Given the time constraint, a well-thought out strategy makes the difference between success and failure. Intensive and focused approach built on analysis needs to be scrupulously adhered to. Some ingredients of a 'smart strategy' are:
-Building a general overview
-Conceptual Understanding of the subject matter.
-Perusal of question papers of previous years.
-Identification of 'thrust areas' for concentrated pursuit.
-Adequate writing practice for time management and evolving right content.
-Continuous review of performance and appropriate corrections.
Though the current trend of Public Administration suggests that the preparation for prelims should be grounded in a mains-focused approach, the strategy of preparing for Prelims and Mains is markedly different.
Strategy for Prelims:
1. Conceptual Understanding of the subject is a must. Study from standard textbooks to get a grip on the subject matter. Superficial reading won’t help.
2. Public Administration by Laxmikanth is the most important textbook for Prelims. Finish it thoroughly.
3. Read and understand all the concepts thoroughly word by word because, public administration is a game of words. Sometimes questions are asked from the very technicality of the words.
4. Try to go through all the current affairs facts related to Public Administration. For e.g. Pay Commission Reports, Finance Commission Reports, RTI etc.
5. Supplement this knowledge with a few books like Public Administration and Public Affairs by Nicholas Henry; New Horizons of public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya and Indian Administration by Arora/Goel.
6. Practice Mock tests regularly for all units and also at least one Full Length Test.
Strategy for Mains:
Every candidate appearing for the mains examination should be conversant with the fundamentals of the structure, process, behaviour and environment of the administrative system. It's equally important that the student should be conversant with contemporary and the current developments of socio-political and economic nature that have a close bearing on the functioning of the administration. For example, changing governors, direct grants to panchayats, economic reforms with a human face; globalization and administration, second-generation reforms and the social infrastructure, right to information and participative development.
1. First of all you have to thoroughly analyze the syllabus and the previous years question papers. Then, it will be easy to understand what is actually expected from you.
2. Study basic study material like Sharma Sadana, Arora Goel, Avasthi Maheshwari etc. Supplement it with IIPA journals, Internet etc.
3. While studying the subject, understand it well. Don’t just gloss over it. Secondly, try to feel what you are reading inside. This helps reproducing answers from your subconscious mind during the exam.
4. Amassing information is a big ” DON’T ”. You should be able to identify 'core areas' which cannot be avoided in the context of the mains examination and consolidate. Most importantly, study and writing practice should reinforce each other.
5. Read a magazine like Frontline, Yojana, Kurukshetra and keep a tab on what’s happening around you. You have to anyway do it for GS. Just try to note what is happening in Public Administration specially.
6. Make synoptic notes for all the topics. These help in final revision. One can recall points for a certain topic easily when writing the exam.
7. Writing practice holds the key to success. It ensures legibility, time management and adherence to word limit. Effective introduction, logical build up and balanced conclusion send the right signals to the evaluator. Every question needs to be studied carefully to understand the exact requirements.
8. Several times, the questions are general in nature and not direct. For example, criminalization of politics and politicization of crime; public sector enterprises are neither public nor enterprises; recruitment of recruiters needs to be streamlined and planning in India needs to be depoliticized.
9. For short questions, answers should be direct and precise. In a long essay, introduction should be appealing and effective. Elaboration of the theme should be properly prioritized. Sequencing should be done in such a manner that one paragraph logically follows from another.
10. Depending upon the paper I or II, apt illustrations add value. While answering a question on welfare administration, the concept of welfare needs to be supplemented with the initiatives undertaken by the government highlighting the different types of programmes, the coverage and the resource profile. Unlike general studies, public administration requires interpretative skills, ability to correlate theory and practice; and synchronize conventional with the current. For example, presidential activism in India; budget as an instrument of socioeconomic transformation; citizen-administration interface and e-governance; regulation and development; development and delivery models.
11. Concentrate on the newly emerging and sensitive topics like:
Criminalization of politics
Politicization of administration
Panchayati Raj Institutions and their empowerment
Urban Local Govt.