Indian Civil Service - A Steel Frame of Indian Administration

The Civil Services of India (or for that matter of any nation), is the backbone of the administrative system of the country simply because it comprises of government officials who are employed in civil occupations that are neither political nor judicial. The responsibility of the civil servants is to run and manage the administration of India effectively and efficiently. The administration of a vast and diverse country like India requires efficient management of its natural, economic and human resources. In the system of parliamentary democracy of India, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the elected representatives of the people but this handful of representatives i.e. the ministers cannot be expected to deal and handle the manifold problems of modern administration. Thus the ministers lay down the policy and it is for the civil servants to implement and carry out this policy effectively. This is why Indian Civil Service is also known as the ‘Administrative Organ of the Government’.

Indian Civil Services Origin and History

Indian Civil Service, called the Imperial Civil Service during the British Raj, was first brought into existence in India by Lord Cornwallis (the Governor-General of India, 1786-93) and he first organised the civil services during his tenure. In 1800, Fort William College was set up by Lord Wellesley for training of new recruits and later in 1806, East India College was set up at Hailey Bury in England for imparting two years training to the recruits. Further an open competition for recruitment was introduced with the Charter Act of 1853.

Although the Charter Act of 1853 theoretically threw open the civil services to the Indians, but the Indians were barred from high posts from the very beginning. During the British Raj, the Indians were mostly kept out of law and policy-making bodies. Moreover, the recruitment examination also used to be conducted in England only and that too only in English and the subjects included the Greek and Latin languages, which made the things worse for the Indians. Although the Indians had started making it to the coveted ranks of the Indian Civil Services ever since Satyendra Nath Tagore became the first Indian to do so in 1863, entering the Civil Services was still an extremely difficult task for the Indians.

Though the Government of India Act of 1935 recommended the establishment of a Federal Public Service Commission and Provincial Public Service Commission under their spheres but still the position of control and authority remained in British hands till the Britishers were forced out of India in August 1947.

Definition of a Civil Servant

A civil servant is any person who is a citizen of India appointed by the Union or the State Government to any civil service or post in connection with the affairs of the Union or the state and includes a civilian in a Defence Service. The members of civil service serve at the pleasure of the President of India and are well shielded from politically motivated interests or vindictive action by Article 311 of our constitution. Civil servants are employees of the Government of India; however, not all employees of the Government are civil servants.

The civil servants include:

  • The administrators in the central government and state government
  • Emissaries in the foreign missions/embassies
  • Tax collectors and revenue commissioners
  • Civil service commissioned police officers
  • Permanent representative(s) and employees in the United Nations and its agencies
  • Chairman
  • Managing Director
  • Member of the Board of Management of various Public Sector Undertakings, Corporations, Banks and Financial Institutions

All appointments in the rank of Joint Secretary to Government of India and above, and other major appointments are done by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. However, all appointments in the rank below Joint Secretary are done by the Civil Services Board.

Head of the Civil Service

The highest ranking civil servant is the Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat of Republic of India who is also the Cabinet Secretary. He is ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board; the chief of the Indian Administrative Service and also the head of all other civil services under the Government. He also holds the 11th position in the Order of Precedence of India.

Indian Civil Service Examination

Indian Civil Service Examination is commonly known as UPSC examination. ICS examination is sometimes referred to as IAS examination which is conducted specially for one of the branches of Indian Civil Service known as Indian Administrative Service or IAS. Civil Servants are not only recruited through open competitive examination, but certain officials from the state governments are also being promoted. This examination is used to recruit and train candidates for various official positions available in various departments of the government office.

Click on the link for detailed information - Indian Civil Service Exam

Recruitment and Training

The recruitment examination for Indian Civil Services is of course one of the rigorous examinations across the world. The changing trends in the society as well as the economy makes it imperative to stress more on technological knowledge and in areas such as human rights. There is also very little stress on testing managerial skills in the examination. The changes in our economy also create a need for specialists at various jobs. With rapidly advancing technology and high degrees of specialisation in every field, the country can no longer afford to put generalists in positions requiring specialised skills. The entry and exit of civil servants from public service to private sector and vice versa, will make the civil services jobs more attractive, thus making it a new economy job.

So, in order to bring in more suitable candidates, changes in the entry level exams of All India services conducted by UPSC were introduced in year 2011 by UPSC in Preliminary Stage Exams. The UPSC is also considering changing the exam pattern for Mains stage exam, by 2014.

