A case study of RTI was asked in our TS. No specific question was asked.
3) (a) What is meant by conflict of interest? Illustrate with examples, the difference between the actual and potential conflicts of interest. (150 words) 10
There are many case studies on conflict of interest across the 3 tests explicitly mentioning the term. This would’ve given you a fair idea of conflict of interest and also helped you come up with very effective examples for both actual and potential conflicts of interest.
Define conflict of interest
Conflict of interest refers to conflicts between one’s professional responsibilities as a public servant or as a member of an organization and ones private interests as an individual. They are the most obvious examples of an ethical dilemma.
An actual conflict of interest –
You are in the interview board of a selection committee. Your family member is appearing for the same interview.
This scenario represents an actual conflict of interest. Your responsibilities demand you to demonstrate neutrality. However, with your family member being present it is going to be very difficult to do the same.
conflict of interest can be managed appropriately by recusal (withdrawal) – that is, by having another official temporarily sit in the interview panel.
potential conflicts of interest
A “potential conflict of interest” is different from actual conflict of interest in the sense that they may arise at some time in the future.
If a person agrees to give a contract to a party without holding competitive budding and justifying it on grounds of superior technology/first come first serve, etc.
The person might not have gained anything from the contract. The contractor might not be known to the person. But following the above process gives rise to a potential conflict of interest.
At the same time, many situations might seem like conflicts of interest but are actually not. Eg. If you are a teacher and you see your son cheating, it should seem like a conflict of interest but it is not. Punishing your son, not treating him differently from other students will help him evolve as someone more responsible and aware of what needs to be done.
(b) “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they do not have the first, the other two will kill you.” – Warren Buffett
What do you understand by this statement in the present-day scenario? Explain. (150 words) 10
We asked a question on Probity but not Integrity. Probity is a more difficult term to bluff around, hence we stressed on that. The question talks about the importance of integrity. At the same time, it is asking you to discuss in the present-day context.
Integrity not only means upholding the values of public or private service like honesty, decency, frankness, fairness but also ensuring that consistency is maintained in exercising these values. It ensures reliability and establishes one as trustworthy. If one has acted in a certain manner, then it is more likely that he/she will repeat it. ARC expands the meaning of the concept of the integrity of public servants need to be amplified. While financial integrity is one element of it, functional integrity and a high level of efficiency at work are equally important.
The above statement highlights the importance of integrity. It says that without it, intelligence and energy can be detrimental to an organization and the person himself.
An intelligent and energetic man is capable enough to do unethical tasks and tricks a system. Without integrity, he is more likely to do so.
Take the eg. of Mallya or Nirav Modi. Both intelligent and energetic businessmen who have built their empires. Unfortunately, they lacked integrity and hence it proved dangerous both of them and the country.
Hence, integrity holds primacy over all other values. Hiring someone smart might seem like the right thing to do in the short run.
4) (a) “In doing a good thing, everything is permitted which is not prohibited expressly or by clear implication”. Examine the statement with suitable examples in the context of a public servant discharging his/her duties. (150 words) 10
The question focuses on widespread discretion a public servant enjoys and yet they have become more cautious in discharging their duties and taking risks due to the 4Cs – CVC, Courts, CBI, CAG.
Laws and rulebooks lay down broad-based restrictions. They can neither cover all circumstances as it is impossible to foresee them nor can they be very detailed to become restrictive in scope.
Hence, everything outside the restrictions is permitted.
A civil servant should use his good judgment to ensure that he does his public duty and works in the best interest of the public even if it involves the fear of coming under scrutiny by the 4Cs. His aim should not be to keep himself away from any controversy and unforeseen legal hassles.
Eg. Tamil Nadu IAS officer had pointed out the lapses in urban planning and construction which led to his transfer. Once urban flooding happened, he stood vindicated.
Similarly, the courts giving relief to upright IAS officers of UP and Bihar in discharging their duties highlight the great work done by them.
The need of the hour is civil servants taking quick decisions, ensuring that files and proposals are not stuck and evolving effective means for private sector participation.
