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"Indian Civil Service" redirects here. Indian Civil Service may also refer to Imperial Civil Service, the Indian civil services during the British Raj.

The Civil Services of India (known simply as the Civil Services) refer to the civil service and the permanent bureaucracy of the Government of India. The civil service system is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country.

In the parliamentary democracy of India, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the elected representatives of the people which are the ministers. But the handful of ministers cannot be expected to deal personally with the manifold problems of modern administration. Thus the ministers lay down the policy and it is for the civil servants to carry out this policy.

The executive decisions are implemented by the Indian civil servants. The members of civil service serve at the pleasure of the President of India and Article 311 of the constitution protects them from politically motivated or vindictive action. Civil servants are employees of theGovernment of India; however, not all employees of the Government are civil servants. Civil servants in a personal capacity are paid from the Civil List. Senior civil servants may be called to account by Parliament.

As of year 2010, there are total 6.4 million government employees in India, and less than 50,000 civil servants to administer them. The civil service system in India is rank-based and does not follow the tenets of the position-based civil services.

In October 2015, the Government of India approved the formation of "new" Indian Skill Development Service-Group A.


The present civil services of India is mainly based on the pattern of the former Indian Civil Service of British India which was 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.

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.

The present modern civil service was formed after the partition of India in 1947. It was Sardar Patel's vision that the Civil Service should strengthen cohesion and national unity. The values of integrity, impartiality and merit remain the guiding principles of Indian civil services.

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 Indian media.


The constitution under Article 312 provides for All India Civil Services branches to be set up by giving the power to the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Parliament of India) to resolve by a two-thirds majority to establish new all-India services. The Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service are set up under this constitutional provision.

Power, purpose and responsibilities

The responsibility of the civil services is to run the administration of India. The country is managed through a number of Central Government agencies in accordance with the policy directions given by the ministries.

The members of the civil services represent as administrators in the central government and state government; emissaries in the foreign missions/embassies; as tax collectors and revenue commissioners; as civil service commissioned police officers; as permanent representative(s) and employees in the United Nations and its agencies and as Chairman, Managing Director, full-time functional Director/Member of the Board of Management of various Public Sector Undertakings/ Enterprises, Corporations, Banks and financial institutions. Civil servants are employed to various agencies of India and can also be appointed as advisors or special duty officers or private secretaries to ministers of the Union and the State Government.

All appointments in the rank of Joint Secretary to Government of India and above, other major appointments, empanelment and extension of tenure is done by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. However, all appointments in the rank below Joint Secretary in the federal government is done by the Civil Services Board.


Head of the Civil Service

The highest ranking civil servant is the Cabinet Secretary. He is ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board; the chief of the Indian Administrative Service and head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India. He also holds the 11th position in the Order of Precedence of India.

The position holder is accountable for ensuring that the Civil Service is equipped with the skills and capability to meet the everyday challenges it faces and that civil servants work in a fair and decent environment.

