SYNOPSIS [15th JANUARY,2021] Day 5: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)

  • IASbaba
  • January 15, 2021
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Question Compilation, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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SYNOPSIS [15th JANUARY,2021] Day 5: IASbaba’s TLP (Phase 1): UPSC Mains Answer Writing (General Studies)


1. What is journalistic ethics? What are its key principles? Discuss.


Students are expected to write about what is journalistic ethics and also to write about journalistic ethics key principles.


If the foundations of journalism ethics are tracked far enough, one finds that they are based on various international agreements and declarations, such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and regulations of international law. The UNESCO declaration regarding mass media (1978) and the Paris Declaration (1983), which were backed by numerous journalist associations, defined the ethical guidelines more accurately in questions related to media and journalism.


Journalistic ethics:

  • Journalistic ethics are basically a set of principles, standards, guidelines and code of conduct prepared for professional journalists. It deals with conduct, character and behaviour of a journalist and how he/she works before, during and after the news gathering and dissemination process.
  • The student of journalism or a practicing journalist should realise that there are principles that guide this profession. The prerequisite is to have an understanding of the public function of journalism and the standards by which its aims are met. For example, the journalistic function of keeping the public informed about governmental wrongdoing falls under the commitment of the press to a free and open democracy.

According to the basic division, there are two kinds of ethics: duty-based ethics and consequentialist ethics:

  • In the case of journalism, duty-based ethics stress the importance of truth, while consequential ethics focus on societal good. If a journalist thinks that it is most important that a story is true and that the facts are right, they follow duty-based ethics.
  • On the other hand, a journalist may think that the effects of a cause are the most important aspect and, as a result, follow consequentialist ethics. Does the article offend someone? What kind of effects will the publication of the article have? Can the publication of a certain article do more harm than good, even if the facts used are correct?

In the US, in 1922, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) adopted a set of ethical principles titled “Canons of Journalism’, which was later revised and renamed ‘Statement of Principles in 1975.

The ASNE proposed six key principles; Responsibility, Freedom of the Press, Independence, Truth and Accuracy, Impartiality and Fair Play.

Important key principles in the journalistic ethics are as follows:

  • Truth and Accuracy: Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corroborate information we should say so. For example avoiding Yellow journalism and paid news.
  • Independence: Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors or the audience any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.
  • Fairness and Impartiality: Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence. For example avoiding engaging in one-sided media trials as recently done in SSR case, lobbying for personal gains, blackmailing, manipulating news stories, engaging in malicious and defamatory reporting, running propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
  • Humanity: Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others. For example avoiding reporting based on communal angle and creating misleading headlines as done in pandemic by few channels on tabligi Jamaat issue.
  • Responsibility and Accountability: A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair. For example recent TRP manipulation by few TV channels in 2020.


Journalistic ethics is more than a gut feeling of right and wrong. It encompasses a broad set of standards that are under constant review, and you, as a practitioner, must take the ethical responsibilities of the profession seriously at all times, in that way you will bring honour to journalism and see to it that you have helped to maintain the integrity of its practice for future generations.

2. What is the role of education in inculcating values in children? Discuss with the help of suitable examples.


Question is straight forward. In the first half of the body importance of education from ancient times can be underlined in imparting value education. Some examples can be given stressing need of character building for nation’s development.


Value education is rooted in Indian philosophy and culture and ingrained in every tradition of Indian culture. Vedas and Upanishads form the source of inspiration for value education. In Vedic period, ashram system of education, guru insisted pupil to follow set of values throughout his life. With the advent of new modern era it is necessary to build characters of moral strength and curious mind.


University education commission 1948-49 mentioned the various aspects of morality as: loyalty, courage, discipline, self-sacrifice and spirituality. The Secondary Education Commission 1952-53 laid special emphasis on the following values in the formation of character of the students – Efficiency, Good Temper, Cooperation, Integrity and Discipline.

But the big question here is how to make value education more effective?

