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How to Prepare for Public Administration Optional?

Nov 11, 2021

How to Prepare for Public Administration Optional?

If there is one popular optional opted by most Civil Services aspirants, it is Public Administration. Since its inclusion in the list of the optional subjects, it has gained a reputation of being the most scoring optional (If prepared strategically during UPSC exam preparation.)

Public Administration is an amalgamation of various subjects such as sociology, psychology, management, and political science. The subject is popular among the aspirants as it is not very complicated in concepts and theories and more focused on practicality.     

The interesting part about Pub Ad (Short form of Public Administration) is that it has relevance with the government and administration part of the Mains syllabus. In this article, we will discuss how you can effectively prepare for the subject and fetch extra marks with ease.

Public Administration Syllabus

Needless to say, that to prepare for a subject better, one should have a basic understanding of its syllabus, and the same applies to Public Administration. For your convenience, we have mentioned the Public Administration syllabus in detail. Have a look!

Syllabus for Paper-I: 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 Modem:
OrganisationsTheories 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 liberalisation 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, pray and service conditions; Employer-employee relations,
Grievance redressal mechanism;
Code of conduct;
Administrative ethics.
Public PolicyModels of policy-making and their critique; Processes of conceptualisation, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review and their limitations;
State theories and public policy formulation.
Techniques of Administrative ImprovementOrganisation 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.

Syllabus for Paper-II: Indian Administration

Evolution of Indian AdministrationKautilya 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 UndertakingsPublic 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;
Intra-governmental 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;
Chief Minister;
Council of Ministers;
Chief Secretary;
State Secretariat;
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;
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 programmes: foci and strategies;
Decentralization and Panchayati Raj;
73rd Constitutional amendment.
Urban Local DevelopmentMunicipal governance: main features, structures, finance and problem areas;
74th Constitutional Amendment;
Global-local 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.

Also read: How to Write Good Quality Answers for UPSC Mains

Preparation Strategy for Public Administration Optional

There is no denying that the Public Administration Optional syllabus is less and easy to cover, but that doesn’t mean you should take the subject for granted. You will require a well-structured preparation plan to cover the syllabus. Let’s share some practical tips with you for Public Administration preparation:

Understand the Basic Concepts

To fetch extra marks in the Pub Ad, it is imperative to have a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts, theories and principles.

Make Short Notes

During your preparation, make short notes for the topics mentioned in Paper 1 and Paper II, wherever necessary. By doing so, it will streamline your exam preparation. Moreover, the self-prepared short notes will save you crucial time during revision.

Read more: Importance of Note-Making in UPSC Preparation

Practice Answer Writing

UPSC Mains is all about writing. The more you practice answer writing during the UPSC exam preparation, the better are the chances to score well in the subject. While practising, try to relate aspects of the questions with examples from the Indian Administration.

Use Data and Statistics

For the same, you can refer to newspapers (The Hindu/The Indian Express), blogs on the NITI Ayog Website. It is always a wise idea to refer to government websites for the latest and relevant information. The knowledge acquired through blogs on the NITI Ayog website, PSUs’ website can enrich your answers with quality content.

Focus on Quotations, Diagrams & Case Studies

Public administration as a subject has evolved through the ages and the contributions of thinkers and scholars have been immense. To fetch extra marks and to write good quality answers, use relevant quotes from the thinkers. To create a good impression on the examiner, make diagrams (wherever required) and mention case studies. 

Integrated Preparation

To make your preparation more productive, focus on integrated preparation. While writing answers for Paper-II, you can use the relevant concepts/theories studied in Paper-I to make your answers more appealing. Integrated preparation will give you an edge to your exam preparation. 

Refer to Previous Years’ Questions

Previous years’ question papers are the best source of UPSC exam preparation. Not only do you get to know about the exam pattern, but you also come to know about the type of questions asked in the exam.

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Auther Details

Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.


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