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How to write GS IV Ethics answer introductions?

Introductions are the first impressions, and the way we introduce an answer matters, so let’s learn to start strongly.

We all struggle with how to start the answer to a question or how to introduce the answer. As we begin writing answers in an exam, the moment we see the question, our mind starts to wonder how best to introduce our answer. In the following paragraphs I intend to discuss some strategies for writing effective introductions for ethics questions asked in UPSC GS IV Mains.

What is an introduction?

Introductions are the first few sentences or the first paragraph of the answer. Here, the student briefly outlines their understanding of the question, and the perspective that the student will take in the rest of the answer.

Different Ways of Framing GS IV Ethics Answer Introductions

Writing introductions is an art as it requires a conceptual understanding of the content and creative presentation skills.

Conceptual understanding of the content is something that the student can acquire by reading relevant textbooks. But it is the creative presentation part that the student needs to learn and practice.

The student has to be creative in writing introductions because there are 13 questions in Section A of GS IV Ethics question paper, and having a similar style of introduction makes the answers monotonous to read.

The usual practice among students is to pick out the keyword or theme and then explain it as an introduction to the answer. But this does not work for all the answers.

Let’s explore some ways of introducing GS IV Ethics answers.


To begin with, quoting leaders, philosophers, and eminent persons are an excellent way to start an answer.

For instance: let’s take the following question from 2014 UPSC Ethics Mains question paper:

What does ethics seek to promote human life? Why is it all the more important in public administration?

The question’s focus is the relevance of ethics, and to introduce the answer, the student could have used Albert Camus’s quote:

“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”

Similarly, the following 2013 GS IV Mains question:

“There is enough on this earth for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed” Mahatma Gandhi (2013)

In the above statement, Gandhi speaks of contentment and minimalism as a value to practice. And, Diogenes’s following statement would have made a suitable introduction:

“He has the most who is most content with the least.”

Great leaders or Eminent personalities

Using eminent personalities, inspiring leaders, sportspeople, and historical figures is another way of introducing answers. There are some questions where using historical figures makes a lot of sense. For example:

In 2014 GS IV question paper, UPSC asked the following question on Kantian ethics:

Human beings should always be treated as ends in themselves and never merely means.” Explain the meaning and significance of this statement, giving its implications in the modern techno-economic society.

The answer to the above question can be introduced using well-known historical or contemporary figures.

For instance, when we look into history, we find leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, who, by abolishing slavery, tried to ensure that humans were treated with the dignity they deserved.

Let me give you another example,

The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of strong.”

In 2015 Mains, UPSC asked students to explain the above quote on forgiveness.

And for introducing the answer, Nelson Mandela would have made for a perfect introduction, as he symbolised forgiveness.

Current event reference

As one reads newspapers and magazines and watches TV news, we encounter significant exam-value events. These are events that a student can allude to while writing answers and essays.

For example, in 2013 Mains, UPSC asked a question about the relationship between ethics and politics.

It is often said that ‘politics’ and ‘ethics’ do not go together. What is your opinion in this regard? Justify your answer with illustrations.”

While writing an answer to the above question, the student could have alluded briefly to any contemporary political scandal or event which displayed poor ethics on the part of political leaders.

Every year there are a few questions that are contemporary in perspective, and for answering such questions, alluding to current events makes absolute sense. For instance, in 2021, UPSC asked a question about “refugees”, which is more of a contemporary issue, so referring to current happenings is an excellent way to introduce the answer.

And besides the above three, it is advisable to use keyword-based introductions for questions that are conceptual. For example, questions on emotional intelligence are usually conceptual, so keyword-based introductions work.

The above are some of ways that you can use to make great first impressions on the examiner.

In case of any doubts or queries please feel free to get in touch.

Happy Studying!

K M Pathi

PS: In case you missed the video on "Writing Introductions," please follow the link. 👇


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