A complete strategy to Public Administration for UPSC

Public Administration as an Optional

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In UPSC Civil service exam Optional subject plays an important role in your final selection. However, when you decide to prepare for UPSC CSE the biggest dilemma you will come across is which optional subject to choose from the list of optional subjects given in UPSC CSE notification. To help you overcome this dilemma and to make a rational choice, we have come up with a complete guide to various popular optional.

In this article, we will be talking about Public Administration and will try to analyze the various aspects of Public Administration from UPSC CSE point of view. We will comprehensively cover the headings mentioned below. This will help you decide whether to opt for Public Administration or not and if you decide to choose the subject, how you can approach the subject to prepare well for the exam. 

  • Why is Public Administration popular among aspirants?
  • Overlap with General studies
  • Timeline for Preparation
  • Topic Wise Analysis of Public Administration Mains paper
  • Public Administration Topic wise strategy
  • Importance of current affairs in Public Administration
  • Answer Writing
  • Challenges of Public Administration
  • Booklist for Public Administration

If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I

may not have it at the beginning. Mahatma Gandhi

Why is Public Administration popular among aspirants?

      • No other optional subject is as similar to the work profile of IAS as Public Administration. So, knowledge of Public Administration immensely helps in one s understanding about the exact nature of the job.
      • New General Studies syllabus has taken out bits and pieces from many optional subjects, but Public Administration syllabus has disproportionate overlapping with General Studies syllabus.
      • Easy availability of material and coaching & test series. The syllabus of Public Administration is easy to understand for self-studies.
      • Take 3-4 months to finish the syllabus. It takes less time in comparison to few other optional.
Public Administration Topper 2018

Overlap with General Studies

Public Administration covers almost 50 to 60 % of the GS papers.

 General Studies paper II and topics overlap with public administration:

      • Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and institutions
      • Parliament and State Legislatures
      • Structure, organisation, and functioning of the Executive and Judiciary
      • Ministries and Departments of the Government
      • Governance
      • Indian constitution evolution, features, amendments, etc.
      • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
      • Separation of powers between various organs
      • Aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability
      • E-governance
      • Role of civil services in a democracy
      • Constitutional, statutory, regulatory and quasi-judicial bodies
      • Government policies and interventions for development in different sectors
      • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections
      • Issues relating to poverty and hunger
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General studies paper III and topics overlap with public administration:
      • Environment
      • Disaster management
      • Challenges to internal security through communication networks
      • Role of media and social networking sites in internal security
      • Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
      • Disaster Management, Planning and Budgeting
      • Planning issues
      • Inclusive growth
      • Government budgeting
General studies paper IV (Ethics) and topics related to public administration:
      • Ethics and Human Interface (the foundational concept of Administrative values & ethics of Public Administration)
      • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour; moral and political attitudes; social influence and persuasion.
UPSC Mains GS Papers Preparation Strategies 


Public administration and Essay Paper:

Every year some of the easy topics are always related to the syllabus of Public Administration paper, example Impact of the new economic measures on fiscal ties between the union and states in India. (2017), Cooperative federalism: Myth or reality (2016). 

Suman Saurav Mohanty (AIR 9) - Preparation Strategy and Tips for Public Administration Optional

Timeline for Preparation

One (Beginners) should plan to cover the entire Public Administration syllabus in 4 months. Out of 4 months, allot 2.5 months for preparation for paper I and rest 1.5 months forpaper II (some part of the behavior overlapped with General studies syllabus). Out of 2.5 months of Paper-I devote 20-25 days to first 3 chapter (Introduction, Administrative thought, and administrative behavior) because these are the foundation for the public administration preparation. One should plan to finish the revision of public administration in 30-35 days (It depend on the time of revision). Planning is crucial for the preparation of public administration.

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. Albert Einstein

 Subject performance over the past years

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Public Administration has a quite a success rate in the Civil Service Examination. Consistently aspirants with Public Administration secured top ranks in Civil Service Examination.

