PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION – Prepare Lok Prashasan for IAS Mains

prepare public administration
Written by Dr. SS

This blog tries to give a detailed strategy for IAS preparation with subject specific issues. Below you can find guidance which highlights answers of question ‘how to prepare Public Admin’ or ‘Lok Prashasan’ for IAS mains?’ This article is equally helpful for aspirants of both medium i.e. hindi as well as english.

You will get answers of questions like ‘how to read’, ‘what to read’ and ‘how to write?’

public admin

Lets start with Optional Selection…

How to Select Optional Paper for IAS Mains?

The fundamental yet non trivial question that troubles the UPSC aspirants is regarding the selection of optional paper. Earlier it was mandatory to choose subject of gradation. This obligation has been waved off, giving aspirants a wide array of subjects to choose from. But, this makes task of selection more intimidating. However, following points will help you to finalize your subject. Any candidate who does not wish to select subject from graduation, must consider given points as selection criteria.

  1. Familiarity

Take a brief look at the syllabus of the subject you wish to opt. Watch out for similarities with subjects you took at college. An unfamiliar subject is like shooting blindly.

  1. Difficulty Level

Go through its previous year papers and gauge the difficulty level of the concerned subject.

  1. Resources

Ensure that you have prerequisite resources at your disposal. Books and mentors/online forums are essential for clearing doubts regarding subject and its preparation.

  1. Interest

Avoid choosing any subject out of intuition or compulsion if you are not interested in it. This might sound cliché but that is the bitter truth. A lot of aspirants opt such subjects and end up being amateurs since they lacked the spark of interest. They cover the syllabus, understand the subject, do writing practice too; but here is a catch.

 Understanding a subject and expressing it on paper are two entirely different aspects. This is where you have to show your competence.

  1. Opinion Poll

You should NOT take the subject solely because your neighbour/friend/relative/acquaintance IAS officer took it and scored good marks. Everyone has certain strengths and weaknesses; you can’t expect a fish to fly!

Public Admin  as an optional for IAS Mains

This subject was taken by the maximum aspirants as an optional so far and still stay as one of the favourites.Success ratio is also high in compare to other optional. It is a general belief that syllabus of Pub Ad is manageable and its content is easy to understand. One positive point of the subject is availability of study material. Plenty of institutes offer coaching for this subject. When you read Lok Prashasan; you actually get help in coverage of various topics of ‘General Studies’ syllabus as well as Essay paper. After analyzing you will find that Pub Ad covers 400 marks of the General studies paper + 200 marks of Essay paper.

But, a candidate should NOT take ‘Lok Prashasan’ solely because

  • It is somewhat similar to GS II, III, and IV.
  • Syllabus is concise and demands lesser effort in completion as opposed to other papers.

You should GO for ‘Lok Prashasan’

  • If administrative issues in general genuinely catch your eye.
  • If you adore delving deep into abstract and theoretical stuff.
  • If you are curios in knowing the Indian Polity.
  • If you posses some experience of working in an organization and have keen interest in optimally directing group and personal resources.

‘Public Admin’ or ‘Lok Prashasan’ Strategies for Better Result

On a side this subject has highest percentage of successful candidates on another side this subject is seeing declining graph of total number aspirants with this subject. It’s not only because of nature of subject but unsystematic preparation is also responsible for depressing performance.

Below we have prepared a list of factors which should be addressed to score better.

Factors with Exam PaperFactors with Candidate
Comparatively tough paperSelected ‘Pub Admin’ just because of  bandwagon effect
Indirect and abstract questionsWriting general answers
Strict  evaluationAbsence of correlation between two papers
Absence of generous markingNot well versed with Technical Terms
Absence of clear cut scaling/moderation by UPSC 

How to Read Public Admin as a subject for UPSC Mains?

lok prashasan books

lok prashasan as a subject can be understood very easily, if followed a definite series of steps for reading resources.

You need to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. – Albert Einstein

It means you don’t only need to understand this subject clearly; you need to develop skills to express it in a crystal clear manner. To get this, you need to spend considerable time with your books.

First Reading to prepare ‘Lok Prashasan’

(i) Keep the syllabus handy and mark the topics on books. You don’t need to read books cover to cover. Just bookmark topics and stick to them.

