Public administration as an Optional Subject For UPSC

Public administration is one of the common optional in the UPSC civil services exam for any aspirants. The overall score of the IAS aspirant goes up in UPSC Mains if they perform well in the Public Administration optional exam. The public administration first paper syllabus is mostly about the theories of administration. The public administration paper II syllabus mostly consists of the Indian administration and how it works, which would be easy for a UPSC aspirant who a good learner with a general knowledge.

Benefits of choosing Public Administration as Optional: –

  1. It is one of the popular choices because of its relevance in the job role of an IAS officer.
  2. This subject introduces the candidates to the mechanism of public administration which is surely of great use for future administrators.
  3. Irrespective of the academic background, any student can attempt for mains for the public administration exam.
  4. Availability of resources and ease of understanding of the subject is also the factors that persuades aspirants to choose this optional subject.

Concerns of choosing Public Administration as Optional: –

  1. It is one of the concept-intensive subjects.
  2. Aspirants opting for this subject must be cautious of writing generic answers as this subject is highly competitive.

Public administration Exam Pattern: –

Each Public administration paper consists of 250 marks. The duration for each Public administration mains paper is 3 hours.

Tips to prepare public administration

Public administration is a preferred choice among many UPSC aspirants owing to its generic syllabus. There are various theories that can be extremely difficult to understand without expert guidance. The aspirants can follow below approach to enhance their preparation:

  • Analyse the syllabus carefully:First and foremost, it is important to mind-map the syllabus carefully. Go through the entire syllabus once or twice to understand the topics that you need to cover from each part of the syllabus. 
  • Start with NCERTs:The NCERTs will provide basic understanding of the syllabus. Go through the NCERTs once or twice to understand the basic concepts of the subject.
  • Analyse previous year papers:The aspirants must study previous year question paper which are the best sources for UPSC exam preparation. Candidates are advised to solve at least past five years UPSC question paper.
  • Limit the sources:The aspirants should select the limited sources to be studied for public administration. Stick to the sources and read them multiple times.
  • Answer-writing: A lot of aspirants opt for this subject, hence make sure your answers stand-out to secure high marks in the examination. Once you have completed about 60-70% of the syllabus, start with answer-writing practice. Start with answering the previous year questions and then start with mock tests.
  • Test series: The test series for Public administration will help them to gain new knowledge and expand their analyzing skill etc. Writing full-length tests is extremely important to master time management. You should have a practice of attempting all the questions in the 3 hours time limit. Hence, make sure you write full-length tests in a simulated environment.

Paper 1: Administrative Theory

IntroductionMeaning, scope and significance of Public Administration; Wilson’s vision of Public Administration; Evolution of the discipline and its present status; New Public Administration; Public Choice approach; Challenges of liberalization, Privatisation, Globalisation; Good Governance: concept and application; New Public Management
Administrative ThoughtScientific Management and Scientific Management movement; Classical Theory; Weber’s bureaucratic model – its critique and post-Weberian Developments; Dynamic Administration (Mary Parker Follett);  Human Relations School (Elton Mayo and others); Functions of the Executive (C.I. Barnard); Simon’s decision-making theory; Participative Management (R. Likert, C. Argyris, D. McGregor).
Administrative BehaviourProcess and techniques of decision-making; Communication; Morale; Motivation Theories – content, process and contemporary; Theories of Leadership: Traditional and Modern.
OrganizationsTheories – systems, contingency; Structure and forms: Ministries and Departments, Corporations, Companies, Boards and Commissions; Ad hoc and advisory bodies; Headquarters and Field relationships; Regulatory Authorities; Public-Private Partnerships
Accountability and controlConcepts of accountability and control; Legislative, Executive and Judicial control over administration; Citizen and Administration; Role of media, interest groups, voluntary organizations; Civil society; Citizen’s Charters; Right to Information; Social audit
Administrative LawMeaning, scope, and significance; Dicey on Administrative law; Delegated legislation; Administrative Tribunals
Comparative Public AdministrationHistorical and sociological factors affecting administrative systems; Administration and politics in different countries; Current status of Comparative Public Administration; Ecology and administration; Riggsian models and their critique
Development DynamicsConcept of development; Changing profile of development administration; ‘Anti development thesis’; Bureaucracy and development; Strong state versus the market debate; Impact of liberalization on administration in developing countries; Women and development – the self-help group movement.
Personnel AdministrationImportance of human resource development; Recruitment, training, career advancement, position classification, discipline, performance appraisal, promotion, pay and service conditions; employer-employee relations, grievance redressal mechanism; Code of conduct; Administrative ethics.
Public PolicyModels of policy-making and their critique; Processes of conceptualization, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review, and their limitations; State theories and public policy formulation
Techniques of Administrative ImprovementOrganization and methods, Work study and work management; e-governance and information technology; Management aid tools like network analysis, MIS, PERT, CPM.
Financial AdministrationMonetary and fiscal policies; Public borrowings and public debt Budgets – types and forms; Budgetary process; Financial accountability; Accounts and audit.

