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Civil Services


The Indian Civil Service dates back to the days of the British Raj. It was established by the British East India Company. Today the Indian Civil Services have become much more complex and broader. The importance of the Civil Services in a country like India is great. Since it is such a vast country with varied features in different parts, India needs an efficient system of administration and management. This is where the civil servants come of help. The branches of the Indian Civil Service are:

The first three in the given list are all India services whereas those following are central services. Apart from these services which are under the control of the central government, the states also have their own administrative, forest and police services. The entrance examinations to the latter are conducted by the individual states in question.


Any Indian citizen between the age of twenty one and thirty who has completed his or her bachelor's degree is eligible to appear in the Indian Civil Service Examinations. Indian citizenship is mandatory for the aspirants of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service. However, in case of the other services, candidates of certain specified foreign origins are accepted.

The Civil Services Examination

The Indian Civil Service Examinations are conducted by and under the supervision of the Union Public Service Commission which was established in 1950 under the Constitution of India's Article 315. This annually held examination is highly competitive as thousands of aspirants appear for it every year. In spite of the many career options available today, many young people still opt for the Indian Civil Services because it retains an aura of prestige and a civil servant in India even today earns a lot of respect in the country. Added to this are the various facilities and high salary of an Indian bureaucrat.
The actual examination is divided into two stages:
  1. The Preliminary Examination
  2. The Main Examination
The Preliminary Examination is a qualifying examination which is objective in nature. It consists of two papers: one which tests the general knowledge of the aspirant and the other which is a test on a subject of the examinee's choice. The optional subjects include Law, Sociology, Philosophy, Economics, Agriculture, Mechanical Engineering, Botany, Medical Science, Political Science, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Chemistry, Physics, Public Administration, Zoology, Electrical Engineering, Geology, Indian History, Commerce, Geography, Statistics, etc.
The Main Examination in its turn is further divided into written and oral parts. The written part of the test consists of nine papers. These include a paper on English, a paper on any one Indian Language, a general knowledge paper, an essay and papers on any two optional subjects chosen by the candidate appearing for the exam. The optional subjects are the same as those in the preliminary examination. Here however, with the choice of two subjects, certain combinations are not allowed.
Once a civil service aspirant clears these stages he or she then has to appear for the interview. During the interview the candidate will face questions on topics of general awareness. However, the main objective of the interview is to gauge the personality of the candidate and adjudge whether he or she is suitable for the responsibility that the job entails.
Lastly, there is a Medical Test. This is especially important for the candidates of the Indian Police Service.
There is a somewhat different system of examination for the aspirants of the Indian Forest Service especially as far as the choice of subjects is concerned.
The selected candidates are assigned to various services based on their over all ranks in the entrance examinations. All appointed probationary officers undergo compulsory training.

Nature of Work

Indian Administrative Service
The IAS officers are responsible for the management of the various administrative departments and their respective functions. This includes framing of policies and acting as advisors to the ministers as well as executing appointed duties as the officers in charge of the administration of smaller administrative units. The District Magistrate for instance, is in charge of a district and has to look after the law and order situation as well as the administration and the over all development of the area.
Indian Police Service
The Indian Police Service is directly responsible for maintaining law and order in the state of India. It has the responsibility to look after the safety of the citizens of the country. The Indian Police Service has various branches and associated departments like the Border Security Force, the Department of Home Guards, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the department of Traffic Control, the Criminal Investigation Department, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Crime Branch, etc. An IPS officer often shares his duty with the IAS officer of the same district. Indian Forest Service
An officer of the Indian Forest Service takes care of the vast forest resources of the country helping to conserve it and protect it from illegal poacher, loggers, grazers and their likes. Indian Foreign Service
The Indian Foreign Service is associated with the countries External and Foreign Affairs Ministry. The officials are responsible for the framing of foreign policies as well as maintaining and regulating the Indian embassies in various countries of the world.
Indian Railway Service
The Indian Railway Service is in charge of the huge network of railways in India which itself is divided into the Indian Railway Traffic Services, the Indian Railway Personnel Services, the Indian Railway Accounts Services and the Railway Police Service. The Railway Police Service is responsible for maintaining the security of the whole system and especially the passengers. The Indian Railway Traffic Service deals with the scheduling of trains and the passengers and the freight carried by these trains. The Indian Railway Personnel Service is the branch which deals with the recruitment of the officers and other administrative workers and the Indian Railway Accounts Services is in charge of looking after the accounts of this vast system. These are the non technical branches of the Indian Railways. For the recruitment of technical staff (like the engineers) there is a different entrance test altogether.
Indian Postal Service
The Staff of the Indian postal Service look after the workings of the country's postal network which includes the telegraph service. Officers start out as Senior Superintendent of Post Offices initially. The postings can be in any part of the country and also in the central Ministry.
Indian Customs and Central Excise Service
As the very name suggests, this deals with the custom and excise departments. The former deals with the levying of taxes on things brought into the country whereas the department of excise duties deals with the taxation of goods which are produced in the country.
Audit & Accounts Service
This service maintains the accounts of all the states of India. It has various specialised branches such as the Indian Defence Accounts Service which deals with the expenditure of the Indian Defence Services. There is also an Indian civil Accounts Service which falls under the direct administration of the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance.
Indian Information Service
The Indian Information Service deals with the transmissions of government media apparatuses like Doordarshan and Prasarbharati. It falls under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Indian Revenue Service
The officers of the Indian Revenue Service aid in the assessment and fixing of the rates of income tax and are also responsible for collecting the same. There are branches within it dealing with tax crimes such as evasion of income tax and also those which build up statistics.
After their probationary period and the period of training, all officers are in charge of the most junior posts. With time and experience one is promoted to higher positions. This is because the Indian Civil Service operates in a hierarchical fashion where experience is the key to advancement.


An officer of the Indian Civil Service is a bureaucrat. Therefore, one must be prepared for fulfilling such functions. Also, it is important to have the desire to serve one's country and contribute towards its betterment. An officer can be posted in any part of the country-even the remotest of villages. One must be prepared to face such a situation where urban amenities will be absent.

Coaching/Study Centers

There are thousands of coaching centres which help the aspirants to prepare for the extremely competitive Civil Service Examinations. Here is a list of selected institutions:

Career Growth & Prospects

A chosen candidate is sent for training. After training he or she is sent as a probationary officer serving under the district magistrate or in government schools, secretariats, and other postings which involve on the field experience. The positional hierarchy is as follows:
  1. Under Secretary
  2. Director
  3. Joint Secretary
  4. Additional Secretary
  5. Secretary
  6. Cabinet Secretary

In the districts the highest position belongs to the district magistrate and the deputy commissioner is in charge at the divisional stratum. Based on seniority, an officer may be chosen to represent the country at international bodies like the WHO, UNHCR, etc.


Whereas the salary may not be as high as that paid to a manager of a private company, the other allowances and intangibles more than make up for it. An Indian Civil Servant receives free health care, housing facilities, transport fares, etc. Also, there is the added assurance of job security since one is employed by the government.

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