Public Administration- Mains
Before I begin, let me tell you that it was my 2nd optional and one of the biggest mistakes in my previous 2 attempts was the wrong orientation I had in public administration.
In my 1st attempt (2007) I scored 309 and in 2nd attempt (2008), 287. These were the years when the scores in public administration were on an average well over 300.
This year the checking has been quite strict and it has been difficult to score above 300.
The strategy which I followed was very simple. Minimise the books I read for public administration and use all my General Studies knowledge in pub ad papers.
To be honest, I devoted 60% of my preparation time to GS, 30% to psychology and just 10% to public administration. This was because I relied “almost completely” on newspaper reading and had full faith in Pavan sir’s (at Sriram’s) assessment and advice.
Mistakes in pub ad
- Reading too many books. Mohit Bhattacharya, Ferrel Heady, IIPA journals, Rumki Basu, etc are NOT at all required. In fact, low scores in pub ad are usually due to relying on these books/journals.
- Concentrating on notes and jargons. Aiming at mugging up quotes, names of thinkers, technical terms, etc is a complete waste of time and effort.
- Writing answers in paragraph thinking logical flow and good language is what is required in pub ad. It is not your opinion which counts as you needn’t convince the examiner. What is required is good factual knowledge and insight.
- I do not know about classes and test series such as Bhavani Singh, Mohanty and Sunil Gupta as I never attended them. I know of these three as many of my friends had joined them. I came across their notes, etc and realised that my strategy was very different from theirs. But if you have gone through their notes and attended classes/test series and are still confused, do not worry. Knowledge never goes waste. Also, at the end of the day, my strategy worked this year, next year it might not. Nothing is certain.
- My biggest mistake was joining Vajiram for pub ad in 2007. Not only the teaching was not exam oriented, the whole orientation and approach towards pub ad was flawed. I do not know the present faculty at Vajiram and my comment is restricted only to the classes I attended in 2007. Even then, I continued to use the content in my later attempts. Whatever knowledge you gain, you can apply it as and when the situation demands.
- Extreme emphasis on unnecessary things such as words used in the question. Critically examine, elucidate, explain, comment, etc do not change your answer. Thinking along those lines is going to reduce the quality of your answers.
- Case studies: during my fist two attempts I put a lot of stress on case studies. Wasting 100 words (and the time as well) on case-studies and more importantly going through IIPA journals during preparation is a sin.
- Differentiating between paper 1 and paper 2 and thinking they require a different approach is a huge mistake. I was told that examples in paper 1 have to be from different countries and just 1-2 lines about India. Paper 2 was only about Indian administration. This was the biggest reason why I scored just 130 in paper 1 in 2008.
To summarize, right orientation and approach is key to high scores in pub ad. If while solving a math problem, the first step itself is wrong, no matter what you do later, the answer is going to be incorrect.
As I have said for psychology, same holds for every other optional-
Study topic-wise from the syllabus and do not aim at finishing books.
I didn’t read the following books from cover to cover. Instead, I just prepared topic wise and referred the books for content.
Roughly, 30 % of my content was from the books, 10% from internet and 60% was from newspapers. That is why, newspaper reading is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Do refer the GS Mains post for newspaper reading.
- Fadia and Fadia: Administrative theories and concepts
(I must have read 50-60% of it, just to prepare notes. Only those chapters which were mentioned in the syllabus).
- Fadia and Fadia: Indian Administration
(Must have read just 10-15% of it as I had good knowledge about Indian administration already).
- Prasad and Prasad: Thinkers
(The best book on thinkers. More than enough is given. Nothing else is required).
- Nicholas Henry
(Only 2 topics: budget and public policy making).
DD Basu’s Indian Constitution is in fact the best book for paper 2.
The single-most important source for content in pub ad.
No special reading of the newspapers is required for pub ad. When I read the newspapers, it was not for GS, psychology, pub ad, essay, etc specifically. Instead, the focus was on gaining factual knowledge which I could apply in all the papers.
Kindly refer the GS mains section for further details.
I looked up on the net for paper 2. For paper 1, only few topics here and there, where I felt I didn’t have enough content. But certainly there is no use of looking up the net for thinkers, etc. Prasad and Prasad is more than enough.
For paper 2, government websites are the best. Topics such as disaster (NDMA website), human rights (NHRC website),Controller General of Accounts, etc can be effectively covered. The sites are updated regularly and not only content but very good diagrams, flowcharts and organizational hierarchy is depicted.
