Indian Administrative Service

Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
Service Overview
Formerly known as ICS
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
Duties Law & Order Management
Policy Formulation
Policy Implementation
Civil Administration
Advisors to Ministers
Managing bureaucracy (Center and State)
Preceding service Imperial Civil Service (1893–1946)
Cadre Strength 4196 members (2016)[1]
Selection Civil Services Examination
Association IAS Officers Association
Head of the Civil Services
Current Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha, IAS

The Indian Administrative Service(I.A.S): (Hindi: भारतीय प्रशासनिक सेवा) is All India [2] administrative civil service of India. I.A.S. officers hold key and strategic positions in the Union Government, States[2] and public-sector undertakings.[2] Like in various countries (for example UK) following Parliamentary system, I.A.S. 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 prior to 1972 a person to be eligible for IAS/IFS has to write extra exam but even after common UPSC civil services exam the status quo is maintained which needs to be changed with changing times.[3]

Along with the Police Service and Forest Service, the I.A.S. 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 revenue bureaucracy in the district as District collector after 4 years of service. 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[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]


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.[7][8]

With the passing of the Government of India Act 1919, the Imperial Services headed by the Secretary of State for India, were split into two – All India Services and Central Services.[9]

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".

Prime Minister Modi addressing IAS probationers (trainee officers), 2015


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). In 2015, over 1,000,000 candidates applied for IAS exam from which only 180 were recruited into the Indian Administrative Service, indicating the extreme competition. 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.[10]

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: AssamMeghalaya, ManipurTripura, and Arunachal PradeshGoaMizoramUnion Territories (AGMUT).[11]

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.[11]

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.[12] 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."[13]

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:


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",[15] while Indian bureaucracy is called "babudom", as in the "rule of babus", especially in the Indian media.[16][17][18]

Grade Position in the State Government(s) or Central government Pay Scale (per month) Years of Service
Cabinet Secretary Grade Cabinet Secretary of India (Only one post) 2,55,000 35th year
Apex Scale Chief Secretary of States or Secretary to Government of India 2,25,000 31st year
Above Super Time Scale Principal Secretary in the State Government or Additional Secretary to the Government of India 2,00,000 24th year
Super Time Scale Divisional Commissioner in a division or Secretary in the State government or Joint Secretary to Government of India 1,75,000 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 1,18,000 10th 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 78,800 6th year
Senior Time Scale Additional District Magistrate/Additional Collector/Additional Deputy Commissioner of a District or Under Secretary in the State Government 65,000 4th year
Junior Time Scale Sub-Divisional Magistrate in a sub-division of a district/Section Officer in state secretariat (Entry)/Assistant Director to Government of India 56,000 Initial Year

Major concerns and Reforms

The IAS is hamstrung by political interference, outdated personnel procedures, and a mixed record on policy implementation, and it is in need of urgent reform. The Indian government should reshape recruitment and promotion processes, improve performance-based assessment of individual officers, and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.
 The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace[19][20]

Recently, IAS officers have been in the list of corrupt bureaucrats and have come under the CBI scanner for alleged involvement in few corruption cases.[21]

See also

Special Duty Allowance (SDA)


  1. "2016 Total Cadre strength of IAS as in January 2016" (PDF). Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Service Profile for Indian Administrative Services" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  3. "Union Public Service Commission : Civil Servies Examination, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  4. 1 2 "Consolidated Deputation Guidelines for All India Services" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  5. "Election Commission of India" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  6. Meghna Sabharwal, Evan M. Berman "Public Administration in South Asia: India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan (Public Administration and Public Policy," (2013)
  7. "Civil Service". The British Library. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  8. Goel, S.L. Public Personnel Administration : Theory and Practice. Deep and Deep Publications, 2008. ISBN 9788176293952.
  9. "Important Highlights of Civil Service Examination, 2012". Press Information Bureau.
  10. 1 2 Educational Philosophy of Dr. Zakir Hussain. Dr. Noorejahan H. p. 325. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. "Jobs for IAS Officers - Career for IAS Officers | Opportunities for IAS | INDIAN RAILWAY PERSONNEL SERVICE (IRPS)". Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  14. "Yet to start work, Natgrid CEO highest paid babu". The Times of India. Aug 23, 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
  15. Anand Parthasarathy (Sep 1–14, 2001). "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.". Frontline, India's National Magazine from the publishers of The Hindu. Bureaucracy knows no bounds...
  16. "PM Modi tightens screws, gives babudom a new rush hour". The Times of India. Sep 2, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
  17. "Babu". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
  18. "The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  19. "IAS Reforms: Cleaning Rust From the Frame". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  20. "100 IAS officers came under CBI scanner in last 5 years: Government". The Indian Express. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
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