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Unlocking the Path to Public Service: A Guide to Building a Career as a Civil Services Officer

Career as a Civil Services Officer

Do you want to contribute significantly to improving the lives of millions of our countrymen? Do you want to take part directly in taking India to the next level? Do you want to serve India’s interests in foreign countries? Do you want to work in the highest echelons of power in India’s administration? Would you love the colossal responsibilities that come with power? Could you face enormous difficulty in implementing what you want? Are you up for the challenge? If the answers are yes, a career in civil services could be just what the doctors prescribe. But well, remember, you have to be extremely good, academically too.

Civil Services Officers run Government’s administration – both for the Central or Federal Government and the State or Provincial Governments. Administration includes formulating Government policies, formulating plans, implementing projects, maintaining law and order systems, delivering preliminary justice, maintaining Government records, protecting India’s interests in foreign countries, collecting taxes, managing companies owned by Governments, and so on.

Why become a Civil Services Officer?

Civil Services Officers are bureaucrats who are entrusted with the responsibility of planning, implementing, leading, and controlling various policies, schemes, and projects of the Government of the country and various State Governments. They are entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing the democratic processes and order of the country as well as enforcing the rules and regulations ordered by the Governments. They are also responsible for upholding the sovereignty of the Constitution.   

The top three most coveted civil services in India are – the Indian Administrative Services (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Foreign Service (IFS).

Indian Administrative Services (IAS)

IAS officers are actively involved in the administration and daily proceedings of the government. The formulate Government policies; plan, implement, lead and monitor Government schemes and projects. They work as District level administrators and in various other leadership positions in Central and State Government Ministries, Departments, Directorates and other organizations including Public Sector Undertaking companies.

Indian Police Service (IPS)

The primary roles of IPS Officers are enforcing and maintaining the law and order situations in the country as well as prevention, detection, and investigating of crime. Apart from leading state and city police forces, they lead and command various intelligence, investigative and crime prevention organizations such as CBI, IB, and RAW as well as state CIDs (Criminal Investigation Departments). The also lead and command Central Armed Police forces such as BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP, NSG, etc. 

Indian Foreign Service (IFS)

IFS officers are Indian diplomats recruited to protect the nation’s interests both within and outside the country (foreign nations). They represent India before international institutions like the UN, UNICEF, etc. as well as offer consular services at the various Embassies, Consulates and missions of India at foreign countries. They are also posted in India for providing passport services to the citizens of India as well as communicating and coordinating with foreign diplomats of other countries posted in India.