Wikipedia , google & yahoo are also good for topics such as SHGs, social audit, etc.
Before talking about strategy, I would like to point out that public administration was my 2nd optional. I have never read Laxmikant and other books before.
If you have referred many other books, as I said, knowledge never goes waste.
(I have copy-pasted the following from Psychology- Mains post. It remains the same for all optionals I guess).
First and foremost, do not aim at finishing books. You have to cover the syllabus topic-wise.
Take a printout of the syllabus from the UPSC website and try to cover the topics one by one. I prepared the full syllabus as I felt anything can be asked for a 60 marker. Do not study something thinking that it is for paper 1, etc. Everything you study can be applied anywhere.
I counted the number of topics in the syllabus (x in chapter 1, y in chapter 2, z in chapter 3 and so on. total x+y+z…). I aimed at covering 5 topics everyday. While finding content on a particular topic, I referred standard books, internet and above all newspapers.
As compared to psychology, I hardly prepared notes for pub ad. Only 1st 2 chapters in paper 1 and the 1st chapter in paper 2 require note-making. Rest all is general knowledge. So read the newspapers and applied the facts to pub ad answers everywhere.
But once I prepared a given topic, I never picked up the book or notes again to refer what was given. I relied on what I had written on that topic from then on. The strategy should be to revise your notes again and again at least 7-8 times.
I started this exercise in the first week of June and aimed at finishing it by September 1st. But eventually was able to do it by September end.
As I told you earlier, I joined Vajiram in 2007 for pub ad. It marred my chances of getting high scores in pub ad.
In 2009, I went to Pavan sir at Sriram’s. I didn’t attend the classes as content is not that difficult to find in pub ad. What was required was the right orientation and approach.
I blindly followed his advice and assessment of my answers.
(again copy-pasted from psychology as it remains the same)
It is a key element of scoring marks in the optionals. For the same content, person A might score 30 whereas person B might score 35. The right way of presentation of an answer is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
I totally neglected this aspect at my own peril in my 1st two attempts. Thinking that it was all about knowledge and content rather than presentation, as it was the UPSC exam and not some school test, I did not focus on some key elements of an answer.
1. Underlining: it is very important as the examiner can have a look at all the key words straight away and save effort and time. Always underline with the pen as you write as there isn’t enough time for pencil,etc
2. Key words: they should be written straightaway in the answer and hence no need to think of introduction, body, conclusion, etc during the paper.
3. Diagrams: always try to draw a diagram in every question. Do it freehand and with a pencil. No need to use scale, etc. as there isn’t enough time in the exam. If still running short on time, draw it with the pen. No problem.
Also, try to modify the standard diagram in the book so that it looks different.
4. Graphs/flowcharts: topics such as reforms and budgeting can be explained very effectively through flowcharts. Graphs can be used to explain topics such as PSU autonomy and control. Network diagrams can be drawn for CPM and PERT.
5. Language: Use simple language. Do not show your vocabulary. Whenever using jargons, explain in one line immediately. It has to be assumed that the examiner doesn’t know anything about pub ad.
6. Examples: never give the standard example in the book.
7. Answers can be written in points if you have enough content and time and word limit constraints matter.
I felt the Pub Ad paper 2 this year was like a GS paper 3.
Wrote almost every answer in points.
Use your General Studies knowledge in public administration.
For example, when writing on police reforms, do not merely give recommendations of National Police Commission (1977). Instead using factual info from papers such as ratio of policemen in India is 125 for 100,000 population. UN specifies the optimal ratio at 250. Countries such as USA, Australia, Singapore, etc have this much…
On an average, a policeman undergoes training once in 18 years. This much is required for infrastructure…INSAS rifles cannot be effective against weapons such as AK 47. Average bandobast hours for a policeman/ week is…
All this I read in the newspapers and wrote in pub ad answers.
This will be possible only when newspaper reading is done regularly and REVISION of cuttings before the paper is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
Do not focus on one point. Writing 10 points in 2 lines each is better than writing just 5 points, 4 lines each.
I took guidance from Pavan Sir at Sriram’s and wrote answers for pub ad every week. The 10% of my preparation time which was invested for pub ad was mostly used for answer-writing. Most of the content was already gained during newspaper reading.