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Envisioning IAS?

If most of the fathers today dream of their sons becoming Doctors, Engineers, dreaming dollar dreams at the Silicon Valley or Riyadh, an increasing number of  patriarch also dream of his son pursuing the Civil Services and becoming an IAS/IPS officer. Years down the line, the number of such parents is expected to grow, and why should it not? After all it is an illustrious career-path that could do wonders to one's self-esteem and could rocket the family repute as well. A career in the civil services is the best way to facilitate the smooth functioning of various organs of the government. Going for a career in medicine, engineering or doing an MBA may be the order of the day, but one career which holding its forte since time immemorial is the Civil Services. Nothing can be more riveting than becoming a part of the state government machinery. In a highly competitive and challenging area, it involves a variety of jobs in different departments. Compared to private sector jobs this profession has job security. The prestige and power that comes along with these top-notch jobs is a definite reason for anybody to join this profession. The salary, allowances and facilities like healthcare, housing, conveyance etc. also make it a lucrative profession.
Tens of thousands of young people across the country today, are all willing to rough it out and chalk their way to the hallowed corridors of bureaucracy. Needless to say, the Civil Services are an equally challenging career option for women. There have been, and there are many distinguished women
bureaucrats who have done remarkably well in the field. Former Foreign Secretary of India, Ms. Choklia Iyer, an IFS officer, was the first woman to occupy the post in the year 2000; and Kiran Bedi, the first women IPS officer, is all too familiar as one who fervently mooted the concept of prison. The number of entrants into this Hall of Fame continues to grow..
The Colonial Past
The Civil Services have always had an air of "pride and power" around them. An offshoot of the Raj, they still hold the same sway even in the post-colonial era. Seen as a legacy of the British Rule here in India, the Civil Services, with all its connotations of hierarchical accountability and controls, was established soon after the suppression of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. It marked the transfer of power from the East India Company to the Crown in England. The sole objective of the Services then, was to govern the far-flung British Empire,
which predominantly involved duties like - preservation of law and order, dispensation of justice and the collection of taxes. In the 19th century, these services were restricted only to the 'White Babus' and 'Sahibs'. Only from 1920s, after the constitution of the Indian Civil Services (ICS), were Indians admitted to the service.
The Democratic Present
Today, the Civil Servants, as the officers of the Civil Services are called, work in a wholly different context, different form the days of the Raj. Civil service today is the backbone of the Indian government machinery constitutes all the departments which runs the State administration. A highly competitive and challenging area, it involves a variety of jobs in different departments. Compared to private sector jobs this profession has job security. The prestige and power that comes along with these top-notch jobs is a definite reason for anybody to join this profession. The salary, allowances and facilities like healthcare, housing, conveyance etc. also make it a lucrative profession. 

Entry into the IAS, IPS and the Central Services, Group A and Group B is through the All India Combined Competitive Examination for the Civil Services conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in different centers spread all over the country. However, recruitment to the Indian Forest Service is through a different procedure. Entry into the State Civil Services like KAS/KPS is through a competitive examination conducted by J&K Public Service Commission. Anyone thinking of taking up civil service, should have an idea how difficult it is to get in as lakhs of candidates apply for the 400 to 500 vacancies that may arise. So once you decide to appear in civil service exam, one should be prepared to slog endlessly. 
The Indian Civil Services are organized into two main sections:
I. The All India Services
II. The Central Services
The officers who make it to the All India Services, on appointment by the government of India, will be deputed to different States and are at the disposal of the respective State Governments. These services include:
The Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
The IAS officers handle the affairs of the government. At the Central level, their job involves the framing and implementation of policies. At the district level, they manage the affairs of the district, including development related activities. At the divisional level, they\ look after law and order, general administration and development work.
The Indian Police Service (IPS)
The IPS officer's job mainly involves maintaining law and order. (At the district level, they share this responsibility with the IAS officers.) The IPS officer is responsible for ensuring public safety and security; crime detection and prevention; and traffic control and accident prevention and management. There are several functional departments that help IPS officers to carry out their duties like Crime Branch, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Home Guards etc. The other agencies at the Central level that aid in similar functions are:
Intelligence Bureau (IB), which gathers information that will aid in predicting and preventing threats to public order.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which investigates into cases of corruption and major crimes that are referred to it.
Cabinet Secretariat Security, which looks after the personal security of the cabinet ministers.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who are called in times of emergency, like a natural calamity, or when the law and order situation cannot be controlled by the local police alone.
Border Security Force (BSF), these forces are responsible for the protection of life and property in the border areas.
