General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics): How Empathetic are You?


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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)


You are travelling in a train in sleeper class at a cold night. You are tired and in need of desperate sleep. A sick old woman and a small girl child get into the cabin you are in. They have general ticket but don’t possess reserved tickets.No seat is vacant.

Ticket Examiner comes and starts abusing them badly. He asks the woman and child to pay hefty fine and wait near the door till next station arrived which is two hours away and get into general compartment

How will you resolve the issue as an empathetic person?

Give an example for empathy in civil service (150 Words)


Empathy is the ability to understand the other’s feeling or understanding the circumstances of other people.  When we call services, there must be empathy in the doer. Then only public duties will be called public services. Otherwise, they are mere as other occupations

Facts to consider in this case.

  1. You have a reserved sleeper coach seat.
  2. You are tired and need sleep desperately.
  3. You are a moral person with empathy.
  4. You are a responsible citizen.
  5. The compartment is full.
  6. There is an old woman, who is sick and has a small child with her who is drowsy.
  7. TTE is abusive and not kind.TTE demands fine – He is legally right to ask for this. Only thing preventable is his abuses and harshness.

Considering all these facts

As an empathetic person I could feel the pain of old lady and a little girl, and take following steps.

  • I would offer my berth to the lady and the child, where in the child can sleep and the lady and I can sit. , though i am sleepy too, but the old lady’s sickness is priority than my sleep. I will find some other place for sitting.
  • I would urge the TTE to stop abusing the old lady as it is a morally reprehensible thing to abuse a sick and old women who has inadvertently boarded the wrong compartment
  • Warn the lady not to repeat the act in future and travel with valid ticket.
  • As TTE is also performing his duty, I would help the women pay the fine , and offer some money if she is poor.
  • Considering her sickness I would ask TTE to call for medical help.

If i would not have acted to the situation i will violate the following values

  • Empathy: though i can see the pain of old women and child, if i don’t empathise with them it is a loss of humanitarianism.
  • Respect for Elders: It will become disrespect for dignity of age factor if I remain silent.

I strongly believe that my actions on that night might have made many people in the compartment to act empathetically towards needy people whenever there is necessary. Empathy is important because it helps us understand how others are feeling so we can respond appropriately to the situation. It is typically associated with social behaviour that greater empathy leads to more helping behaviour.

armstrong pane

 Armstrong Pame (IAS Officer) is a real life example for empathy in the civil service. He, on his own volition, began the construction of a 100-km road, known as ‘People’s Road’ that would link Manipur with Nagaland and Assam without any government support. He started all these when a chronic disease like Typhoid and Malaria started spreading in a village and nobody was able to get an easy access to the hospitals in town as roads were not linked. His empathy towards people made him to achieve success.


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