Indian Administrative Service

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Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
Service Overview
Abbreviation I.A.S.
Formed 1946
Country  India
Training Ground Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie, (Uttarakhand)
Controlling Authority Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, Department of Personnel and Training
Legal personality Governmental: Government service
General nature Policy Formulation
Policy Implementation
Civil administration
Advisors to Ministers
Managing bureaucracy (Center and State)
Preceding service Imperial Civil Service (1893–1946)
Cadre Size 4737 members (direct recruitment – 3398, promotion – 1339) (2013)[1]
Association IAS officers Association
Head of the Civil Services
Cabinet Secretary
Current: ajit seth , IAS

The Indian Administrative Service (abbreviated as IAS) is the administrative civil service of the Government of India. IAS officers hold key positions in the Union Government, State governments and public-sector undertakings. Along with the police and forest services, the IAS is one of the three All India Services—its cadre can be employed both by the union government and the states.

IAS officers are recruited by the Union government on the recommendation of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and posted under various State governments. The officers carry high respect and stature in the society coupled with the significant task of administering public offices, making it one of the most desirable jobs in India. While the respective State Governments have control over them, they can not censure or take disciplinary action against an IAS officer or an All-India service officer, without consulting the Union Government.

The Civil Services Examination for getting into IAS is conducted by the UPSC. It has four stages (Preliminary Exam, Mains Exam, Personality Test/Interview, Medical Examination of Body) and is considered to be extremely challenging. Entry into the IAS is considered very difficult. Almost all of the applicants rank IAS as their top choice because of the high prestige and diversity of career it offers. For example, in the 2011 batch, of the 425 selected candidates, 370 indicated IAS as their first preference, 25 chose IFS and 15 IRS, and 15 chose IPS. But when it came to second preference, 246 candidates marked IRS as their choice, while only 120 marked IPS as their second choice and 49 as IFS.

The successor to the British Raj-instituted Indian Civil Service, the IAS is referred to as the "steel frame" of the administration.


In the year 2013, UPSC has come up with the new pattern and new syllabus for conducting the IAS exam. Prior to 2013, the candidates were required to take two optional subjects but as per the new syllabus the aspirants are now required to choose only one. In the new pattern, more weightage is given to the General Studies papers, which consists of a total of four papers of two hundred and fifty marks each. There are a total of three steps included in the recruitment process- passing the IAS Preliminary exams, which are considered relatively easy, and then the IAS Main paper, which is known to be extremely challenging. The candidates who successfully clear the IAS Mains are then interviewed by board members to test on personality skills.

Allocation and placement[edit]

After being selected, candidates are allocated to "cadres." There is one cadre in each Indian state, except for three joint cadres: AssamMeghalaya, ManipurTripura, and Arunachal PradeshGoaMizoramUnion Territories (AGMUT).[2]

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.[2]

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.[3] 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".[4]

Functions of the civil servant/Officer[edit]

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:[5]

  • 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.[5]
    • Implementation of policy requires supervision.
    • Implementation requires travelling to places where the policies are being implemented.
    • Implementation also includes expenditure of public funds which again requires personal supervision as the officers are answerable to the Parliament and State Legislature for any irregularities that may occur.
  • In the process of policy formulation and decision making, officers at various levels like joint secretary, deputy secretary make their contributions and the final shape to the policy is given or a final decision is taken with the concurrence of the minister concerned or the cabinet depending upon the gravity of the issue.[5]

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is remembered as the "Patron Saint" of India's civil servants for establishing modern all-India services. In an unprecedented and unrepeated gesture, on the day after his death more than 1,500 officers of India's civil and police services congregated to mourn at Patel's residence in Delhi and pledged "complete loyalty and unremitting zeal" in India's service.[6]


Progression of career of IAS officers in State and Centre Government

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.[7]

Salary structure[edit]

Grade Position in the State Government(s) or Central government Pay Scale
Cabinet Secretary Grade Cabinet Secretary of India INR90,000 ( plus grade pay-Nil
Apex Scale Chief Secretary of States, Union Secretaries in charge of various ministries of Government of India INR80,000 (fixed) plus grade pay-Nil
Above Super Time Sc Principal Secretaries/Financial Commissioners in states, Additional Secretaries to the Government of India INR37,400-INR67,000 plus grade pay of INR12,000
Super Time Scale Secretary in state government or position of Joint Secretary to Government of India or Divisional Commissioners INR37,400-INR67,000 plus grade pay of INR10000
Selection Grade District collector or Special Secretary in the state government or a Director in the central government INR37,400-INR67,000 plus grade Pay of INR8700
Junior Administrative Grade District collector or the Municipal Commissioner or a Deputy Secretary in the central government INR15,600-INR39,100 plus grade pay of INR7600
Senior Time Scale Chief Development Officer in District or Joint Secretary in State or Under Secretary in Central government INR15,600-INR39,100 plus grade pay of INR6600
Junior Time Scale Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Entry) INR15,600-INR39,100 plus grade pay of INR5400

Further reading[edit]

  • Indian bureaucracy at the crossroads, by Syamal Kumar Ray. Published by Sterling, 1979.
  • Corruption in Indian politics and bureaucracy, by Satyavan Bhatnagar, S. K. Sharma, Punjab University. Published by Ess Ess Publications, 1991. ISBN 81-7000-123-4.
  • Breaking Free of Nehru (particularly chapter 5), by Sanjeev Sabhlok, Published by Anthem Press, 2008.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2013 Total Cadre strength of IAS as on January 2013". Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Educational Philosophy of Dr. Zakir Hussain. Dr. Noorejahan H. p. 325. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  3. ^ Mukarji, Nirmal. Speech published "Restructuring the Bureaucracy: Do We Need the All-India Services?"in Arora, Balveer and Radin, Beryl, Eds. The Changing Role of the All-India Services: An assessment and agenda for future research on federalism and the All-India services. New Delhi: Centre for Policy Research, 2000.
  4. ^ Radin, B.A. (2007). "The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in the 21 stCentury: Living in an Intergovernmental Environment". International Journal of Public Administration 30 (12): 1525–1548. doi:10.1080/01900690701229848. Retrieved 11 June 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Exam Result IAS information website
  6. ^ Panjabi, Indomitable Sardar, pp. 157–58
  7. ^ One Stop IAS

External links[edit]