Approach to Public Administration Optional Subject for UPSC CSE
(Foundation Level)
In this post, I will share my experiences about the study of Public Administration (PA). 
Public Administration is divided into two Papers: Paper-1: Administrative Theory which forms the theoretical base for Paper-2: Indian Administration.
Prerequisites: Read the syllabus thoroughly and go through previous years’  question papers. 

Busting the myths around Public Administration optional:  
Myth-1: Public administration is no longer scoring: This was true in 2012 or 2013. Not any longer. In 2019,there are at-least 5  rank- holders in top 100 rank-holders.

Myth-2: Coaching is necessary: If you follow the right booklist, there is no need to go for coaching.  

Book-List for Public Administration for 2021 and 2022
In Public Administration optional, there is no dearth of information. Aspirants will have access to all kinds of coaching notes, books and journals. One must be careful not to waste time in covering everything from all the sources. Be very choosy about what sources you refer to and then stick to them even if your friends or toppers refer different sources. Go through your short-listed material again and again and try to reduce everything to notes so that it becomes easier to revise.

Some standard books for Public Administration are-
•    Awasthi and Maheshwari- Public Administration
•    Prasad and Prasad – Administrative Thinkers
•    Ramesh Arora – Indian Administration
•    Mohit Bhattacharya – New Horizons in Public Administration.
•    Maheshwari – Indian Administration
•    IGNOU books.
•    Fadia and Fadia for Paper-1 and 2
•    Sharma and Sadana

JV’s Advice:
[i]There is no need to read all the books from cover to cover. Prepare topic wise in a comprehensive manner. 
[ii]Use examples, contemporary relevance, case studies etc. Read case studies from The Hindu, Frontline, Kurukshetra and Yojana. 
[iii] Try to memorize all that you have studied so that you are able to recall the crucial points at the right time. Do this by reading my notes and underline portions
      in the /notes again and again.
[iv]Finally, to gain confidence, write answers to as many questions as you can.

•    Booklist for Public Administration Paper-1
1.    Introduction:
This Chapter is very important. Read topics from class notes, Fadia and Fadia-1, and Mohit Bhattacharya. Also refer to IGNOU notes for this topic. The information from this topic can be used in answering questions of other units as well. This is a very scoring area.
2. Administrative Thought:
You must know the theories of various scholars very well. Try to go in as much detail as you can but do not go into unnecessary details. Writing some details (but not all details) gives a unique touch to your answers. Read from Prasad and Prasad. This is also a very scoring area.
3.  Administrative Behaviour:
For this chapter, refer to the book Sharma and Sadana. It is a very good source of information. You may want to make your own notes though this depends from person to person.
4.  Organisation:
This is a relatively small chapter which can be studied from any standard book or from the printed material of any coaching class.
5.   Accountability and Control:
Questions from this chapter are being asked lately as it is relevant in the current context. Apart from your notes, you can go through Sharma and Sadana, printed material and Yojana and Kurukshetra articles. There is a lot of scope of innovation in this topic in the sense that you will often be able to correlate it to news items/editorials in the news papers and you will also find many case studies. If questions come from this area there is ample scope for you to give some unique points that may not be found in most of the answer scripts.
6.  Administrative Law:
For this Chapter, you can refer to Sharma and Sadana and newspapers. It is a very scoring area. Information may also be pooled in from Awasthi and Maheshwari and GS Polity notes. Just like for the previous Unit, if questions come from this area there is ample scope for you to give some unique points that may not be found in most of the answer scripts.
7. Comparative Public Administration:
For this topic, it is good to refer to class notes OR Ramesh Arora (no need to do both). Since the book is short, one can read the entire book and underline relevant portions. If you are able to get a grip over the content in this book or your class notes, you will be able to answer any question for CPA.
8. Development Dynamics:
This is a very important Chapter even though questions may not be asked every year but material from this chapter can be used in other topics too. Also, since many books were written in early 2000 or late 90s, you will have to make use of your knowledge from GS, newspapers and Yojana/Frontline/IJPA articles for this topic. The book by Mohit Bhattacharya titled- Social Theory & Development Administration is helpful.
9.  Personnel Administration:
For this chapter, read from two books- Sharma and Sadana and Fadia and Fadia. This is an important chapter since questions are being asked in the past 2-3 years from this area. Practice writing answers and correlate this chapter with the Civil Services Chapter of Paper-II. Study both these Chapters together comprehensively. Make sure to quote second ARC recommendations and reports of other relevant committees as and when appropriate.
10.  Public Policy:
For this chapter, IGNOU notes are a very good source apart from class notes. Questions are not asked regularly but students must focus on Policy Implementation and Policy Evaluation. Also keep an eye out in news papers and magazines for latest information in this topic.
11.  Techniques of Administrative Improvement:
This is a small chapter and may be studied from printed material and Internet. There is a lot of scope of giving unique points in this chapter.
12.  Financial Administration:
This is a very important chapter and students must study it thoroughly. I referred class notes and Sharma and Sadana for this unit. Study this chapter along with Financial Management of Paper-II comprehensively as a single unit.
I will upload the strategy for Public Paper-2 soon.

All the Best for your Exam.
Jatin Verma
Founder, JV’s IAS