Indian Administrative Service

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Indian Administrative Service
भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा
Service Overview
Abbreviation IAS.
Formed 1893
(As Imperial Civil Service)
Country  India
Staff College Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, (Uttarakhand)
Cadre 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 Strength 4737 members (direct recruitment – 3398, promotion – 1339) (2013)[1]
Association IAS officers Association
Head of the All India Civil Services
Cabinet Secretary
Current: Pradeep Kumar Sinha, IAS

The Indian Administrative Service (abbreviated as IAS) (Hindi: भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा) is the premier[2] administrative civil service of the Government of India. IAS officers hold key and strategic positions in the Union Government, States[2] and public-sector undertakings.[2] 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.[3]

Along with the IPS and forest services, the IAS is one of the three All India Services—its cadre can be employed by both - the Union Government and the 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 organizations like World Bank[5] and United Nations or its Agencies.[4] 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.[6]


At the time of the partition of India and departure of the British, in 1947, the Indian Civil Service was divided between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan. The part which went to India was named the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), while the part that went to Pakistan was named the "Civil Service of Pakistan" (CSP). At the time of Partition, there were 980 ICS officers. 468 were Europeans, 352 Hindus, 101 Muslims, two depressed classes/Scheduled Castes, five domiciled Europeans and Anglo-Indians, 25 Indian Christians, 13 Parsis, 10 Sikhs and four other communities.[7] Most European officers left India at Partition, while many Hindus and Muslims went to India and Pakistan respectively. This sudden loss of the officer cadre caused major challenges in administering the nascent states.

Nirmal Kumar Mukherjee, who retired as Cabinet Secretary in April 1980, had been the last Indian administrative officer who had originally joined as an ICS (in 1944).


Recruitment to the Indian Administrative Service is done through an extremely competitive examination called the "Civil Services Examination", organized by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). In 2012, over 500,000 candidates took this exam[8] from which only 170 were finally recruited into the Indian Administrative Service. The IAS is usually overwhelmingly the top choice of Civil Service Exam aspirants because of the highly diverse and prestigious career it offers. Due to the very few number of vacancies in IAS and preference by most of the candidates, entry into the IAS becomes even more difficult. 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 Civil Services Examination is a grueling three-stage process spanning nearly twelve months. Candidates have to first write a preliminary examination consisting of two papers, where they are tested on areas such as economics, politics, history, geography, environment, awareness of current affairs, reading comprehension, logical reasoning and basic numeracy skills. Only those that qualify at the preliminary level are eligible to proceed to the second stage, referred to as the "Mains" exams. Candidates have to write nine papers in the Mains exams, where they are tested on Indian and world history, constitutional law, international relations and multilateral bodies, world geography and administrative ethics. Those who successfully clear the Mains exams have to face the renowned interview by the Union Public Service Commission, and a final list of recommended candidates is forwarded to the Government of India.

Allocation and placement[edit]

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: AssamMeghalaya, ManipurTripura, and Arunachal PradeshGoaMizoramUnion Territories (AGMUT).[9]

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.[9]

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.[10] 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".[11]

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:[12]

  • 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.[12]
    • 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 higher levels like Joint Secretary and Deputy Secretary 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).[12]

Appointments to other organizations/bodies[edit]

IAS officers can be appointed in autonomous organizations/sub ordinate organizations/PSUs/UN Organizations/international organizations like World Bank, Asian Development Bank in various capacities.

They also serve as Personal Secretaries to Ministers in Central Government.

There is provision for deputation of IAS officers to private organizations for a fixed tenure.[1]


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.[13] Since early 20th-century, Indian civil servants are colloquially called "babus",[14] while Indian bureaucracy is called "babudom", as in the "rule of babus", especially in the Indian media.[15][16]

Salary structure[edit]

Grade Position in the State Government(s) or Central government Pay Scale (per month)
Cabinet Secretary Grade Cabinet Secretary of India 90,000
Apex Scale Chief Secretary of States, Union Secretaries in charge of various ministries of Government of India 80,000 (fixed)
Above Super Time Scale Principal Secretaries/Additional Chief Secretary/Financial Commissioners in states, Additional Secretaries to the Government of India 67,000-79,000
Super Time Scale Divisional Commissioner in a large division or Secretary in state government or position of Principal Staff Officer (PSO)/ Joint Secretary to Government of India 37,400-67,000 plus grade pay of 10000
Selection Grade Divisional Commissioner in small division/District collector in a large district or Special Secretary in the state government or a Director in the central government/Sr.Principal Private Secretary of central government 37,400-67,000 plus grade Pay of 8700
Junior Administrative Grade District collector/District Magistrate in a small district or Joint Secretary in the state government or a Deputy Secretary/Principal Private Secretary in the central government 15,600-39,100 plus grade pay of 7600
Senior Time Scale Chief Development Officer or Municipal Commissioner or Vice Chairman of District Development Authority in a district or Under Secretary in State or Under Secretary in Central government or Sr.Private Secretary in central government 15,600-39,100 plus grade pay of 6600
Junior Time Scale Sub-Divisional Magistrate in a sub-division of a district (Entry)/Section Officer/Private Secretary in Central Govt 15,600-39,100 plus grade pay of 5400


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2013 Total Cadre strength of IAS as on January 2013" (PDF). Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Important Highlights of Civil Service Examination, 2012". Press Information Bureau. 
  9. ^ a b Educational Philosophy of Dr. Zakir Hussain. Dr. Noorejahan H. p. 325. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  10. ^ 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 ada for future research on federalism and the All-India services. New Delhi: Centre for Policy Research, 2000.
  11. ^ Radin, B.A. (2007). "The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in the 21st Century: Living in an Intergovernmental Environment" (PDF). International Journal of Public Administration 30 (13): 1525–1548. doi:10.1080/01900690701229848. Retrieved 11 June 2008. 
  12. ^ a b c Exam Result IAS information website
  13. ^ One Stop IAS
  14. ^ "Yet to start work, Natgrid CEO highest paid babu". The Times of India. Aug 23, 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-17. 
  15. ^ "A barbed look at babudom: Will the typically British humour of Yes Minister work if transplanted to an Indian setting? Viewers of a Hindi satellite channel have a chance to find out.". The Times of India. Sep 2, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-17. 
  16. ^ "Babu". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-09-17. 

External links[edit]