About the exam

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Referred to as the "Steel Frame" of British rule in India, the Civil Service system in India (ICS) at the time of the independence was universally acclaimed for its quality. Behind it lay an ancient tradition of bureaucracy and governance with the competitive examination being added by the British to make it broad based.

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS) was started as the successor services to the ICS and the IP (Indian Police) respectively in terms of both structure and functions. This was done in recognition of the contribution that these services have made in maintaining the unity of the country.

In the creation of the IAS, the Government of India was guided by a desire to build up an elitist cadre of the civil servants. The Centre was to be staffed by these officers. But if the Central Government was to draw its administrative officers from the States, as it must, it was necessary to provide for a common standard of acceptability at the Centre, which in turn implied a uniform system of recruitment, uniformity in pay, disciplinary provisions and other conditions in the service. The new service like its predecessor the ICS was to function as an administrative staff separate and distinct from the political apparatus of the government. The principle being - "the latter might come and go but the former must go on for ever".

Over the years the validity and strategic importance of the service has been recognised in that it is designed to man all superior posts and to maintain the standard of administration in the whole country. Article 312 of the Constitution of India gives a legal sanctity for the existence of the IAS. The Provincial Civil Services was formed as a supporting structure for the IAS and together they constitute the core of civil services in India.

The constitution also provides for setting up of a Public Service Commission for the whole of India and also for the States. The UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) conducts examinations for the recruitment of both All-India services and the various Central Services, while State Public Service Commissions function for the States. Recruitment for the Indian Foreign Service and the Railway Service is also done through the UPSC. Recruitment to all the above services is made through an open common competitive examination. The minimum educational qualification for all those appearing in civil service examinations is a graduation degree. Age limit has been fixed as 28 years with the relaxation of 5 years for the socially backward communities. This apart there is positive discrimination for these sections as well.

The underlying principle in framing the examination structure is to test the general education and mental ability rather than the specialised skills of the candidate. In order to make the scope of the examination more broad-based a wide variety of subjects are included from the Sciences, liberal Arts, engineering and linguistics. The candidates qualifying in the objective type preliminary test appeared for the main written examination. Those qualifying in the written examination are called for a personality test by a board constituted for this purpose by the UPSC.

The officers of the IAS are referred to as "generalists" who are called upon to perform a wide variety of duties and functions ranging from maintenance of law and order, collection of revenue, to developmental work, implementation of social welfare activities etc. They head the Union and the State Secretariats, as well as the district administrations throughout the country.

The All India Services (IAS, IPS & IFS) thus help in bringing about coordination and cooperation between the Centre and the States - a crucial role- keeping in mind the federal structure of Indian polity. Each State has a separate cadre of IAS officers who can be deputed for the service under the Union Government for a certain number of years. The Services are offered a satisfactory salary and an unparalleled status in society in order to attract the best talent available in the country.This also enables the selected candidates to serve far away from their home state without any strain.

The All India composition of the Civil Services emphasises the unity of India and encourages the development of a national viewpoint. Equally, it ensures that the administration of every state has a team of officers from outside, whose vision and outlook are not circumscribed by parochial considerations. The control of these officers, is not vested solely in the State Government to which the officers are allotted, but jointly in the State and the Central Governments. This provides for a measure of remote control which by its very nature, is objective.

Thus the civil services in India are principally responsible for the general administration of the country. In essence, they virtually preside over the destiny of the nation itself. Unarguably a number of ills have, over the years , crept into the civil service as well, a reflection of the society in which it exists. Currently there are certain serious efforts at reform being pursued, in which the Academy is playing a pivotal role. The civil services in India continue to be the pivot around which the country, as it were, revolves. They are indeed the finest tools of social engineering possesed by India.

* The Services for which the exam is conducted :

(i) Indian Administrative Service.
(ii) Indian Foreign Service.
(iii) Indian Police Service.
(iv) Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group 'A'.
(v) Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group 'A'.
(vi) Indian Customs and Central Excise Service, Group 'A'.
(vii) Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group 'A'.
(viii) Indian Revenue Service, Group 'A'.
(ix) Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group 'A' (Assistant Manager, Non- technical).
(x) Indian Postal Service, Group 'A'.
(xi) Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group 'A'.
(xii) Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group 'A'.
(xiii) Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group 'A'.
(xiv) Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group 'A'.
(xv) Posts of Assistant Security Officer, Group 'A' in Railway Protection Force.
(xvi) Indian Defence Estates Service, Group 'A'.
(xvii) Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group 'A'.
(xviii) Indian Trade Service, Group 'A' (Grade-III).
(xix) Posts of Assistant Commandant, Group 'A' in Central Industrial Security Force.

(xx) Central Secretariat Service, Group 'B' (Section-Offier's Grade).
(xxi) Railway Board Secretariat Service, Group 'B'. (Section-Officers Grade).
(xxii) Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group 'B' (Assistant Civilian Staff Officer's Grade)
(xxiii) Customs Appraisers' Service, Group 'B'.
(xxiv) The Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group 'B'
(xxv) The Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group 'B'
(xxvi) Pondicherry Civil Service, Group 'B'

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