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Public Administration – Linking Between Topics


Public Administration remains elusive until one gain an idea over the link between various units in the two papers and tries to frame a coherent picture of the two units. Here, I try to present my understanding gained from struggling over the past few months, often getting back to the question of “What is public administration”.  I will take forward the concept of Public Administration both from the perspectives of academic study and implementation aspect as well by bringing the various units in our syllabus under the framework as we proceed.

What is Public Administration?

a)     Implementation of government policy

b)    An academic discipline(just like any other-physics/political science)

Why do we need public administration?

a)     Implementation – any organised society needs a set of dedicated personnel to carry out the functions of society at large with efficiency and evolving society towards ideals laid down by constitution

b)    Academic – to bring out concrete theories and build the all time dream of “science of administration”; this helps in overcoming problems of administration by providing relevant examples; refining public policy which lies at the heart of public administration

Now we start linking up various chapters to this basic framework

a)     Unit 1 speaks about various approaches that to study of public administration; faced with several challenges in evolution, it has prescribed new models after conferences to improve the efficiency of administration, which includes NPA,NPM,PCA,e-gov; why did  so  many theories evolve? As PA is an evolving concept, and it keeps evolving as long as society continues, for change is something that does not change. Way forward: read each model from this perspective: what does the new approach say? What are the limitations with old approach? How does this one try to rectify those? What are its limitations?

b)    Now along with this goes as to who implements the policies? The civil servants at centre and state- here comes the units on personnel administration and civil services. So, we have to study these units with policy implementation in mind and improving it in every dimension.  Unit 9 paper 1 + unit 8 paper2

c)     Next comes how these are implemented and what is the machinery of administration? In Indian scenario, we have governments and administration at union, state, district (government being recommended in ARC), local level (rural, municipal). This covers a major part of paper 2.

d)    Now, apart from governments the modern day governance is also including several organizations – government and nongovernmental in its process. This brings PSUs under the ambit along with several commissions (statutory and non statutory).  The structures, forms, models are covered from theoretical point in Unit 4 of paper1.

e)     Okay, lets come to the human face of organisations, because on their attitude and aptitude does the working of organisation largely depend. This brings various theories and administrative behaviour under the umbrella. Unit 2, 3 of paper1. Also the concepts of values and ethics in administration are relevant to this dimension.

f)     Well, before all this we must remember that even to move an ant in these, we need finances (over exaggerated, but yes, as said, government is finance). So, we have to study financial administration and financial management- unit 12 paper1 + unit 9 paper 2

g)    But what was our major aim? To improve efficiency right? So, go study ARCs and thus unit 10 of paper2. This can also be done by studying how administration is in other countries – CPA; Also by using techniques of administrative improvement; Unit 7,11 of paper 1,

h)     Chalo, how can all this happen when there is chaos in society? So we need take care of law and order administration.  Unit 13 of paper 2

i)      There were instances of such administrative models in India long before independence – so studying Kautilya, Mughal,  British administrations gives us an idea about how Indian administration evolved and why things are the way they are now. Unit 1 of paper2

j)      All this has to be under the light of several values and principles applied across Indian Territory – as lay down by constitution. Unit 2 of paper 2.

k)     Now we get to the important of all that is the Public Policy, whose implementation we are bothered about. It is driven by the priorities mentioned in the plan documents. This leads us to development and we have to keep studying dynamics in development owing to changing world scenarios. So we complete Unit10 of paper1, Unit 5 of paper 2, Unit 8 of paper 1.

l)      All this enormous responsibility gives great powers in few hands and there needs to be a check because absolute power corrupts absolutely. Go on and read how powers of administration are checked by various state non-state actors in Unit5 and unit 6 of paper1.

Having bored you with this rhetoric, I would like to make a few points on the usual strategy we can follow for most of the topics in public administration:

  • Take a concept and read it in one book
  • Now see how it can be linked into this larger framework of administration
  • What principles are found in it? (democracy/socialism/equality)
  • What are the threats to it?
  • Did any new concept emerge rectifying these?(IJPA articles; not needed though :P)
  • What did any committee/commission say?
  • This way, we can link up most of the topics in Public Administration.

Books to read(not exhaustive):

  • Lakshmikanth
  • Rajni Goyal
  • Prasad & Prasad
  • Mohit Bhattacharya
  • 2nd ARC reports

If we can complete these with fair understanding of topics and trying to solve previous questions everyday, I think we can settle down with a decent score.

P.S: This write up is based on my understanding of PA and it can keep changing as PA is. It is not fool proof and not after a research. Just a descriptive article and in no way prescriptive


Note: This is an article sent by a person who has started his/her preparation few months back. Those who disagree, or have more to contribute, can start discussion or share their wisdom here. Please be polite while discussing. Thank you. – Insights.