The Life of an IAS Officer

Becoming an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer is one of the most sought after and respected professions in the country today. The life of an IAS officer is filled with challenges. However, an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people is not to be scoffed at. In this article, we have written about the IAS officer life during training and service, roles, responsibilities and career path.

Civil services exam conducted every year by the UPSC. Know more about the UPSC exam pattern before starting your IAS preparation.

Daily life of an IAS officer

Candidates who successfully clear the UPSC Civil Services Exam get the first taste of life as an IAS officer as soon as they join the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA). The day to day life of an IAS officer during training is very disciplined and starts at 6 am sharp. The following is the schedule usually followed at LBSNAA:

  • 6 am: Morning exercise/horse riding training for 60 minutes
  • 7 am to 9 am: Free time for morning activities
  • 9:30 am onwards: 8-10 hours of academic activity including lectures, sports and extracurricular activities.

Officer trainees are left free before and after dinner to socialise and prepare for the next day. Outdoor activities such as treks to nearby rural areas to learn to cope with adversity and understand the lifestyle of rural India are an integral part of training. The training of IAS officers also includes Bharat Darshan (a study tour of India).

Once a trainee graduates as an IAS officer, their schedule changes according to their allotted post. A typical day for an officer posted in the field would begin at 9 am and would involve going through various daily reports, supervising various daily tasks of the department or district, visiting different areas to review the implementation of developmental activities and meetings.

These activities can stretch into the late evening and usually end by about 9 pm.

During emergencies such as natural disasters, riots etc. an IAS officer might put in continuous work coordinating response and relief teams well beyond normal duty hours.

IAS Officer Life – Roles

IAS officers’ functional roles depend on the type of assignment they get. There are three types of assignments given to them:

  • Field
  • State Secretariat/Public Sector Undertakings
  • Central Secretariat

The field assignments are considered the toughest roles that an IAS officer may be called upon to fulfil. The following are the basic functions of the Civil Services:

  • Handling affairs of the government, including framing, implementing and reviewing policies.
  • Consulting with various departments and elected representatives for the above functions.
  • Management and disbursement of various public funds allocated for different schemes.
  • Supervising implementation of various schemes and policies of the government.
  • Responding to emergencies such as natural disasters, major accidents and riots in their jurisdiction and coordinating relief activities.

The assignment specific roles that civil servants perform are discussed below:

  • Field Assignments: An IAS officers’ first posting after training is usually a field assignment. The various levels where they work have their own complexities.
    • Sub Divisional Functions: As a Sub Divisional Magistrate, maintenance of law and order, overseeing developmental and administrative activities within the Sub -Division.
    • District Level Functions: As a District Magistrate, Collector or Deputy Commissioner, perform the same functions as an SDM at the district level and also supervise SDMs in their role.

Field assignments usually end at the district level for most IAS officers. Many of them move to positions within the state government and work in the State Secretariat.

  • State Secretariat Assignments: State Secretariat postings involve using the experience and expertise gained in the field to advise elected representatives formulate policies and make decisions regarding government processes.
  • Public Sector Undertakings: Many officers get posted to PSU cadres on deputation and become part of the higher management of various Public Sector Undertakings such as power discoms, industrial units etc.
  • Central Secretariat Assignments: Secretarial level postings at the level of the Central government deal with policy review, formulation and implementation for different ministries.

Many IAS officers are also deputed to international bodies such as the United Nations. There are provisions to depute IAS officers to private organizations for short tenures as well.

IAS officer power

  • Code of Criminal Procedure (1973): Sections 107,108,109,110,133,144 and 176 list out powers for maintaining law and order given to Magistrates
  • Tenancy Laws define the powers of a collector regarding revenue
  • National Disaster Management Act list out powers of Chief Secretaries and Magistrates while directing disaster relief operations.
  • Arms Act, Drug Licenses Act, Essential Commodities Act etc. list out IAS officers’ power to enforce regulations in different situations.

These are the main laws that deal with powers of IAS, though there are close to 300 laws that define them on a case to case basis. These rules are also provided in an abridged form in the All India Service Manuals which are updated from time to time by the Department of Personnel and Training. The service manuals also list out the IAS conduct rules. All civil servants are answerable to state and central legislatures.

IAS officer career

The following is the career path that most IAS officers take. The career paths diverge after probation depending on the allotted cadre.

  • Phase I Training at LBSNAA
  • Training at the district level in the allotted cadre
  • Phase II Training at LBSNAA which includes a week-long foreign attachment with one of India’s diplomatic missions abroad
  • Central Government attachment at the nominal position of an Assistant Secretary for three months
  • Posting as SDM/Joint Magistrate/Sub Collector
  • Posting as Municipal Commissioner, DDO/CDO
  • Posting as DM/Collector
  • Posting at State Secretariats at Director/Joint Secretary level.
  • Deputation to the Central Government can be opted for during any stage of service after serving for a few years.
  • Principal/Additional Secretary in the State Secretariat/Central Secretariat
  • Chief Secretary of a state
  • Cabinet Secretary

The highest position an IAS officer can aspire to is the position of the Cabinet Secretary of India. In state bureaucracy, Chief Secretary of states is the highest one can go.

IAS officer salary

The 7th Central Pay Commission has stipulated a basic pay of Rs 56100 for newly inducted IAS officers. There are a total of 18 pay levels for IAS with the Cabinet Secretary of the Union getting the highest pay at Rs. 250000. In addition to this, IAS officers usually get the following perks while in service:

  • Subsidised government accommodation. District level postings get the best houses among any government service in India.
  • Household help such as cooks, gardeners etc. depending on requirement.
  • Security cover depending on requirement.
  • Government transportation is provided in most district and state level postings. Central deputations have less vehicular facilities extended to IAS and only officers above a certain rank get government vehicles.
  • Mobile, internet and telephone charges are reimbursed.
  • Free stay in government rest houses and bungalows during the course of duty.
  • IAS officers are also entitled to a monthly pension after retirement based on their rank and length of service.

You can read about the detailed IAS officers salary per month here.

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) also allows officers to proceed on paid study leave for up to two years to study at any reputed university in India and abroad.

The life of an IAS officer is both challenging and satisfying for a driven individual. It is the perfect opportunity for youngsters to directly participate in the administration and development of their country.

TN Seshan, the man who cleaned up India’s elections, was one of the IAS toppers in 1955. As the Chief Election Commissioner, he implemented a variety of reforms in the electoral process in India that earned him the ire of many politicians but also endeared him to the people of this country. Another civil servant who brought about a major transformation in the country is E Sreedharan, India’s ‘Metro Man’. Sreedharan, a Padma Vibhushan awardee, was responsible for the timely execution of the Delhi Metro project. He was known for boldly side-lining political pressure and circumventing political interventions for speedy execution of projects.

There are remote hamlets in our country even today where the most basic needs are lacking and people’s lives are miserable. Imagine being responsible for bringing drinking water, transportation facilities, health facilities, educational institutions, sanitation, nutrition and dignity into the lives of people in such places.

You too can become an IAS officer and do your bit to make a positive change in peoples’ lives. Even though it is generally opined that the IAS exam is really tough and only a few brilliant people can clear it, the fact is, the IAS exam can be cracked by anyone who puts in diligent labour. The only requirement is to understand the demands of the exam perfectly and study accordingly, and this is where guidance from experienced people matter. Taking help from experts in the field will boost a candidate’s chances of cracking the IAS exam in the first attempt itself.

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1 Comment

  1. very nice & tghanks for sharing this blog

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