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Indian Administrative Service

The Indian Administrative Service , often abbreviated to as IAS, is an administrative All-India service.[2] It is considered to be one of the two premier civil services of India, because a candidate, once appointed to the IAS, is rendered ineligible to reappear in the Civil Services Examination.[3]

Indian Administrative Service
Service Overview
IAS (Central Association) logo.jpeg
Formerly known as ICS
Founded 1858
(as Imperial Civil Service)
(as Indian Administrative Service)
Country India
Staff College Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand
Cadre Controlling Authority Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension
Minister Responsible Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and Minister responsible for Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension
Legal personality Governmental: Government service
Duties Policy Formulation
Policy Implementation
Public Administration
Bureaucratic Governance
Secretarial Assistance (Centre & State)
Preceding service Imperial Civil Service (1858–1946)
Cadre Strength 4926 members (3511 officers directly recruited by UPSC and 1415 officers promoted from state civil services)[1]
Selection Civil Services Examination
Association IAS (Central) Association
Head of the Civil Services
Current Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha, IAS

IAS officers serve in strategic and key positions in the Union Government, States governments[2] and public-sector undertakings.[2] Like in other countries following the Westminster system of government, IAS as the permanent bureaucracy[4] in India is an inseparable part of the executive of the Government of India,[5] and hence, provides neutrality and continuity to the administration.[4]

Along with the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service(IFoS), the IAS is one of the three All India Services — its cadre is employed by both the Union Government and the individual States.[2]

Upon confirming to service after probation as Sub-Divisional Magistrate, an IAS officer is given the administrative command in the district as District Magistrate and Collector after a few years of service, and normally, after sixteen years of service in some states, an IAS officer heads a whole division in the state, as its Commissioner. On attaining the Apex Scale, IAS officers go on to head whole Departments and Ministries of the Government of India. IAS officers represent the Government of India at the international level in bilateral and multilateral negotiations. On deputations,[6] they work at Intergovernmental organisations like World Bank,[6][7][8] International Monetary Fund,[6][9][10] Asian Development Bank,[6][11][12] and United Nations or its Agencies.[6][13] IAS officers at various levels of administration play a vital role in conducting free, fair and smooth elections in India under the direction of Election Commission of India.[14]



During the occupation of East India Company, Civil Service was divided into three categories - Covenanted, Uncovenanted and Special Civil Services. The covenanted civil service, or the Honourable East India Company's Civil Service (HEICCS), as it was called, largely consisted of 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.[19][20] The Special Service consisted of special departments of Indian Administration like Indian Forest Service, Indian Police, Indian Political Service etc. the ranks of these services were filled in a variety of ways, Indian Political Service officers generally came from the HEICCS/ICS and the British Indian Army, Indian Police had many British Indian Army officers in its ranks, but from 1893 onwards, a separate annual exam was conducted to fill its cadre.[19][20] The Honourable East India Company's Civil Service (HEICCS) was superseded by the Indian Civil Service (ICS) in 1858.[20] The ICS was the highest civil service of the British Empire in British India during British rule in the period between 1858 and 1947. The last British appointments to the ICS were made in 1942.[19][20]

With the passing of the Government of India Act, 1919, the Imperial Services headed by the Secretary of State for India, was split into two – All India Services and Central Services.[21]

At the time of the partition of India and the departure of the British in 1947, the Imperial Civil Service was divided between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan. The part which went to India was named the Indian Administrative Service, while the part that went to Pakistan was named the Central Superior Services of Pakistan.

The modern Indian Administrative Service was created under the Article 312(2) in part XIV of the Constitution of India.[5]


Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration is the staff training college of IAS.

There are three modes of recruitment into the Indian Administrative Service.

IAS officers are recruited from the Civil Services Examination, which are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).[2] Officers selected from the Civil Services Examination are called direct recruits. Some IAS officers are also promoted from the State Civil Services,[2] and, in some cases, selected from non-state civil service.[2] The ratio between the direct recruits and the promotees is fixed at 2:1. All IAS officers. Regardless of the mode of entry, are appointed by the President of India.[5]

Unlike candidates appointed to other civil services, a candidate, once appointed to the Indian Administrative Service, is rendered ineligible to reappear in the Civil Services Examination,[3] this is because, before 1979, a candidate had to give two additional papers to be eligible for Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS). But even after the Civil Services Examination was made common, the state of affairs did not change, and IAS and IFS retained their edge.[22][23] After the selection process, the successful candidates undergo training at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.

