Author Archives: Gokul
Disclaimer: This article is written as an academic opinion piece as a part of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) offered by the World Bank on PPP through Coursera.org. The opinions expressed in this article are personal and does not represent the views of the Government.
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city of the state of Kerala situated in the southern part of India. The urban area has a population of 752,490 and is a Tier-2 city in the country. As expected in a city in a developing nation, development was haphazard and the roads bore witness to this by having the following problems:
- Severe log jams at various critical junctions
- Lack of footpaths and scientific pedestrian crossings
- Lack of aesthetics for a capital city.
The rationale of the project: The rationale is self-explanatory. The roads in the capital should be of flagship quality and is considered to be reflective of the Government’s performance.
Why PPP? A detailed study of the requirements was made and it suggested a complete overhaul of the road network by constructing wider roads, footpaths, bridges and roundabouts at critical junctions. Earlier experience had proven that maintenance was the most critical issue. As city roads had to be maintained in top quality, a decision was made to execute it in a PPP (Build Operate Transfer) mode. The contract was finally for construction and maintenance of the roads for 15 years
Toll or Annuity: The idea of collecting user fees was out of the question as the road in question is city roads and it would have been practically and politically impossible to collect user fees. Besides, city roads are usually considered as basic infrastructure and thus Government’s responsibility. Hence the payment was decided to be based on annual Government payments. The state of Kerala had set up a Kerala Road Fund Board composed of specific grants, loans and fees to provide out of budget support to road projects. The payment for this project was decided to be from this fund.
- Cost: Rs. 1400 million
- Kms covered: 42 kms in 3 phases
- Construction time: 30 months
- Period of contract: 15 years from completion.
- Payment: Semi annual payment of Rs. 177.5 million for 15 years (Against performance standards monitored by an independent agency.
|Sl.no||Nature of Risk||Allocation|
Performance: The project was awarded in March 2004. The entire land was supposed to be handed over by December 2004. Land acquisition turned out to be a difficult process in a congested city. Such a large land acquisition in a city was new in the state and this also added to the delay. A 3-year delay happened and the government had to pay Rs. 1250 million as damages through arbitration. The government should have anticipated opposition and provided adequate buffer for this in the contract. It also failed to show iron will once the acquisition started.
Current status: As on today, most of the work has been completed except for few sections where land acquisition got held up. Annuity payments started from January 2008 as per the resumption agreement with the govt. The roads are maintained at good quality and satisfaction levels among users are quite high.
Verdict: The project was a pioneer PPP project in city roads improvement. As it was one of the first major PPP project to be taken up by the state, lacunae in contract preparation has caused cost and time over runs. The lessons learned can be used to create a better contract framework and time lines for future works. A positive environment for PPPs has been created due to the quality of the work. But general opposition to user fees for public services still remain in the state.
In the absolute blindness of the night
When i cannot recognise who is the one next to me
I gaze upon the starry sky…
This is not what I have seen in the countless nights since my birth
The numbers are mind blowing
Some shine bright; maybe a young one
Or one nearing it’s death
Some seem ages away,
Having died since it let this light which I see
The constellations which I can make out shine out of the background
I gaze upon with overwhelming humility
The sight that has inspired the most illustrious of my ancestors
Lying on green meadows and on top of buildings,
The best of my tribe has asked themselves
The questions that would become the beginnings of the scientific method
The boom, the bang and everything afterwards,
The creation of galaxies and planetary systems
The birth and death of stars and all it’s descendants
The smelting of all elements from the concoction of hydrogen and helium
I see everything unfold in front of my eyes,
Through the collective wisdom of all my tribe
I do not feel small or worthless
I feel big and strong
I do not feel like a cog in a wheel
But an explorer charting my own course
The sight doesn’t overwhelm me
But fill me with the need to unravel the millions of mysteries that yet remain
Oh Galileos and Copernicuses,
You are my prophets and the product of your thoughts, my religion!
Disclaimer: Let me start off by posting a disclaimer!! The preparation strategy and methods for Public administration varies from person to person. This is my experience with Pubad which gave me 337 in my first attempt without coaching. <Disclaimer ends>
Public Administration is one of the most popular optionals in the civil services exam. It has a very short syllabus and it overlaps with the syllabus for general studies. Also, a good understanding of the topics in paper 2 can help you in essay and interview also.
The preparation strategy and books varies between people, but from what I understood, the focus should be on understanding the basics, supplementing it with recent developments and reports and presenting it properly. Answer writing is a very important part of Pubad preps. Sufficient time should be devoted to this before you go for the mains. Even if you manage to attempt all questions, the quality of answers can stretch the range of your marks between around 280 to 360.