  • Firstly, the moral awareness should be endorsed to orient the progress in science & technology towards the welfare of mankind. 
  • Secondly, common values should be re-discovered to unite human beings with the general decline of traditional values. 
  • Thirdly, teachers pass values to the students both consciously and unconsciously through their conduct in and out of class rooms. Therefore the need for a formal learning. 
  • Fourthly, student might face more complicated decision making situations about issues involving values. They should be helped in developing the ability to make proper choices in such situations through value education.

How to inculcate values in students?

  • In school, children are members of a small society that exerts a tremendous influence on their moral development. Teachers serve as role model to students in school; they play a major role in inculcating their ethical behaviour.
  • At the same time, peers at school may also diffuse boldness about cheating, lying, stealing, and consideration for others. Though there are rules and regulations, the educational institutions infuse the value education to the children in an informal way. They play a major role in developing pro-social behaviour in children.

What steps can be taken to inculcate values?

  • Teaching Accountability – The children should be encouraged to be accountable for their own actions and should learn to respect and treat others kindly.
  • Playing Role model – The teachers are the first role model to the children outside their family. When the children sees the model showing concern for others, motivating them for their good deeds and cooperating and helpful with their academic issues, the children learn them by observing and imitate it with fellow peers.
  • Teaching Basic morals and values – The children are taught basic morals and values in school. They should be taught by emphasizing the idea through many activities, stories and tales, which will encourage them to engage in more helping behaviours.
  • Appreciation – The teacher should appreciate the children for developing pro-social behaviour, especially for any specific action they have done to help others.

Value education cannot be taught like other subjects civics or science however through these values can be inculcated.  For example, National Movement can be taught in such a way that it leads to inculcate the values of patriotism, secularism, universal love and tolerance etc. Similarly, World History can help to inculcate values of Liberty, equality and fraternity {French Revolution}, Fundamental Rights and equality {American Revolution}; Science can help to inculcate values of scientific temper, appreciation towards laws of nature; Indian Civics can help to inculcate values of respect to constitution, respect for democracy, secularism, integrity and unity of the country, social, political and economic justice etc. Further, math can help in inculcating the values of honesty and integrity; Geography and environment can help to inculcate values of respect for other’s culture, and world is one family (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). 

Mahatma Gandhi in his experiment of ‘’nayi taalim’’ stressed on education with work. It is education of body, mind and soul. Rather than looking at education as career option we should look at education as a space for development of character.


Value education is not just limited to schooling but education institutes form one of the most important influencers in the lives of students. Education empowers character but values show them the direction to exercise power of their knowledge. These Values transform us from human being to being humane.

3. Can right ends justify wrong means? Substantiate your views.


As the derivative is substantiate which require you to substantiate already proven point and not debating between the various points. 


A common concept in today’s society is the belief that the ends justify the means. This means that people’s action is justified regardless of how they go about achieving their desired end result. For example, if some students of school justified cheating because it could help them pass an examination. As per me right ends cannot justify wrong means as there are always alternatives to reach the right ends.


Right Ends Cannot Justify Wrong Means

  • The quote of Gandhi that “means are as important as end” stand true as per me as Indeed the Creator has given us control (and that too very limited) over means, none over the end. 
  • Realization of the goal is in exact proportion to that of the means. This is a proposition that admits of no exception. For example. If a person wants to cross the ocean, he can do so only by means of a vessel; if he were to use a cart for that purpose, both the cart and he would soon find the bottom.
  • ‘Means are after all everything’. As the means so the end. There is no wall of separation between means and end. For example, we cannot continue getting a good fruit through planting a noxious weed. Even if once, we get than it would be short-lived and will have negative consequences.
  • We have control over the means so belief and faith are leaving end to god and continue doing our work with good and right means. For example, in movie three idiots there is no justification to the action of rancho and Farhan when they stole the examination paper. They could have helped Raju by helping him in his studies or requesting “VIRUS”.
  • The reason the means are important and need to be right irrespective of the ends, is how we get to our goal is just as important as getting there. In other words, destiny tells us what we are to the world, but journey tells who we are; it’s the journey that unlocks our potential and establishes who we are as a person and what motivates us towards action.


The spiritual weapon of self-purification, intangible as it seems, is the most potent means of revolutionizing one’s environment and loosening external shackles. It works subtly and invisibly; it is an intense process though it might often seem a weary and long-drawn process, it is the straightest way to liberation, the surest and quickest and no effort can be too great for it. What it requires is faith—an unshakable mountain-like faith that flinches from nothing.