In the old pattern, the subject was immensely popular among the aspirants, since earlier UPSC had two optional subjects, Public Administration was invariably one of the choices as it is related to the actual work of bureaucrats. But after the change of pattern, there has been a decrease in the number of students taking Public Administration, but still, the success ratio has remained unchanged. So taking Public Administration can be a good decision in the new pattern. Also in the current paper, there is significant overlap with the general studies paper as seen from the previous paragraph.

 

Year No of Candidates appeared No of candidates qualified Success Ratio
2012 7077 359 5.1
2013 2840 176 6.2
2014 2852 151 5.3

 

Stop thinking about WHAT WILL HAPPEN and start thinking about WHAT YOU CAN DO

 Topic Wise Analysis of Public Administration Mains paper

Unit in Paper I Marks 2017 Marks 2016 Marks 2015 Marks 2014 Marks 2013
1. Introduction 60 40 50 60 35
2. Administrative Thought 45 30 65 55 65
3. Administrative Behaviour 25 30 10 0 30
4. Organisation 15 45 15 30 70
5. Accountability and Control 30 40 50 30 30
6. Administrative Law 25 15 10 25 10
7. Comparative Public Administration 20 30 20 10 25
8. Development Dynamics 45 40 25 25 10
9. Personnel Administration 60 40 70 70 10
10. Public Policy 15 10 45 40 65
11. Technique of Administrative Improvement 10 30 30 25 10
12. Financial Administration 50 50 10 30 40
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Marks distribution

The trend analysis of the Public Administration paper-I from Civil Services Mains 2013 through Civil Services Mains 2017. This will be helpful in understanding the most-asked topics in Public Administration Paper- I. As in mains, the question from all the topics was asked but the importance of few topics is higher in comparison to the other topics. Around 100 marks question was regularly asked from the thinker and the introduction. This the Unit 1 and Unit 2 are the most important topics in the paper I. The Personnel Administration and Financial Administration questions' weight is higher in all the year question paper.

 

Unit in Paper II Marks 2017 Marks 2016 Marks 2015 Marks 2014 Marks 2013
1. Evolution of Indian Administration 20 40 - 30 10
2. Philosophical and Constitutional Framework of Government 50 30 50 20 20
3. Public Sector Undertaking 10 10 20 20 10
4. Union Government and Administration 30 60 30 30 30
5. Plan and Priorities - 10 20 30 10
6. State Government and Administration 60 30 50 50 40
7. District Administration 20 20 30 10 20
8. Civil Services 30 30 30 30 10
9. Financial Management 40 30 10 60 50
10. Administrative Reforms since Independence 50 20 50 20 10
11. Rural Development 20 20 10 10 70
12. Urban Local Development - 30 40 10 20
13. Law and Order Administration 30 20 50 50 30
14. Significant Issues in Indian Administration 40 50 10 30 60

 

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Marks distribution

The trend analysis of the Public Administration paper-II from Civil Services Mains 2013 through Civil Services Mains 2017. This will be helpful in understanding the most-asked topics in Public Administration Paper- II. As in mains, the question from all the topics was asked, but the importance of few topics is higher in comparison to the other topics. Questions related to Union government and state government function and relation was regularly asked. At the same, the Law and Order administration are also important topics.

According to trend-wise analysis, the one can plan studies accordingly, give more focus and attention to the essential topics. As the question trend is regularly changed after few years, you cannot ignore any topics. Give extra focus to the topics from where the questions have regularly been asked.

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  Public Administration Topic wise strategy

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Before referring any book, go through previous year papers of 20 years (buy unsolved Public Administration compilation of any publication) for that topic to become acquainted with the demand of the subject. Paper - I of the Public Administration is more related to the thinker, evaluation of public administration and various concept related to the Public Administration. Introduction and administrative thought are the most essential part of the whole syllabus. Read the portion in starting and do one revision of these topics before moving to the other portion of the syllabus.

