History Of Indian Civil Services

5 minute read
History of Indian Civil Services

The word ‘civil service’ refers to the state’s regulatory administration which is responsible for carrying out recommendations made by political officials selected by the democratic society. While an IAS officer’s post may seem fairly novel to the century, civil services have been in India from ancient times, although it was not similar to what it is now. Read the full blog to learn more about the history of Indian Civil Services

Indian Civil Services

The Civil Services refer to the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India, which consists of career civil servants. It is the backbone of the country’s administrative structure. Civil servants are workers of the Indian government or state governments, however, not all government employees are civil servants. The civil list is being used to pay civil servants on a personal basis.

Also Read: 7 Highest Paying Government Jobs in India 

History of Indian Civil Services

Now, let us take a look at the history of Indian Civil Services:

  • Since ancient times, the Indian state has had some form of civil service
  • According to Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the Mauryan Empire had a central government that was in charge of tax administration
  • During the Gupta dynasty, such a piece of state machinery existed as well
  • The Mughals devised a comprehensive bureaucracy known as the Mansabdari system
  • There was no clear distinction between civilian and military authorities prior to the East India Company’s control. Salary payments to these officials also varied, ranging from cash to in-kind rewards such as land gifts
  • The British had established India’s civil service by separating it from the military forces, resulting in a hierarchy of officials paid from public funds.

Also Read: How to Start IAS Preparation?

Civil Service Under East India Company’s Rule

  • After the Battles of Plassey (1757) and Buxar (1758), the Company acquired new territory, which required the establishment of civil service (1764).
  • The then-Governor-General of Bengal, Warren Hastings, established the office of District Collector, who was in charge of collecting land tax. Because of the excessive concentration of power and corruption, this position was quickly abolished.
  • In India, Lord Cornwallis is recognized as the “Father of the Civil Service.” The Covenanted Civil Services and the Uncovenanted Civil Services were introduced by him.
  • The Company’s Law gave birth to the covenanted civil services. It was the upper civil services, which were made up entirely of Europeans who were paid extremely well.
  • The uncovenanted civil services were the lowest civil services, and they were primarily made up of native-born Indians.  They did not get the same pay as the covenanted civil services.
  • No Indian subject was prohibited from holding any office under the corporation under the Charter Act of 1833. However, this had little effect on the organization of British bureaucracy.
  • Until 1853, the Court of Directors held sole authority over the Company’s civil service appointments. These positions were a source of prestige and patronage for the Company.
  • The Charter Act of 1853 established an open competitive examination for public servant recruitment, depriving the Court of Directors of the power to make patronage appointments. A committee chaired by Lord Macaulay suggested this. In 1855, the first competitive test was held.

Also Read: How to Become an IPS Officer? 

Civil Service After the Revolt 1857

  • The higher civil service in India was known as the Indian Civil Services (ICS) after the Government of India Act of 1858.
  • The Indian Civil Services Act of 1861 specified that some government of India jobs would be reserved for those who had lived in India for at least seven years. This cleared the door for Indians to enter the highest ranks of the civil service.
  • The Indian Civil Services Act of 1870 accelerated the process of civil service Indianization. The first Indian appointed for the Indian civil services was Satyendranath Tagore.
  • Lord Dufferin established the Aitchison Committee to suggest changes to the civil service. The Committee proposed that the covenanted and uncovenanted civil services be renamed Imperial, Provincial, and Subordinate Civil Services, respectively.
  • The ICS came to be known as the “steel frame” of British control in India, as it provided the necessary support for maintaining control over the British Empire’s vast territories.
  • The percentage of Indians in the public services began to rise significantly with the August Declaration of 1917 by Edwin Montague in the House of Commons, which promised an increase in the association of Indians in the administration. By the 1930s, Indians were the majority in the civil services.

Regulations of the Indian Civil Services 

Following the adoption of the Charter Act of 1853, civil service recruitment was based on an open competitive examination.

  • According to the Aitchison Commission, the minimum and maximum age limits for taking the test should be 19 and 23, respectively.
  • The Viscount Lee Commission, which was established in 1923, facilitated the formation of a public service commission to conduct tests to recruit government officials. As a result, in 1926, a public service commission was established.
  • The commission’s powers were extended by the Government of India Act of 1935, which was renamed the Federal Public Service Commission.
  • It was renamed the Union Public Service Commission after independence, and it has had constitutional status since 1950.
  • The UPSC is in charge of conducting the civil services test in order to select and recommend candidates for civil service appointments. The test is based on a model used by the Imperial Civil Service for years.
  • A three-stage selection process was recommended by the Kothari Committee in 1976. A preliminary examination is objective in nature, with one paper each for Optional and General Studies. The main examination consists of nine subjective papers. The Personality Test is the final stage.
  • In 1989, the Satish Chandra Committee suggested the inclusion of an essay paper and a higher weighting for the interview (Personality Test).
  • In 2004, the Hota Commission proposed that an aptitude paper be included in the preliminary examination

Also Read: UPSC Syllabus For Civil Services Exam

Hopefully, this blog on the history of Indian Civil Services will provide you with enough knowledge to understand its roots. Are you struggling with your career choices? Sign up for a free 30-minute career counselling session with our Leverage Edu experts and we’ll equip you with the required guidance, be it academics or professional.

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