dream of their sons becoming Software Engineers, dreaming dollar dreams at the
Silicon Valley, not so long ago, the patriarch would dream of his son pursuing
the Civil Services and becoming an IAS officer. It was seen as an illustrious
career-path that could do wonders to one's self-esteem and could rocket the
family repute as well.
Years down the line, the picture has not
changed much, and why should it, when tens of thousands of young people even
today, are all willing to rough it out and chalk their way to the hallowed
corridors of bureaucracy.
Needless to say, the Civil Services are an equally challenging career option
for women. There have been, and there are many distinguished women bureaucrats
who have done remarkably well in the field. Former Foreign Secretary of India,
Ms.Choklia Iyer, an IFS officer, was the first woman to occupy the post in the
year 2000; and Kiran Bedi, IPS officer, is all too familiar as one who
fervently mooted the concept of prison reforms in Delhi's Tihar jail. The
number of entrants into this Hall of Fame continues to growÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
The Colonial PastThe Civil Services have
always had an air of "pride and power" around them. An offshoot of
the Raj, they still hold the same sway even in the post-colonial era. Seen as
a legacy of the British Rule here in India, the Civil Services, with all its
connotations of hierarchical accountability and controls, was established soon
after the suppression of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. It marked the transfer of
power from the East India Company to the Crown in England. The sole objective
of the Services then, was to govern the far-flung British Empire, which
predominantly involved duties like - preservation of law and order,
dispensation of justice and the collection of taxes.
In the 19th century, these services were restricted only to the 'White Babus'
and 'Sahibs'. Only from 1920s, after the constitution of the Indian Civil
Services (ICS), were Indians admitted to the service
The Democratic PresentToday, the Civil
Servants, as the officers of the Civil Services are called, work in a wholly
different context, different form the days of the Raj. Following the Preamble
of the Indian Constitution, they now operate to create a 'Sovereign,
Democratic and a Welfare State' with a singular focus on developing the
So, if you are one, who visualizes the nation as a developed country, as a
potential superpower in the days to come, and if you strongly believe that you
can lead the nation towards this vision, then get set to chart your way to
Bureaucracy and Babudom!
An overview of the services, The Indian Civil Services are organized into two
I. The All India Services II. The Central Services
All India Services:
The officers who make it to the All India Services, on appointment by the
government of India, will be deputed to different States and are at the
disposal of the respective State Governments. These services include:
The Indian Administrative Service (IAS): The IAS officers handle the affairs
of the government. At the Central level, their job involves the framing and
implementation of policies. At the district level, they manage the affairs of
the district, including development related activities. At the divisional
level, they look after law and order, general administration and development
The Indian Police Service (IPS):
The IPS officer's job mainly involves maintaining law and order. (At the
district level, they share this responsibility with the IAS officers.) The IPS
officer is responsible for ensuring public safety and security; crime
detection and prevention; and traffic control and accident prevention and
management. There are several functional departments that help IPS officers to
carry out their duties.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
The other agencies at the Central
level that aid in similar functions are:
Intelligence Bureau (IB), which gathers information
that will aid in predicting and preventing threats to public order.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which
investigates into cases of corruption and major crimes that are referred
Cabinet Secretariat Security, which looks after the
personal security of the cabinet ministers.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who are called in
times of emergency, like a natural calamity, or when the law and order
situation cannot be controlled by the local police alone.
Border Security Force (BSF), these forces are
responsible for the protection of life and property in the border areas.
The Indian Forest Service : The officers in this category
manage the forest reserves of the nation. Their job involves the protection
and conservation of forest resources and wildlife. They also look after the
management and supply of forest products.
The Central ServicesThe Officers
of the Central Services serve the Government of India only, irrespective of
which State or Country they are posted in. Some of the predominant services
that come under this category are:
The Indian Foreign Service (IFS): The IFS officers look
after the country's external affairs, including diplomacy, trade and
cultural relations. They are also responsible for the administration and
activities of Indian missions abroad; and for the framing and
implementation of the Government's foreign policy.
The Indian Railway Service (IRS): The Indian railway
network is one of the largest in the world. The IRS officers ensure the
smooth operation of this network.
The Indian Postal Service: This department looks after
the functioning of the mail, telegraphic and other communication services
in the country.
The Accounts and Auditing Service: This department
functioning in four categories deals with accounts, audits and inspections
of: - public sector, central and state government undertakings; all
military establishments; and the fixing, assessment and collection of
The Indian Customs (IC) and Central Excise Service (CES):
The IC deals with the checking and levy of duty on taxable goods brought
into the country; and the CES carries out the duty of taxation of goods
manufactured within the country.
The Indian Ordinance Factories Service: This service
oversees the production of goods made particularly for the use of the
The Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES): It is
concerned with the administration of military cantonments.
The Indian Information Service (IIS): This comes under
the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The IIS officers handle the
press and/or public relations both within the country and abroad on behalf
of the government, its various ministries, Public Sector Units (PSUs) and
the defence forces.
So, if you want to contribute more than your mite to the
process, read on to know how you can enter the Services.
pre-requisites for entering the Services through the Civil Services
Examination are: The candidate must be an Indian citizen.
He/She should be between 21 to 30 years of age, as on August 1st of the
examination year. Age relaxation of 5 years and 3 years is available to those
belonging to SC/ ST and OBC categories respectively.