Paper-I

1. Introduction

Read it from Sharma and Sadana (or S Polianaidu or Fadia and Fadia). Supplement your reading with Mohit Bhattacharya. It will enrich your perspective. Almost all the pages will be important. We see little possibility of converting them into short notes. But you should jot down key ideas and concepts after second reading. Do not make notes right after first reading as you will not have a broader outlook on the subject and you may write everything in your notes. You can refer to IGNOU notes for this topic.The information from this topic can be used in answering questions of other units as well. This is a very scoring area.

  2. Administrative Thought

You must know the theories of various scholars very well. Try to go in as much detail as you can but do not go into unnecessary details. Writing some details (but not all details) gives a unique touch to your answers. One and only Prasad and Prasad should be referred for this. Since questions will inter-link thinkers, try relating the theory of one thinker to that of other. Also, read the background of the thinker. You can always correlate his theories with his background e.g. Max Weber ideas on bureaucracy were also a product of him being under the authoritative German system of the 1920s.Underline important lines/keywords like Mental Revolution, Zone of Indifference, etc. Do try to remember some lines of these thinkers verbatim. It adds value to your answers in the exam. Also, learn to apply these theories in real life administrative situations. UPSC has been asking case studies on the same. E.g. you can relate Mcgregor s theories to the present condition of the lower bureaucracy in India.

 3. Administrative Behaviour

For this chapter, read from Sharma and Sadana covers it pretty exhaustively. It is an excellent source of information. For motivation theories of Herzberg, Maslow, etc., you can also refer to Prasad and Prasad. There is an immense scope of making short notes here. The topics are also elementary to understand.

4. Organisations

Refer Sharma and Sadana for all topics except PPP. For PPP any current affair or other material. There is a lot of scope for relating this part to the Indian administration (paper-2). Quote examples and facts from the Indian context in answers. You need not necessarily quote international examples.

5. Accountability and Control

Questions from this chapter are being asked as it is relevant in the current context refer Sharma and Sadana, Yojana and Kurukshetra articles. There is a lot of scope of innovation in this topic in the sense that you will often be able to correlate it to news items/editorials in the newspapers and you will also find many case studies. If questions come from this area, there is ample scope for you to give some unique points that may not be found in most of the answer scripts.For dynamic topics like Civil Society, Right to Information, Citizen Charters keep an eye on international and national developments. Quote them heavily in your answers. Use small case studies if possible.

6. Administrative Law

For this Chapter, you can refer to Sharma and Sadana and newspapers. It is a very scoring area. Just like for the previous Unit, if questions come from this area, there is ample scope for you to give some unique points that may not be found in most of the answer scripts.

7. Comparative Public Administration

Ramesh K Arora Comparative Public Administration is a brilliant book. It is a small book and covers the topic exhaustively. You can be assured of answering even the most twisted questions on CPA. Since the book is short, one can read the entire book and underline relevant portions. If you can get a grip on the content in this book, you will be able to answer any question for CPA.

8. Development Dynamics

This is an essential chapter even though questions may not be asked every year but material from this chapter can be used in other topics too. Also, since many books were written in early 2000 or late 90s, you will have to make use of your knowledge from GS, newspapers, and Yojana/Frontline/IJPA articles for this topic. You can rely upon Ramesh Arora CPA book and Aribam (Public Administration paper-I). The book by Mohit Bhattacharya titled- Social Theory & Development Administration is helpful to read it selectively if time permits.

9. Personnel Administration

For this chapter, Sharma and Sadana should be referred. This is an important chapter since questions are being asked in the past 2-3 years from this area. Practice writing answers and correlate this chapter with the Civil Services Chapter of Paper-II. Study both these Chapters (Paper -I personal administration and Paper-II Civil Services) together comprehensively. Make sure to quote ARC recommendations and reports of other relevant committees as and when appropriate.

10. Public Policy

IGNOU BA and MA Public Policy (MPA-15) cover it thoroughly. There will be various modules that cover the same topic in BA and MA modules. So read it selectively. Questions are not asked regularly, but students must focus on Policy Implementation and Policy Evaluation. Also, keep an eye out in newspapers and magazines for the latest information on this topic. You can analyse present Indian policy decisions with respect to the various models given here.