State CadresEdit

Cadre Allocation PolicyEdit

The Union Government announced a new cadre allocation policy for the All India Services in August 2017, touting it as a policy to ensure national integration of the bureaucracy as officers and ensure All-India character of the services. Under the new policy, the existing 26 cadres have been divided into five zones in the new policy by the Department of Personnel and Training of Government of India.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30]

Under the new policy, a candidate has to first give his/her choice in the descending order of preference from amongst the various Zones.[30] Subsequently, the candidate has to indicate one preference of cadre from each preferred zone.[30] The candidate indicates his second cadre preference for every preferred zone subsequently. The process continues till a preference for all the cadres is indicated by the candidate.[30] The preference for the zones/cadres remains in the same order and no change is permitted.[30]

Officers continue to work in the cadre they are allotted or are deputed to the Government of India.[6]

Zones under the new Cadre Allocation Policy
Zone States
Zone-I AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories), Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.
Zone-II Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Zone-III Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Zone-IV West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam-Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland.
Zone-V Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Old Cadre Allocation PoliciesEdit

Till 2008 there was no system of preference of state cadre by the candidates; the candidates, if not placed in the insider vacancy of their home states, were allotted to different states in alphabetic order of the roster, beginning with the letters A, H, M, T for that particular year. For example, if in a particular year the roster begins from 'A', which means the first candidate on the roster will go to the Andhra Pradesh state cadre of IAS, the next one to Bihar, and subsequently to Chhatisgarh, Gujarat and so on in alphabetical order.[31] The next year the roster starts from 'H', for either Haryana or Himachal Pradesh (if it has started from Haryana on the previous occasion when it all started from 'H', then this time it would start from Himachal Pradesh). This highly intricate system, in vogue since the mid-1980s, had ensured that officers from different states are placed all over India.

The system of permanent State cadres has also resulted in wide disparities in the kind of professional exposure for officers, when we compare officers in small and big and also developed and backward states.[31] Changes of state cadre is permitted on grounds of marriage to an All India Service officer of another state cadre or under other exceptional circumstances. The officer may go to their home state cadre on deputation for a limited period, after which one has to invariably return to the cadre allotted to him or her.[32]

From 2008 to 2017 IAS officers were allotted to State cadres at the beginning of their service. There was one cadre for each Indian state, except for two joint cadres: AssamMeghalaya and Arunachal PradeshGoaMizoramUnion Territories (AGMUT).[32] The "insider-outsider ratio" (ratio of officers who were posted in their home states) is maintained as 1:2, with one-third of the direct recruits as 'insiders' from the same state.[33] The rest were posted as outsiders according to the 'roster' in states other than their home states,[33] as per their preference.

Responsibilities of an IAS officerEdit

The typical functions performed by an IAS officer are:

  • To collect revenue and function as Courts in matters of revenue, to maintain law and order, to implement Union and State Government policies at the grass-root level when posted at field positions i.e. as Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Additional District Magistrate, District Magistrate and Divisional Commissioner. And to act as the agent of the government on the field, i.e. to act as the intermediate between public and the government.[2]
  • To handle the administration and daily proceedings of the government, including formulation and implementation of policy in consultation with the Minister-in-charge of the concerned Ministry or Department.[2]
  • To contribute to policy formulation, and to take a final decision in certain matters, with the agreement of the Minister concerned or the Council of Ministers (depending upon the weight of the matter), when posted at higher level in Union Government as Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Special Secretary/Secretary equivalent, Secretary and Cabinet Secretary, and in State Governments as Principal Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary/Special Chief Secretary and Chief Secretary.[2]

Career ProgressionEdit

IAS officers start their careers go to their home cadres for district training. In the state administration, they start off functioning as Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and are put in-charge of a whole sub-division of a district, As SDMs, they are entrusted with maintaining law and order of the sub-division, along with general administration and development work of the sub-division they are made in charge of.[34] IAS officers after district training work as Assistant Secretaries in the Union Government for a duration of three months.[35][36][37] IAS officers proceed to occupy various strategic posts in the State and Union Governments, and also in local-self Governments (Municipal Corporations/Zilla Parishads), and Public Sector Undertakings.[38]

Positions and designations held by IAS officer in their career.[2][39][40]
Grade/Level on Pay Matrix[39][40] Field Posting(s)[2] Position in the State Government(s)[2] Position in the Central Government[2] Position in Indian Order of Precedence Base Salary (per month)[39][40]
Cabinet Secretary Grade (Pay level 18)



Cabinet Secretary of India



Apex Scale (Pay level 17)


Chief Secretary[a]




Higher Administrative Grade (Above Super Time Scale) (Pay level 15)

Divisional Commissioner[c]

Principal Secretary

Additional Secretary



Senior Administrative Grade (Above Super Time Scale) (Pay level 14)

Divisional Commissioner[c]


Joint Secretary



Selection Grade (Pay level 13)

District Magistrate[d]

Special Secretary



Junior Administrative Grade (Pay level 12)

District Magistrate[d]

Joint Secretary

Deputy Secretary


Senior Time Scale (Pay level 11)

Additional District Magistrate[e]

Deputy Secretary

Under Secretary


Junior Time Scale (Pay level 10)

Sub-Divisional Magistrate[f]