4. Why do ethical standards change with time? What does happen when a society fails to adopt new ethical standards? Examine.


As there are two parts in the above question each part has to be justified according to the directives given, also a thorough explanation of how societies react to new ethical standards is needed. Moreover, each part of the question must be explained properly with suitable examples.


Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual inquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory. Ethical standards help to navigate the area between what is absolutely right and what is morally wrong. They provide the structure that helps us make a decision we can be proud of in the context of our societal, familial and personal value structures.


Why ethical standards change with time-

  • Ethical standards in a society themselves evolve over a period of time. Every society has its own accepted standards which guide individual behaviour in general but these standards or general guide lines are themselves influenced by various factors such as God and religion, Human conscience and intuition, a rational moral cost-benefit analysis of actions and their effects, the example of good human beings, a desire for the best for people in each unique situation, political power and ideology.
  • The other major influence in the development of ethics is the passage of time. Ethical standards do not remain fixed, they transform in response to evolving situations. Over time, people change, technology advances, and cultural mores (i.e., acquired culture and manners) shift. What was considered an appropriate or accepted practice one hundred or even fifty years ago may not carry the same moral weight it once did. However, this does not mean ethics and moral behaviour are relative. It simply acknowledges that attitudes change in relationship to historical events and that cultural perspective and the process of acculturation are not stagnant.
  • The major historical periods that have shaped ethics are the age of mercantilism, the Industrial Revolution, the post-industrial era, the Information Age, and the age of economic globalization, to which the rise of the Internet contributed significantly. Each of these periods has had a different impact on ethics and what is considered acceptable ethical practice. 
  • Sati a social practise was very much acceptable in the Indian society in the 19th century and was considered a highest standard of ethical behaviour by a woman whose husband has died, but being an inhuman practise and the role played by social reformers a legal change was brought in which banned the practise and society too accepted the change.
  • From the 1940s to the 1970s, cigarettes were as common as water bottles are today. Nearly everyone smoked, from judges in court to factory workers and pregnant women. Edward Bernays, the Austrian-American founder of the field of public relations, promoted smoking among women in a 1929 campaign in New York City in which he marketed Lucky Strike cigarettes as “torches of freedom” that would lead to equality between men and women. However, by the late 1960s, and in the wake of the release of the landmark Surgeon General’s report on “Smoking and Health” on January 11, 1964, it had become clear that there was a direct link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Subsequent research has added heart and lung diseases, stroke, and diabetes. This way now smoking has decreased considerably in all parts of the world.

When societies fail to adopt new ethical standards-

  • Ethics is important in a society because it grants the members some expectation of consistency and predictability in behaviour/action. Much in the way laws do.
  • Legislating or mandating all behaviour is impossible, so we invent ethical and moral norms to cover the grey areas. Ethics covers the parts of life where no agency or ruling body has made explicit decrees. Or where they shouldn’t make explicit decrees.
  • Once a group has agreed upon a set moral and ethical values, they can proceed relatively uniformly toward a goal. Knowing how people are likely to behave can ease interactions and facilitate exchange. It promotes cooperation and cohesion.
  • A society without clear ethical/moral values and norms will typically experience more conflict in areas concerning “quality of human life”. Any issue that impacts or deals with things that can be referred to as fundamentally “good” or “bad” will be point of contention.
  • Ultimately, ethics takes care of the big and important questions so that we can get on with furthering societal goals
  • Ethical standards are important in every aspect of human life acceptance of new ethical standards is important in order to cope with the changing times brought in by the change in technology, changing environment, Rights of people and internal reformation.
  • When societies fail to accept, the new realities around there are chances of growing discontent and conflicts, environmental degradation, individual mental degradation e.g., rise of terrorism and extremism around the world, global warming, communalism, gender discrimination, corruption etc.


In India democracy, constitutionalism and culture has played an important role in in maintaining ethical standards which India is known for, but in the wake of rising incidents of communal violence, environmental pollution, corruption and gender issues adoption of new ethical standards which will ensure that individual behaviour is in sync with the modern values. New ethical standards are important for societies to grow and evolve and function properly.