The Indian Forest Service (IFoS)
The officers in this category manage the forest reserves of the nation. Their job involves the protection and conservation of forest resources and wildlife. They also look after the management and supply of forest products.
The Officers of the Central Services serve the Government of India only, irrespective of which State or Country they are posted in. Some of the predominant services that come under this category are:
The Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
The IFS officers look after the country's external affairs, including diplomacy, trade and cultural relations. They are also responsible for the administration and activities of Indian missions abroad; and for the framing and implementation of the Government's foreign policy.
The Indian Railway Service (IRS): The Indian railway network is one of the largest in the world. The IRS officers ensure the smooth operation of this network.
The Indian Postal Service: This department looks after the functioning of the mail, telegraphic and other communication services in the country.
The Accounts and Auditing Service: This department functioning in four categories deals with accounts, audits and inspections of: - public sector, central and state government undertakings; all military establishments; and the fixing, assessment and collection of income tax.
The Indian Customs (IC) and Central Excise Service (CES): The IC deals with the checking and levy of duty on taxable goods brought into the country; and the CES carries out the duty of taxation of goods
manufactured within the country.
The Indian Ordinance Factories Service: This service oversees the production of goods made particularly for the use of the Armed Forces.
 The Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES): It is concerned with the administration of military cantonments.
The Indian Information Service (IIS): This comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The IIS officers handle the press and/or public relations both within the country and abroad on behalf of the government, its various ministries, Public Sector Units (PSUs) and the defence forces. So, if you want to contribute more than your mite to the process, read on to know how you can enter the Services.
What does it take to opt for civil service?
Mental alertness; interest in a variety of subjects; good intellect in order to be able to tackle any subject or situation; an ability to sift, weigh and apply differing opinions from various people; leadership qualities; the ability to inspire others and to channelise available talent; tact and diplomacy; and, integrity. These are some personality traits that you should look for in yourself when you consciously make a decision to opt for civil service.
What is the Selection Process?
The three pre-requisites for entering the Services through the Civil Services Examination are:
·         The candidate must be an Indian citizen
·         He/She should be between 21 to 30 years of age, as on August 1st of the examination year. Age relaxation of 5 years and 3 years is available to those belonging to SC/ ST and OBC categories respectively. For J&K ordinarily its 35 years.
·         The candidate should have a Bachelor's degree in any discipline from any recognized University.
·         All candidates are allowed four attempts. There is a relaxation for SC/ST candidates on the number of attempts, if they are otherwise eligible.
Entry to the IAS, IPS and the Central Services is through the combined Competitive Examination for the Civil Services. Recruitment to the Indian Forest Service is through a separate examination. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), an autonomous body that ensures unbiased recruitment to the Civil Services, and conducts the examination.
Combined Civil Services examination is a multi-step examination process. The entire process takes a full calendar year. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) first conducts an objective type preliminary examination for screening candidates.
The Preliminary Examination:
There are two papers for the preliminary round. There is one on General Studies and another on an Optional subject. The question papers are set in both Hindi and English. Each paper is for duration of two hours. Paper I, General Studies carries a maximum score of 150 points on 150 questions. It is of two hours duration. It covers mainly the topics like Indian History, the Constitution of India, Geography, Economics, Science and Current Affairs and Mental Ability. Paper II carries a score of 300 points on 120questions and is also of two hours duration. Since, it is an extremely competitive exam, the candidates taking theprelims must be extremely diligent and hard working. Only the highest scorers qualify for the second examination, that is, the Main Examination. The success rate of preliminary exam is less than 10%. The syllabus for the optional subject is the same as that for graduation level. The Optional subject for the second paper may be chosen from the following:
    1. Agriculture
    2. Animal Husbandry and veterinary science
    3. Botany
    4. Chemistry
    5. Civil Engineering
    6. Commerce
    7. Economics
    8. Electrical Engineering
    9. Geography
    10. Geology
    11. Indian History
    12. Law
    13. Mathematics
    14. Mechanical Engineering
    15. Philosophy
    16. Physics
    17. Political Science
    18. Psychology
    19. Public Administration
    20. Sociology
    21. Statistics
    22. Zoology
The notification for the examination (giving the rules and syllabus for all the subjects in the examination) is published in the month of December every year in the 'Employment News' / 'Rozgar Samachar' and 'Gazette of India', as well as, in some leading local Newspapers.
You should try to get a copy of this notification. The “Preliminary Examination” is usually held in May and the “Main Examination” in October / November of the same calendar year.
