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Is Public Administration as an optional Subject making a comeback?

Choosing the right optional subject is a big challenge and to put in plain words the process for optional subject selection requires a rational decision.

While momentum is gathering pace to opt one of the subject studied earlier as optional subject; still, majority of candidates put up a strategic move and pick a popular subject by making cross-domain shift.

As the trend suggest, among the most popular optional subjects available for Civil Services (Main) Examination, Public Administration is once again showing signs of revival of interest among candidates and if thing turn in favour, Public Administration is all set to regain the lost glory.


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Before I begin, I would like to talk about an article I did in December 2011 about the most popular optional subject Public Administration as it was ruling the chart and at that time I wrote and suggested candidates to look beyond Public Administration when choosing the optional subject for Civil Services (Main) Examination. This article was aimed at candidates appearing in CSE 2013 and beyond as changes for Main Examination were expected.

Also Read: People say Public Administration is the safest optional subject for success in Civil Services Examination. Is it so?

It was the time when people started saying Public Administration is indispensible and subject of the future, and high number of achievements made it a craze. Candidates without knowledge and having a maladaptive approach started choosing it as a synonym for success in Civil Services Examination.

As a result what happened in following years to Public Administration, the subject that dominated the mind space and delivered consistent result, is unbelievable.

It witnessed really severe thrashing and some two-digit scores and very low marks made things really tough for candidates opting Public Administration as optional subject.

Public Administration as an Optional Subject

It is a very good subject and very interesting as well; and I maintain, it is one of the most suitable optional subjects available for Civil Services (Main) Examination.

When I had put pen to paper for that piece of writing, it was my gut-feeling and sort of exuberance for Public Administration was being witnessed that forced me to suggest something of that sort.

The most unfortunate part was candidates started opting for Public Administration without understanding the nature of the subject and its specific demands.

It is a dynamic subject and touches lots of evolving issues that makes it necessary to remain abreast with the latest. So is the demand for General Studies papers and that should not be a major problem for candidates showing faith in Public Administration.

When it comes to right resource, study material and level of support (guidance) Public Administration is one optional subject with these in abundance.

After all, a few years’ back, it used to be the most popular optional subject.

In last four-five years, most of vague choices made by candidates vaporized and as a stroke of luck pendulum tilted in favour of Geography and soon it became the most popular optional subject. However, such candidates showing faith in Geography made the similar mistake that candidates did while picking Public Administration.

As a result, in recent years Geography is witnessing distress and many a candidates have felt the brunt of it and have suffered a lot.

Signs of revival of interest in Public Administration

Once again, as I do data mincing regularly and sit to analyze the subject trends, I feel the time has come when Public Administration as an optional subject deserves a relook.

The way things are turning; I feel now candidates showing faith in Public Administration understand the subject requirements and are able to connect the dots.

While the performance of Public Administration in CSE 2015 from the data emerging from recently released 67th Annual Report of UPSC gives me a little courage; chat with successful candidates in CSE 2016 and CSE 2017 impart some confidence to bring my neck out and say that probably bad days for Public Administration are over and the subject can come back on radar of many serious candidates who plan their endeavor strategically.

Also Read: Top 10 Most Popular Optional Subjects in Civil Services Examination 2015 (Highest Success-Rate)

When it comes to help it renders in General Studies preparation; it don’t necessitate elaborating on this theme as there are many topics and areas that have overlap with General Studies syllabus.

I am eagerly waiting to see what’s in stored for Public Administration in CSE 2018 results.

I hope my gut-feel once again prove me right and candidates picking Public Administration regain their lost confidence and it recaptures the merit and once again becomes the most popular optional subject.

It is my personal opinion and before saying say to Public Administration or any other optional subject for the purpose; first, it should fascinate you and next, you should understand subject’s specific requirements.

In the beginning itself, you should undertake self-assessment to see if you have any interest in the subject you shortlist and by looking at the syllabus and previous years’ question papers are you ready to put in required intensity of efforts to uplift your level of preparation that matches the examiners’ expectations.

Last Update Tuesday 2nd April 2019     

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