Civil Services, to many youngsters, is synonymous with the office of the District Collector. This is so, perhaps for the reason that the Collector happens to be the most visible face of the Services, wielding powers on various matters touching the everyday life of the people. The District Collector is indeed a crucial cogwheel in the administrative machine of the government, and often considered as the most empowered office in the country. But it is only an office held by a member of the IAS for a few years during the first half of his service. The Indian Administrative Service means much more than this. There are many other services to which one can enter through the competitive skills proved in the Civil Services Examination held annually by the Union Public Service Commission. However, the popular misnomer “IAS Examination” persists.

It may be remembered that a post office clerk would never become a PMG in the normal course; nor would an assistant or an auditor in the Accounts Office move into the saddle of an Accountant General. These two and many other top administrative positions can be attained only by jumping the Civil Services Examination hurdle. With this in mind, a cynic once said that however big a cat grows, it will never become a small lion. In fact, the current notification from the UPSC lists 24 distinct services including the Indian Foreign Service, Indian Administrative Service, and the Indian Police Service.

The IAS is not a vestige of the old steel frame, which was mainly an instrument of oppression during the British Raj. Collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order among the “unruly natives” were the prime functions of the ICS. But today the emphasis of Indian Civil Services is development for ensuring the welfare of our millions.

There are silent fears in the mind of many, whether the members of the Civil Services would not be forced to bend before politicians of lesser stuff. Often serious allegations of enormous corruption of officers hit the media, painting a murky image of civil servants. They may have to play second fiddle to fraudulent politicians. This is the negative side of the picture. We should not forget that the Civil Services offer remarkable opportunities of crucial decision-making and other forms of significant service to society. Integrity and honesty are matters of personal choice in life. There are fine traditions of sterling character in civil service. If you are efficient, effective, and upright, you may be sought after by ministers and others in the top echelons of service. You may be working behind the curtain keeping a low profile, but putting in dedicated service to society.

Notwithstanding the recent shift in job preferences favouring the fast-expanding IT world with its lure, the Civil Services have unique fascinating features.

Our country needs honest, efficient, competent, and dynamic officers in Government. The Civil Services promise an excellent career for those with the right aptitude. This path takes you to positions of authority and prestige.

Who can apply

The candidate should hold a University Degree or equivalent qualification. Final year degree students may apply for selection, provided they can produce proof of passing the requisite qualifying examination by July / August, along with their application for the Main Examination. Candidates possessing professional and technical qualifications like AMIE (India) which are recognised by Government as equivalent to professional and technical degree for purposes of employment would also be eligible for admission to the examination. Candidates should be 21 – 30 years of age on 1{+s}{+t} August of the year of the examination. The upper age will be relaxed in the case of eligible candidates, such as SC, ST, OBC, Defence Services personnel disabled in operations, and physically challenged, in accordance with the prescribed norms.

Candidates must be physically fit according to the prescribed standards for admission to Civil Services Examination.

Normally a candidate will be permitted a maximum of four attempts. OBC and physically challenged candidates may make seven attempts. SC / ST candidates may take any number of attempts, provided they are otherwise eligible in conformity with the restrictions on age. Attempting even one paper of the Preliminary Examination will be deemed to be an attempt in the Examination.

A candidate who is appointed to the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Foreign Service based on the results of an earlier examination and is continuing as a member of that service will not be eligible to compete in a later examination.

What are the Services?

The UPSC notification for the Civil Services Examination 2010 offers selection to the 24 services noted below.

Indian Administrative Service.

Indian Foreign Service.

Indian Police Service.

Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) Group 'A'

Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Revenue Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group 'A' (Assistant Works Manager, Administration)

Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A'.

Post of Assistant Security Officer, Group 'A' in Railway Protection Force.

Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A'.

Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A'.

Indian Trade Service, Group "A" (GR.III)

Indian Corporate Law Service, Group "A"

Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B' (Section Officer's Grade)

Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group 'B'.

Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group 'B'.

Pondicherry Civil Service, Group 'B'

Pondicherry Police Service, Group 'B'

There may be slight changes in the number of services from year to year. The number of vacancies would also differ.

The examinations will be held in 45 centres distributed in various parts of the country.