ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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UPSC Syllabus: A Response


This is in response to the letter titled “Rethinking Questions” by Alasdair Roberts (EPW, 28 December 2019). The author raised thought-provoking questions in his letter. Roberts states that “A study was conducted on [UPSC] questions on public administration from a decade ago, and the questions were found to be

outdated.” He has not substantiated his observation. Had he done that, it would have carried some weight. After looking at the questions posed in the optional papers on public administration between 2009 and 2018, he identified “three important problems with the content of those questions.” The first problem, according to him, is “an overwhelming focus on American theories about public administration.” Theories, like human beings, do not have boundaries. Once a theory is postulated and put in the public domain, it crosses the boundaries. For a student of public administration, it is a theory, and he learns it to enrich his knowledge to the test. The country background of the scholar is immaterial for him. The second problem mentioned by him that “most of the scholars who are mentioned in these questions have not published significant works in decades,” does not add strength to his argument. Not having published in the recent past, does not undermine the importance of the earlier pioneering works.

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