11. Techniques of Administrative Improvement

There is no single good source. Mohit Bhattacharya covers in a scanty manner, nevertheless go through it once. You will need to rely mostly on the internet. Questions from these topics do not carry much weight.There is a lot of scope of giving unique points in this chapter.

12. Financial Administration

This is a very important chapter and students must study it thoroughly. Combine this with Financial Management from Paper-II. Both can be covered from Sharma and Sadana and current events in India. A lot of questions are being asked from this area. Prepare it well. Try making consolidated notes of both theoretical financial administration and Indian financial management.

After reading all these books once, go through Mohit Bhattacharya which is often called as the BIBLE of Public Administration. After finishing this book, you will begin to see the entire subject much more clearly and seamlessly connected. A lot of questions come directly from this book. Also, this covers the new horizons of Public Administration like Network Governance; Feminism in Administration etc. which may not be found in other traditionally rooted books.

Start making notes from all these books in the second or third reading. Revise your notes as frequently as possible and as many times as possible. Understand the subject in and out. When you write, this understanding should reflect on paper. Refer Aribam Public Administration Paper -I for revision purpose it covers all the topics in a good manner. But for basic understanding, one should refer the above mention books.

 

Important Links related to Public Administration Preparation

 

Paper- II

While answering Indian Administration questions, the answer must focus on Constitution, Preamble, etc and the answer must be in conformity with the basic structure.

1. Evolution of Indian Administration

This is a scoring area although there is a little scope of uniqueness in this topic. It is given very well in Rajini Goyal and Arora (Indian Public Administration ). And expect one or two question from this topic in an examination.

2. The philosophical and Constitutional Framework of Government

Rajini Goyal and Arora, D.D. Basu (Introduction to the constitution of India). Remember to always correlate answer in this topic with Constitution and current Parliamentary enactments.

3. Public Sector Undertakings

This is a topic that is best covered from the internet to understand the topics. One should refer Fadia and Fadia (Public Administration in India) for this topics. Aribam (public administration Paper- II) is good for revision and the basic understanding of this topic.

4. Union Government and Administration

Refer to Rajini Goyal and Arora, D.D. Basu and newspapers. There is a lot of scopes to innovate in this topic by quoting current practices of our Parliamentary system and comparing them with practices in other nations especially USA and UK. And for revision Aribam Paper -II books is good.

5. Plans and Priorities

With the constitution of Niti Aayog, one should expect a question on Niti Aayog. So cover it from any GS sauces and compare it with the Planning commision. Study about Function, structure, objective and responsibility of Niti Aayog. And for other part Refer Aribam Paper-II books. Yojna and newspaper are best for the current update.

6.State Government and Administration

Refer to Rajini Goyal and Arora, D.D. Basu and newspapers. There is a lot of scopes to innovate in this topic by quoting current different practices adopted by states. And for revision Aribam Paper -II books is good.

7. District Administration since Independence

Refer to Rajini Goyal and Arora and Fadia and Fadia (Public Administration in India) to cover all the subtopics.

8. Civil Services

For this chapter, Sharma and Sadana should be referred. This is an important chapter since questions are being asked in the past 2-3 years from this area. Practice writing answers and correlate this chapter with the Personnel Administration Chapter of Paper-I. Study both these Chapters (Paper -I personal administration and Paper-II Civil Services) together comprehensively. Make sure to quote ARC recommendations and reports of other relevant committees as and when appropriate.

9. Financial Management

This is a very important chapter and students must study it thoroughly. Combine this with Financial Administration from Paper-I. Both can be covered from Sharma and Sadana and current events in India. A lot of questions are being asked from this area. Prepare it well. Try making consolidated notes of both theoretical financial administration and Indian financial management

10. Administrative Reforms since Independence

For this chapter read the reports of various committees. If you are not able to read entire reports then read their summaries. Lay emphasis on understanding the overall picture of administrative reforms in our nation since Independence. Also, you must use information from this topic extensively in answers to other topics questions as well. Fadia and Fadia (Public Administration in India) compile the recommendations of the various committee in a good manner.

