UPSC Main: Strategy for Public Administration Optional

UPSC Main: Strategy for Public Administration Optional

Q. What is the basic reason for ‘Public Administration’ becoming so popular among the aspirants of Civil Services and State Services ?

Ans. The basic reason lies in the interdisciplinary nature and non-technical content of the subject matter. The subject has lot of practical significance and this makes it more interesting and understandable even to those students, who are completely newcomers in the field of Public Administration. At the same time every candidate has some basic knowledge of what administrative system is. Public Administration is pragmatic in nature dealing also with Indian Administrative System, which facilitates the success of candidates at each and every stage of examination, that is, Preliminary, Mains and Interview. As compared to other social sciences, humanities, Public Administration is more dependable and manageable within a specified time period subject to the condition that a systematic approach is adopted during the course of preparation to meet the requirements of the examination.

Q. 2. Which is the most suited combination of the optional subject with Public Administration?

Ans. In view of the combined range of syllabus and limited span of time at the disposal of the candidate, Anthropology, despite its revised syllabus, can be the most appropriate choice. An analysis of the success rate of different subjects’ combination at the Civil Services main examination is indicative of the above mentioned fact. At the same time the duration between the examination of the two subjects i.e. Public Administration and Anthropology is substantial. With same logic, Geography too can be another choice.
However, in accordance with your own interest and aptitude preference can be made for any other prescribed subjects.

Q. 3. What are the basic requirements for preparing Public Administration in Preliminary Examination ?

Ans. (a) A cursory glance at the syllabus brings out the fact that it is segmented into ten major topics but it has a reasonable amount of coherence. The first seven topics mainly relate to structure process and behaviour of Public Administration and the remaining three are specific to Indian Administration. The interrelationship of various topics requires a comprehensive and integrated knowledge of the subject.

(b) Memorization of facts is important but not an end in itself. Since the Preliminary examination is meant to test a candidate’s clear understanding; the understanding of basic concepts and the fundamental aspects of the subject is a prerequisite to success.

(c) Since the syllabus is non-detailed, it is of utmost importance to take care of the related aspects of the sub-topics mentioned in the syllabus.

(d) The application of knowledge, information and understanding are equally important. This can be developed by practising questions only after completion of the syllabus.

(e) While solving the questions, keep a record of performance and specific problem areas which require greater concentration and more in- depth study.

Q. 4. What is optimum time required to prepare the Preliminary syllabus?

Ans. With a systematic plan of action the time required for success- oriented preparation is about two and a half to three months. Two weeks preceding the date of examination should be exclusively devoted to revision work.

Q. 5. How to systematically prepare the topic ‘Comparative Public Administration’ prescribed in Preliminary syllabus.

Ans. While going through the subject matter, always take care of varying references in the context of other countries, more particularly France, USA, UK and erstwhile USSR. Try to develop an attitude of comparative analysis of various administrative ideologies, institutions, concepts and fundamentals.

Q. 6. What is the best way to understand the contributions of the thinkers in a right perspective?

Ans. (a) Learn basic theories and techniques of Managements relevant to the subject matter of Public Administration. This is important because most of the thinkers have been primarily concerned with developing theories to improve the management of private sector.
First of all, try to understand the essential ingredients of any theory and also understand the contemporary socio-eco-political conditions prevailing at the time of the crystallization of the theories.

After this, the second step should be to understand the contributions of respective thinkers under specific theories.

Q. 8. While preparing the subject, to what extent one has to be familiar with Political Science.

Ans. Public Administration is an offshoot of Political Science, but has its own ‘locus’ and ‘focus’. At the same time the functioning of administrative system has direct influence of prevailing political system. Both these factors make it desirable that there should be fundamental understanding of political ideologies and institutions. It has to be kept in mind that a proper grasp of theories governing political ideologies and institutions is must. In this respect NCERT books (class XI-XII) prescribed for Political Science can be useful.

Q. 9. What specific suggestions you can offer to prepare the Mains with Public Administration?

Ans. (a) The syllabus comprises of two papers, but it is never desirable to prepare the two papers separately. The integrated approach to the completion of syllabus is always desirable. This saves time and provides in-depth understanding of the subject matter in a realistic manner.

(b) The main examination is generally considered to be highly subjective in nature. But through objective preparation the zone of subjectivity can be reduced to a great extent.

(c) Conceptual topics, like Theories of Administration, Administrative Behaviour, Comparative and Development Administration, require extra effort but are scoring at the same time.

