Public Administration as Optional

Public administration is a popular optional subject listed in UPSC IAS main examination optional subjects list. On an average, more than 2500 candidates appear in the main examination with Public Administration as optional paper.

Pros of Public Administration:

  1. Syllabus is very short compare to other optionals like Geography, Political Science and History etc
  2. Public Administration contains very few core concepts so students need not to read plethora of topics
  3. Interlinkages of topics is another speciality of Public Administration
  4. For completion of Public Administration syllabus, Student needs to read 3-4 books at maximum .
  5. It contains dynamic chapters, especially in Paper 2. So current affairs used to be a stronger part for students and it help them to score good even in GS papers
  6. In the Main examination, the second paper of General Studies excluding International Relations is part of Public Administration.
  7. In the third paper of General Studies, topics like Internal Security are directly related to Public Administration.
  8. In the fourth paper of General Studies, nearly fifty percent of the topics are related with Public Administration.
  9. A candidate gets good marks because of good understanding of the subject & ample awareness about recent developments.
  10. Lack of understanding, emphasis on rote learning, unaware about recent developments cause poor marks.

Cons for Public Administration:

  1. This optional subject is taken in huge number so competition is much in this optional
  2. Need to read various committee reports and ARC reports.
  3. Lately UPSC has started asking unconventional question which is little bit difficult to answer.
  4. Few concepts are little bit difficult to understand if a good faculty is not available.

Public Administration Books

1. IGNOU BA and MA Booklets

These books are written in a very simple language so any beginner can understand syllabus and topics easily.

2.Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad 

  • Student must read Prasad and Prasad’s book multiple times until you know the thinkers, their ideas and their quotes like the back of your hand.
  • In exam, sometimes UPSC used to give a direct quote given by various thinkers and they ask to comment on it. So every line is important in this book.
  • In the starting, You will feel to remember so many quotes given by thinkers but at the end, if you want more marks, you have to. So better try to understand them.
  • For every thinker student should make notes on following matters:

  1. Theory given by thunker
  2. Context of theory
  3. Quotes
  4. Relevance in current era
  5. Application in paper 2
  6. Criticism
  7. Compare with other thinkers like Taylor vs Fayol etc

3. New Horizones of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya 

It is the smallest book in Public administration but it is considered as Gita or bible of Public Administration among students.

Mohit’s book must be read multiple times after an interval of few weeks, Because everytime you read it, same lines will give you a totally new viewpoint and gemstone.

This is considered as difficult book to understand. But if student is able to understand every line of this book, then Public Administration will become too easy.

3. Public Administration And Public Affairs by Nicholas Henry

Nicholas Henry’s book covers following chapters:
Evolution of Public Administration,
Forces of Organisation,
Leadership theories,
Budget Types,
Public Policy etc. in a thorough manner. 

This books is not required to be covered page by page. Only selected chapters need to be covered.

4. Essentials of organisational behaviour by Stephen Robbins

Stephen Robbins is For Administrative Behaviour topics: Leadership, communication, motivational theories etc .
His ideas on organisational design, communication, motivation, hierarchy, leadership, performance appraisal etc. can be applied and linked to other questions in Paper-I and II. so that way it indirectly helps you to frame better answers.

4. Public Administration – Laxmikant

Don’t confuse it with Indian Polity by Laxmikant. This book is specifically written for Public administration. It is a simple book and easily can be understood by students.

5. ARC reports

The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) Reports are important documents from the UPSC civil services exam perspective. They contain a lot of useful information important for the IAS exam covering aspects of public administration, governance, ethics in civil services, conflict resolution, etc. 

Answer Writing strategy:

There are no separate strategies for Paper-1 and Paper-2. In both the cases you will need to give Indian examples, write logically, and present arguments from both sides.

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 GS. 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.

Try to quote committees like Punchhi, 2nd ARC, Sarkaria in your answers wherever possible.

Use Simple English in an administrative style with short sentences covering relevant examples after every one-two paragraphs.

Thank you!



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