(ii) The first paper introduces the theoretical concepts and you can begin with Prasad and Prasad and IGNOU notes. These are good to start this subject. Further, we have suggested topic wise books which would be helpful to you to make your notes after second reading.

(iii) Fadia and Fadia also covers almost entire syllabus.

(iv) Never try to make notes in this stage otherwise you will pen down every second line. Keep this stage only to familiarize you with the subject.

Second Reading to prepare:

Once you complete your first reading you should read ‘Gita’ of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya. His books provide the depth to all the topics which will help to understand the subject more intuitively and logically.

Nicholas Henry is good for second round of study. Never read it in in your first round of reading. After this round, you would find syllabus seamlessly connected. There is no point in reading hundreds of books, if you can’t express in a comprehensive manner in exam hall. It’s always better to read less material more number of times than reading more material once.

Third Round and Notes Making:

IAS preparation is not about reading more number of books; it is more about understanding the concepts. First two stages will help them in doing so. You are well versed with basic books and know very well which part of book is better in compare to another one. For example you would feel that Nicholas Henry is good for chapters like Paradigms in Public Admin, Budget, Public Policy, and IGNOU notes-MPA 011-to read State, society and public Administration: Mohit Bhattacharya-for development administration topics like anti-development thesis, bureaucracy and development etc. This understanding will come only after giving two reading for entire syllabus.

Now, you can start making notes.

(i) Make topic wise note book.

(ii) Take one topic at one time and read selected sources again to make notes.

(iii) Comprehend your notes in bullet points.

(iv) Notes should be made in the way which can help you in last minute revision.

(v) While making notes try to establish the linkages between Paper I and II.

(vi) Make diagrams, flowcharts in your notes. R.K. Arora as well as Shubhra Saxena‘s book is very useful for the purpose.

Further rounds of Reading:

Once you are ready with first draft your notes of entire syllabus, it’s time to master the subject topic wise to be able to express the answer in convincing way.

For the purpose, go through previous year papers of 20 years. Segregate questions topic wise and select book for that topic which you feel is acquainted with the demand of the subject.

Once you select the book, read the same book 2-3 times and until you internalize the entire vocabulary of the topic. Your job is not done here.

While reading books, note down things which you find relevant. Make your notes richer with facts, diagrams, tables and quotes. Use all possible aids to present ideas in simple manner. It is said

Making things simple is the most difficult thing in the world.

As soon as you finish a topic/theory, try to answer questions from that area. That’s how one knows where he stands with regard to his understanding of the subject.

Reading for Second Paper of ‘Public Admin’ or ‘Lok Prashasan’:

Second paper is the practical aspect. Highly selective reading is necessary, unlike for the first paper. Second ARC reports would go a long way in providing a valuable source of information for almost all the topics. Please give the reports their due time and efforts and read them thoroughly. All the aspects of Indian Administration need to be understood in their ground realities as well as in their ideological perspectives.

What to read for Public Administration or Lok Prashasan?

First thing you have to read regularly is ‘the UPSC syllabus ’. Read the complete syllabus on regular basis and try to interlink topics. Do this exercise for 5 minutes with closed eyes.

Secondly, one should not ignore optional subjects. While preparing for the syllabus of General Studies, you should study the optional subject on a daily basis. Daily two-three hours one should spend for the optional subject.

Find list of commonly used reference books for Public Admin.

Standard books for Pub Ad Paper II

  • Indian Administration – Ramesh K. Arora & Rajni Goyal
  • Yojana
  • Newspaper-The Hindu
  • ARCs and Punchhi Commission report
  • India Year Book

Topic wise Books for Paper-1 of Public Admin

  1. Introduction: Sharma and Sadana or S Polianaidu supplemented with Mohit Bhattacharya.
  2. Administrative Thought:  Prasad and Prasad
  3. Administrative Behaviour: Sharma and Sadana or Prasad and Prasad.
  4. Organisations: Refer Sharma and Sadana for all topics except PPP. For PPP refer Fadia and Fadia. There is a lot of scope for relating this part to the Indian administration (paper-2).
  5. Accountability and control; 6. Administrative Law: For both of them refer Sharma and Sadana. For dynamic topics-depend upon sources of current awareness
  6. Comparative Public Administration; 7. Development Dynamics: Ramesh K Arora – CPA. If you don’t have Arora, refer S. Polianaidu. Development administration is covered better in Polianaidu.
  7. Personnel Administration: Sharma and Sadana
  8. Public Policy:IGNOU BA and MA Public Policy cover it thoroughly.
  9. Techniques of Administrative Improvement: There is no single good source. You will need to rely on the internet mostly. Questions from these topics do not carry much weightage.
  10. Financial Administration:Sharma and Sadana

