UPSC Civil Service exam 2016: General Studies sample paper

UPSC Civil Service exam 2016: General Studies sample paper

These questions from General Studies will help you understand the exam pattern

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The exam will be held in December

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is going to conduct the Civil Services mains examination on December 3 to fill the Indian Administrative Services (IAS), IFS and various prestigious posts. Thousands of candidates have registered for the exam. These sample paper for general studies can help candidates prepare for their mains examination.

1 (a)Aristotle observed that it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. But it is also true that “we are what our thoughts have made us”. Explain the statement.
(150 words, 10 marks)

(b) Sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments. “Our emotions need to be educated like our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to react and how to respond”. Explain what you understand by the statement. Do you agree with it?
(200 words, 10 marks)

2 (a) Love of the nation traverses myopic commercial ends but at the same time it should not succumb to xenophobic jingoism. Substantiate in the back drop of the use of artist from Pakistan in Indian cinema.
(150 words, 10 marks)


(b) In a hypothetical condition, you are father of two young children. Your kids have not eaten from past two days and there is hardly any money with you. Your wife pressurises you to beg, borrow or steal but get something for the children. Analyse all three of the options and tell which one will you choose and why? Do you have any other option in your mind. Substantiate.
(150 words, 10 marks)

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3 (a) In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty even if he thinks of doing so.” What do you understand by this statement? Explain.
(150 words, 10 marks)

(b) All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence and then success is sure. However, “The need of the society, determine its ethics”. Explain
(150 words, 10 marks)

4. (a) Superstition still has a strong presence in Indian culture. Explain with some examples. Also highlight how does it lead to conflict with constitutional values.
(150 words, 10 marks)

(b) Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality. Individual ethical domain is as pervasive as the national. Substantiate.
(150 words, 10 marks)

5. (a) Corruption is the enemy of development and of good governance. A counter view suggests that ‘Focusing on corruption prevents development’. What is your view in this regard, substantiate with suitable examples.

(b) There are very many characteristics which go into making a model civil servant. Enlist them in order of significance for the present India.
(150 words, 10 marks)

6. What do you understand by displacement induced development? How does it contribute to social unrest and exclusion in society?
(150 words, 10 marks)

7. Probity in public life is as important as an efficient administration. They are not antithetical to one another. Comment on the above statement and substantiate your stand.
(150 words, 10 marks)

8. “It is better to make a few promises which can be kept than a long list of lofty but impractical aspirations”. Discuss the above statement in the context of citizen charter and also give suggestions to make it an effective tool in public service delivery.
(150 words, 10 marks)

READ: UPSC Civil Service exam: Sample paper for General Studies
Section B

9. You are a police officer on patrol. You are accompanied by three other constables and you are armed with a semi automatic pistol. You see a large crowd of around 1000 people coming towards you menacingly. The crowd seems very angry and gradually starts to damage public property.

You immediately request the headquarters for extra force. The extra force shall however take around 30 minutes to reach the site. You are meanwhile supposed to fend for yourself and the three men accompanying you.

Should you leave the spot or should you confront the mob. Give reasons for your choice.
(250 words, 20 marks)

10. You are an officer of the district administration. The state Government has decided that all houses must get piped natural gas. The gas must be transferred through underground pipeline. You are the officer in charge for the entire process. The tender for laying the pipeline was supposed to be floated by you. The project was risky as it involved the combustible LPG. Security and safely was thus of prime consideration.

You permit and sanction several cost overruns on the ground that safety must not be compromised and quality of the final work must not be low. The task was very arduous and you did not want any substandard material to be put, threatening lives-After the completion of the project, the project undergoes a performance audit. The report of the performance criticised the repeated cost overruns and poor efficiency in project implementation. The report is put out to the media, which makes you the scapegoat for the entire budgetary overshoot You, being the officer in charge, are now facing an allegation of corruption.

What could you have done to avoid these allegations in the whole process?
(250 words, 20 marks)

11. You are the District Magistrate of a small union territory. The city is supplied water by a single water works head. One particular night, due to some technical problems, one of the pipes burst and the entire water supply of the city was hit. The residents woke up to a morning without water supply.
You immediately announce via local media the problem and the estimated time it shall take. Till then, you assure that water shall be supplied through tankers. You immediately deploy 5000 tankers to supply water in various parts of the city. A normal water tanker costs anything between Rs 1000 to 1200. You calculated that the cost so incurred can be easily borne out of the District contingency fund. However, the tankers refuse to ply at normal rates- Given the high demand of water, they insisted that they must be paid three times the usual rate. A few individuals were already paying them the same amount to get water to their doorstep. Despite your personal intervention, the tanker owners were not ready to budge from the demand of cost per tanker. They ensured that at the rate of 3000 rupees per tanker, they would work round the clock to ensure that no house falls short of water.

