Public Administration Optional

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.

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

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.

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). 

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

Public Administration Topic wise strategy

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 SadanaYojana 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.

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 AroraD.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 AroraD.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, Vignan, 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 Vignan current affairs analysis is the good source for the current affairs updates if you missed some topics.