The candidate should have a Bachelor's degree in any discipline from any
The Starting Point: Cracking
the Competitive Examination
Entry to the IAS, IPS and the Central Services is through
the combined Competitive Examination for the Civil Services. Recruitment to
the Indian Forest Service is through a separate examination. The Competitive
Examination takes place in three stages:
Stage I: Preliminary
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), an autonomous
body that ensures unbiased recruitment to the Civil Services, conducts the
examination. The notification for obtaining the application forms for the
examination will appear in the Employment News and also in other leading
The preliminary (prelims), a written examination is held in
the month of June every year. It consists of two papers, both in the objective
Paper I: This paper is called the General Studies and carries a maximum
score of 150 points on 150 questions. It is of two hours duration. It
covers these six topics - Indian History, the Constitution of India,
Geography, Economics, Science and Current Affairs.
Paper II: This is an optional paper on a subject of your choice, for
instance, Political Science, History, Economics, Psychology etc. A list of
the optional subjects that can be taken, can be obtained from the UPSC
website - www.upsc.gov.in. Paper II carries a score of 300 points on 120
questions and is also of two hours duration.
Since, it is an extremely competitive exam, the candidates
taking the prelims must be extremely diligent and hard working. Only the
highest scorers qualify for the second examination, that is, the Main
Examination. The success rate of preliminary exam is less than 10%.
Stage II: Main Examination
The Main Examination is a written examination in the
subjective or essay type format. It is generally held in the month of
November/December. It includes nine papers:
Papers I & II:
These are the language papers, of 300 marks each. One is the English
language paper, which is compulsory; and the other is in any Indian
language mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Marks obtained in these papers are not added in the total score, however
qualifying or passing in them with the specified minimum percentage is
The third is an Essay paper of 200 marks. The candidate can choose to
write the essay in either English or in any Indian language mentioned in
the eight schedule of the Constitution.
Paper IV and V:
These are the General Studies (G.K. and Current Affairs) papers of 300
Paper VI, VII, VIII & IX:
Here, the candidate will have to take two optional subjects, which would
contain two papers each. Thus, a total of four papers, where each paper
would be of 300 marks, with a total score of 1200.
The number of candidates, who pass through this stage
successfully, is further reduced in percentage when compared to the numbers
who succeed in the prelims. An indication of the tough competition is the fact
that, (on a 1:10 basis), if for instance, a thousand candidates pass the Main
exam, there is in reality, only 100 vacancies or civil service posts
Stage III: Personality Test
In this final round of elimination, the competition gets
the toughest. Candidates are selected on a 1:2 ratio. So, if there are ten
vacancies, then twenty candidates will be interviewed.
The personality test follows the pattern of an oral
interview or a viva voce. An expert panel judges the candidate's over all
personality, his/her social traits, presence of mind, and leadership
qualities, apart from their intellectual capabilities and aptitude for the
When all the hard work of the candidate finally pays off and he finds himself
smoothly cruising out of, even the interview stage, he undergoes compulsory
training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in
Mussoorie as a probationary officer. Training will be imparted in academic
areas, which comprise subject studies like economics, history, political
science, etc. After this foundation course, specific job-oriented training is
conducted separately by each service.
Climbing up the Career Ladder:
All officers begin as Junior Scale Officers. With time and
experience, they move on to the higher levels like Senior Scale, Super Time
Scale, Additional Secretary, Secretary, Chief Secretary and Cabinet Secretary,
with the last four representing the higher echelons.
The remuneration given to these government servants might not match corporate
standards of the capitalistic world. But the allowances and facilities given
to the civil servants are commensurate with the job. It includes housing,
telephone, leave travel concessions, official vehicles and so on.
If you are a wannabe civil
servant, these are the stuff you should be made of:
Apart from tonnes of intelligence and ounces of common
sense, you must have a deep sense of responsibility and empathy with the
underprivileged and the ability to interact with all kinds of people.
If you are an idealist, who believes that the world
will be perfect one day, with optimism and positive thinking to go with
it, you already fit the bill.
You will also require emotional stability to keep your
cool when you have to make the unwilling colleagues or subordinates work.
You should also possess immense personal integrity, for
there will be many offenders eagerly waving wads of pelf at you.
Any job that involves decision-making entails a sense
of stately power. Not allowing power to get into your head could be a
challenge to your level-headedness.
You get an opportunity to represent the Government
Working from the grassroots, you get the chance to
contribute your mite to the development, day-to-day administration and for
the overall welfare of the nation
The excellent training you receive as a probationary
officer in a wide range of intellectual, physical and creative activities
groom you into a well-developed personality.
You will work in different capacities, in different
administrative departments. This rich experience can vastly expand your
With principal activities like decision-making and
policy formulation, the job is vested with power.
It is a white-collared job with cushy allowances and
You have to work in a rigid hierarchical system,
answerable to those at higher echelons at every step. This may sometimes
act as a hindrance to freedom and creative inputs.
You may have to work in an atmosphere of brazen
corruption, red-tapeism and unaccountability.
Deployed in a different state/cadre, or in case of
Indian Foreign Service officers, in different countries, you may have to
spend a lot of time away from home, family and friends.
You might have to work under severe stress and pressure
while handling situations that can create law and order problems. Most IPS
officers, working in the C.I.D or C.B.I departments regularly confront
such work situations.
When a project fails to take off, you alone are often
made the scapegoat by politicians, people and the press.
By now, you might be having a picture of what the
Civil Services are all about. If you are convinced that it figures like your
ultimate job destination and if you have the gritty determination and an
indomitable will to get there, well, what are you waiting for? Start preparing
nowÃ¢â‚¬Â¦See you there!