11. Rural Development and Urban Local Government

Read it from Rajini Goyal and Arora and Fadia and Fadia (Public Administration in India) and information from newspapers and Yojana articles about this topics, In answers for these units, first always correlate with Constitutional articles, then give basic points and then cite case studies or examples.

12. Law and Order Administration

Read it from Fadia and Fadia (Public Administration in India) for static portion understanding. There is a lot of room for innovation in this Chapter and students can give many unique points in their answers.

14. Significant issues in Indian Administration

Questions from this chapter are increasingly being asked recently. Cover each subtopic from General studies books or internet research. Answers in this chapter, if written well, can fetch a lot of marks and there is a lot of scope of giving unique points by going into details of the setup of relevant institutions in India. For example, in Disaster Management, you can discuss the entire machinery at Central, State and District levels and details of relevant Acts.

Second ARC reports cover the rest of the issues. These are very high-quality reports. Its recommendations should be used heavily in your Paper-II answers. Also, try to make short notes. Reports that should be referred are Personnel Administration, State and District Administration, Public Order, Disaster Management, Local Government, Ethics in Governance (refer second ARC compilation best one is Pavan Kumar sir). Newspapers are the best source for current development in Indian Administration. The Hindu, Indian Express and Livemint editorials frequently comment on administrative matters. Also note down any new policies, plans, committees, etc. Make issue-wise notes. Questions from current issues have a very high weight in the paper. Do not ignore these at any cost. You will also need to quote facts/examples/ideas from the editorials quite often in your answers.

Refer Aribam Public Administration Paper -II for revision purpose it covers all the topics in a suitable manner. Government documents like Economic Survey, Yojana, Kurukshetra for facts and case studies.Reports in the news like 14th Finance Commission, NITI Aayog reports related to cooperative federalism- Summary and Analysis will be sufficient.

It is advisable to revise the same material multiple times. You can also make short notes in your own language to help in smooth revision later. Try to develop the gist of every topic in the form of a flowchart or diagram. This will save time more afterward and help in making the answers more impactful.

Importance of current affairs in Public Administration

Public Administration is very dynamic subject. You have to keep watch on the development related to the public administration, as the Paper II is very dynamic. As in 2017 Civil Services Mains, Public Administration Paper II, the 100 marks question was directly from the current affairs, PRAGATI, Lateral entry, PM excellence award, AIJS questions. In Civil Services Mains, Public Administration Paper I, 360 appraisal and lateral entry question were asked which also directly from the current affairs. Indirectly more than half of the public administration answer requires current development knowledge. All these questions can be answered only from the understanding of the present development. Newspaper and magazines articles are the best sources for these types of the questions. Thus the importance of newspaper reading and the current affair is increased much fold. Apart from that the examples and the various case studies can be used in the answer for a value addition. For a better answer, one should give an example from the current development.

Newspapers are the best source for current affairs Indian Administration. The Hindu, Indian Express and Livemint editorials frequently comment on administrative matters. Also note down any new policies, plans, bills and acts, committees, Supreme court judgement etc. Make issue-wise notes. Questions from current issues have a very high weight in the paper. Do not ignore these at any cost. You will also need to quote facts/examples/ideas from the editorials quite often in your answers. Yojana and Kurukshetra magazines are the important sources for the preparation of public administration optional. Apart from that Neostencil current affairs analysis is the good source for the current affairs updates if you missed some topics.

Answer Writing

Answer writing pubAd

Mains exam requires the art of writing answers to articulate your knowledge. In Public Administration, answer writing is very important and this is a skill that can be mastered only with practice. The more you write answers, the more confidence you will gain of handling new questions in the exam. Handwriting does not matter as long as it is legible. There are no separate strategies for Paper-I and Paper-II. Writing logically and interlinking of paper (Mention Indian example and thinker s concept) is necessary for public administration answers. Once you internalize the subject, answer writing will not require a lot of effort. But, if you have read the subject only once, you may face problems in presenting your viewpoint logically.

Keep the following in mind while writing answers. Do not write general answers as you write in General Studies. They should be Public Administration answers. Use administrative terminology from the subject; quote thinkers and theories in your answer, and explore the issue on administrative lines.