The cost demanded by the tanker owners is too high and the district contingency fund does not have sufficient money for the same. Also, such an approval would also require you to ask for the consent of the Municipal Corporation. However, without water, citizens were protesting and agreeing to the higher rates seems the only option.

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What is likely to be your course of action in this case?

12. Vijay Deenanath Chauhan (aka VDC) has just come back to India after completing his law degree in London. He belongs to a very influential family and is barely in his 20s. He is deeply interested in reading and therefore did not intend to pursue active legal practice. However, he did want to keep himself busy, especially post a breakup with his long standing girlfriend. He gets lucky when a reputed law college calls him up and offers him a job. He has to work only for 3 days a week and he will get paid very handsomely for the same. Although VDC is very young and academic life is much more linkable to older people, he likes the idea as teaching would help him pursue his interest for learning till the time he figures out what next to do. The offer did not require him to be present for the entire week. Therefore he accepts the offer of the college.

He finds that there is not much difference in his age and his student’s age. He however does not enlighten them with his true age so that a certain degree of seriousness is maintained. His class has a lot of female students, whom he finds attractive. But he always maintains his distance with his classmates. He snubs the few female students who try to talk to him out of the context of his subjects. He projects himself as a no-nonsense taskmaster.

One night however, at 10:30, he gets a call on his personal number from a student. This was the same girl he found pretty in class. He was however fully cognizant of the tea her pupil relationship. He received the call. The girl asked him if VDC could help her with a particular paper. VDC asked her to meet him in office at 10am to discuss the paper. He asked her to bring the relevant material with her. She however insisted that she needed to talk about the paper immediately. VDC was adamant and disconnected the call. The student made calls at half hourly intervals all the way till 2 AM. VDC did not attend any of those. He got a hint that the girl student had feelings for her, and there is no harm in talking. On the contrary, his professional code of conduct did not permit such behaviour.

What should Vijay Deenanath Chauhan do in this situation? Should he report the matter to the Dean of the College, or should he keep the conversation off the record. Elaborate.
(200 words, 20 marks)

13. You are the District magistrate of a flood hit district. The lines of communication and supplies have been severed. You however, relying solely on your disaster preparedness, set up several makeshift camps and hospitals across the district so that relief work can be concentrated. The flood water had not receded for three days now and it had been raining incessantly. The path of the river had been altered, totally inundating several hectares of land. You, along with a team of doctors, manage to reach a remote corner of the district- Medical help had not reached here. You find that a young man was profusely bleeding. His head had hit something hard in the chaos created by the floods and he had a deep head wound. You immediately allow doctors to attend to him.

The doctors conclude that blood loss is severe and immediate blood transfusion needs to be done. You are told of his blood group, which incidentally matches with your blood group. However, while you agree to give your blood, you are told that transfusion of unbanked blood is illegal.

If you do not give your blood, the person is sure to die. What would you do?
(250 words, 20 marks)

14. Param Singh is a master in Aerospace engineering from a top university of the world. After completing his masters, he decided to appear for the civil services and got selected in the Indian foreign services in his first attempt. His qualifications in aerospace engineering do not go unnoticed. He was soon made responsible for the negotiation of a classified fighter plane procurement deal between India and France. He is flying from Delhi to Paris on a weekly basis and is regularly briefing the Secretary, Defence Procurement and officers in the armed forces.

His negotiations are likely to be the basis of solid diplomatic foundation between the two nations. A visit of the Prime Minister to Paris, solidified these ties and a memorandum was signed to that effect. Param Singh was elated. His hard work was finally yielding fruits and both nations were very happy with the deal. The CEO of the company, an alumni from the same college as Param is invited Param to witness a test flight of the plane. However, during the test flight, Param observed a snag in the test data. The flight data, as understood by Param who is himself an aerodynamics expert, showed a problem in certain manoeuvres. He realised that with this error, the aircraft would be unsafe for the pilot while performing steep manoeuvres.

He also realised that the testing engineers were deliberately trying to overlook the fault. However, he is in doubt. It has been a few years since he has been in touch with aeronautics. He speaks to his Indian bosses. The bureaucrats in India in the Ministry of Defence tell him that experts would eventually iron out the flaws and would correct it if it is too major. The foreign secretary also reminded him of his role as a diplomat was to negotiate and not show domain expertise. The deal was very important for both countries as it was the basis of a solid diplomatic partnership and was extremely profitable to the host country.


He was however uneasy. He was feeling guilty. He wanted to break the chain of command and report this to someone else like the Prime Minister Office or maybe one of the Chiefs of Staff. He knew that they alone had the influence to alter this diplomatic decision. Bypassing bosses would certainly attract reprimand, it may as well end his career. He was merely an undersecretary and his career has just taken off. Such an action would put him in a mess of protocol breach. He is also not sure of the accuracy of his observations.

Should he report the matter?
(250 words, 20 marks)

– Sample paper by Faculty, ETEN IAS KSG