A Brief History of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in India

“… the Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind…”. – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

 

Indian Civil Service History

Every year lakhs of people take the UPSC civil services prelims exam hoping to become civil servants of the country. And a majority of them aspire to become IAS officers more than any other service. The civil services are identified as the IAS in our country so much so that the civil services are commonly known as the IAS exam. This article outlines a brief history of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in India.

  • The earliest origins of a civil service in India for administration purposes can be traced back to the period after 1757 when the East India Company were the de-facto rulers in parts of India. The company started the Covenanted Civil Services (CCS). CCS members had to sign covenants with the company’s board.
  • After the Revolt of 1857, when the rule of the company ended and power was transferred to the British Crown, i.e., after 1886 the service came to be called the Imperial Civil Service. It later came to be called the Indian Civil Service.
  • In 1854, the Macaulay Committee recommended that appointment to the service based on the company’s patronage be stopped and a merit-based system be established. Post 1855, recruitment to the ICS was based on merit only through a competitive examination. It was restricted to Indians.
  • In 1886, the Aitchison Commission chaired by Sir Charles Umpherston Aitchison recommended that Indians also get employed in public service.
  • A further prod to the inclusion of Indians in the service happened in 1912 when the Islington Commission suggested that 25 % of the higher posts be filled by Indians. It also recommended that the recruitment to higher posts should be done partly in India and partly in England.
  • From 1922, the ICS exam was held in India.
  • The Public Service Commission of India (forerunner of the Union Public Service Commission) was established on 1st October 1926 under the chairmanship of Sir Ross Barker.
  • The all India services were designated as Central Superior Services in 1924. After 1939, the number of Indians in the service increased because of non-availability of Europeans.
  • After independence, the ICS became the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

 

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