Public Administration Topper's Strategy

Fundamentals of Answer Writing are

      • Understand the core of the question: the first step is to read and understand every word of the question carefully. You should immediately know from what part of the syllabus the question is coming and what concept to apply, what inter-linkage to be done, and if possible how relevant the question is in practicality in the current setting.
      • Many people are frightened to see the long question, and they jump to single sentence questions. But the irony is that a long question most of the times presents structuring on the platter, while single sentence requires some innovation and thinking in structuring. Anyway, the formula to know the structure is to lay out a brief intro to the concept asked. Follow that with a nice body having relevant content (more on this below) that must underpin and link the conceptual understanding to the context in which that question is asked. Lastly, sum up with nice conclusion having futuristic, optimistic, practical and not overly-ambitious tone.
      • You can write either in paragraphs or points. A mixture of points and paragraphs written under sub-headings give a structure to your answer and make the job of the examiner easier and better presentation.
      • Do not write in a complicated language. Use Simple English in an administrative style with short sentences covering relevant examples after every one-two paragraphs if possible.
      • Write only relevant content. There is a difference between content and relevant content. While with decent preparation every aspirant can fill 1 or 2 pages for any question but the point is whatever we are writing must be asked by the question. It s very good to expand and pay homilies to all and sundry but examiner will give no quarter if you are deviating from the question.
      • Writing Conclusion to every answer needs a perfect end and good conclusion is beneficial in fetching more marks although not mandatory. But your conclusion must not look separate from your whole answer and must not look like that you have written it for the sake of writing a conclusion. In conclusion, one should write the way forward or end an answer in a positive note
      • UPSC is not looking for scholars of Public Administration. You should only be able to state the concept clearly on paper and take a fair stand on issues after giving appropriate arguments and evidence from both sides. This will be enough.

After finishing few chapter one should start answer writing practice by writing an answer to past year question. and then write the answer in any free initiatives. And later join a test series (or join online test series provided by NeoStencil if you are not in Delhi or want to save your important time) of public administration. Initially, you need not worry about the time limit but later on, you must practice writing test-papers within the allotted time. Once you have given the tests, sit down with your answer sheet and question paper for self-evaluation. Think calmly as to what points you missed in the questions you attempted. How you could have improved a particular answer. Think as to what is unique in your answer that may not be found in others answer scripts. It is always a good idea to underline basic points of your answer, especially in short answer questions. Do not forget to think over questions that you did not attempt in the practice test. Practice paper helps you to evaluate yourself so you can modify your approach and ability to write the best answer in UPSC paper.

Challenges of Public Administration

      • Uncertainty in paper, biggest negative of Public Administration has become the uncertainty and inherent unpredictability in terms of types of questions asked, answer writing skills and the number of marks given in the exam.
      • Gone are the day when mere rote learning would fetch you good marks in Public Administration. Now, UPSC demands conceptual understanding in Public Administration in a far more refined manner and superficiality will not work anymore.
      • Maximum marks still not comparable to science and literature optional subjects.

Booklist for Public Administration

Paper I Paper II
Sharma and Sadana Rajini Goyal and Arora (Indian Public Administration )
Prasad and Prasad D.D. Basu (Introduction to the constitution of India)
Ramesh K Arora Comparative Public Administration Fadia and Fadia (Public Administration in India)
Aribam (Public Administration paper-I) Second ARC reports
Mohit Bhattacharya titled- Social Theory & Development Administration Sharma and Sadana
IGNOU BA and MA Public Policy (MPA-15) Yojana and Kurukshetra articles

It always seems impossible until its done.

Nelson Mandela

We tried our level best to address all the issues related to the preparation of public administration in a very detailed manner. The above mention sources are to guide you, don t worry if you have skipped any one source. In the end content in your answer matters. The most important part of UPSC preparation is to remain positive during preparation, have faith in your capabilities and god. Be consistent with your preparation and keep on doing the hard work, one day you will definitely achieve your target.

All the Very Best!

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