(b) With regard to the morality of actions, one view is that means is of paramount importance and the other view is that the ends justify the means. Which view do you think is more appropriate? Justify your answer. (150 words) 10
The same question with more complex wordings was asked in our test. Go through it and our model answer provided in our TS. We have further left reviews highlighting concepts of Absolutism
Round 1 GS 4
6. a. Is it as much of a mistake to define ‘right action’ as to define ‘good consequence’? (10)
Model Answer for the TS
The above statement captures the essence of consequentialist and deontological approaches. Consequentialism talks of a good consequence regardless of whether the action was right or wrong. It say ends justify means. Deontological view talks of the right action regardless of the end consequence. Meaning, end is not important, it’s more important to follow the right path. As an eg. – the Utilitarian perspective is consequentialist while Kant’s categorical imperative is deontological. Both theories have their flaws. Utilitarian perspective is only concerned with the greatest happiness of the greatest number. If killing a person gave happiness to 100 other people, it would be just to execute that one person. On the other hand, Kant’s categorical imperative would condemn lying but there are many instances where lying can save one’s life. So it cannot be universally applied.
From the above, we cannot say that defining ‘right action’ is a mistake and ‘good consequence’ should have primacy. There cannot be a narrative that can be universally applied. Their applicability depends on a case by case scenario. Gandhi was of the opinion that not only are the ends important but so are the means. It is not enough to fight for freedom but to have Dharma on our side which means right action. This implies that the right action and good consequence need not be in contradiction. They cannot be seen in dichotomous terms. A harmonious synthesis of the two is always possible and one should always think of solutions that do justice to both means and ends.
5) (a) Suppose the Government of India is thinking of constructing a dam in a mountain valley bond by forests and inhabited by ethnic communities. What rational policy should it resort to in dealing with unforeseen contingencies (150 words) 10
Question on EIA. Elaborate on the points below –
Screening often results in the categorization of the project and from this a decision is made on whether or not a full EIA is to be carried out. Here I’ll decide that a full EIA is be carried out.
Scoping is the process of determining which are the most critical issues to study.
Here I’ll ensure community participation. Come up with a detailed analysis of the impact of constructing the Dam.
-List of People who are affected by the project will be drawn and they need to hear about it as soon as possible.
-The impact on the environment, flora, and fauna of the region will have to be laid out.
-The costs to the government will be communicated.
If the community agrees with the project design and are ready to accept the terms offered by the government, we will move ahead. Else changes in design of the project, looking at alternate venues will be considered and the same step will be repeated.
Detailed prediction and mitigation studies follow scoping and are carried out in parallel with feasibility studies.
The main output report is called an Environmental Impact Statement and contains a detailed plan for managing and monitoring environmental impacts both during and after implementation.
Finally, an audit of the EIA process is carried out sometime after implementation. The audit serves a useful feedback and learning function.
(b) Explain the process of resolving ethical dilemmas in Public Administration. (150 words) 10
Throughout our test series, we have tested on your knowledge of attempting questions around virtue ethics, consequentialist ethics and deontological ethics. Utilitarian, Kantian, Gandhian principles.
This question primarily wanted to assess your understanding of the above theories and their limitations and understand that they need to be applied on a case by case basis.
6) What do each of the following quotations mean to you in the present context?
(a) “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgement of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. ”Abraham Lincoln ( 150 words)10
(b) “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding. “ _ Mahatma Gandhi (150 words) 10
Since a question on intolerance has been so common, we tried to ask a more difficult question on dissent.
Round 2 GS4
2.a. What do you understand by dissent and why is it important for a democracy. With examples explain why dissent needs more focus in India?
In this question talk about how emotional intelligence is hit if you are angry and intolerance. Hence it distorts our understanding of self and the environment, makes us draw wrong conclusions.
Provide relevant examples.
In the model answer, we had provided quotes that could’ve been used here –
Voltaire had remarked – I might disapprove of what you say but defend to death your right to say so. We as individuals, society and a country have to realise this.
Such tolerance can help us understand different perspectives to arrive at a more correct, accurate understanding.
(c) “Falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good.” _ Tirukkural (150 words)10
The above quote is similar to Gita’s quote that one lie spoken to benefit someone is greater than 100 truths.
Talk of consequentialism. That ends justify the means.
Counter by proposing deontological ethics.
Finally saying both means and ends are necessary. Lying to achieve ends might not always be a preferred way.