Rakesh had scored a magnificent 284 out of 500 in Public Administration, this year. He has been kind enough to share his strategy for Public Administration for the benefit of future aspirants and I thank him on their behalf. Following is his strategy in his own words.
My basic profile
Name: RAKESH CHINTAGUMPULA
Rank: AIR 122, UPSC-2014
Education Qualification: B.Tech (EEE) from CBIT; M.A. (Public Administration), IGNOU
I had given 3 mains with Public Administration as optional scoring 330/600, 335/600 and 284/500 marks.
Paper I: 118
Paper II: 155.83
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Books/Materials/Guidance I followed during my preparation
- MK Mohanty sir’s class notes and I also attended his classes
*From here on I will refer Public Administration as PA
- Vajiram and Ravi PA notes of Rajesh Gupta sir and Kiran sir (I didn’t attend their classes though and I am referring to the old notes which have been very neatly written and compiled)
- Certain Insights on the subject by Rajesh Kankipati IAS sir, 2011 when he had taken one month long course in the approach to frame answers and linking concepts of P1 with P2.
- Sriram Sir’s guidance on current events and Indian polity topics which I used extensively in paper 2 of PA
- Public Administration and Public Affairs– Nicholas Henry (Selective reading of few chapters; Chapters 2, 3, 8, 10 are compulsory, Chapters 4, 6, 9 are optional)
- Essentials Of Organizational Behavior – Stephen Robbins (Selective reading of few chapters; Chapters 5,6,11 are compulsory, Chapters 4, 10, 14 are optional)
- IGNOU materials which I received when I enrolled for MA course in PA, I have done selective reading of the same.
- Public Administration by M. Laxmikanth, TMH Publications (This is the book I have been reading right from my first attempt, Infact in my first attempt I had given prelims with optional PA, that is when we had mastered the book word by word for prelims exam and it had helped me a lot in future course of prep)
Well, I also bought Prasad and Prasad, Mohit Bhattacharya, Poli Naidu, Subhash Kashyap- Our Political system, Indian Administration by Arora and Goyal, Fadia and Fadia etc but they were mere show pieces in my book collection. I sincerely suggest people to refrain from buying more and more books as I feel reading few books with good understanding is the key rather than reading more materials.
I am also attaching some pics of my answers during test series, in the end of this post.
My journey/strategy into world of CSE:
After quitting my job and reaching Delhi, I attended MK Mohanty sir’s classes at Synergy Academy, Delhi in 2010, and I had no knowledge of PA initially. I could not understand the concepts also thoroughly. Later on I felt the subject was very lame and simple. I referred to Prasad and Prasad while the classes were going on but felt the classes were more easy to understand and sir was covering all the points in the book, so there’s no need of reading the book again.
I also felt we could understand the concepts of PA if one has a real time experience in an organization , like how the hierarchy work, why it is important to have chain of command, use of IT/E-Gov in Organization or Administration etc. Here my work experience at Infosys Tech did help me.
I gave my first attempt just with sir’s class notes, mind you those were the times when PA, Psychology, PSIR were favored optionals and thus scoring was sort of liberal. and my score of 330 was not extraordinary I guess, but my paper 2 score of 175 was good I would say.
For Paper 1, I feel I never got extraordinary marks in my 3 mains papers (I got scores of 155/300, 156/300 and 105/250) and I believe one would succeed if he has strong theoretical knowledge and clarity in core concepts and strong grip on technical words and vocabulary necessary for using them liberally in the exam. Especially this year’s paper and 2012 papers were shockers for our PA civil service aspirants fraternity, and here I believe covering the ‘LEAKED SYLLABUS’ would be handy as many questions were asked from those topics.
For Paper 2, I would say right from my first attempt I was writing it like a GS paper and hence used all sorts of current events related to paper 2 topics liberally. Here I would like to mention, the conceptual clarity that Sriram Sir provided in Indian Polity, which in fact has almost everything overlapping with PA, did help me a lot. In recent pattern polity qs were themselves becoming dynamic like centre state relations, concepts of federalism, secularism, GOMs, E-GOMs etc and all this helped me in PA too.
The current events in paper 2 are a strong point in my prep as I would follow The Hindu religiously (I know it’s sort of critical always and leftist in a way but I had time constraint, so stuck to this one paper; though I would appreciate going through editorials of The Indian Express and The Economist). Right from day 1 of my prep in CSE, I almost never skipped reading Hindu, I would read, reflect, write short notes and revise it regularly for maximum retention and connection and link formation with various topics. This has helped me to use examples liberally in paper 2.
