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Public administration is one of the common optional in the UPSC civil services exam for any aspirants. Irrespective of the academic background, any student can attempt for mains for the Public administration exam. Because, self-interest is the prime motive for choosing not just public administration, but also for any optional subject. Each Public administration paper consists of 250 marks. The duration for each Public administration mains paper is 3 hours.

UPSC Public Administration Syllabus PDF [Download]

How to approach Public Administration?

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 how it works, which would be easy for a UPSC aspirant who a good learner with a general knowledge. It is often advised that while preparing for the exam, students must keep the UPSC mains public administration syllabus to check the progress.

How to prepare for Public Administration?

Any student should be thorough with the fundamental concepts, theories, and principles. Without proper clarity, one cannot get good score in this exam. While studying students must take notes on not just specific but also on every topic which they read. It is advised to take notes after 4 to 5 reading. Later on, they can combine the topics together accordingly. Like mixing he chapters like civil service and geography, environment. If the topics are interlinked and some or in another way it will help them especially during revision. It will give overall idea about the entire subject with each topic. Daily two-three hours reading and studying is a must for any student.

Many education experts, recommend aspirants to take test series. The test series for Public administration will help them to gain new knowledge and expand their analyzing skill etc. Besides, it will also help them to adapt and manage the time also. Finally, aspirants must study previous year question paper which are the best sources for UPSC exam preparation. Candidates are advised to solve at least past five years UPSC question paper.

Here is a detailed syllabus of UPSC – Public administration mains exam.


Administrative Theory

1.  Introduction: 

  1. Meaning, scope and significance of Public Administration;
  2. Wilson’s vision of Public Administration;
  3. Evolution of the discipline and its present status;
  4. New Public Administration;
  5. Public Choice approach;
  6. Challenges of liberalization, Privatization , Globalisation;
  7. Good Governance: concept and application;
  8. New Public Management.

2. Administrative Thought:

  1. Scientific Management and Scientific Management movement;   Part 2          
  2. Classical Theory;
  3. Weber’s bureaucratic model – its critique and post-Weberian Developments;
  4. Dynamic Administration (Mary Parker Follett);
  5. Human Relations School (Elton Mayo and others);
  6. Functions of the Executive (C.I. Barnard);
  7. Simon’s decision-making theory;
  8. Participative Management (R. Likert, C. Argyris, D. McGregor).

3. Administrative Behaviour:

  1. Process and techniques of decision-making;
  2. Communication;
  3. Morale;
  4. Motivation Theories – content, process and contemporary;
  5. Theories of Leadership: Traditional and Modern.

4. Organisations:

  1. Theories – systems, contingency;
  2. Structure and forms:
  3. Ministries and Departments, Corporations, Companies, Boards and Commissions;
  4. Ad hoc and advisory bodies;
  5. Headquarters and Field relationships;
  6. Regulatory Authorities;
  7. Public – Private Partnerships.

5. Accountability and control:

  1. Concepts of accountability and control;
  2. Legislative, Executive and Judicial control over administration;
  3. Citizen and Administration;
  4. Role of media, interest groups, voluntary organizations;
  5. Civil society;
  6. Citizen’s Charters;
  7. Right to Information;
  8. Social audit.

4.Administrative Law:

  1. Meaning, scope and significance;
  2. Dicey on Administrative law;
  3. Delegated legislation;
  4. Administrative Tribunals.

7. Comparative Public Administration:

  1. Historical and sociological factors affecting administrative systems;
  2. Administration and politics in different countries;
  3. Current status of Comparative Public Administration;
  4. Ecology and administration;
  5. Riggsian models and their critique.

8.Development Dynamics:

  1. Concept of development;
  2. Changing profile of development administration;
  3. ‘Anti Development thesis’;
  4. Bureaucracy and development;
  5. Strong state versus the market debate;
  6. Impact of liberalization on administration in developing countries;
  7. Women and development – the self-help group movement.

9.Personnel Administration:

  1. Importance of human resource development;
  2. Recruitment,
  3. training,
  4. career advancement,
  5. position classification,
  6. discipline,
  7. performance appraisal,
  8. promotion,
  9. pay and service conditions;
  10. employer-employee relations,
  11. grievance redressal mechanism;
  12. Code of conduct;
  13. Administrative ethics.

