Public Administration is by far the most popular optional for IAS Mains and, naturally, has the highest share of successful candidates among all optionals. One of the reasons for its popularity is relatively limited and well-defined syllabus. Correspondingly the books required are also quite limited, more so for paper 2. So which books should you refer for Public Administration? Only five. Let’s find out which five.
1. Public Administration by Laxmikanth
If you’re new to Public Administration I highly recommend you first go through M. Laxmikanth’s Public Administration. This book introduces the basic concepts and theories in a very simple and engaging manner. Many IAS aspirants directly jump to Mohit Bhattacharya’s New Horizons in Public Administration with the result they end up giving up the subject altogether or get the impression that Pub Ad is not their cup of tea.
Public Administration has been divided into twelve chapters which provide a great deal of information on each topic like Financial Administration, Theories of Administration among others. A must-read book for grasping the fundamentals of Public Administration.
2. New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya
After going through Public Administration by Laxmikanth, you should then dive into New Horizons of Public Administration, an indispensable book written by Mohit Bhattacharya, a renowned Public Administration scholar, and writer.
This book covers the entire Paper 1 syllabus in different degrees. The chapters where it really shines are Bureaucratic Theory, Public Policies, Development Administration, and Decision Making. These are Bhattacharya’s forte and he has explained these topics really well in his own unique style.
Speaking of style, the language in New Horizons public administration book might seem a little too difficult to grasp at first but when you have read and re-read the book 2 or 3 times (Yes you have to), you’ll actually enjoy its contents. A must-read book for public administration.
3. Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad
Administrative Thought is probably the most important topic in Paper 1 of Public Administration and you can expect at least two long questions from the Administrative Thought topic every year and the best book to refer for this all-important topic is Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad.
It covers all the thinkers like Elton Mayo, Max Weber, Henry Simon etc in the new syllabus including Kautilya for Paper 2. Although quite a slim book it contains a wealth of information. Administrative Thinkers is a must-read book for Paper 1 of Public Administration.
Personnel Administration Notes of IGNOU
I could’ve listed a book here but why read more when you can make do with less and more effective material? Personnel Administration is a very important chapter from Mains point of view and one question is always asked from it. The IGNOU Pub Ad notes cover this topic quite well. Don’t read all the four volumes, just get this chapter somehow and you’re done.
4. Indian Public Administration by Arora and Goyal
If there’s one book I’ll recommend for Paper 2, it’s Indian Administration by Fadia and Fadia. An excellent book that covered almost 90 percent of old syllabus single-handedly, it still covers about 70-75 percent of the new Public Administration paper 2 syllabus.
The book explains all chapters really well including the Indian polity part and British administration, Mughal era and Kautilya’s theory. The book has been recently updated to reflect the current developments in Indian public administration.
In fact, you should read Indian Administration at least three times to really score well in Paper 2. Such is its significance.
5. Governance in India by Laxmikanth
The final book for Public Administration I will recommend is Governance in India by M Karthikeyan. This book nicely complements Indian Administration by Arora and Goyal recommended earlier. Apart from covering Central, State and District Administration in detail, this book also covers Finance and Personnel Administration topics which are listed in the syllabus for Paper 1. So with Governance in India, the final recommended book, the entire Public Administration syllabus is covered in detail.
Note: This is a must-read book for General Studies Mains Paper 2 as well.
Indian Journal of Public Administration (IJPA) contains many important articles on Indian Public Administration that you can readily use as case studies for Paper 1 and Paper 2 in the exam. IJPA is an indispensable resource for IAS Aspirants and if you have opted for Public Administration then please make sure you go through IJPA articles regularly. A must read to acquaint oneself with the latest developments in Public Administration theory and practice.
Notes and Newspapers
For the new topics that have been added you should refer to the coaching notes I mentioned above as well as read a good newspaper like Indian Express as it covers administrative news items on a regular basis and Pub Ad requires supporting real life instances, particularly Paper 2. Newspaper reading is thus indispensable.
Quite frankly the above-mentioned books and notes are adequate to cover the Public Administration paper 1 and paper 2 syllabus but if there is any new book that opens a new dimension or explains some topics in a better manner, please feel to share them in the comments below.