The whole idea of All India Civil Services gets lost when other state officers are promoted to civil services and work in the state itself. This is indeed a retrograde step. It should be made mandatory for the officers who are promoted to civil service to serve in other states to keep the idea of creating All India Civil Service working. A paradigm shift in the nature of civil service/servants is required to cope up with the emerging demands and the changes in society and economy.

The training offered for civil service recruits is one of the most comprehensive training systems. The gaps where the training facilities are not in tune with the new trends have to identified from time to time, so that training can be provided right at the induction level.

State Civil Services (SCS/PCS)

The State Civil Services (also known as Provincial Civil Services) examinations are conducted by the individual states of India. The officers of the state civil services are recruited by different States through the State Public Service Commissions.

The categories of services under the state civil services (SCS) examination are as under:

  • State Civil Services, Executive branch Class-II (SCS)
  • State Police Service, Class-II (SPS)
  • State Forest Service, Class-II (SFS)
  • Block Development Officer
  • Tehsildar/Talukadar/Assistant Collector
  • Excise and Taxation Officer
  • District Employment Officer
  • District Treasury Officer
  • District Welfare Officer
  • Assistant Registrar Cooperative Societies
  • District Food and Supplies Controller/Officer
  • Any other Class-I/Class-II service notified as per rules by the concerned State i.e. Lecturers, Assistant/Associate Professors, Principals of Government Degree Colleges, Class I, etc.

Click on the link for detailed information - SSC Exams

Organisation and Classification

The Civil Services of India are classified into two categories namely:

All India Services

Central Civil Services

All India Services include:

Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
Indian Forest Service (IFS)
Indian Police Service (IPS)

Central Civil Services include:

Group A
Group B

All appointments to All India Civil Services are made by the President of India.

The constitution provides for more Civil Services branches to be set up by giving the power to the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Parliament of India) to resolve by a two-thirds majority to establish new all-India services or central services. The Indian Forest Service and the Indian Foreign Service are the two services set up under this constitutional provision.

As of January 2013, the Central Government is considering a proposal on creation of two new All-India services namely the Indian Judicial Service and the Indian Legal Service.

All appointments to Group A are also made by the President of India.

All appointments to Group B are made by the authorities specified by a general or special order of the President.


Indian Civil Services List

Central Civil Services (Group A and B)

Group A

Group B

The following are the few prominent services that fall under Central Civil Services Group A:

  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services
  • Archaeological Service
  • Central Engineering (Civil) Service
  • Central Engineering (Electrical and Mechanical) Service
  • Central Engineering Service (Roads)
  • Central Health Service
  • Central Information Service
  • Central Legal Service
  • Central Secretariat Official Language Service
  • Central Power Engineering Service
  • Central Revenues Chemical Service
  • Central Secretariat Service
  • Central Trade Service
  • Central Water Engineering Service
  • Company Law Board Service
  • Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service
  • Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service
  • General Central Service
  • Indian Audits and Accounts Service
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • Indian Cost Accounts Service
  • Indian Defence Accounts Service
  • Indian Defence Estates Service
  • Indian Economic Service
  • Indian Engineering Services
  • Indian Information Service
  • Indian Foreign Service
  • Indian Frontier Administrative Service
  • Indian Meteorological Service
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service
  • Indian Postal Service
  • Indian Posts and Telegraphs Accounts and Finance Service
  • Indian Railway Services
  • Indian Revenue Service
  • Indian Salt Service
  • Indian Statistical Service
  • Indian Telecommunication Service
  • Indian Trade Service
  • Mercantile Marine Training Ship Service
  • Railway Inspectorate Service
  • Telegraph Traffic Service

The following are the few prominent services that fall under Central Civil Services Group B:

  • Income Tax Service
  • Indian Foreign Service - (General Cadre, Grade I and General Cadre, Grade II only)
  • Central Secretariat Service (Section and Assistants’ Grade officers only)
  • Indian Posts & Telegraphs Accounts & Finance Service
  • Indian Salt Service
  • India Meteorological Service
  • Central Secretariat Official Language Service
  • Central Secretariat Stenographers’ Service, (Grade I, Grade II and Selection Grade officers only)
  • Central Health Service
  • Botanical Survey of India
  • Geological Survey of India
  • Zoological Survey of India
  • Central Electrical Engineering Service
  • Central Engineering Service
  • Central Power Engineering Service
  • Postal Superintendents’ Service
  • Postmasters’ Service
  • Telecommunication Engineering Service
  • Telegraphs Traffic Service
  • Central Excise Service
  • Customs Appraisers Service- (Principal Appraisers and Head Appraisers)
  • Customs Preventive Service – (Chief Inspectors)
  • Defence Secretariat Service
  • Union Territories Administrative Service
  • Union Territories Police Service
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