How to Prepare Public Administration Optional for UPSC Mains: Target IAS 2018 and Beyond

Public Administration is one such subject that everyone needs to know. And they will know sooner or later, in various capacities. For the exam, it is not to be treated as a scholarly study.

Most of the paper should be dealt with fundamentals of the theories and other concepts postulated by the thinkers of the subject. It will be a joke but the real fact is that the subject is still under ‘development’ and it will be this way for some few more decades to come.


This subject was taken by the maximum aspirants as an optional so far. It will be tough to predict if that still holds in the new pattern, nevertheless the subject will stay as one of the favorites.



Going into the details, the first paper introduces the theoretical concepts that make the subject what it is now. Hence a full haul of all the theories and the thinkers behind them is the best starting point. For this, Prasad and Prasad would be the best possible book.

Recently many more theories and contemporary thinkers are being asked in the questions, implying that it is very important to stay up-to-date with the subject. There won’t be as much information available online as per these updates yet one can bet on Internet for some very useful info on contemporary inputs on the subject.



The first paper also contains many other legacy concepts of public administration all of them would have to be thoroughly understood. Go through the old papers to get an idea what kind of questions are being asked. As soon as you finish a topic/theory, try to answer questions from that area. That’s how one know where he stands with regard to his understanding of the subject.


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.


Some of the books mentioned below are only for reference or selective reading (like, Nicolas Henry). As suggested above, start with Prasad and Prasad and IGNOU notes. They would give a good start with the subject. Mohit Bhattacharya books provides the depth to all the topics.


Suggested Readings:

 Prasad & Prasad and IGNOU Notes (for the start)

 Rumaki Basu

 Mohit Bhattacharya

 Fadia and Fadia (for complete coverage of syllabus)

 Nicholas Henry (for second round of study)

 Ignou notes

 Rajini Goyal and Arora

 Second ARC Reports

 IJPA Journals (for selected topics)



 Search some articles written by thinkers lie Simon, Waldo, Dror and others on net and JSTOR

 All other committee/commission reports (including the recent ones)

 ‘Splendor in the Grass: Innovations in Administration’ (sixteen cases on Public Administration by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India)



There are some good material available from some of the reputed faculty, in the market. One can always go for them (Like, Bhawani Singh notes, Sunil Gupta’s Notes, Sadana, Vajiram etc.).

Read the notes for a day or two and then decide whether you can take it up for your preparation. Do not just go blindly on suggestions from others (including from us) without you being thoroughly convinced by that.


Remember that most of the aspirants opt for Pub Ad so you must make your answer unique by giving examples from current affairs, case studies and government schemes or some charts. And for that, the only way is to practice answer writing.

Write all kinds of answers (long, short, medium etc. with trying to confine under the word limits) and get them evaluated either by seniors, friends or faculty.



In this optional, there is no dearth of information. Aspirants will have access to all kinds of coaching notes, books and other publications. One must be careful not to waste time in covering everything.


Rumaki Basu – The book is very precise and gives wholesome picture of the entire paper I barring some topics. Good thing about this book is that, after reading the entire book, we get a general picture of all the things and in a crunch situation we can write at least something about almost all the topics.


ARC Reports – At least go through summaries of all the reports and a detailed study on Ethics, Law and Order, District Administration as all this supplements in Paper II wherein we face crunch of relevant material. This is essential for GS and Essay as well.


Read minimum books and use your General Studies knowledge in pub ad. It is not possible to know each and everything on a given topic. You can only remember limited number of facts and events. So it is better to focus on a few things and go through them thoroughly and change the wordings/ presentation according to the question but state the facts that you know.


You have to link both paper 1 and 2. Also while preparing u can try to relate the topics beforehand. There are many topics such as financial administration which are in paper 1 as well as paper 2. You have to include facts about India always in both paper 1 and 2 answers.



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1 Comment

  1. Nice article, along with IAS preparation tips. You didnot only gave guidelines but also suggested books which would be helpful.

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