Indian Administrative Service: Wikis


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The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Hindi: भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा Bharatiya Prashasanika Seva) is the administrative civil service of the Indian government. One of the three All India Services (along with the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service),[1] the IAS plays a major role in managing the bureaucracy of both the Union Government (Central Government) and the state governments, with its officers holding strategic posts across the country.

The career path of IAS officers is well defined. About 60 to 90 officers are inducted every year from about 300,000 applicants based on the results of a competitive civil service examination. Training for IAS officers is also noted for its rigor.



The Karmashila and Dhruvashila buildings at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration at Mussoorie, where new officers of the IAS and many other Indian civil service bodies undergo training.

The precursor of the IAS was the Indian Civil Service (ICS) during the British Raj era. ICS officers (known as "Collectors")(They are still called "Collectors" to maintain supremacy over other Native Indian Cadres), were generally held in high regard as incorruptible and good administrators (citation?). There were critics, however; Jawaharlal Nehru recounted a popular saying that the ICS was "neither Indian, nor civil, nor a service" in his Discovery of India. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George referred to the colonial ICS as the "steel frame" of the British Raj for its role in influencing and implementing government policies and decisions.[2]

Upon independence, the new Republic of India accepted the then serving Indian Civil Service officers who chose to stay on rather than leave for the UK, and renamed the service the Indian Administrative Service.

Selection, cadre allocation and federalism

The officials of the IAS are involved in civil administration and policy-making. Like many other civil services bodies, officers of the IAS are selected by the Civil Services Examination, a three-stage a competitive selection process consisting of a preliminary exam, a main exam, and an interview. This Civil Services Examination is administered by the Union Public Service Commission once a year.

The Civil Services Examination is used for recruitment for many Indian administrative bodies. It has three stages - a preliminary exam, a main exam, and an interview - and is known for being extremely challenging. Entry into the IAS is considered very difficult; most applicants rank it and the Indian Foreign Service as their top choices because of the high prestige, salary, and benefits that come with such positions. For example, in the 2005 batch, of the 425 selected candidates, 398 indicated IAS as their first preference, 18 chose IFS and just nine chose IPS. But when it came to second preference, 200 candidates had marked IPS as their choice, while only 155 had marked IFS as their second choice. Repeated attempts are allowed up to four times. About 300 to 400 candidates are finally selected each year out of the nearly 400,000, but only a rank in the top 50-100 guarantees an IAS or IFS selection—an acceptance rate of 0.01 percent, which makes it perhaps the most competitive exam in the world.

After being selected for the IAS, candidates are allocated to "cadres." There is one cadre in each Indian state, except for three joint cadres: Assam-Meghalaya, Manipur-Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territories (AGMUT).

The "insider-outsider ratio" (ratio of officers who are posted in their home states) is maintained as 1:2. as 'insiders'. The rest are posted as 'outsiders' according to the 'roster' in states other than their home states. Till 2008 there was no choice for any state cadre and the candidates , if not placed in the insider vacancy of their home states, were allotted to different states in alphabetic order of the roster, beginning with the letters A,H,M,T for that particular year. For example if in a particular year the roster begins from 'A', which means the first candidate in the roster will go to the Andhra Pradesh state cadre of IAS, the next one to Bihar, and subsequently to Chattisgarh, Gujarat and so on in alphabetical order. The next year the roster starts from 'H', for either Haryana or Himachal Pradesh.( if it has started from Haryana in the previous occasion when it all started from 'H', then this time it would start from Himachal Pradesh). This highly intricate system has on one hand ensured that officers from different states are placed all over India, it has also resulted in wide disparities in the kind of professional exposure for officers, when we compare officers in small and big & also developed and backward state, since the system ensures that the officers are permanently placed to one state cadre. The only way the allotted state cadre can be changed is by marriage to an officer of another state cadre of IAS/IPS/IFS. One can even go to his home state cadre on deputation for a limited period, after which one has to invariably return to the cadre allotted to him or her.

The centralizing effect of these measures was considered extremely important by the system's framers, but has received increasing criticism over the years. In his keynote address at the 50th anniversary of the Service in Mussoorie, Cabinet Secretary Nirmal Mukarji argued that separate central, state and local bureaucracies should eventually replace the IAS as an aid to efficiency[3]. There are also concerns that without such reform, the IAS will be unable to "move from a command and control strategy to a more interactive, interdependent system"[4].


The Constituent Assembly of India intended that the bureaucracy should be able to speak out freely, without fear of persecution or financial insecurity as an essential element in unifying the nation. The IAS officers are recruited by the Union government on the recommendation of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and posted under various State governments. While the respective State Governments have control over them they can not censure or take disciplinary action against IAS and other All India Services officers without consulting the Union Government and the UPSC. This independence has been sometimes severely criticised by many quarters of civil society.