The Main Examination:
The preliminary round is basically a screening round. The marks obtained are not counted for in the final stage of the examination. For candidates who clear the preliminary round, there is the Main round.
The second stage is the main examination that includes written tests and an interview (personality Test). The Main Examination (written) is the subjective or essay type format. It is generally held in the month of November/December. It includes nine papers:
Paper I: One Indian language (300 Marks)
That is included in the Eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution. These languages inter alia include Kashmiri, Punjabi, Dogri and Urdu. This paper is of a qualifying nature and the marks obtained are not counted for ranking.
Paper II: General English (300 Marks Each)
The English language paper is of Matriculate Standard and also of qualifying nature and the marks obtained are not counted for ranking.
Paper III: Essay: (200 Marks)
Paper IV &V: General Studies (two papers) (300 Marks Each)
General Studies papers consists of questions on:
Indian Polity & Economy
History of India including Indian National Movement
Indian and World Geography
Current Affairs of National and International Importance
General and day-to-day Science
Mental Ability and Basics of Statistics etc.
Questions on planning, budgeting, developmental programs, latest issues of political and constitutional importance, Panchayati raj, electoral reforms, natural resources, culture, growth of nationalism, Committees, Commission etc can be expected every year. 
Now-a-days, there is a lot of emphasis on “current affairs” in the general studies paper!
VI & VII: Optional Subject I (two papers) (300 Marks Each)
VIII & IX: Optional subject II (two papers) (300 Marks Each)
For papers VI, VII, VIII, and IX two subjects are to be chosen. The list of subjects from which the choice may be made is
    1. Agriculture
    2. Animal Husbandry and veterinary science
    3. Anthropology
    4. Botany
    5. Chemistry
    6. Civil Engineering
    7. Commerce & Accountancy
    8. Economics
    9. Electrical Engineering
    10. Geography
    11. Geology
    12. History
    13. Law
    14. Management
    15. Mathematics
    16. Mechanical Engineering
    17. Philosophy
    18. Physics
    19. Political Science & International Relations
    20. Psychology
    21. Public Administration
    22. Sociology
    23. Statistics
    24. Zoology
Literature in one of the following languages: Arabic, Assamese, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Marathi, Malayalam, Oriya, Pali, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu. Except English, the question papers are set in both Hindi and English.
The total marks secured in both the written tests and the personal interview determines the rank of a candidate.
The Personality Test
This is the last hurdle to be cleared. In this final round of elimination, the competition gets the toughest. Candidates are selected on 1:3 ratios. So, if there are ten vacancies, then thirty candidates will be interviewed. The personality test follows the pattern of an oral interview or a viva voce. The interview carries 300 marks and there are no stipulated minimum qualifying marks. The main aim of the interview is to assess a candidate's overall personality. The interview is conducted by a board. The board is fully informed about the candidate and they base their questions on a record of the candidate's career, which is provided to them. The aspects that are generally looked into are the candidate's grasp of academics and general awareness as in current affairs, social issues, etc. It is basically a test of the potential of a candidate. The board tries to assess whether he or she can rise to the demands of the job of a Civil Servant. An expert panel judges the candidate's over all personality, his/her social traits, presence of mind, and leadership qualities, apart from their intellectual capabilities and aptitude for the work involved.
When all the hard work of the candidate finally pays off and he finds himself smoothly cruising out of, even the interview stage, he undergoes compulsory training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie as a probationary officer. Training will be imparted in academic areas, which comprise subject studies like economics, history, political science, etc. After this foundation course, specific job-oriented training is conducted separately by each service.
What are the Job Prospects?
Depending upon his rank, a candidate is recruited to services such as the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and other departments including Finance, Post and Telegraph, Revenue, Secretariat and so on. The appointment offers executive power. Promotions are time bound and increase in privileges are automatic. Selected candidates are first put through a training session for a short period. He is usually sent to an academic staff college associated with the service to which he is allocated. The greatest thing about civil service is the job security. Special facilities include subsidised accommodation, telephone and transport facilities, medical benefits, leave travel concession, etc. After retirement, there are very good social welfare facilities. Last but not the least is the immense satisfaction one derives at being able to participate in the development process of the country.
What is the Remuneration?
The Government of India has fixed salary grades for Civil Servants. Approximately the range of salaries drawn at various levels is as follows (pre sixth pay commission):
  • Junior Officers: Rs. 8000-275-13500
  • Senior Officers: Rs. 10650-325-15200
  • Junior Administrative Grade: Rs. 12,750-375-16,500
  • Selection Grade: Rs. 15,100-400-18,300
  • Additional Secretary: Rs. 22400-525-24500
  • Secretary/Cabinet Secretary: Rs. 26,000/30,000
 (The above scales only provide an idea of the pay scales. Different branches of the service have different scales of pay.)