5. Why is lying bad? Why do people abhor liars? Examine.


A simple and straightforward question where you need to examine why lying is bad and who do people abhor liars through multiple examples to substantiate your arguments.


Lying is a form of deception, but not all forms of deception are lies. Lying is giving some information while believing it to be untrue, intending to deceive by doing so.


There are many reasons why people think lying is bad, where reasons may resonate best with people based on the way they think about ethics – 

  • Lying is bad because a generally truthful world is a good thing where lying diminishes trust between human beings. If people generally didn’t tell the truth, life would become very difficult, as nobody could be trusted and nothing one heard or read could be trusted.
  • Lying is bad because it treats those who are lied to as a means to achieve the liar’s purpose, rather than as a valuable end in themselves. Many people think that it is wrong to treat people as means not ends
  • Lying is bad because it makes it difficult for the person being lied to make a free and informed decision about the matter concerned. Lies lead people to base their decisions on false information
  • Lying is bad because it cannot sensibly be made into a universal principle. Many people think that something should only be accepted as an ethical rule if it can be applied in every case.
  • Lying is bad because it’s a basic moral wrong. Some things are fundamentally bad – lying is one of them.
  • Lying is bad because it corrupts the liar. Telling lies may become a habit and if a person regularly indulges in one form of wrong-doing they may well become more comfortable with wrong-doing in general.

According to many philosophers and experts, in some rare instances, it may be morally acceptable to tell a lie. Disagreements about the morality of a lie seem to stem from ambiguity about the degree to which the lie caused harm. Clearly, people don’t perceive all types of lies as being equally bad and immoral, and this variability seems to be tied to the amount of harm the lies cause.

  • For example, an elderly woman whose family members lied to her about the fact that her son was dying of cancer. Rather than telling the elderly woman that her son was in the hospital, they told her that her son was on a long business trip. They told this lie in an altruistic attempt to spare the elderly woman the emotional pain of learning that her son was dying.
  • Another example can be when a killer asks about whereabouts of one’s neighbour with intention to harm and murder him. What will a person do in this situation? Hold on to truth and allow the neighbour to be robed of his valuables and life. Despite the fact that people advocate telling truth is a virtue, telling a lie is the right thing to do in that particular situation.

But generally, lies are considered abhorrent as they hurt the people involved and society in general. This makes people abhor liars as can be seen from the following points –

  • The person who is lied to suffers if they don’t find out because they can no longer make an informed choice about the issue concerned and they may make a decision that they would not otherwise have made. Further, they may suffer damage as a result of the lie.
  • At the same time, lies also hurt the liar as he has to be wary of those he’s lied to and he will probably suffer harm if he’s found out. Further, his own view of his integrity is damaged.
  • Individual conduct in a society is also dictated by a form of social contract where lying is viewed as negative trait in all interactions between humans.
  • Even if the lying is never detected, the piling up of lies tends to make relationships with colleagues, friends, and family members shallower and less meaningful.
  • Overall, the society is repelled by violence as the general level of truthfulness falls where other people may be encouraged to lie. Lying may become a generally accepted practice in some quarters.
  • It becomes harder for people to trust each other or the institutions of society. For example, Bank run can be considered as classic case where societal trust is weakened by lies and results in collapse of institution’s where resulting effects lead to degradation of economic activities.
  • Overall, Social cohesion is weakened. Eventually no-one is able to believe anyone else and society collapses.
  • But at the same time, societies do indulge in lying where it is considered necessary. For example, children are lied to during Christmas with regards to Santa Claus or other events in child’s life are moulded by untruths. These are considered as causing no harm by most of the society. 


Telling lie is an action generally considered to be wrong by most. Telling truth is considered a virtue as much damage is done to others and to society from too much dishonesty. Clearly, lying is an issue worth examining, as many people believe it is a bigger problem today than it has ever been. A recent Time magazine cover story concluded, “Lies flourish in social uncertainty, when people no longer understand, or agree on, the rules governing their behaviour toward one another.” 

TLP HOT Synopsis Day 5 PDF

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