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  1. Indian Administrative Services (IAS): The IAS is the elite civil service wing of the Government of India. IAS officers are recruited both by the Union and State governments. They work in close proximity with the ministers and acts as the pillars of good governance. Their primary job responsibilities include policy formulation, resource allocation, and the implementation of policies at different levels of governance.
  2. Indian Police Service (IPS): As the name suggests, IPS officers are primarily involved with law and order and crime in the country. IPS officers have a wide range of responsibilities including crime prevention, combat, and investigation; maintenance of public peace and order; VIP security; border policing; drug trafficking; counter-terrorism, and disaster management, among other things. Furthermore, these armed forces are also the brains behind the CRPF, CISF, CAPF, BSF, etc.
  3. Indian Foreign Service (IFS): IFS officers are the chosen representatives of the Indian government who are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting and upholding the greater interests of the country. They are posted in Indian embassies/consulates and also in the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi. Their job is to maintain peaceful and friendly relationships with other countries. The core areas of their focus are issues like global politics, international relations, political and economic cooperation, trade, cultural interaction, and so on.
  4. Indian Forest Service (IFoS): Constituted in 1966 under the All India Services Act, 1951, IFoS is one of the three branches of the All India Services that works to ensure that the National Forest Policy is maintained and implemented. The aim is to keep the ecological stability of the country intact by protecting the natural resources of the nation and encouraging sustainable practices.
  5. Indian Communication Finance Service (ICFS): Previously known as the Indian Post & Telecommunication Accounts and Finance Service (IP&TAFS), the Indian Communication Finance Service (ICFS) is basically an Accounts and Finance Service that serves under the Department of Telecom & Department of Posts. They can be transferred/posted in any part of the country.
  6. Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IA&AS): The IA&AS is a Union Government service that functions under the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, independent of any executive control and authority. IA&AS officers handle the responsibility of auditing the accounts of the Union and the state governments as well as the public sector organizations.
  7. Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS): ICAS works under the Department of Expenditure in the Union Ministry of Finance and offers a variety of services such as payment services, tax collection, accounting, financial reporting, preparing budget estimates and internal audits in civil ministries of the Union Government.
  8. Indian Corporate Law Service (ICLS): ICLS functions under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India and acts as a regulatory service for the corporate sector in India. ICLS officers are responsible for the implementation of various corporate acts like the Companies Act, of 1956, the Companies Act, of 2013 and The Limited liability Partnership Act, 2008.
  9. Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS): As the name suggests, the IDAS was established to offer financial advice, accounting, and auditing services to the Defence wings of the nation. Apart from this, IDAS also provides internal audit services to the three Defence Services – DRDO, Border Road Organisation, Ordnance factories, and other inter-services organizations.
  10. Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES): The IDES is governed by the Indian Defence Estates Service (Group A) Rules, 2013. Under this rule, 75% intake of candidates occurs through direct recruitment while the remaining 25% occurs through promotion. The officers working under the Directorate General constitute the members of the IDES, with the Director General of Defence Estates being the highest-ranking officer of the service.
  11. Indian Information Service (IIS): IIS officers act as the media managers of the Government of India, that is, they are the connecting link between the Indian Government and the common people. The prime job responsibility of IIS officers is to communicate the different schemes and policies of the government to the people and to gather important feedback from them on the same.

What does a Civil Services Officer do?

The key roles and responsibilities of:

An IAS officer is – 

  • To implement Union/State government policies at the grass-roots level and to act as an intermediary between the public and the government.
  • To handle government administrative tasks such as formulating and implementing different policies, etc.

An IPS officer is –

  • To maintain law and order, to enforce national/state law, and to prevent as well as detect crime.
  • To interact and collaborate with the members of the Indian Armed Forces, Indian Revenue Services, and All India Services.

An IFS officer is –

  • Foster friendly relations with other nations, all the while protecting India’s national interests in the country where she/he is delegated.
  • Provide accurate reports on the developments (occurring in the country where she/he is posted) that can in any way impact India’s policy formulation.

How to become a Civil Services Officer – Educational Requirement

Undergraduate studies after school:

After completing Class 10, you can complete your higher secondary studies in any stream of your choice. Generally, to appear in UPSC Civil Services Exam, having a Bachelor’s degree is enough. So, you can pursue your graduation-level studies in any discipline you want to. After graduation, you can start preparing for the Civil Services Exam.

Post Graduate studies:

A postgraduate degree isn’t necessary to appear in the Civil Services Exam. The preparation for this exam is entirely different and does not solely depend on your educational qualification.

Job Opportunities

Once you’ve successfully cleared the Civil Services Examinations, you can get a job in either of the two categories of the Civil Services – Group A Services and Group B Services – depending upon your rank in the exam and your preferred priority as you mention in the detailed application form. However, to bag a Group A Service job such as the IAS or IPS, or IFS, you need to obtain an excellent rank in exams.

Salary of Civil Services Officer

At the entry level, as a Junior Time Scale Officer (ranks such as Sub-Divisional Magistrate in IAS/ Assistant Superintendent of Police/ Assistant Commissioner of Police in IPS / Assistant Commissioner in IRS), you will earn about Rs. 56,100 – 1,32,000 per month.

After 4 years of service, in the Senior Time Scale (ranks such as Additional District Magistrate or Deputy Secretary or Under Secretary in IAS/ Superintendent of Police in IPS/ Deputy Commissioner in IRS, etc.), you will earn about Rs. 67,000 – 1,60,000 per month.