Under Secretary

Assistant Secretary



  1. ^ IAS officers of the designations Additional Chief Secretary and Special Chief Secretary draw same pay but not same protocol as the Chief Secretary of the State.[41][42][43]
  2. ^ IAS officers of the designation Special Secretary to Government of India draw same pay but not same protocol as a Secretary to Government of India.[44][45][46]
  3. ^ a b Alternate designation - Regional Commissioner.
  4. ^ a b Alternate designations - District Collector, Deputy Commissioner.
  5. ^ Alternate designations - Chief Development Officer, Additional District Collector, Joint Collector, Additional Deputy Commissioner, CEO of Zila Parishad
  6. ^ Alternate designations - Deputy Collector, Sub-Divisional Officer, Sub-Collector, Joint Magistrate

IAS officers, after retirement, occupy Constitutional posts such as the Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC),[47] Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG),[48] and Chairman of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC),[49] they also become members of Administrative tribunals such as National Green Tribunal (NGT) and Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Retired IAS officers also become chiefs of regulators such as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI),[50] Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI),[51][52] and Reserve Bank of India (RBI),[53] but, if a serving IAS officer is appointed to Constitutional posts such as Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Chief Election Commissioner of India and Chairman of UPSC or as head of statutory authorities such as National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, and Central Information Commission, he or she is deemed to have retired from service.[51]

IAS officers can also be deputed to private organizations for a fixed tenure under Rule 6(2)(ii) of The Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954.[54]

Assessment of Suitability for Promotion & PostingEdit

Performance Appraisal of IAS officers is measured through Performance Appraisal Report (PAR). PAR reports of an officer are reviewed to judge his/her suitability before any posting and/or promotion in the Union and State Governments. The report is an annual one, it is initiated by the officer himself (designated as the Reporting Officer), who lists out his achievements and completion of activities and targets assigned to him for the year. The report is then modified and commented by the Reviewing Officer, who is the next immediate officer in the hierarchy than the Reporting Officer. For All India Services, there is one more authority (Accepting Authority) who accepts and reviews the PAR filed by the Reporting Officer, after suggestions from the Reviewing Officers.[2]

Major concerns and reformsEdit

Lateral EntryEdit

Media personnel, some retired IAS officers and a few academicians have argued in favour of lateral entry into IAS, so to inject fresh blood into the service. They argue that it would help freshen up the bureaucracy, and would offer competitiveness and an alternate point of view.[58][59][60][61][62][63]

However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there is fear that once such a bureaucratic process is set in motion, it will become a precedent for all time and could be cited and manipulated by future governments at the centre and the states to plant people regardless of their worth.[64] They argue that lateral entry would open the floodgates for a spoils system. It will not by itself lead to enhanced managerial performance or accountability.[65] They argue while lateral entry may create synergy between the government and big businesses, but it will also compromise the integrity of the government.[66]

Some also argue that far from infusing energy, it could further enfeeble the bureaucracy.[67]

The Union government, on many occasions, has ruled out lateral entry into IAS.[68][69][70]

Political InfluenceEdit

Many think tanks and media personnel have argued that the IAS is hamstrung by the political influence in the service.[55][56][57][71] Many local political leaders have been seen to have forced IAS officers’ hand. Politicians threaten IAS officers by frequently transferring them,[72][73][74] suspending them,[75][76][77] and in some extreme cases, killing them.[78][79]


In 2015, it was reported by Government of India that as many as 100 IAS officers have been in the list of corrupt bureaucrats and have come under the CBI scanner for alleged involvement in corruption cases.[80][81][82][83] Further, as per Government of India records, 379 IAS officers deliberately failed to submit details of their immovable assets (IPR) to the Union government for the year 2017.[84]

In the past few years, a few IAS officers of the rank and post of Chief Secretary[85][86][87] and Principal Secretary[88][89][90] have been arrested in graft cases[91][92] and laundering.[93] IAS officers have been found amassing disproportionate assets and wealth varying 2,000,000,000 (US$31 million),[94] 3,000,000,000 (US$47 million)[94] to 3,500,000,000 (US$55 million).[94]

In 2016, it was reported that Government of India has decided to empower common man to seek prosecution of corrupt IAS officers.[95] Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (DoPT) has accepted to receive requests from private persons seeking sanction for prosecution in respect of IAS officers without any proper proposal and supporting documents.[95]

In 2017, a former Union Coal Secretary and few other IAS officers were sentenced two years in prison, for their involvement coal allocation scam by a CBI special court in Delhi.[96][97]

In 2017, it was reported by Department of Personnel and Training of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions that in the previous three years, one IAS officer was prematurely retired from service, ten IAS officers had been deemed to have resigned, five had their pensions cut, and a further eight IAS officers suffered a cut in remuneration.[98][99][100][101][102]

Missing IAS officersEdit

In June 2015, The Telegraph reported that a total of twelve IAS officers had been missing from India, and hadn't reported to either the Union or the state government of the cadre they are allotted.[103] They were believed to be working in foreign countries for a more lucrative pay.[103] It was later reported by The Asian Age, that the services of three of the twelve officers were likely to be terminated due to "prolonged absence from service".[104]

Notable IAS OfficersEdit

See alsoEdit


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