Governance in India is a new component of general studies Paper I of the IAS preliminary examination.

In 2011, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) changed the pattern and syllabus of the Civil Services Preliminary Examination following recommendations made by various committees, commissions, and study groups, such as the Alagh Committee (2000-2001), the Hota Committee (2004), and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2005-2009).

In the old scheme, the preliminary examination consisted of Paper I general studies (compulsory) and Paper II optional subject. The syllabus of the general studies was as follows: current events; history and the National Movement; geography; Indian polity; Indian economy; mental ability; and general science.

In the new scheme also, the examination has two papers, but both are related to general studies and compulsory. In place of the paper called optional subject comes general studies Paper II.

The new syllabus of general studies Paper-I is as follows: current events; history and the National Movement; geography; Indian polity and governance; economic and social development; environmental ecology; and general science.

Thus, in the new syllabus, Indian polity has been rechristened Indian polity and governance. In other words, governance in India has been introduced as a new component of general studies Paper I.

Scope of governance

The subject of governance in India has to be studied from four angles —structure of governance, process of governance, institutions of governance, and issues in governance. It not only covers the administrative system in India but also the role of civil society and market in society and the economy.

In more detail, the subject includes the various levels and dimensions of the administrative system in India, such as central administration, personnel administration, financial administration, control over administration, State administration, divisional administration, district administration, local administration, law-and-order administration and rights issues, public policy, and contemporary issues. The last three aspects need more elaboration.

The rights issues include human rights and the rights of disadvantaged and weaker sections, such as women, children, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward castes, minorities, disabled persons, and older persons, right to information, and right to education. Besides, the role of the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commissions for Women, Children, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward castes, and minorities form part of the rights issues.

Public policy covers the national policies related to voluntary organisations, rehabilitation, women, children, disabled persons, older persons, youth, education, child labour, disaster management, tribes, e-governance, and national programmes such as the New 15-Point Programme for Minorities, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Swarnajayanthi Gram Swarozgar Yojana, the Swarna Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, and programmes for women, children, the physically challenged, and the elderly.

Contemporary issues in governance include good governance, e-governance, citizen's charter, disaster management, role of civil society, people's participation, administrative ethics, public sector reforms, and corporate governance.

Relevance

A good number of questions on governance in India appeared in the 2011 Preliminary Examination. They were related to the following topics:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Advantages of a national minority

Vote-on-account and interim budget

Disinvestment in the Central Public Sector Enterprises

.Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

Aam Admi Bima Yojana

Benefits available to persons with disabilities

Though the area has not been specifically mentioned in the general studies Paper-I syllabus of the main examination, some of its aspects are found in parts 3 and 4 of the syllabus. Thus, part 3 of the syllabus, entitled “Constitution of India and Indian polity,” says that this part will include questions on the Constitution and constitutional, legal, administrative, and other issues emerging from the politico-administrative system prevalent in the country.

Similarly, Part 4 of the syllabus, entitled “Current national issues and topics of social relevance,” specifies law enforcement, internal security, and related issues, such as the preservation of communal harmony and issues relating to good governance and accountability to the citizens, including maintenance of human rights and probity in public life.

Further, in the past few years, questions on various aspects of governance in India have been asked in the main examination. For example, in the 2011 examination, there were questions on e-governance initiatives by the UPSC, the National Disaster Management Authority, the Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme, and so on.

Possible changes

So far, the change has been effected only in the Preliminary Examination and not in the Main Examination. However, numerous suggestions have been made for changing the scheme of the Main Examination. Thus, the Alagh Committee recommended that the two compulsory general studies papers and the four optional papers (in two subjects) in the present scheme should be done away with and replaced by three compulsory papers as follows: sustainable development and social justice; science and technology in society; and governance, public systems management, and human rights. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission also recommended removal of optional subjects from the Main Examination. The panel said the Main Examination should consist of two papers only in the compulsory subjects. These compulsory subjects may include the Constitution of India, Indian legal system, Indian economy, polity, history, and culture.

Author of Tata McGraw Hill books on public administration and Indian polity and governance in India.