It’s advisable to use as less standard books as possible. Questions in paper 2 and in section B of paper 1 will be general in nature. Make notes on all the topics mentioned in the syllabus and be ready to answer any question that may come from that topic. For eg, The syllabus says ‘Citizen Charter’. The questions on that topics may be ‘How does citizen charter help in reducing corruption’, ‘Has Citizen charter empowered the ordinary citizen vis-a-vis the govt. employee’ etc. Your notes on citizen charter should give you the basic idea to tackle this question while your answer should be spot-on. It should not be a short note on citizen chapter, but a crisp, direct answer to the question.
- Public Administration : Theory and Practice By Sharma & Sadhana
- Administrative Thinkers By Prasad & Prasad
- New Horizons of Public Administration by Mohit Bhatacharya
- Indian Public Administration by Ramesh Arora & Rajani Goyal
- Indian Adminstration by S R Maheswari
- Reports of 2nd ARC
- Other recent reports of administrative reforms committees
I read a few topics which are missing in these books from the BPA material of IGNOU. Check out previous years’ papers to see how questions are asked in every sections.
As the questions asked are mostly general in nature, I thought of using as less text books as possible and write general answers quoting from current affairs and recent reports. The problem with PubAd is that most of the aspirants would have read these books already and thus writing good answers can be a difficult proposition. So try to improve as much as possible.
Paper 1 : Sharma & Sadhana is a fat book that contains almost all the topics of PubAd. There are other fat books like Fadia & Fadia. Please stick to one of these fat books. Read topic wise from these books rather than going cover to cover. Add on to that by reading the relevant sections from Mohit Bhatacharya and IGNOU material. IGNOU material will have good diagrams also. All the chapters of Administrative thinkers have to be studied except for the one on Karl Marx.
Paper 2: A good understanding about the constitution is needed for this paper. This would be already covered if you have read DD Basu. Use Goyal & Arora for studying about Chanakya, Mughul administration and evolution of Indian Administration. For the other topics, read from Goyal & Arora and read the relevant section of 2nd ARC. ARC has given constructive solutions to the major administrative problems that we face. For eg, under the topic, ‘District Administration’, Goyal & Arora will give you an idea about district administration in India and will highlight the major issues. The report of the ARC will give you the solutions for these problems. Hence the report can be a major add-on.
2. Answer writing
- Write crisp introductions. Finish it off in 2-3 sentences for 20 markers. Write a small paragraph for 30 marker and a fairly large paragraph for 60 marker.
- I started off in a paragraph. Then wrote under various sub-headings and then concluded in a paragraph.
- In the body, be precise and to the point. DONT BEAT AROUND THE BUSH.
- Draw some diagram for every question. Even basic block diagrams is fine. After all there is no harm in adding a diagram. You can prepare some diagrams under some topics before hand. Use your imagination and believe me, Google image search will also help.
- Conclude by putting forth your view again to the question asked.
- Use your GS knowledge extensively while writing. Write from an Indian perspective. Quote examples from recent happenings as much as possible.
That is pretty much all that i did. I spent more time on Physics. I did self-evaluation for my answers after K.Biju (IAS, 2006) gave a broad idea about answer writing. I could see my answers improving. You can take professional help at this stage or if confident, go for self-evaluation. All the best!!
A good base in general knowledge is important for clearing the civil services exam and for the career ahead. As i had mentioned in a previous post, this job requires broad-based people with a good understanding of the things happening around them. As far as the exam is considered, 600 marks in the GS papers + 200 in essay + 300 in interview depends on your general knowledge base. And off late, the second paper in Public administration is more like a GS paper 3. Thus around 1100-1400 marks depends directly on your general knowledge base.
Preparation for general studies is composed of two parts:
- Conventional topics.
- General knowledge and current affairs.
- Make notes as you read. It’s impossible to come back to the text books during revision. Notes should be so comprehensive that once you are done, you would not have to take the text-book again.
- The basic approach should be STUDY-REVISE-IMPROVISE.
- Dont use guides, standard preparatory material or NCERT text books.
- Keep on referring to previous years papers to check if you have missed any topic.
- Prepare for the subjective papers ( i.e mains). Note down extra facts for the prelims as you make descriptive notes. Prelims is just a necessary evil.
It is composed of:
1. Indian History :
Pre-modern history (before Europeans) has lost significance. Last year no questions were asked in mains. Besides, it is too bulky and is not worth the effort. One need to have a good understanding of the National movement(1800s-1947).
- India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra is a good book for that. Read it cover to cover.
One also need to study about the expansion and the decline of the other Europeans, the expansion of British empire and the administrative development in India during the British period ( 1650-1857). Try to get some book on Indian History from the library to make short notes. Brief notes will do for this section.
