SYNOPSIS: PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION OPTIONAL – Paper 1- TLP UPSC Mains Answer Writing [24th August, 2020] – Day 14

  • IASbaba
  • August 25, 2020
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TLP Public Administration Optional
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1. Comparative Public administration is a quest for searching patterns and regularities in administrative behaviour and action, and to characterize them in present day nation states- Haroon A. Khan. Comment.                                                                                                                                    15 marks (250 words)


The question asks to explain, how Comparative Public Administration aims at searching the administrative best practices all around the past and present world; and incorporating it in our respective nations. Here, we need to provide good examples of cross national and the cross temporal administrative practices that have been searched, unearthed and being incorporated.

From Paper2

In the course of bringing in examples from other countries, quoting some of the examples from Indian administration will settle the job here.


While the Comparative Public Administration envisaged by the CAG (Comparative Administrative Group) aimed at studying various administrations of the world and framing one grand theory. The approach of Haroon Khan was bit different and was a practical one. He not only propounded to study the administration comparatively, but also to inculcate the best ones, that have been studied, into the current administrative system.


In his famous essay “The Study of Administration”, Woodrow Wilson said that some principles of public administration might be borrowed from the administrative systems of Europe, but caution and intelligence must be adopted. 

This wrote a prelude to the practice of Comparative Public Administration wherein; the trend began to search the administration patterns around the world, so that they can be learnt and adopted by various nation states. 

Further, F.W.Riggs in his Agraria-Industria studies compared US to the Industria Society, and Thailand to the Agraria System. This implicitly meant that there is an essentiality for Thailand and the like nations to incorporate the behaviours and action of administration practiced in the US. 

Later, Robert Jackson finally broke the block when he said; there are different patterns of administrations in different ecologies. And these should be explored, standardized, generalized and then implemented into our administration.

These initiations provided by various scholars, along with the oncoming of various critical circumstances; forced various nations to search for the best standards of administration, so that they can be characterized into their nation states.

  • The First World War ended the colonialism in almost every parts of the world. As a result of it several new nations were born, which were badly in need of new patterns of administrative behaviours to administrate their nation.
  • After the Second World War, US came up with the Marshall Plan which aimed at providing funds to several nations to help them develop. However, various nations of Asia and Africa were not in a position of utilizing the funds effectively. This once again prompted the exploration of new standards of administration around the world.

As the time roled, the words of Khan came to be a reality when, various best practices were searched and also implemented by these nascent nation states.

  • The administration of Germany is carried out on the basis of Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Kameralwissenschaft or the Cameralism.
  • Japan’s concept of renunciation of war is being emulated by various African and Latin American countries. And many of the nations like Costa Rica, Granada and Samoa, etc have completely demilitarized their military forces. They rather spend the saved defence expenditure in welfare programmes.
  • The concept of Ombudsman of Scandinavian Countries is being adopted by almost all the nations of the world today. Ex: In India we have the Lokpal Act which is inspired from this very concept.
  • Lastly, the practices like rule of law, principle of natural of natural justice, freedom of speech, fundamental rights, etc are the very basic tenets of governance that are popular all over the world. However, these patterns of administration got popularized by the process of searching and emulation by various nation states (the very idea of Comparative Public Administration).


Thus we can conclude that there is no bar of time and space for the search and characterization of best administrative behaviors. And, due to the advent of some of the trends like the Development Administration, Good Governance, Sustainable Development Goals etc, the current nation states are on a war footing to inculcate the best practices of administration, so that they compete in equal strengths with the other nations in the development race. 

2. Prismatic societies face problems of greater heterogeneity, formalism and overlapping; in their bid to absorb exogenous change in shortest time. Explain.                                                                    10 marks (150 words) 


Here we need to explain how the developing nations suffer from these in three problems; due to their ambitious desires of incorporating international best practices within the shortest possible times. 

From Paper2

Again it is easy to bring in the content from paper 2 here. We just need to provide some examples from the Indian administration, which we obviously do. 


F. W. Riggs in his book “The Administration of Developing Countries: the Theory of Prismatic Society” says that, the transitia societies suffer from the problems of Heterogeneity, Formalism and Overlapping as they try to import new administrational practices from abroad.


This is because, as a result of the import of the new things the administration gets differentiated easily, but the integration of new things with the old ones takes time. And all these 3 problems, as per Riggs, occur due to hurried up differentiation and not giving enough time for integration.

Heterogeneity: Heterogeneity is the presence of heterogeneous society with multiple ideas, beliefs and practices. 

Here when an alien practice is brought in to a particular society without doing the actual ground work for its oncoming. The citizens who are habituated for the older practice feel it a surprise. And it is very difficult to convince the people to change all of a sudden.

This creates both the Chamber as well as Bureau in the same society. I.e. Chamber wherein people are stratified on the basis of class creed and religion on the one hand (who are aligned for older ideologies); and Bureau wherein the section of people demanding merit based social status on the other(who get adopted to the new ideology).  

Ex: There was lot of conflicts and clashes when India tried to bring in electoral representations, in the erstwhile princely states after independence. Here, though India had an urgency to bring in democracy there, the people and the monarchs were not yet ready to accept it. Hence the conflicts arose between the two ideologies, the democracy and the monarchy.

Formalism: Again when hurried attempts are made to bring in any international practice in the administration. It happens that, the new practice only gets implemented formally, but the system remains to be archaic in practice. 

Riggs called the officials of the formal administration as the Salacrats.

Ex: Bringing Right to information in the otherwise opaque bureaucracy. Here the Right to information will be present only on the face of it. However, the bureaucracy tries to, maintain secrecy by delaying to respond to the RTIs, deny the information by stating security and other reasons, levy hefty fees, etc.

Overlapping:  Overlapping is the condition in which the powers, jurisdictions, and functions of a department overlaps with others. Riggs states it as the presence of both Clubs and Sects, combining to form Clects.

Even here, it is advised that while incorporating any institution from the external environment; the decks have to be cleared so that the current institution, that is performing the function earmarked for the newcomer, is completely repealed and a vacuum is created. Else there will always be an overlap between the former and the latter organizations.

Ex: In spite of having various institutions that deal with corruption in India, we brought in Lokpal Bill.  This has lead to the overlapping of Central Vigilance Commission, Anti-Corruption bureaus of state governments, Central Bureau of Investigation with the Lokpal.


Thus, the untimely introduction of exogenous reforms can lead to various problems described by Riggs in his transitia model. However, as pointed out by some of the critics like Valson and Milne; these, 3 problems are not the problems in the first place. They are the natural phenomenon of a transitia society and they are even beneficial to the society many a time.


Public Administration Synopsis Day 14 PDF

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