Pub Ad as an optional for IAS: Why to choose by Ashutosh Pandey

  • by Ashutosh Pandey

Since the Wilsonian dichotomy public administration has traversed a chequered path, not so because its roots were not firmly planted as a discipline but more so because it was a continuous “polylogue” of multiple thoughts and ideas, constantly impinging upon its contours. These multiple approaches have lent a dynamic character to the discipline. Initially perceived as a plain managerial endeavour -where Americanization was the safest bid, it came to be turned upside down with the growing realization that, governmental operations and character are conditioned by “ecology”, which was pointed …


In the Indian context, the constitutional order and institutional framework, the history of administrative growth  and diversification including the massive impact of colonialism on our administration, the myriad  and pluralistic society have all been interrogating public administration, since independence.

As teachers and aspirants of UPSC ,we are not much confronted by the theoretical underpinnings of the discipline, but more by the utilitarian maxim of “will public administration” serve as a useful tool in achieving my “dream destination” of a berth in IAS, well the answer may be a pessimistic NO or an optimistic “WHY NOT”. First of all we need to understand the core framework of UPSC exam….

1. Mains exam basically evaluates three aspects –scholastic aptitude-information retention –and –analytical ability, strictly in that order.
2. Questions are broadly framed in order to assess the overall understanding of the subject along with its practicability ,which is a trend  Post-2011.
3. The syllabus is only an indication not the conclusion.

This framework seems more pronounced in case of Public administration than in other optional, which may have created disenchantment than inclination towards the subject. But reality is the “Glass is half full”. If we analyze the UPSC paper of PUB AD, we find-

• The questions are getting more and more analytical.
• There is general trend towards popping up “unknown” names and conceptual linkages.
• Increasing number of questions with sub-parts and sub-sub-parts.
• Thorough intermixing of paper-1 and paper-2, freely and non-commitally.
• Decreasing scores and increasing efforts.

Though all the points maybe valid but may not be totally non-contestable——

• Right from the change in syllabus, be it general studies or an essay paper, there is a growing percentage of analytical questions, so why PUB AD would be left out…it’s a natural process of evolution of the exam.
• Understanding and mugging theoretical facts will erode the utility of PUB AD as an optional, which is not only PREPARING YOU FOR EXAM,BUT FOR NEXT #30 yrs IN SERVICE. So practical aspects need to be emphasized, which can be easily comprehended by reading newspapers which we do inevitably for GS.
• The trend is an useful guide where the static approach to deal with the exam is needed, if you are thorough with the CONCEPTS ,it hardly matters, more so without interlinkages how can you develop CONCEPTS ,in the FIRST PLACE.

Public administration has an esteemed place in the galaxy of optionals for Civils preparation, its utility is practical than theoretical where it can be punished –or –rewarded but not IGNORED.

Considering the adhocism in the preparation of public administration we as teachers and well wishers of students are trying to simplify your public administration woes by zeroing down to the best conclusive methodology of preparation….

Here is the list of 29 approaches ,which if done in detail would help you sail through PAPER- 1, whatever be the trend:

1. Structural
2. Functional
3. Structural-functional
4. Classical
5. Neo-classical/human relations
6. Behavioral
7. Beauracratic
8. Ecological
9. Comparative
10. Developmental
11. Public policy
12. Empirical
13. Normative
14. Descriptive/prescriptive
15. Post-modernism
16. Humanistic-phenomenological
17. Positivist
18. Decision making approach
19. Post –behavioral
20. Post-bureaucratic
21. Marxist
22. Neo-Marxist
23. Systems
24. Gender
25. Governance
26. Critical/realist
27. Techno centric
28. Anti-developmental
29. Neo-liberal

And mind you these approaches may not take more than 11/2 month to study with intelligent sources at hand,, fetching you cool 200 plus marks.

We would be publishing you the detailed notes on these over the time, with specific inputs from our student and now a bureaucrat…ASHISH PAL, who scored 220 plus in PUB AD, mains 2013….in our next article.

Remember “HISTORY IS CREATED BY THOSE WHO BREAK THE RULES”
KEEP WORKING AND DON’T STOP “PUBADDING”