Paper-II: Indian Administration

Evolution of Indian AdministrationKautilya’s Arthashastra; Mughal administration; Legacy of British rule in politics and administration – Indianization of public services, revenue administration, district administration, local self-government
Philosophical and Constitutional framework of governmentSalient features and value premises; Constitutionalism; Political culture; Bureaucracy and democracy; Bureaucracy and development
Public Sector UndertakingsThe public sector in modern India; Forms of Public Sector Undertakings; Problems of autonomy, accountability, and control; Impact of liberalization and privatization
Union Government and AdministrationExecutive, Parliament, Judiciary – structure, functions, work processes; Recent trends; Intragovernmental relations; Cabinet Secretariat; Prime Minister’s Office; Central Secretariat; Ministries and Departments; Boards; Commissions; Attached offices; Field organizations.
Plans and PrioritiesMachinery of planning; Role, composition and functions of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council; ‘Indicative’ planning; Process of plan formulation at Union and State levels; Constitutional Amendments (1992) and decentralized planning for economic development and social justice
State Government and AdministrationUnion-State administrative, legislative and financial relations; Role of the Finance Commission; Governor; Chief Minister; Council of Ministers; Chief Secretary; State Secretariat; Directorates.
District Administration since IndependenceChanging role of the Collector; Union state-local relations; Imperatives of development management and law and order administration; District administration and democratic decentralization
Civil ServicesConstitutional position; Structure, recruitment, training and capacity-building; Good governance initiatives; Code of conduct and discipline; Staff associations; Political rights; Grievance redressal mechanism; Civil service neutrality; Civil service activism
Financial ManagementBudget as a political instrument; Parliamentary control of public expenditure; Role of finance ministry in the monetary and fiscal area;  Accounting techniques; Audit; Role of Controller General of Accounts and Comptroller and Auditor General of India
Administrative Reforms since IndependenceMajor concerns; Important Committees and Commissions; Reforms in financial management and human resource development; Problems of implementation.
Rural DevelopmentInstitutions and agencies since independence; Rural development programs: foci and strategies; Decentralization and Panchayati Raj; 73rd Constitutional amendment.
Urban Local GovernmentMunicipal governance: main features, structures, finance, and problem areas; 74th Constitutional Amendment; Globallocal debate; New localism; Development dynamics, politics, and administration with special reference to city management.
Law and Order AdministrationBritish legacy; National Police Commission; Investigative agencies; Role of central and state agencies including paramilitary forces in maintenance of law and order and countering insurgency and terrorism; Criminalisation of politics and administration; Police- public relations; Reforms in Police.
Significant issues in Indian AdministrationValues in public service; Regulatory Commissions; National Human Rights Commission; Problems of administration in coalition regimes; Citizen-administration interface; Corruption and administration; Disaster management