Before India became independent, the Indian Civil Service (ICS) probationers were given general training in four British Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Dublin for a period of one to two years. During the Second World War, when it was not possible to do so, a temporary training camp was organised at Dehradun. After Independence, the ICS was converted into IAS, and IAS Training School was setup in 1947 at the Metcalfe House in Delhi. It provided one year multi-purpose training to the IAS probationers. In 1957, the IAS Staff College was established at Shimla to provide a refresher training course for senior IAS officers of six to ten years of service. Both these training institutions of Delhi and Shimla were merged in 1959 to setup the National Academy of Administration at Mussoorie (Now called Lal Bahadur Sastri National Academy Of Administration, LBSNAA). Since then, this academy has been imparting training to IAS probationers.


Progression of IAS officers in State and Center Government

IAS officers time scales:

  • Junior Time Scale (entry-level)
  • Senior Time Scale (four years of service) - equivalent to an Under Secretary to the govt. of India.
  • Junior Administrative Grade (nine years of service) - Deputy Secretaries
  • Selection Grade (13 years of service) - Directors
  • Joint Secretary (GOI)
  • Additional Secretary (GOI)
  • Secretary (GOI) - highest rank (basic pay of 80,000 Indian rupees)
  • Cabinet Secretary - only one (basic pay of 90,000 Indian rupees).

The State Governments however have a kind of a leverage to post these officers. Normally when an IAS officer joins the State, he is placed as a Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM). Ideally he is to be made in charge of a District after completing 9 years of service and entering the Junior Administrative Grade but in certain States, even younger IAS officers are made in charge of Districts (Known as District Magistrates (DM), Deputy Commissioners (DCs) or Collectors),like in uttar pradesh 4 year senior officer may be appointed as D.M.


Transparency International, a global watchdog body, ranked India at a low 73 out of the 102 countries in its Corruption Perception Index, later in the 2008 survey, it ranked 85th in a 128 country list. The World Economic Forum on the other hand, ranked India 44 among 49 countries surveyed.[5]. A 2009 survey of the leading economies of Asia, revealed Indian bureaucracy to be not just least efficient out of Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Philippines and Indonesia; further it was also found that working with the India's civil servants was a "slow and painful" process.[6].

By the 1990s, the economic liberalization of the Indian economy and the end of the license raj, gradually opened up the economic skies and the end to the regulatory regime which flourished during previous era, loosened its hold over the resources. Though this brought to surface the practices of kickbacks, both during disinvestment and offering government contracts, and while setting up of industries by foreign businesses were soon employing same corrupt practices used by Indian businesses for decades [7].

Over the years, several reasons have been cited by various scholars regarding the sustained existence of corrupt practices within the Indian bureaucratic system, also known as babudom colloquially, leading among them is its nexus with political corruption, lack of accountability and low regulatory controls. Others have suggested a rigid bureaucracy with a exclusivist process of decision making in a overly-centralized government as the reason its pervasiveness despite the passing years. In fact surveys have found it to be most resistant to transformation in its ways of functioning, even after repeated efforts by successive governments.[8]. Some experts believe that a fall out of the existing corruption and red tapism can be detrimental to the Indian economy in the long run, as foreign investors in a rapidly global, economies of the world still view entering into India as a challenge and plagued as it remains both with political and bureaucratic corruption as well systematic inefficiency which leads to long turn around period as project delays cause cost escalations in volatile market economies [9]. Also in the recent years, several corrupt economies of Asia have faced setbacks, after the wave of economic upturn faded, this makes the urgency of corrective measures more than evident, they make it an imperative [10][11].

See also

Further reading

  • Indian bureaucracy at the crossroads, by Syamal Kumar Ray. Published by Sterling, 1979.
  • Corruption in Indian politics and bureaucracy, by Satyavan Bhatnagar, S. K. Sharma, Panjab University. Published by Ess Ess Publications, 1991. ISBN 8170001234.


  1. ^,%201951.pdf
  2. ^ "Battling the babu raj." The Economist 6 March 2008.
  3. ^ Mukarji, Nirmal. Speech published "Restructuring the Bureaucracy: Do We Need the All-India Services?"in Arora, Balveer and Radin, Beryl, Eds. The Changing Role of the All-India Services: An assessment and agenda for future research on federalism and the All-India services. New Delhi: Centre for Policy Research, 2000.
  4. ^ Radin, B.A. (2007). "The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in the 21 stCentury: Living in an Intergovernmental Environment". International Journal of Public Administration 30 (12): 1525–1548. doi:10.1080/01900690701229848. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  5. ^ India tries to root out bureaucratic corruption Asia Times, August 7, 2003.
  6. ^ Indian bureaucracy ranked worst in Asia: Survey The Times of India, June 3, 2009.
  7. ^ Corruption Liberalisation and Globalisation of Indian Economy, by Kulwant Rai Gupta. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2000. ISBN 8171567878. Page 123.
  8. ^ Corruption Making Sense of Corruption in India: An Investigation Into the Logic of Bribery, by Mira Fels. Published by LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2008. ISBN 3825813843. Page 60-61.
  9. ^ India's struggle to befriend investors BBC News, October 11, 2004.
  10. ^ Vittal, N. (2003), Corruption in India: The Roadblock to National Prosperity, Academic Foundation, ISBN 8171882870 . Excepts.
  11. ^ Will Growth Slow Corruption In India? Forbes, Knowledge@Wharton. August 15, 2007.

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