According to the UPSC annual reports, irrespective of the academic background, most of the candidates pick subjects from the Humanities stream. There has been a dip in the number of aspirants opting for Public Administration.
Evidently, there is a variation in the number of applicants choosing Public Administration as an optional subject from 2009 to 2017. According to the data, candidates who had appeared vis-à-vis recommended by the Commission between 2009 and 2017 noted fluctuation. The highest number of candidates opting for Public Administration was in 2012. A total of 7077 candidates chose the subject while in 2017 only 1165 aspirants took up Public Administration as an optional subject in the UPSC exam.
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Success trend over syllabi
Shri Prakash Singh, professor, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, tells Education Times, most of the students choose optional subjects in the Civil Services based on the success rate in previous years.
“Public Administration which is treated as a separate subject in the UPSC is a sister subject of Political Science. Students are more inclined towards the subject that has a high success rate,” says Singh, adding how an increase in the number of candidates for Political Science is a loss to Public Administration as both are interrelated.
“Very few Indian universities offer Public Administration as a separate discipline at the undergraduate level, which could be another reason for a decline in the number of takers for this subject,” says Singh.
T Yadagiri Rao, chairperson, Board of Studies, Department of Public Administration & HRM, Kakatiya University, Warangal, Telangana, says as compared to other optional subjects, the academicians involved with question preparation and evaluation have been following a conservative marking system. “The Commission must bring in contemporary professors to change the perspective towards the subject among UPSC aspirants. The old school people are following the traditional tough grading system which could be another reason for fewer takers,” says Rao.
On the limited availability of Public Administration as a subject at the UG level, Rao says that the government’s apathy is the main reason. “They are not paying attention to promote and spread awareness about the programme. Probably, they find it less lucrative to generate funds as these courses are not costly,” adds Rao.
Yogesh Kumar Rai, assistant professor, Centre of Russian Studies, School of Language Literature and Culture Studies, JNU, believes that the UPSC needs to have a pool of dynamic and efficient human resources who can take care of the scheme, pattern, structure and evaluation of examinations.
The syllabus and perspective, says Rai, has changed a lot in the last 10 years. “Due to the increasing competition, scoring high can help you crack the exam. There are certain science subjects, where candidates may end up getting 100% marks. On the other hand, marks obtained by a candidate of Humanities, to a certain extent, depends upon the subjectivity of evaluators.”
Of late, there has been a dynamic change in the Public Administration syllabus but probably UPSC has not brought much change in its panel, which has been following a conservative marking system,” says Rai. He adds that a compulsory paper on basic ideas of Public Administration can be introduced as part of General Studies as it is important for future administrators to be familiar with the subject.