(d) Comments, statements and observations by eminent thinkers, scholars and administrators should be analysed with due emphasis to grasp their substantive meaning.

Q. 10. How to take care of the current perspective in second paper of the Mains’ syllabus?

Ans. The very nature of the second paper demands familiarity with political and administrative issues of contemporary relevance. For this, develop a habit of regular study of newspapers, magazines, and newsletters published from Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA).

Q. The syllabus of Public Administration has not be revised for quite some time. It is going to have a bearing on my score?

Ans. The policy of UPSC probably has been to discourage the popularity of an optional either by revision of its syllabus or put a change on the scoring pattern. As a corollary, Public Administration may suffer slightly.

Q. 11. What should be the best way to present answers in the examination ?

Ans. On completion of the textual readings, writing practice is must. Try to attempt the answers in an orderly, effective and exact expression, combined with due economy of words. In comment type questions your attempt should be to answer well within the prescribed limits. For medium and major questions the answers should be written in about 300 and 500-700 words respectively.

To conclude, it can be suggested that the consultation of authentic standard reference books is crucial in the success-oriented preparation of Public Administration. The growing popularity of the subject should not lead to an impression that satisfactory performance is possible on the basis of general readings and superficial knowledge. This statement is not to discoverage the aspirants but to acquaint the prospective candidates with the hard realties which one has to accept in the right earnest. Wishing you all best.

Q. 12. Please suggest some essential readings to prepare Public Administration.

Ans. Since the preparation of Preliminary & Main examinations requires different orientations, the suggested readings for the two is being illustrated under separate heading.

Book List

Preliminary Examination


1. Introduction to the Study of Public Administration —L.D. White
2. Public Administration —A.R. Tyagi
3. Public Administration in Theory and Practice
—M.P. Sharma & B.L. Sadana
4. Administrative Thinkers —Prasad & Prasad
5. Public Administration —Avasthi & Maheshwari
6. Public Administration —Mohit Bhattacharya

Specific Topics

1. Financial Administration : Financial Administration in India
— M.J.K. Thavaraj
2. Comparative Administration : Public Administration : A Comparative Perspective (Topic No. 5 & 6) —Ferrel Heady
3. Administrative Behaviour : Administrative Behaviour (In press) —Rajiv Ranjan Singh
4. Indian Administration —Avasthi & Avasthi
5. Constitution of India —D.D. Basu.
Relevant Topics : 1. Union Executive 2. State Executive 3. Centre-State Relations 4. Public Services & Public Service Commission 5. Rights & Liabilities of Civil Servants.

Mains Examination

Paper I


1. Introduction to the study of Public Administration —L.D. White
2. Public Administration —Mohit Bhattacharya
3. Administrative Thinkers —Prasad & Prasad
4. Public Administration —A.R. Tyagi
5. Public Administration —C.P. Bhambri

Specific Topics

1. Basic premises : Modern Public Administration —Nigro & Nigro
2. Vaid’s Fundamentals of Public Admninistrative Series (Ashtam Prakashan)

(i) Principles of Organisation and Comparative Public Administration
(ii) Administrative Behaviour

3. Personnel Administration : Public Personnel Administration
—O. Glenn. Stahl
4. Administrative Law : Administrative Law —M.P. Jain
5. Comparative and Development Administration :
Comparative Public Administration —R.K. Arora
6. Public Policy : Public Policy —R.K. Sapru

Paper II


1. Constitution of India —D.D. Basu
2. Indian Administration —Avasthi & Avasthi
3. Administrative Reform Commission (ARC) Report on
(a)Machinery of Planning
(b)Centre-state relationships
(c)Financial Administration
(d)State Administration
(e)District Administration
4. Public Administration —A.R. Tyagi
5. Issues in Indian Administration —R.B. Jain
6. Special volumes of Indian Journal of Public Administration

Specific Topics :

1. Evolution of Indian Administration : NCERT books (Class XI & XII) on Indian History : Administrative portion.
2. Centre-State Relations : A brief reference to Sarkaria Commission Report.
3. Public Undertakings : Principles and Practices of Public Enterprise Management—Laxmi Narayan
4. Control of Public Expenditure : Financial Administration in India—M.J.K. Thavaraj
5. State Administration : State Administration—J.D. Shukla
6. District Administration : District Administration—S.S. Khera
7. Local Administration : Local Government in India—S.R. Maheshwari
8. Administration for Welfare : Social Welfare Administration—D. Paul Choudhary
Annual Report of Department of Justice & Empowerment

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