History of IAS – Indian Administrative Service

The precursor of the IAS was the Indian Civil Service (ICS) during the British Raj era. ICS officers (known as “Collectors”)(They are still called “Collectors” to maintain supremacy over other Native Indian Cadres), were generally held in high regard as incorruptible and good administrators (citation?). There were critics, however; Jawaharlal Nehru recounted a popular saying that the ICS was “neither Indian, nor civil, nor a service” in his Discovery of India. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George referred to the colonial ICS as the “steel frame” of the British Raj for its role in influencing and implementing government policies and decisions.

Upon independence, the new Republic of India accepted the then serving Indian Civil Service officers who chose to stay on rather than leave for the UK, and renamed the service the Indian Administrative Service.

IAS officers time scales:

  • Junior Time Scale (entry-level)
  • Senior Time Scale (four years of service) – equivalent to an Under Secretary to the govt. of India.
  • Junior Administrative Grade (nine years of service) – Deputy Secretaries
  • Selection Grade (13 years of service) – Directors
  • Joint Secretary (GOI)
  • Additional Secretary (GOI)
  • Secretary (GOI) – highest rank (basic pay of 80,000 Indian rupees)
  • Cabinet Secretary – only one (basic pay of 90,000 Indian rupees). 

The State Governments however have a kind of a leverage to post these officers. Normally when an IAS officer joins the State, he is placed as a Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM). Ideally he is to be made in charge of a District after completing 9 years of service and entering the Junior Administrative Grade but in certain States, even younger IAS officers are made in charge of Districts (Known as District Magistrates (DM), Deputy Commissioners (DCs) or Collectors),like in uttar pradesh 4 year senior officer may be appointed as D.M.The report of the Sixth Pay Commissions with details on the amount of salaries can be found here, http://india.gov.in/govt/studies/ias_revised_eng.pdf

Progression of IAS officers in State and Center Government

Transparency International, a global watchdog body, ranked India at a low 73 out of the 102 countries in its Corruption Perception Index, later in the 2008 survey, it ranked 85th in a 128 country list. The World Economic Forum on the other hand, ranked India 44 among 49 countries surveyed.[5]. A 2009 survey of the leading economies of Asia, revealed Indian bureaucracy to be not just least efficient out of Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Philippines and Indonesia; further it was also found that working with the India’s civil servants was a “slow and painful” process.[6].

By the 1990s, the economic liberalization of the Indian economy and the end of the license raj, gradually opened up the economic skies and the end to the regulatory regime which flourished during previous era, loosened its hold over the resources. Though this brought to surface the practices of kickbacks, both during disinvestment and offering government contracts, and while setting up of industries by foreign businesses were soon employing same corrupt practices used by Indian businesses for decades [7].

Over the years, several reasons have been cited by various scholars regarding the sustained existence of corrupt practices within the Indian bureaucratic system, also known as babudom colloquially, leading among them is its nexus with political corruption, lack of accountability and low regulatory controls. Others have suggested a rigid bureaucracy with a exclusivist process of decision making in a overly-centralized government as the reason its pervasiveness despite the passing years. In fact surveys have found it to be most resistant to transformation in its ways of functioning, even after repeated efforts by successive governments.[8]. Some experts believe that a fall out of the existing corruption and red tapism can be detrimental to the Indian economy in the long run, as foreign investors in a rapidly global, economies of the world still view entering into India as a challenge and plagued as it remains both with political and bureaucratic corruption as well systematic inefficiency which leads to long turn around period as project delays cause cost escalations in volatile market economies [9]. Also in the recent years, several corrupt economies of Asia have faced setbacks, after the wave of economic upturn faded, this makes the urgency of corrective measures more than evident, they make it an imperative. It is now suggested that India should get rid of IAS officers and give the decision process as a voting to the people itself. This method has proved very successful all over the world. [10][11].


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