SYNOPSIS: PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION OPTIONAL – Paper 1- TLP UPSC Mains Answer Writing [1st September, 2020] – Day 20

  • IASbaba
  • September 2, 2020
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TLP Public Administration Optional
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1. You have to evaluate the effects of public policy as opposed to intentions. – Walter E Williams. Attempt a critique of this statement.

                                                                                                         10 marks (150 words)


The question asks to negate the assertion quoted by Walter Williams. Here, we need to prove that it is the intention, not the effects of public policy that has to be evaluated.

From Paper 2

We can bring in good examples from the Indian Public Administration. However avoid depicting any policy of the government as ill intended one.


Mahatma Gandhiji had said “nothing done with the good intent is bad”. Hence, we can deduce from the statement that, the policy has to be evaluated according to the intent behind the formulation of such policies and not the effects of it. Because if the intention is good, automatically the policy yields good results, as per Gandhiji;


Firstly, rationalist model of public formulation states that, every policy is designed with the proper discussion and deliberation, so that the negative effects of policy is offset by its positive ‘effects’. Such rational policy cannot yield net negative effects unless the very ‘intent’ of making the policy is negative. 

Ex: Hitler’s policy of purging the Jews is a bad policy, no matter whatever benefits the policy was expected to bring to Germany.

Secondly, as per the group theory, actually it is the intent of the majority groups that trickles down as a public policy. And if we ensure that in the group struggle, the equilibrium is tilted towards good intent; then, it is obvious that good policies that yield better effects are formulated and implemented in the society (“Public policy is the equilibrium achieved in the group struggle”, – Earl Latham).

Ex: Gandhiji’s non-violent policies used to get passed in the INC with a great majority; consequently, they were agreed to be the best policies all around the world.   

Thirdly, evaluating the ‘effects’ of a policy is akin to post mortem, here we get to know that the policy is ill conceived only after enough damage is already done by it.

Ex: China got to know that its one child policy is ill conceived, only after the sex ratio of China started getting skewed.

Fourthly, the effect based evaluation is dilatory, the policy experts have to wait till the policy gets implemented and the results are yielded, in-order to evaluate the veracity of such policy. However, the intent behind the policy can be traced at the very conceptualization phase, and any ill intended policy can be nipped out in the bud.  

Ex: the intent behind recent EIA notification 2020 is being evaluated even before it is brought to implementation.

Lastly, intent based evaluation is an upgraded version of the effect based one. While, the effects of policies can be experienced even by layman, the intention of a policy needs some expertise in-order to be traced. That is why Dror, suggested for setting up a body for policy science knowledge for the micro analysis of policies in every administrational units. 


Hence, evaluating the policy based on its intent is similar to the Luis Pasteur’s proverbial adage, “prevention is better than cure”. So, rather than ignoring the process of formulation of public policies as a trial and error (Garbage can model), it is better to trace and track the policies beginning from the conceptualization level to the implementation level of their making i.e. from input to the output. 

2. Which among the PERT and CPM would you recommend for executing the project of inventing vaccination to COVID-19? Why?

                                                                                                           10 marks (150 words) 


A direct question, however, it requires a good clarity of PERT and CPM for answering it.

From Paper 2

The question is already linked to the practical ground reality. However, we can always bring in good examples and case studies from the second paper.


PERT and CPM are two major techniques which help better planning, budgeting, fixing the deadlines, and in execution of the project as a whole. While CPM was developed by the engineers of Du Pont; PERT was developed by US, in order to design the Pollaris missile. 


When it comes to the choice between the two techniques, it is PERT which is more suitable for the project related to the invention of vaccine to COVID-19.

This is because;

  • CPM is a naive technique which is more suitable for simple and repetitive programmes like construction of roads, bridges, etc. However, inventing vaccination to Coronavirus is a first of its kind in the history, hence, it requires an advanced technique i.e. PERT.
  • Further, the deadlines fixed for the projects in CPM are just estimations, in other words, approximations on the basis of similar projects that have been executed earlier. However, in PERT the time required for each activity is computed precisely, by taking various means and standard deviations into consideration. 

Ex: Calculation of time required to launch a satellite and place it into the intended orbit.

  • Also, while calculating the expected time, PERT calculates three probable time durations mainly, the optimistic, most likely and pessimistic ones. Such a systematic strategy is very much essential while inventing a vaccination; because a huge uncertainty factor is involved in such projects, and there are many chances of project going in the extreme pessimistic way- i.e. failure.

Ex: Edison while inventing the bulb.

  • Further, PERT provides for carrying out several projects simultaneously, this can be helpful because, it enables the scientists to work on different vaccine candidates at a time.
  • PERT also provides for the computer generated  plans and alternative decisions, which can come in handy in case of any mishaps in the laboratories wherein decisions have to be taken in a fraction of time. 

Ex: Coronavirus itself is suspected to have been a product of a laboratory mishap.

  • Lastly, the upgraded version of PERT i.e. the PERT/COST is very much helpful to control the costs incurred in the invention. This again is extremely helpful for researches being carried out in the developing countries, that are pursuing their efforts with very nominal investments.


Thus we can conclude that, a complex, novel and a critical project like the invention of vaccination, requires the state of the art technique of executing the project. And more over, the world believes in a planned and predicted success rather than the one that is dependent on the heuristics and the guess works. Hence, it is better to go with PERT and attain a predictable success, instead of trying our luck via CPM.

“Ideas don’t make you success, the correct execution of ideas does”. – Felix Dennis.  



Public Administration Synopsis Day 20 PDF

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