In addition to the salary civil servants receive various allowances such as Dearness Allowance, City compensatory Allowance, Leave Travel Allowance, Medical and subsidised housing.
Functional Levels
Except for the post of Union Cabinet Secretary, the Government of India hierarchy is common to all services. The scales are:
Junior Scale Officers
Begin their careers with a two-year probationary period. This is spent partly in training, after which they may be posted at the state secretariat; as field officers; or a District Magistrate's office. Junior scale officers in the position of Sub-Magistrate are given mainly regulatory duties, like law and order, enforcement of rules, and general administration, including the supervision of development work.
Senior Scale
Starts at Under Secretary level and includes District Magistrates, Directors of public enterprises and Directors of government departments.
Within this scale are:
· Junior Administrative Grade-Deputy Secretary
· Selection Grade-Director
Both these positions hold similar responsibilities, and are at par with each other.
Super Time Scale
Joint Secretary is the highest among Government of India administrative posts. Above this position come the policy makers. In the Central Services, this scale is sometimes titled the Senior Administrative Grade.
Additional Secretary
The work undertaken by an Additional Secretary is similar to that of a Secretary though the level of
responsibility is lower.
Secretaries head government departments and are concerned with planning in their particular areas. Some appointments such as finance and planning are considered more prestigious than others, and are therefore at par with the post of Additional Chief Secretary. Another title for this level is Principal Secretary.
Chief Secretary
The top ranking civil servant in any state-is responsible for everything that happens in the state as far as duties assigned to state governments are concerned.
Cabinet Secretary
Is the highest post at the center.
Nature of Work
In all the branches of the civil services, much of the work is administrative in nature. It therefore involves a great deal of interaction with people at all levels. Officers must be able to get things done in accordance with the rules and regulations laid down by the Government. Many of these rules are framed in whole or part by officers of the service themselves. 
Responsible decision-making is another important aspect of this work, as a great many lives are usually affected by an officer's action. Most civil servants are also required to travel extensively, both during inspection tours of the areas under their jurisdiction in the country, or as in the IFS, the world. In general, the earlier years of an officer's career are spent in the districts and small towns. In the more senior grades, where the area of responsibility is wider, postings are usually to bigger cities, state capitals or at the Center. 
What is the Cadre System in Civil Services?
The All India Services-IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service-follow a cadre system. By this system, officers during their probationary period are allotted states or cadres, to which they remain affiliated throughout their careers. There are in all, twenty-one state cadres. Officers may sometimes on request be assigned to their home states, but this is not common practice.
Major Tasks Performed
All civil servants, at some stage in their careers, are required to perform certain administrative functions within the purview of their departments. These include:
This is carried out by the highest echelons of the service. It involves making decisions-after having reviewed all possible alternatives and their consequences-on the course of action to be taken, as also the allocation of resources, towards the achievement of specified, time-bound national targets.
Means setting plans down on paper, in a manner in which they can be implemented and interpreting, clarifying and modifying them when necessary.
Of these policies and ensuring that rules and regulations are followed.
Of the allotment and utilization of funds by field staff to make certain that they are used for the purpose they are intended. Also, monitoring the progress of projects ranging from public works, to corporations and development schemes.
By visiting the scene of action and reporting and making recommendations.
That is accurate, at short notice, particularly in response to questions in Parliament.
As a nominee on the board of a public corporation or institution; at national or international fora; or in the case of the IFS, as a member of the diplomatic corps.
A number of guide books in the market contain study material, past question papers and tips how to prepare for the test. Moreover, you must read at least one newspaper along with the range of national and international magazines and periodicals. Besides, turning in to current affairs and analytical programmers on the radio and television is highly recommended. A thorough study of the two optional subjects is essential. Detailed methodology about preparation shall be covered in the forthcoming articles.
But if you are interested in becoming civil servant, there are certain basic qualities that you must have. These include willingness to work hard; intelligence; empathy with the underprivileged; personal integrity; adaptability; ability to handle power and authority without being swayed by it and willingness to work in a fairly rigid hierarchy. If you posses these qualities, then just go for a career in civil services. Hardwork and planning is a must.


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Vote of thanks

(Alyas, 2010-02-19 10:52)

Sir, thanks for appreciating the aspirants.