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 IAS - Indian Administration Service 

The (IAS) is one of the three All India Services of the Government of India; other two All India Services being the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFS). The IAS is the key administrative service of the Government, both in the Central Government as well as in the States. During the British period this bureaucratic structure was known as 'Steel frame' of India for its role in influencing and implementing government policies and decisions. Those dealing with the State consistently hold the view that the power and influence of the IAS in the Indian polity has been truly immense. IAS officers hold all key strategic posts across the country. The career path of IAS officers is well defined and about 60 to 90 (as of 2006 and 2007) officers are inducted every year from about 300,000 applicants (quoted in IAS Planner). The induction training schedule lasts for two years and is well known for its stringency and academic rigour.

The precursor of the Indian Administrative Service was the Indian Civil Service (ICS) of the British Raj. ICS officers, known as 'Collectors', were generally held in high regard because of their reputation for being incorruptible and good administrators. There have been critics as well. For example, M. V. Kamath said that the ICS was neither Indian, nor civil nor a service.

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


The officials of the IAS are involved in civil administration and policy making. They are selected by the Union Public Service Commission through a three-stage combined selection process called the Civil Services Examination, known for being extremely challenging, that recruits officers for 20 other Group A services and five Group B services. The first stage, the Civil Services Prelims is composed of two objective exams: one of General studies and one of a subject of one's choice amongst a given list of subjects. The candidates can choose to be examined in about forty fields, from Civil Engineering and Medicine to Chinese Literature and Accountancy. This is purely an eliminatory stage and plays no part in the final rankings. About 5000-6000 of the applicants are selected for the next stage called the Civil Services Mains. The second stage is more exhaustive. It has nine papers of which two are qualificatory in nature. One has to choose two optional subjects of one's choice as compared to one in the Preliminary stage. There are two papers of General Studies, Optional 1 and Optional 2 each of 300 marks and one Essay paper of 200 marks. The exam is for a total of 2000 marks. Around 1200-1400 aspirants clear Mains and sit for the third stage i.e the Civil Services Interview which is for 300 marks. Every candidate is asked to choose their preference of services before the interview. Almost all of them choose IAS as their first choice but a few opt for Indian Police Service or the Indian Foreign Service. The entire selection process, starting from the publication of the Notification (say December of the first year) to the final declaration of results (second or third week of May of the third year) lasts more than one year and four months. About 400-500 candidates are finally selected each year out of the nearly 300,000 candidates who submit their applications. But only a rank in the top 50 guarantees an IAS selection. This translates into an acceptance rate of nearly 0.016% which makes it far more demanding than even the entrance tests for the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIM's) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT's). It is due to this reason that IAS officers are highly respected in Indian society.


IAS officers are appointed by the President of India. The Constituent Assembly of India intended that the bureaucracy should be able to speak out freely, without fear of persecution or financial insecurity as an essential element in unifying the nation. The IAS officers are recruited by the Union government on the recommendation of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and posted under various State governments. While the respective State Governments have control over them they can not censure or take disciplinary action against IAS and other All India Services officers without consulting the Union Government and the UPSC.This independence has been sometimes severely criticised by many quarters of civil society. However there is a considered consensus about the need for such an elite corps of the bureaucracy.


Officers in the IAS join in the Junior Time Scale. After 4 years of service they are promoted to the Senior Time Scale which is equivalent to an Under Secretary of Govt of India, after 9 years they are promoted to the Junior Administrative Grade when they can be placed as Deputy Secretaries to Govt of India. After completing 13 years of service, they are granted the Selection Grade when they can be placed as Directors in Govt of India. The ranks after that are - Joint Secretary (GOI), Additional Secretary (GOI) and Secretary (GOI) which is the highest rank carrying the basic pay of Rs 26,000. Then there is the Cabinet Secretary (only one in India) who carries a basic pay of Rs 30,000. 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).






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