Few examples of such interlinking of theoretical and practical issues
- Chris Argyris concept of Maturity-Immaturity paradigm can be referred to in P2 when a minister asks a matured administrator to act in an immature way leading to dissonance and loss of initiative and efficiency in administration
- Concept of participative management used in Teacher-Parent committees in Sarva shiksha abhiyan/RTE and maintenance of Mid day meal scheme
- Antonio Gramsci concepts of Ideological hegemony or concepts like circulation of elite used in the functioning of PRI’s (Panchayat Raj Institutions) and their ineffectiveness, How a zilla parishad chairman despite being granted a cabinet minister rank is less valued than an MP/Member of Parliament
- CPA/Comparative Public Adm will lead to enrichment of PA by placing one’s nation in a cross-cultural setting and the need for paradigmatic shift from look east policy to link east policy etc
Like this there can be plethora of linkages, one needs to expand one’s horizon of thinking and experiment radically in presenting concepts of P2 linked to P1.
Another important thing that happened to me is that I started teaching Public Administration, Indian Polity and Current Affairs in an IAS Academy in Hyderabad after my second attempt for degree and post degree students wherein I gained immense conceptual clarity and thoroughness in my subjects. I would make it a point that I would not refer to any book or material throughout my lecture. I was adamant that I have to memorize everything before the class and give lecture unhindered and in this process I was the ultimate beneficiary.
Also I conducted many mock tests on preliminary based questions and mains based qs for my students, I evaluated their papers too and in this process, I started to observe from the mind of an examiner like what would one look while correcting a bunch of papers and what would their mindset be in awarding relative scores to the candidates. I found that an examiner would look for 3 things to stand out in an answer:
- Definite presence of the core points of an answer. Example: An answer on Fred Riggs should not miss concepts on Prismatic societies, formalism, heterogeneity etc.
- Some exemplary knowledge a student displays in the answer writing which gives an impression that she/he is well read and is better than the competition.
- Good flow of language, neat handwriting, diagrams, flow charts, pie charts are all added advantages.
During my prep in Delhi, I also attended test series every time before mains, not majorly to guess what questions would come in the forthcoming exam but as a way to have a discipline prep of PA. Once I has taken test series of Vajiram too. I had got decent scores I would say during the tests. And I have to mention the point that I never missed any question whatsoever in the exam. I had made it a point to answer every question in the paper how so ever remotely I could relate and write .
Also I had to mention I had stint with Pavan Kumar sir, I attended only one test with him and I was totally disappointed with his style and didn’t attend any other tests. I know in one test, I cannot judge his method of teaching, but that’s my opinion. Also I feel opinions regarding him are quite polarized – people are extremely favorable or extremely unfavorable to him.
Meanwhile during my second attempt , I met this gentlemen RAJESH KANKIPATI sir. He struck a conversation and asked me to try his short course on PA answer writing which I would say has given me a new perspective on social sciences and re invigorated my love for the subject on PA. He would give many quotes of different authors and theorists, their key points and loads of technical jargon which I had memorized to some extent to be used in the exam. He had explained how we could link concepts from P1 to P2 and P2 to current events.
After my first attempt I got enrolled in M.A.(PA), IGNOU. I started out to get an additional degree while I continue my prep. But in the coming days, I would discover the profound love I would find in this subject. And friends I have to admit that during this MA, I gained some insights into the subject and that has helped me too, eg. I could understand the concept on Max Weber Authority in a whole different angle which I had not contemplated during my previous prep. Additionally their material is awesome and comes along with the course enrollment which also aided in my prep. I see people buying the material from Delhi markets or asking me if they could order it online. I say enroll in an MA course and prep for the course and get the books and an additional degree too in the process :)..well, it’s not a tough exam to finish and its part of our prep only.
And I have to wholeheartedly appreciate ‘doodlebean’ initiative on covering the new syllabus on forumias.com. This issue of ‘LEAKED SYLLABUS’ which actually is a double whammy for us PA optional aspirants as UPSC is hitting under the belt by asking questions that are actually OUT OF SYLLABUS and its and unfair game. But, I have to say I didn’t cover that syllabus during my prep and was planning to do it for next attempt. And I would definitely suggest anyone to finish that syllabus also for the exam to be on the safer side. I could answer those questions by using my previous knowledge gained during my teaching process and from IGNOU materials.
And finally friends, my scores especially 179 in paper 2 did push me in securing a rank. But I can assure you that there’s is no secret James Bond formula in this and I would attribute it partly to the unpredictability of UPSC and their obscure Moderation/Scaling formula besides our strategized preparation, good answer writing skills and most importantly our loads and loads of hard work.