The Indian Administrative Service (abbreviated as IAS) (Hindi: भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा) is the premier administrative civil service of the Government of India. IAS officers hold key and strategic positions in the Union Government, States and public-sector undertakings. Like in various countries (example UK) following Parliamentary system, IAS as the permanent bureaucracy in India forms an inseparable part of the executive branch of the Government of India, thus providing continuity and neutrality to the administration. Unlike Candidates selected to other civil services, a person once appointed to Indian Administrative Service or Indian Foreign Service (IFS) becomes ineligible to reappear in Civil Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission because there are no higher civil services other than aforementioned two services under Government of India.

Along with the Police Service and Forest Service, the IAS is one of the three All India Services — its cadre can be employed by both the Union Government and the individual States.[2] Upon confirming to service after probation as Sub-Divisional Magistrate, an IAS officer is given administrative command of entire district as District collector. On attaining the upper levels of Super Time Scale to Apex Scale, they can go on to head whole departments and subsequently entire Ministries of Government of India and States. IAS officers represent Government of India at the international level in bilateral and multilateral negotiations. On deputations[4] they work at Intergovernmental organisations like World Bank and United Nations or its Agencies. IAS officers at various levels of administration play vital roles in conducting free, fair and smooth elections in India under the direction of Election Commission of India and states.

History

The erstwhile Imperial Civil Service was the higher civil service of the British Empire in British India during British rule in the period between 1858 and 1947. Civil servants were divided into two categories – covenanted and uncovenanted. The covenanted civil service consisted of only white British civil servants occupying the higher posts in the government. The uncovenanted civil service was solely introduced to facilitate the entry of Indians at the lower rung of the administration.

At the time of the partition of India and the departure of the British in 1947, the Imperial Civil Service was divided between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan. The part which went to India was named the Indian Administrative Service, while the part that went to Pakistan was named the “Civil Service of Pakistan”.

Recruitment

Recruitment to the Indian Administrative Service is done through an extremely competitive examination called the “Civil Services Examination”, organised by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). This examination is also known as the “Mother of all Examination” among the aspirants. In 2015, over 1,000,000 candidates applied for this exam from which only 170 shall finally be recruited into the Indian Administrative Service. “Civil Services Examination” requires a lot of practice by the candidate. The number of vacancies vary every year. Every year Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India, elucidates the number of vacancies after encompassing the vacancies from each state.

Allocation and placement

After being selected in the UPSC EXAM, candidates undergo training at LBSNAA, Mussoorie for IAS. There is one cadre in each Indian state, except for three joint cadres: Assam–Meghalaya, Manipur–Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh–Goa–Mizoram–Union Territories (AGMUT).

The “insider-outsider ratio” (ratio of officers who are posted in their home states) is maintained as 1:2. as ‘insiders’. The rest are posted outsiders according to the ‘roster’ in states other than their home states. Till 2008 there was no choice for any state cadre and the candidates, if not placed in the insider vacancy of their home states, were allotted to different states in alphabetic order of the roster, beginning with the letters A,H,M,T for that particular year. For example, if in a particular year the roster begins from ‘A’, which means the first candidate in the roster will go to the Andhra Pradesh state cadre of IAS, the next one to Bihar, and subsequently to Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and so on in alphabetical order. The next year the roster starts from ‘H’, for either Haryana or Himachal Pradesh (if it has started from Haryana in the previous occasion when it all started from ‘H’, then this time it would start from Himachal Pradesh). This highly intricate system has on one hand ensured that officers from different states are placed all over India, it has also resulted in wide disparities in the kind of professional exposure for officers, when we compare officers in small and big and also developed and backward state, since the system ensures that the officers are permanently placed to one state cadre. The only way the allotted state cadre can be changed is by marriage to an officer of another state cadre of IAS/IPS/IFS. One can even go to his home state cadre on deputation for a limited period, after which one has to invariably return to the cadre allotted to him or her.

The centralising effect of these measures was considered extremely important by the system’s framers, but has received increasing criticism over the years. In his keynote address at the 50th anniversary of the Service in Mussoorie, former Cabinet Secretary Nirmal Mukarji argued that separate central, state and local bureaucracies should eventually replace the IAS as an aid to efficiency. There are also concerns that without such reform, the IAS will be unable to “move from a command and control strategy to a more interactive, interdependent system.”

Functions of the civil servant/officer

A civil servant is responsible for the law and order and general administration in the area under his work. Typically the functions of an IAS officer are as follows:

To handle the daily affairs of the government, including framing and implementation of policy in consultation with the minister-in-charge of the concerned ministry which requires supervision and proper enforcement at ground realities.
In the process of policy formulation and decision making, officers at higher level contribute to the final shape of the policy and/or take a final decision with the concurrence of the minister concerned or the cabinet (depending on the gravity of the issue).

To implement government policies at grass-root level when posted at field work i.e. as SDM, ADM, DM and Divisional Commissioner and act as intermediate between public and government by good execution and deliverance skills.

Designations

Most IAS officers start their careers in the state administration at the sub-divisional level as a sub divisional magistrate. They are entrusted with the law and order situation of the city along with general administration and development work of the areas under their charge.[14] Since early 20th-century, Indian civil servants are colloquially called “babus”, while Indian bureaucracy is called “babudom”, as in the “rule of babus”, especially in the Indian media.

Salary structure

Grade Position in the State Government(s) or Central government Pay Scale (per month) Years of Service
Cabinet Secretary Grade Cabinet Secretary of India ₹ 250000 35th year (Only one post)
Apex Scale Chief Secretary of States, Secretary (Union Secretaries in charge) of various ministries of Government of India ₹80,000 (fixed) 31st year
Above Super Time Scale Principal Secretary in the State Government or Additional Secretary to the Government of India ₹67,000-79,000 24th year
Super Time Scale Divisional Commissioner in a division or Secretary in the State government or Joint Secretary to Government of India ₹37,400-₹67,000 plus grade pay of ₹10000 17th year
Selection Grade District Magistrate/Collector/Deputy Commissioner of a District or Special Secretary in the State government or Director in the Government of India ₹37,400-₹67,000 plus grade Pay of ₹8700 11th year
Junior Administrative Grade District Magistrate/Collector/Deputy Commissioner of a District or Additional Secretary in the State government or Joint Director/Deputy Secretary to the Government of India,Private Secretary(Goi) ₹15,600-₹39,100 plus grade pay of ₹7600 6th year
Senior Time Scale Additional District Magistrate/Additional Collector/Additional Deputy Commissioner of a District or Under Secretary in the State Government or Deputy Secretary to the Government of India ₹15,600-₹39,100 plus grade pay of ₹6600 4th year
Junior Time Scale Sub-Divisional Magistrate in a sub-division of a district/Section Officer in state secretariat (Entry)/Assistant Director the Government of India ₹15,600-₹39,100 plus grade pay of ₹5400 Initial Year