity in Governance – Private context

  • Concept of public service

Probity in Governance – Excellent one  – it defines what’s public service.

  • Philosophical basis of governance and probity
  • Information sharing and transparency in government – Right to Information

Articles on RTI from The Hindu, EPW will be posted.

The above mentioned book has a chapter on this topic.

  • Codes of Ethics

Codes of Ethics – OECD 

Codes of ethics – World Bank –

  • Codes of Conduct

Refer the above mentioned book.

  • Citizen’s Charters

Citizen’s Chartes – FAQs

Citizen Charter Handbook

  • Work culture
  • Quality of service delivery
  • challenges of corruption

This is basically a general topic. I will compile articles published on this topic  in The Hindu (last year there were many articles on this topic) and give links soon.

Source – 1

Apart from the above book, the following book might be useful as it is written by a renowned author Ramesh Arora (his books on Public Administration are well received)

A SMALL LECTURE – again!?!

Note: You can skip this if you are already bored! 

Until now we saw what books to read. Now the question is how to remember most of the things we read and how to translate them into better answers.

  • A common mistake most of the aspirants commit is reading so many books for a single topic.This mistake costs both your time and ability to remember things clearly and concisely.
  • Stick to a single source and read it again and again. Remember The Same Source. Avoid the temptation of doing ‘Research’ on a topic.
  • Always Remember – UPSC tests Basic Understanding. Not mastery over a topic.
  • Make short notes on each topic. It is while making notes that readers tend to do RESEARCH and scout various sources. Stick to one book even if you are not 100% satisfied with it.
  • Remember that old saying? – Jack of all trades, master of NONE. If you try to do Research, most probably your name won’t appear in the Final List. I guarantee it.
  • For Paper-II (i.e GS-1) being thorough with Current Events plays a crucial role in enabling you to acquire analytical skills.

Very Important Part In The Preparation

  • Writing. Writing. Writing.
  • But what? – One must practice answer writing to Previous year questions, or take a Mock Test. Whatever, before you enter examination hall, you must have spent lot of time on answer writing.

Most Important Part In The Preparation

  • Revision. Revision. Re-Revision.
  • You do this and you appear for the Personality Test.
  • If you don’t Revise what you read all these months – you slightly miss the Personality Test, or You narrowly miss appearing in the Final List.

Well, to sum up. To get the interview call all you need to do is: Read, Re-read the same source, Write and Revise.

Preparation for this  paper can be finished in 20 days provided you are focused and determined.

Of course. Eat well, Sleep well and Keep a good health. If you get a running nose on the day of the exam, 2 hours out of 3 hours goes in draining it and drying it.

Feel free to point out mistakes, improvements and suggestions. You can also share material if you have any so that it benefits readers. 

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be a blueprint or a road map for your preparation. It’s not the one stop source for complete preparation of this paper.