Topic wise Books for Paper-2 of Public Admin

Three basic reference materials are sufficient for this paper.

  1. Indian Administration by Rajni Goyal and Ramesh Arora– Entire book.
  2. Second ARC reportscover the rest of the issues. Reports that should be referred are:
  • Personnel Administration
  • State and District Administration
  • Public Order
  • Disaster Management
  • Local Government
  • Ethics in Governance (Selectively)
  1. Newspapersare the best source for dynamic topics.

(i)  The Hindu, Indian Express and Live mint editorials

(ii) Note down new policies, plans, committees etc.

(iii) Make issue-wise notes.

 Readymade Notes

If you wish to have notes by reputed faculty, you can go for them but don’t go blindly on suggestions. You should go for notes selection only after first two readings. Once you get familiar with subject then choose any notes from the market. Even after taking notes, give two -three days in reading to decide whether you can take it up for your preparation.

Reading ‘thrust areas’ for focused preparation in Public Administration

Important Topics of Paper I of Lok Prashasan

Administrative theory: Section – A

Essential theories with critical aspects.

Scientific Management,

Human Relations’ School,

Bureaucratic Theory and

Systems Approach

Comparative study of Maslow, Herzberg and Macgregor’s theory of Motivation.

Accountability and Control with focus on Parliament and its functions

Section B

Administrative Reforms:

Read thoroughly new legislations

Panchayats and nagar palikas.

Social auditing and

Participatory governance

Comparative Public Administration:

Read thinkers like Riggs.

Keep focus on third world countries and get familiar with issues like governance, privatisation, rural development and human rights in China, Brazil and South Africa.

Development Administration:

Follow international trends on impact of technology on administration across third world and elsewhere.

Federalism and decentralisation, poverty alleviation, empowerment, retraining and administration machinery.

Public Policy:

Read Dror who spoke maximum on issues related to public policy.

Issues related to disinvestments.

Anti-poverty programmes and

Evolution of Employment-generation schemes

Financial Administration:

Interlink with the Financial Management in Paper-2.

Prepare full topic.

Don’t forget to make notes on this topic. Can take help of Sharma and Sadana.

Important Topics of Paper II of Lok Prashasan

Indian Administration: Section – A

Evolution of Indian Administration:

Fiscal and monetary policy.

Criminalisation of politics and politicisation of crime,

Federal system in context of coalition government,

President’s rule.

Constitutional framework:

President, Parliament and judiciary:

Get ready for twisted questions.

Read national dailies to prepare this part.

Union Government and Administration:

Focus point is Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Cabinet Secretariat…

State Government and Administration:

Be familiar with the Sarkaria Commission’s report on Centre-State relations

National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution report

District Administration and Local Government:

Impact of technology on role of collector,

District Development Authority,

District Rural Development Authority,

Structure of panchayats and nagar palikas.

Right to Information,

Cyber Governance.

Section B

Public Services:

UPSC, State Public Service Commissions : The constitutional aspect and functions

Control of Public Expenditure:

Public Interest Litigation,

Judicial activism

Administrative Reforms:

Queries on Right to Information, social audit, panchayati raj, VRS are part of the administrative reforms.

Planning Commission and its relevance.

Administration of Law and Order:

The role of central and state agencies in the maintenance of law and order

Welfare Administration: Go through annual report of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

How to write Answers in Public Admin or lok prashasan ?

The secret of success in UPSC lies in answer writing technique. Don’t forget that in this subject you have to compete with largest numbers of candidates and you have to get an edge over them anyhow. This can be done only by making your answer unique. Use examples from current affairs, case studies and government schemes or some charts etc. to bring uniqueness in your answer.

