top of page


GS paper 4 is the most misunderstood paper and often the highest scoring paper out of all. It is important to score good marks in this paper for scoring any rank in the final list.


Since, the paper deals with features of Human Behaviour, and we all behave in some manner in our lives which seem ethical to us, we feel that we can ace good marks by expressing the facets of our behaviour. This leads to most of the students not feeling the need to read it.

There four things discuss in detail -

Understanding Syllabus and its analysis

Preparation Strategy

Books and Notes

Previous Year papers


Also, they perceive the terms to be familiar and they can write their own answers based on their experiences and personal life, leading to poor marks and thus failing to qualify mains.


So, when we know terms such as honesty, integrity, values and continue to enforce them in our personal lives, then why are we not able to manifest it in the answers and thus get marks for it?

Ethics paper was required to be added so as to check whether the person joining the services is ethical and this is evaluated by checking whether the answer is ethical or not, when written under pressure and during scarcity of time.


So, by recruiting ethical people, their behaviour can be perceived to be ethical during service which will lead to better productivity and efficiency. Although, how far we are able to inculcate ethics in administration remains questionable due to the various black sheep amongst bureaucrats.


To understand it we need to understand the syllabus of the paper and work on our basics.

Topic Wise Syllabus Analysis

  1. Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions;dimensions of ethics; ethics in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

    Explanation : It deals with the various dimensions of human behavior and how ethics play role in determining good and bad behavior in both personal and public life. Since, ethics are formed by the society over a period of time, the topic instructs to see how ethics have changed over time by learning from leaders and reformers while also understanding how society through parents, friends, educational institutes and media help in inculcating values in us.


  2. Attitude: content, structure, function; it’s influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.

    Explanation : Attitude is a psychological disposition of humans towards some external objects. Here, it is required that the student understands attitude, how it is formed, positive and negative attitudes and whether the person’s attitude is always in line with his/her acts or not. Its influence on human behavior and the impact on society also needs to be understood.


  3. Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service : integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.

    Explanation : Both attitude and aptitude play an important role in the life of a civil servant. Thus, one needs to develop the inherent aptitude so as to increase efficiency and productivity while upholding the foundational values for civil services. Thus, here the student is expected to understand the aptitude requirement for a civil servant and the values that need to upheld when serving for the government

  4. Emotional intelligence : concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.

    Explanation : Intelligence Quotient and Emotional intelligence are the two basic requirement for a civil servant as the person has to deal with public. So, it is required that the civil servant understands other’s emotions and use them for the betterment of the nation. To understand the importance of Emotional intelligence, just imagine what it would be like to have a DM without emotions. Will he understand the challenges of a common man or will he just think about increasing productivity even at the cost of rights of the locals. Thus, it is important to understand emotional intelligence for a civil servant.

  5. Thinkers : Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

    Explanation : Moral thinkers and philosophers are the guiding light for understand ethics, morals and values. They help us in understanding the debates on ethics and thus with their discussions, we can increase our knowledge of ethics. They can be quoted in answers to support our viewpoint.

  6. Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

    Explanation : A civil servant faces various ethical dilemmas in life where his own value system comes into conflict. It is pertinent for the civil servant then to think of public service first and foremost over any rule or regulation and thus resolve the ethical dilemma. Thus, here the student needs to understand the various dilemmas in the life of a civil servant and how to resolve them in an ethical manner.

  7. Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity; Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

    Explanation : Kautilya suggested that , “Just as it is impossible to know when a fish moving in water is drinking, so it is impossible to find out when government servants in charge of undertakings misappropriate money.” Thus, while ethics need to come from within, probity and transparency needs to be imposed from above so as to ensure that the civil servants remain servants to the public and not become masters. Thus, this topic teaches students about the importance of probity in governance.

  8. Case Studies on above issues.

    Explanation : The most scoring section of GS Paper 4, Case studies are practical implementation of the above acquired knowledge. It is important that the student writes an ethical answer which is practical in implementation. Also, the students should not have a preaching attitude but a doing attitude.

Strategy for Preparation

  • The above mentioned materials and syllabus can give you an idea about how to start your preparation. Once, you get familiar with the key terms through the basics of above mentioned material, you need to complement it with examples from real life.

  • Since, the paper is all about human behaviour, complementing your theoretical point of views with real life examples help give depth to your answers.

  • These examples can be quoted from personal life along with examples that you may have read in the newspaper. For example, if you have to write an answer where you have to express the importance of cleanliness while combatting the idea of purity and pollution.

  • You can quote the example of Parameswaran Iyer, former Secretary to the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, who cleaned a public toilet pit and thus setting an example for all.

  • Similarly, Kanwal Tanuj, DM of Bihar Aurangabad district ate the food prepared by a Dalit women cook of Mid-day meal scheme and got her reinstated after the people protested against a dalit making food for the children. Such examples should be memorised for enriching the answer.

  • The closer the answer is to real life situations, the better marks one can attain from it. Also, the answer need to be written in a structured format consisting of - Introduction, Body, Way forward and Conclusion.

  • It is extremely important for the students to incorporate way forward and introduction as around 20% of marks are generally awarded for these two components of the answer.

  • One can quote philosophies in the introduction so as to give it a lustre in the answer. Also, students need to practise writing GS paper 4 answers as practise improves the quality of answers.

  • Finally, it is important for the students to be ethical in their own lives as under pressure, the true self gets reflected in the answer and no amount of practise can help hide our true self. Living an ethical life is of utmost importance for getting good marks in the paper.

  • The GS-Paper 4 is a paper with potential to score high marks which will provide one with an edge over the competitors. While the paper seems insurmountable, but with a focussed approach, proper planning and adequate practice, everything is possible.

bottom of page