10. Public Policy:

  1. Models of policy-making and their critique;
  2. Processes of conceptualization, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review and their limitations;
  3. State theories and public policy formulation.

11. Techniques of Administrative Improvement:

  1. Organisation and methods, Work study and work management;
  2. E-governance and information technology;
  3. Management aid tools like network analysis, MIS, PERT, CPM.

12. Financial Administration:

  1. Monetary and fiscal policies;
  2. Public borrowings and public debt Budgets – types and forms;
  3. Budgetary process;
  4. Financial accountability;
  5. Accounts and audit.


Indian Administration

1. Evolution of Indian Administration:

  1. Kautilya’s Arthashastra;
  2. Mughal administration;
  3. Legacy of British rule in politics and administration – Indianization of public services, revenue administration, district administration, local self-government.

2. Philosophical and Constitutional framework of government:

  1. Salient features and value premises;
  2. Constitutionalism;
  3. Political culture;
  4. Bureaucracy and democracy;
  5. Bureaucracy and development.

3. Public Sector Undertakings:

  1. Public sector in modern India;
  2. Forms of Public Sector Undertakings;
  3. Problems of autonomy, accountability and control;
  4. Impact of liberalization and privatization.

4. Union Government and Administration:

  1. Executive, Parliament, Judiciary – structure, functions, work processes;
  2. Recent trends;
  3. Intergovernmental relations;
  4. Cabinet Secretariat;
  5. Prime Minister’s Office;
  6. Central Secretariat;
  7. Ministries and Departments;
  8. Boards;
  9. Commissions;
  10. Attached offices;
  11. Field organizations.

5. Plans and Priorities:

  1. Machinery of planning;
  2. Role, composition and functions of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council;
  3. ‘Indicative’ planning;
  4. Process of plan formulation at Union and State levels;
  5. Constitutional Amendments (1992) and decentralized planning for economic development and social justice.

6. State Government and Administration:

  1. Union-State administrative, legislative and financial relations;
  2. Role of the Finance Commission;
  3. Governor;
  4. Chief Minister;
  5. Council of Ministers;
  6. Chief Secretary;
  7. State Secretariat;

7. District Administration since Independence:

  1. Changing role of the Collector;
  2. Union state-local relations;
  3. Imperatives of development management and law and order administration;
  4. District administration and democratic decentralization.

8. Civil Services:

  1. Constitutional position;
  2. Structure, recruitment, training and capacity-building; Good governance initiatives;
  3. Code of conduct and discipline;
  4. Staff associations;
  5. Political rights;
  6. Grievance redressal mechanism;
  7. Civil service neutrality;
  8. Civil service activism.

9. Financial Management:

  1. Budget as a political instrument;
  2. Parliamentary control of public expenditure;
  3. Role of finance ministry in monetary and fiscal area;
  4. Accounting techniques;
  5. Audit;
  6. Role of Controller General of Accounts and Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

10. Administrative Reforms since Independence:

  1. Major concerns;
  2. Important Committees and Commissions;
  3. Reforms in financial management and human resource development;
  4. Problems of implementation.

11. Rural Development:

  1. Institutions and agencies since independence;
  2. Rural development programmes: foci and strategies;
  3. Decentralization and Panchayati Raj;
  4. 73rd Constitutional amendment.

12. Urban Local Government:

  1. Municipal governance: main features, structures, finance and problem areas;
  2. 74th Constitutional Amendment;
  3. Global local debate;
  4. New localism;
  5. Development dynamics, politics and administration with special reference to city management.

13. Law and Order Administration:

  1. British legacy;
  2. National Police Commission;
  3. Investigative agencies;
  4. Role of central and state agencies including paramilitary forces in maintenance of law and order and countering insurgency and terrorism;
  5. Criminalization of politics and administration;
  6. Police-public relations;
  7. Reforms in Police.

14. Significant issues in Indian Administration:

  1. Values in public service;
  2. Regulatory Commissions;
  3. National Human Rights Commission;
  4. Problems of administration in coalition regimes;
  5. Citizen-administration interface;
  6. Corruption and administration;
  7. Disaster management.