N. R. Pillai1950 to 1953He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service. He is the first head of the civil service since Independence of India and is also the first from the state of Kerala to hold this post.
Y. N. Sukthankar1953 to 1957He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
M. K. Vellodi1957 to 1958He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service. He later served as Chief Minister of Hyderabad State.
Vishnu Sahay1958 to 1960He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
B. N. Jha1960 to 1961He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
Vishnu Sahay1961 to 1962He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
S. S. Khera1962 to 1964He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service. He is the first Sikh to become Cabinet secretary. He was known for use of tanks against rioters in Meerut riots of 1947.
Dharam Vira1964 to 1966He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
D. S. Joshi1966 to 1968He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
D. Das1968 to 1969He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
B. Sivaraman1969 to 1970He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
T. Swaminathan1970 to 1972He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service.
B. D. Pande1972 to 1977He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service. He is the longest serving Cabinet Secretary ever in history of Independent India.
N. K. Mukarji1977 to 1980He was a member of the Imperial Civil Service and the last ICS officer to become head of the civil service of Independent India.
S. S. Grewal1980 to 1981He is the first IAS to be appointed to this post.
C. R. Krishnaswamy Rao1981 to 1985He belongs to the IAS (AP:1949 batch).
P. K. Kaul1985 to 1986He belongs to the IAS (UP:1951 batch).
B. G. Deshmukh1986 to 1989
T. N. Seshan1989 to 1989He belongs to the IAS (TN:1955 batch).
V. C. Pande1989 to 1990He belongs to the IAS (RJ:1955 batch).
Naresh Chandra1990 to 1992He belongs to the IAS (RJ:1956 batch).
S. Rajgopal1992 to 1993
Zafar Saifullah1993 to 1994He belongs to the IAS (KA:1958 batch). He was the first and the only Muslim to have ever been appointed Cabinet Secretary of India.
Surendra Singh1994 to 1996He belongs to the IAS (UP:1959 batch).
T. S. R. Subramanian1996 to 1998He belongs to the IAS (UP:1961 batch).
Prabhat Kumar1998 to 2000He belongs to the IAS (UP:1963 batch).
T. R. Prasad2000 to 2002He belongs to the IAS (AP:1963 batch).
Kamal Pande2002 to 2004He belongs to the IAS (UL:1965 batch).
B. K. Chaturvedi2004 to 2007He belongs to the IAS (UP:1966 batch).
K. M. Chandrasekhar2007 to 2011He belongs to the IAS (KL:1970 batch).
Ajit Seth2011 to 2015He belongs to the IAS (UP:1974 batch).
PK Sinha2015 to presentHe belongs to the IAS(UP:1977 batch)

Values and codes


A member of the civil service in discharge of his/her functions is to be guided by maintaining absolute integrity, allegiance to the constitution and the law of the nation, patriotism, national pride, devotion to duty, honesty, impartiality and transparency.


The Government of India promotes values and a certain standard of ethics of requiring and facilitating every civil servant:

  • To discharge official duty with responsibility, honesty, accountability and without discrimination.
  • To ensure effective management, leadership development and personal growth.
  • To avoid misuse of official position or information.
  • To serve as instruments of good governance and foster social economic development.


The Civil Services of India can be classified into two types - the All India Services and the Central Civil Services (Group A and B). The recruits are university graduates (or above) selected through a rigorous system of examinations, called the Civil Services Examination (CSE) and the Engineering Services Examination (ESE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

All India Civil Services (AIS)

All appointments to All India Civil Services are made by the President of India.

Central Civil Services (CCS)

The Central Civil Services are concerned with the administration of the Union Government.

Group A

All appointments to Civil Services, Group A are made by the President of India.

Group B

All appointments to Group B are made by the authorities specified by a general or special order of the President.

  • Income Tax Service, Group ‘B’
  • Indian Foreign Service, Group ‘B’ - (General Cadre, Grade I and General Cadre, Grade II only)
  • Central Secretariat Service, Group 'B' (Section and Assistants’ Grade officers only)
  • Indian Posts and Telegraphs Accounts and Finance Service, Group ‘B’ Telecommunication Wing.
  • Indian Posts & Telegraphs Accounts & Finance Service, Postal Wing, Group ‘B’
  • Indian Salt Service, Group ‘B’
  • India Meteorological Service, Group ‘B'
  • Central Secretariat Official Language Service, Group ‘B’
  • Central Secretariat Stenographers’ Service, (Grade I, Grade II and Selection Grade officers only)
  • Central Health Service, Group ‘B’
  • Botanical Survey of India, Group 'B'.
  • Geological Survey of India, Group 'B'.
  • Geological Survey of India, Group 'B'.
  • Survey of India, Group 'B'.
  • Zoological Survey of India, Group 'B'.
  • Central Electrical Engineering Service, Group 'B'.
  • Central Engineering Service, Group 'B'.
  • Central Power Engineering Service, Group ‘B’
  • Postal Superintendents’ Service, Group ‘B’
  • Postmasters’ Service, Group ‘B’
  • Railway Board Secretariat Service, Group ‘B’
  • Telecommunication Engineering Service, Group ‘B’
  • Telegraphs Traffic Service, Group ‘B
  • Central Excise Service, Group ‘B’
  • Customs Appraisers Service, Group ‘B’- (Principal Appraisers and Head Appraisers)
  • Customs Preventive Service, Group ‘B’ – (Chief Inspectors)
  • Defence Secretariat Service
  • Union Territories Administrative Service
  • Union Territories Police Service

State/Provincial Civil Services (SCS/PCS)

The Provincial Civil Services (also known as State Civil Services) examinations and recruitments are conducted by the individual states of India. The state civil services deals with subjects such as land revenue, agriculture, forests, education etc. The officers are recruited by different States through the State Public Service Commissions.