Use NCERT books only for geography. Non- geography optional students don’t have to go in-depth. Read
- Indian Geography ( NCERT class XI)
- Fundamentals of physical geography (NCERT class XI)
Google and make notes on unfamiliar terms you may come across in the newspapers.
Any good book on the constitution is fine. ‘Introduction to the constitution of India‘ by D.D. Basu is the book that i used. Read it also cover to cover.
4. Indian Economy:
One needs to know about some basic terms of economics like repo rate, reverse repo, CRR, SLR etc. These are needed for understanding articles in newspapers also. Just google them when you come across then in the papers and keep a separate note-book. Read one good book on Indian economy. I used Indian economy by Dutt & Sundaram. The book by Uma Kapila is also a good one. In both of these books, each chapter deals with an issue. So make notes keeping in mind the requirements of a 20-30 marker. Download the latest Economic Survey of India and update the stats as you make notes. Also leave some space after each chapter to add new info from newspapers as and when they come.
Also read Chapter 1 and the chapter explaining about the government’s poverty alleviation schemes ( chapter 11 in 2010 survey). Follow the budget. Read some business newspapers at that time and also read the summary of the budget which will be posted in the net.
Make notes on the policies that you come across in the newspapers. But this will not be exhaustive. Use India yearbook published by the Publications division for an exhaustive approach. It’s a huge book with a lot of unnecessary facts and details which should be skipped. Just make short notes on the various programmes ministry-wise. Anay dwivedi ( AIR-5, cse 2009) has this to say about reading the Year book :
If you already read the IYB for prelims, just go through what you underlined and revise your notes. But if you did not, then apart from the GOVERNMENT SCHEMES and agricultural data, read the following chapters from IYB 2010:
Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11 (NCES only), 13 (terms like FIPB, FCCB, ECB, ADR/GDR, FDI, etc), 18, 24, 25 and 28.
Note: I have not specified chapters 16, 17, etc as I have assumed that you must have covered all the government schemes such as NRHM, JNNURM, etc irrespective of where they are given in the book.
In Mains 2009 many questions could be answered on the basis of information provided in the IYB, e.g. significance of coastal regions, UMPPs, BSUP, fruit production in India and NNRMS.
6. Science and Technology:
Use wikipedia extensively for this. Find out about new topics as you come across them in the S&T page of The Hindu. Also, make short notes on emerging technologies and recent nobel winning technologies from these pages
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_in_Physics (and chemistry and medicine)
General knowledge and current affairs:
This is where you have to use newspapers and current affairs magazines. This is perhaps the most important part because if you see the 2010 GS paper, questions are asked about the Palestine crisis, Sudan civil war, Cambodia, CWG etc. I recommend The Hindu and Frontilne. The Hindu has less unwanted news and has a balanced perspective on issues and is pro people. You shouldn’t be an ultra leftist or a right-wing hawk when writing the answers. The editorials and Op-eds present a very balanced picture on issues.
When reading newspapers, go beyond the issue. Use the newspaper as a guide to broaden your GK. So when you come across something you don’t know in the newspaper, google it up and make a comprehensive note on the topic.For eg, if the news item is “Pakistan Prez visits India”, I will google about India-Pak relations and make notes on it with a historical perspective and also leave some space to update future news. If the news is ‘ Jacques Diouf assumes charge as head of FAO’ , I will make notes on FAO and other UN organisations from Wikipedia. The advantage of using wiki is that when you read about one topic, you can move to other topics by clicking on the ‘Related’ links. Follow the references in wiki if you want to go deeper or confirm something.
I had kept two separate category of notebooks. One for noting down the events, date wise and the other for noting down the issues after researching in the net. The advantage of keeping the second type of notebook on issues is that when you revise you will have a complete picture under each heading, i.e, the historical perspective + all the events in the last 2 years. This should be done on a daily basis without any gap until the interview is over. You will need 2-2.5 hours daily for this initially. You can bring down the time as you progress with your prepsReading topics of Indian economy and op-eds from any one of the business newspapers will also help. I used Business line. I had also subscribed EPW after my prelims and read articles selectively.
- India : Development and Participation by Amartya sen and Jean dreze
- India after independence by Bipan chandra
Also make notes on topics that you come across in previous years papers from wiki and net.
- Just exploit the internet. You have all the information you need at your fingertips. The coaching institutes and magazines also make their notes using the information available in the net. Why take secondary info at exorbitant costs when you can get the primary info and the whole picture free of cost.
- There is not strict boundary between conventional topics and GK. You should update your notebooks with new info as and when you come across them in the papers.