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How To Prepare Public Administration Optional for UPSC

  • Categories
    Optional Subjects
  • Published
    16th Jun, 2021

The last few years of UPSC results have revealed that one optional that has made rapid strides in producing toppers in the UPSC exam is Public Administration. Glancing over the last few years toppers we will find one out of ten with Public Administration as an optional in UPSC mains exam. The reason behind such a huge upsurge in choosing this optional is perhaps its small and easy-to-cover UPSC syllabus and its overlapping with the General Studies up to a large extent. Besides this, there is an abundance of study material available online as well as offline for the subject that further makes this subject more popular among the aspirants. But there is a dark side too regarding this optional. Owing to fierce competition the students often fall prey to conventional approach that cost them nominal marks. Lacking a crystal clear strategy and to the point approach, students write conventional answers thus fetching low marks in the optional.



It is important to thoroughly scan the UPSC syllabus of Public Administration optional before getting into actual preparation. It is quite essential to know the contours of preparation before diving into the exam process. The UPSC syllabus is short as compared to other optional subjects. But this often poses various issues before the aspirants due to unawareness and ignorance.

The public administration first paper syllabus is mostly about the theories of administration. The public administration paper-II syllabus mostly consists of the Indian administration and its function.

To know about the detailed syllabus Click Here:

Books and Resources

As far as the Public Administration optional is concerned there is no dearth of study material and resources, be it online or offline. Amid this scenario, it becomes a tough job to find the right study material and online stuff to rely upon. Few basic books can’t be ignored or skipped away but when it comes to specialized books or content it is a wild goose chase. After thorough research and study, we are putting forward a list of online and offline resources that can be fruitful during preparation.



  1. S. Polinaidu - Basic Administrative Understanding, Topics like Development Administration.
  2. IGNOU BA-PROGRAM - Cover the entire booklets, and verify with the syllabus, especially theories, CPA, Personnel.
  3. Mohit Bhattacharya - 4 Books
    • New Horizons - For Advanced Learning, Analysis and Typical Topics like NPM, Administrative Behavior, Techniques of Admin Improvement, Post Modernism, Gender Perspectives.
    • Restructuring PA - Blacksburg Manifesto, Evolution of PA, New Concepts And Approaches, Dynamics In Theory Building.
    • Social Theory And Development-Lots Of The Oretical Input For Paper2, Decentralization Debates, Present Status Of PA, Globalization, Neolocalism, Civil society, Post-Developmentalism.
    • New Perspectives-Useful For Current Perspectives, Comparison Of NPA 1,2,3..., Wison's Dichotomy, Weberian And Post Weberian Developments.
  4. Nicholas Henry - Evolution Of PA, Paradigms Of PA, Financial Admn -Budgeting Models, Public Policy Models, Intergovernmental Relations-Mostly With Respect To American Administration, But Relevant For Paper1-PART-A.
  5. RK Arora-CPA (Comparative Public Admin), Ecological Perspective Of Riggs.
  6. Prasad & Prasad - Organizational Theories, Especially The Preface, Waldo, Peter Drucker, Mcgregor, Especially Criticisms Of Scholars.
  7. Sapru - Administrative Theories-Must Read For Better Understanding Of Theories, Also Topics Like Wison, PCT, CPA, New CPA, Globalization Etc.
  8. IGNOU-MPA - (MASTERS OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION, BOOKLET NO. 12 AND 15 i.e. Theories and Public Policy.
  9. Wikipedia, internet papers-for Administrative law, Techniques, Financial policies, Regulatory mechanisms, etc.
  10. Glen Stahl-Personnel Management(optional)**


  1. Arora Goyal-Indian Administration, or Sharma-Sadanah - Public Administration in Theory and Practice
  2. Fadia & Fadia- Public Administration (for static topics)
  3. M Laxmikanth-Indian Polity
  4. M Laxmikanth-Governance For Institutions And Regulatory Mechanisms Only
  5. Uma kapila - Understanding Basic Financial Admn, PSU, Economic Policies And Liberalzation, Planning, Failure Of Economic Policies, Disinvestment Etc.
  6. 2nd ARC- All The Reports Especially Related To Syllabus Like-Civil Services Reforms, Role Of District Collector, District Administration, Law And Order, Disaster Management, Structure Of Govt Of India, Local Governance-Issues, Problems And Solutions, Police And Criminal Justice System, Role Of Paramilitary And CPO, Internal Order Etc.
  7. Punchchi Commission Report - Federal Relations, Role of Governor, Internal Security, Local Governance (recommendations will do}
  8. Latest Pay Commission And Law Commission Reports
  9. IIPA (Indian institute of public administration) Journals Curated Articles, Case Studies, Global Practices.
  10. NITI Aayog Reports
  11. Websites-PRS Legislative Research For Policies, UNPAN (United nations public admin network) For Comparative Studies And Best Practices Across The Globe, CGG-Centre For Good Governance For Case Studies On Administrative Innovations, Dopt (Department Of Personnel And Training)-For Latest Updates On Personnel Policies, E-Governance Initiatives, Case Studies.
  12. Yojana, Down to Earth, Frontline can be added for current issues** will help in GS as well.




Strategy For Public Administration

Public Administration is optional that is having maximum overlapping with GS Paper. Apart from this paper has a very high affinity among students from technical and science backgrounds. The previous year results have shown remarkable success with this optional. However, the strategy plays a vital role during the preparation of this optional. Regular answer writing practice is the key to rectify mistakes and regular updating yourself with the current affairs can be also make difference and fetch you good marks. Do not write general answers as you write in GS. They should be ‘Pub Ad’ answers. Use administrative terminology from the subject; quote thinkers and theories in your answer; and explore the issue on administrative lines.

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

We will suggest a different strategy for paper 1 and paper 2.


Strategy For Public Administration Paper 1

Public Administration Paper I is mostly static due to the abundance of theories and concepts. While studying this paper one needs to understand the concepts in depth and clarity to write a balanced and structured answer. It is important however to write an answer using contemporary examples to make your answer more live and vibrant. While making notes it is advised to follow standard books that deal with the subject in the simplest manner. It is important to add value to your studies so avoid any such book or coaching notes that have been written for the completion of the syllabus only. This will give you stuff but will make you devoid of conceptual clarity and analytical ability. The UPSC previous year's papers should not be left behind or skipped at any cost as they will help you to assess the nature and pattern of the paper. These papers can also be used as a tool for your self-assessment.


Strategy For Public Administration Paper 2

Most of the UPSC aspirants commit a mistake while preparing for paper 2 that they do not establish an interlinking of both the papers. Paper 2 is about the practical aspect related to administration of India. It is important to use the concept and theories learned in Public administration paper 1 while writing answers for the Public Administration paper 2. Paper 2 questions are often linked to General Studies questions and covers Public Administration in contemporary times that require you to be analytical in your approach. It is important to get yourself updated with the current issues and happenings around the nation that will let you to perceive things in different dimensions. Newspaper reading can also be beneficial as the editorials will open the horizon of your thought process and enable you to apply wider dimensions of issues. You should have the ability to interlink the articles and news with different theories and concepts so that your answer becomes different from others. Try to develop answer writing practice on daily basis without any break. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of 2nd ARC report and a slew of other reports that can be directly quoted in the answers for paper 2 as well as in paper 1.

 It is important to know that UPSC is not looking for research scholars in Public Administration. The only thing is that one should only be able to produce the concept clearly on paper and should have the ability to take a fair stand on issues after analyzing and giving evidence to justify your answer from both sides.


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


Verifying, please be patient.

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