Being on high grounds in theoretical aspects of a subject is less preferable over having expression skills. You must be able to elegantly express what you know in your answers. Being lucrative is vital. Such a skill can be honed with regular and rigorous practice. Make sure you practice all formats ranging from short answers to the lengthy ones. Have them curated by seniors, acquaintances or teachers.

Answer Writing Techniques for ‘Public Admin’

Point Format:

There is always confusion among the candidates regarding whether they should write in point format or in paragraphs. Follow the point format to present thoughts in a precise manner. Elaborate with paragraphs written  under sub-headings. Mix of both gives a structure to your answer.

Simple Manner:

Simplicity is the golden principle about writing. Avoid using difficult language and complicated jargon. Answers should be written in such a way that a person can understand it, even if he is not with public administration background.

Interlink the Concepts:

Questions demanding multiple concepts in one shot are frequent and an integral part. Ability to catch the interlinking and writing the answers similarly is the key here. Look out for resources like mind maps which give you an idea about the practise of interlinking the essential concepts of a topic.

In paper-1 especially, try relating your answer with the basic theories, contemporary and cross-cultural practices. For e.g. in comparing the strength of executive accountability to legislature, compare that of US and India. If you quote that in 2013 US Congress stopped fund flow to the executive; it can be said that such financial control is not easy to achieve in India.

Also, try to cover almost any answer right from its basics. For e.g. for a question on comparison between Bernard and Simon, state first what both thinkers claim, and then explore for similarities or dissimilarities.

Same works for Paper-2 as well. For e.g. when writing an answer on local government, start from the basic provisions in the constitution relating to that question. When analysis of a policy or judgment is asked, first give a small introduction of the policy.

Interlinking both Papers:

Paper I and II of Public Administration are interlinked and candidates must reflect it in their answers. When you right answers in Paper – I take examples from Indian Administration. In the same way, when you attempt any question in Indian Administration relate that with concepts studied in Paper-I. For example while answering on budget, should o incorporate thinkers such as Aaron Wildavsky’s view on budget as a political instrument and how it is all about political populism.

Writing Speed and Logical Flow:

You cannot get marks, if you don’t write. Increase your writing speed as you have to answer a good number of questions. When we write in speed, we will not get much time to think about structure of the answer. You have to master both skills simultaneously. Your answer should flow in a logical way and should be written in a prescribed time limit. This can be achieved only by writing answer with stop watch. Practice answers writing within time limit.

Write as candidate of Public Admin:

I suggested several rounds of reading just to make you internalise with terms of Public Admin. You cannot write this paper as you write in GS. You need to use terminology of administration; quote thinkers and theories; and explore the issue on administrative lines.

For e.g. if a question on reducing the size of Indian Cabinet comes, you should be able to write its positive and negative implications based on delegation and decentralization; efficiency; organizational behaviour; informal grouping angle etc.

Substantiate Arguments:

In both papers, you have to include facts about India. Try to cover relevant examples after every one-two paragraphs; evidences and facts are must for the paper of lok prashasan.

For the purpose, develop habit of reading newspaper, you will find examples from there. A candidate of Public Admin is always advised to read Second Administrative Reforms Commission Reports and Punchhi Commission and other government documents; these reports are good source of examples and cases for reference. For e.g. once a question in 2014 was asked on the possibility of giving regulatory powers to the PRIs along with developmental functions. You should quote both 2nd ARC and Padmanabhaiah committee that recommend giving local policing powers to PRIs. It will make your answer richer.

Take a Fair Stand:

As a public administrator, you have to show balanced viewpoint. On any issue or question, you should give appropriate arguments and evidence from both sides. Start any answer with the context and background. After highlighting both sides of the topic; do a critical analysis of both. You are also expected to give solutions based on the recommendations from 2nd ARC, case studies wherever necessary.

Important Lines to Quote:

Do try to remember some lines of thinkers verbatim to add value to your answers in exam. For example lines from Mental Revolution, Zone of Indifference etc.

If you are practising for answer writing, stop it two weeks before the examination, its time to focus only on revision.

Good Luck to all aspirants with ‘Public Admin i.e Lok Prashasan’. If you like this article, please share your views in comment box given below.

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Dr. SS

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