After about 9 years of service, in the Junior Administrative Grade scale (ranks such as Senior Superintendent of Police in IPS/District Magistrate or Joint Secretary or Deputy Secretary in IAS / Joint Commissioner in IRS, etc.), you will make about Rs. 78,800 – 191,500 per month.

After about 12 years of service, you will be in the selection grade (ranks such as Director / District Magistrate in IAS / Additional Commissioner IRS, etc.). This means that your promotion will depend upon your performance assessment. You will get about Rs. 1,18,500 – 2,14,100 per month.

After about 16 years of service, you will be in the Senior Administrative Grade (ranks such as Inspector General of Police / Commissioner in IAS or IRS / Divisional Commissioner or Joint Secretary, etc.), you will get about Rs. 1,44,200 – 2,18,00 per month. This promotion will also depend upon your work performance.

After about 25 years of service, you will be in the Higher Administrative Grade (ranks such as Principal Secretary / Additional Secretary/ etc., you will get about Rs. 1,82,200 – 224,100 per month. This promotion will depend upon your work performance.

After about 30 years of service, you will be in the Apex Scale (ranks such as Secretary, Chief Secretary, etc.), and you will get about Rs. 2,25,000 per month. This promotion will depend upon your work performance.

At the highest level, in the rank of Cabinet Secretary of the Government of India, you will get Rs. 2,50,000 per month.

Career progression in this profession

IAS Officers

The career of an IAS officer starts with a two-year probation period. During this time, they undergo training in training schools or field offices or in a District Magistrate’s office. The first position of an IAS officer is that of a Sub-Divisional Magistrate. After the two-year probation period is over, the officers are promoted to senior-scale positions like District Magistrate, Managing Director of a Public Enterprise, or Director of a Department.  The Senior Time Scale (Joint Secretary), Junior Administrative Grade (Additional Secretary), and the Selection Grade (Special Secretary) together make the Senior scale. After the Senior Time Scale, promotion to the Selection Grade is offered after 13 years of regular service and the next promotion as a Commissioner-cum-Secretary is offered after 16 years. After 24 years of service, an IAS officer can be promoted to the Above Super time scale (Principal Secretaries, Financial Commissioners, etc.)

IPS Officers

Similar to IAS officers, IPS officers also have to serve a two-year probation period after completion of which they are given the charge of an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of a Sub-division or Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). After four years, IPS officers are appointed as Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police. The next promotion to Junior Administrative Grade comes after nine years and after thirteen years, they are further promoted to the Selection Grade. In about fourteen years’ time, an IPS officer scales up to the position of a Deputy Inspector General of Police or Additional Commissioner of Police and in eighteen years’ time, they get promoted to the position of the Inspector General of Police or Commissioner of Police. After 25 years of regular service, IPS officers are promoted to the position of the Additional Director General of Police and the final promotion as the Director General of Police comes after 30 years of service.

IFS Officers

IFS officers have a ranking system depending upon where they are posted. For instance, if they are posted at an embassy, their ranking order will be as follows:

  • Third Secretary (entry-level)
  • Second Secretary (promotion upon being confirmed in service)
  • First Secretary
  • Counselor
  • Minister
  • Deputy Chief of Mission or Deputy High Commissioner or Deputy Permanent Representative
  • Ambassador or High Commissioner or Permanent Representative

If they are posted at the Ministry of External Affairs, their ranking order will be as follows:

  • Assistant Secretary/Under Secretary
  • Deputy Secretary
  • Director
  • Joint Secretary
  • Additional Secretary
  • Secretary

Finally, an IFS officer is appointed as the Foreign Secretary of India, that is, India’s Top Diplomat (Administrative Head of the Indian Foreign Service & Foreign Service Board)

The recruitment process of Civil Servants essentially depends on the ruling Government’s policies and requirements for administrative and bureaucratic officers. Career growth in this field is moderate. Although the general trend shows that the number of Civil Servants recruited in the past ten years hasn’t seen much of an upward change, the scenario may change in the coming years as India takes decisive steps to become a developed nation. To become a developed nation, a lot of projects for socio-economic and human development have to be undertaken. Therefore, there is a possibility of an increase in the number of recruitment in the Indian Civil Services.

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