  • Provincial Civil Services, Class-I (PCS)
  • Provincial Police Services, Class-I (PPS).
  • Block Development Officer.
  • Tehsildar/Talukadar/Assistant Collector.
  • Excise and Taxation Officer.
  • District Employment Officer.
  • District Treasury Officer.
  • District Welfare Officer.
  • Assistant Registrar Cooperative Societies.
  • District Food and Supplies Controller/Officer.
  • Any other Class-I/Class-II service notified as per rules by the concerned State i. e. officers/lecturers/ assistant/associate professors/principals of Government Degree Colleges, Class I.

Reforms and corruption

Main articles: Civil service reform in developing countries and Civil Service reform in India

As of 2011, in a duration of past three years over 450 chargesheets have been filed and a total of 943 cases are at different stages of investigation by CBI against civil servants.

A study by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, released in 2012, ranked and rated Indian bureaucracy as the worst in Asia with a 9.21 rating out of 10. According to the study, India's inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy was responsible for most of the complaints that business executive have about the country. A paper prepared in 2012 by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions states that corruption is prevalent at all levels in civil services and it is institutionalized.

On 28 November 2011, the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions created a proposal to retire and remove incompetent, inefficient and unproductive All India Service officers after 15 years of service, instead of tolerating them until their retirement. Former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian welcomed this move with caution saying, "Periodical weeding out is very good. But the process to determine who needs to be prematurely retired should be fair and transparent. There is a possibility that even good officers may be targeted because of political reasons,". Former UPSC chairman PC Hota echoed his sentiments remarking that,"We need drastic remedies. The situation has become terrible. The other day an officer in Delhi was arrested for disproportionate assets of Rs.31.5 million. She is just a 2000-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer with 11 years of service. But at the same time, the officers' service records should be analysed before a decision against him was taken". The proposal has been accepted and rule 16(3) of the All India Services (death-cum-retirement benefits) Rules of 1958 was amended on 31 January 2012.

"Much of the deterioration in the functioning of bureaucracy is due to political interference" - Justice KS Radhakrishnan and JusticePC Ghose, Supreme Court of India

In October 2013, the Supreme Court of India, in the case of TSR Subramanian & Ors vs Union of India & Ors ordered bothGovernment of India and State governments to ensure fixed tenure to civil servants. The court asked senior bureaucrats to write down the oral instructions from politicians so that a record would be kept of all the decisions. This judgement was seen on the similar lines of the Supreme Court's 2006 judgement in Prakash Singh case on police reforms. The judgement was welcomed by various bureaucrats and the media who hoped that it will help in giving freedom and independence to the functioning of bureaucracy.

In order to recruit better candidates for the various services, UPSC brought about changes in the Prelims stage of the Civil Services Examination in 2011 by abolishing the optional subject paper and introducing Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). Further changes were made in the Mains stage of the exam from 2013 onwards.

Employment by agency

Union Government executive branch civilian employment:

Independent agencies:


Civil Service Day

The Civil Service Day is celebrated on 21 April every year. The purpose for this day is to rededicate and recommit themselves to the cause of the people. It is observed by all Civil Services. This day gives civil servants the opportunity for introspection and thinking about future strategies to deal with the challenges being posed by the changing times.

On this occasion, all officers of Central and State Governments are honoured for excellence in public administration by the Prime Minister of India. The 'Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration' is presented in three categories. Under this scheme of awards instituted in 2006, all the officers individually or as group or as organization are eligible.

The award includes a medal, scroll and a cash amount of 100000 (US$1,500). In case of a group, the total award money is 500000 (US$7,400) subject to a maximum of100000 (US$1,500) per person. For an organization the cash amount is limited to 500000 (US$7,400).