How To Prepare Public Administration Optional Subject For The UPSC Civil Services Main Examination

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Harish Y.N

Public Administration Strategy

Public Administration is highly relevant but somewhat ‘not very interesting’ subject. Once you get the confidence and know the ‘general’ approach to write answers, the preparation is over. One can definitely write ‘average’ answers and get good score!

The first question that comes in the minds of Public Administration students is ‘list of books‘. There are few books to read but definitely no ‘list of books’. If one reads such a big list of books, one will become a professor in the subject instead of clearing the exam.

The ‘reference’ material for pub ad is;

1. Administrative Thinkers – R. Prasad and Prasad

2. New Horizons of Public Administration – Mohit Bhattacharya.

3. Indian Administration – Ramesh K. Arora & Rajni Goyal

4.Public Administration – Laxmikant

5. Second ARC Reports

Above books are sufficient to get good marks in the main exam along with a good writing practice. Even these books are only reference points to write answers and you are not expected to ‘reproduce’ the exact content or points from the books. Pub Ad is all about analysis and the way you think.

One needs to practice ‘thinking’ and ‘linking’ the whole syllabus/topics along with a proper sequence in any answer.

Don’t try to cover full syllabus by books. Then, you may need more than 10 books to cover all the syllabus. Hence, read basic books to get the basics and also to know the ‘approach’ the authors take while tackling any topic in Pub Ad. Above four books along with 2nd ARC report is sufficient. And there is some strategy to write good answers on other topics not present in the above four sources.

Rule 1: Read few books. Ideally less than 5.

If one carefully observes any Pub Ad book or article, authors follow some general approach to convince the reader about the content. They take some stand on a topic or write about the topic in simple words in the beginning of a topic. Then, they use “quotes” to substantiate or certify their stand. They also use many analytical words like however, despite, though, moreover, correspondingly etc to give the content, a ‘analytical’ tone. Also, such keywords are largely used to link different paragraphs.

Rule 2: Use more quotes from thinkers/personalities/your own in ‘certify’ your stand in the answer. Use ‘analytical’ keywords to link paragraphs and to give the answer a logical flow. It comes through practice and proper feedback.

About the topics not present in the above four sources, what is the best approach to cover them? Obviously, one can’t afford to read a book for each chapter. Revision will become a major problem if you refer more sources. The solution is any one or both of the following, depending on the time availability.

1. ‘THINK’ for, say,  30 minutes on each question in the last 10 years and prepare a model structure/synopsis of the answer. Refer any number of books or internet to prepare such a ‘structure’. Don’t prepare full answer.Here, ensure you cover ALL the topics of the syllabus. Replace one 60 marks question with two 30 marks questions. Be innovative to create your own question on a topic which you have not covered in the above four sources. While thinking, your mind should scan the whole syllabus and link all the chapters to arrive at a ‘RELEVANT’ answer by using at least TWO quotes for each answer. This is the ‘REAL’ preparation for Pub Ad.There will be sufficient time to do this activity after prelims.

2. Prepare short notes of the missing topics by referring other books. But this is not very effective preparation since you will not know the approach to answer if the same topic comes in the exam.

The first options is very effective and is preferred.

Other tips to write a decent answer for pub ad are;

1. Write heading to each answer. It serves two purposes. First, you will convince the examiner that you are sticking to question. Second, you will also  not divert away from the question. Hence, it helps in writing relevant answer. Forget what other say against giving heading. This is just another exam and you want marks and nothing else from main exam!

2. Write very relevant introduction by using the keywords asked in the question. For e.g If there is question on ‘significance of policy implementation’, your intro should talk about “significance” in a simple and general words. But don’t write intro about ‘public policy or government’. Because, each topic in pub ad is big enough to give ‘relevant’ introduction for that topic. “If a person asks you to introduce yourself in 30 seconds, you will have to tell about yourself instead of your parents/family in such a short time”. Hope you got the point.

3. Quotes are key to score well in pub ad. Collect two or three quotes for general topics like planning, training, performance, efficiency, motivation, civil service neutrality, human rights, disasters etc. Also, collect 4 or 5 quotes from each thinker from the book. Collect from quotes from the articles of the constitution especially Part VI ( e.g. Art 39 ). Keep a separate note book for these quotes. And, literally mug them up.

4. Test series is important but without ‘personalized’ feedback, tests are worthless. Hence, take feedback from good teachers/seniors by approaching them personally. Just cover 60% of the syllabus, then directly start writing answers. Never wait to cover full syllabus to write answers.

5. Compulsorily, solve last 10 year previous year questions. Read a question. Imagine the answer sheet in your mind. Then, start thinking about the structure of the answer in each page. Think about the ‘thinkers’ concepts to be used and the quotes relevant for the answer. Just think and get a good structure. Then, write it down in a note book below the question. This is the effective preparation.

6. Think very simple and write like a student. Don’t think you have to write extra points which is not present in others answers. It will be a blunder to write ‘strange’ points. Read normal books but write good answers by using relevant quotes and by linking all the concepts of the subject. Every question comes with an answer. Books provide you raw materials to write answers and no book can provide you full answer required for the exam. Think simple and just chill.

7. Don’t ever be hesitant or afraid to ‘take a step’ ( eminem song! ). I mean, take a stand on the question confidently. Because, there can never be a perfect  answer for Pub Ad. Everybody has a right to take a stand. But you should use QUOTES to certify your stand. The best thing about Pub Ad is the freedom to take a stand. Use the concepts/keywords from the Thinkers to give evidence to your stand. And your stand is always right.

8. There won’t be any time after Essay/Compulsory/GS papers for Pub Ad . You must be able to revise everything in that ‘small gap’. If you don’t revise, your chances to fall in a gap of one more year increases immensely! I was able to revise Pub Ad within a day. Needless to say, you have to revise many times before especially in the last one month of the mains exam.

9. Don’t write General Studies answers for Paper 2. Write like a Pub Ad student. For eg, If they ask a question on ‘cabinet/committees/group of ministers etc’ then, just don’t write GS answers. Use the ‘coordination’ concepts from Fayol/Follet/Bernard in your answers. For a question on the ‘role of planning commission’, use the sentence like “Planning is the heart of Fayol’s elements of management” and ‘Riggs differentiation/integration’ concepts in the answers. Don’t try to reproduce the text book answer. Think simple and write relevant answer.

10. Coaching class for Pub Ad is an option which one can definitely afford to ignore! But ensure you have some reliable person to guide in the beginning. This is ‘just another exam’ to get ‘just another job’. So, relax. All the best.

The End

For Pub Ad Book list Topic-wise: Click Here

For Reference:

Public Administration and Public Affairs 12th Edition – Nicholas Henry

upsc mains reference books new pattern 20013