Tag: IAS Aspirants

IAS as a service: Has it performed to expectations or failed the nation?

Most people have a tendency of holding the IAS responsible for anything that goes in the country.

In recent weeks there has been a debate on whether the IAS as a service has delivered or has it failed the nation. Different viewpoints are being expressed. Indeed, there can be arguments on both sides of the balance. Indeed, there can be arguments on both sides of the balance. I personally feel that IAS has delivered despite the constraints under which it functions. Ground level realities are very different from the view from outside which many sections of the society tend to take about the performance of the IAS as a service. It is also felt that in the IAS there is complete job security and promotion is automatic on the basis of seniority and there is no objective performance appraisal system in place to determine the sustainability of officers for senior level posts. There are many who have a tendency of holding the IAS responsible for anything that goes wrong in the country.

Strangely, the general view is that the IAS as a service is very closely knit and self perpetuating and always defends itself and members of the service. This is very different from reality where IAS officers are more concerned about their individual careers rather than to think about the IAS fraternity as a whole. Far too often the IAS officers have a propensity of criticizing the service and those who are senior love to say that the ethos and values of the service are on the decline in the younger batches. I do not believe this to be true. There are the good, bad and the ugly in the IAS as there are in other professions and it is incorrect to try and give the entire service a bad name.

Some years ago in the Uttar Pradesh IAS Association some officers who became crusaders against corruption in the service organized a secret ballot to vote for three most corrupt officers in the UP cadre. This move was hailed in the media and various forums but with a negative connotation and the story went around that the IAS was a corrupt service. An act of self cleansing attempted by some officers was turned into a tool to damage the reputation of the entire service.

A colleague of mine has very rightly pointed out that many IAS officers in order to show themselves as being intellectually progressive criticize their own service. Other sections of the society then use these very utterances to condemn the IAS. Introspection and self improvement are essential but the service has enough achievements to its credit to make its members feel a sense of pride in them.

Many individual IAS officers have done outstanding work in the Districts and in policy making but, unfortunately, most of it not documented. Only recently with the advent of social media have some IAS officers begun to talk about to work done by them and the innovative way in which they have delivered good governance the service as a whole can be, justifiably, proud of itself for having played a very important role in keeping the nation together and also ensuring that the government works according to the democratic principles and the spirit of the constitution. Some IAS officers have posted on social media that no doubt the steel frame has got corroded but how do we handle the corrosive environment in which IAS officers function?

Many people, when they discuss this issue with me, are quick to point out that rules and regulations are made by the IAS and if they are hampering the working of the government then the IAS should change them. It is true to some extent and it is also a fact that the IAS officers have been responsible for modernizing many rules and procedures but they cannot change everything.

They also function under a system where the politician is the master.

One thing that has emerged from all the discussion is that there is a need for a performance based promotion system for the IAS. There is a very extensive system in existence which has been continuously improved upon over the years but it is still not very satisfactory as it does not separate the wheat from the chaff. A large proportion of officers get a very good or outstanding rating without their meriting it. The promotions are on the basis of seniority subject to unfit which means only those involved in court cases or departmental enquiries are left out. The Government of India has recently introduced a three sixty degree evaluation system for the Secretary level and other senior posts. This has resulted in almost 30% to 50% of a batch not being able to get promotion to the Secretary level.

However, the working of this system is quite opaque and has caused a lot of resentment amongst officers. My view is that there is a definite need for an objective evaluation system for the IAS which should lead to the promotion of those officers who acquire new skills and knowledge, have qualities of leadership, have good communication skills, have the capacity to motivate and inspire a team and are not scared of taking prompt decisions in public interest. Officers who deliver results and outcomes should reach the top and not those who merely push files, are risk averse and believe in maintaining the status-quo. Unfortunately, the current system encourages good file work and not delivery of results. This is a difficult exercise because in my experience I am yet to come across a truly objective performance evaluation system. There is always an element of subjectivity which can become dangerous in the current environment where the politicians are evaluating the performance of officers and there is a tendency to brand officers along lines of caste, community or perceived proximity to members of a political party merely because they have served on important posts in a particular government.

It is easy to say that an IAS officer should give free and frank advice and uphold what is correct but these days it has become hazardous to do so particularly in State Governments where the Minister or Chief Minister takes this as an indication of willful dissent and is prone to transfer you to unimportant posts or worse start an enquiry against you. Today the IAS officer has to walk the political tightrope very adroitly otherwise he could have a fall from which it would take him years to recover.

It must also be kept in mind that the basic principle of governance is to have the right man at the right place. However, rarely does an IAS officer get to work with the team of his choice. He has to give results working often with a mediocre team and facing political interference at every level.

Despite the above, several IAS officers have achieved a lot and have been shining examples of competence and integrity. There is a lot of scope for introspection, self improvement and also major reforms in the entire system of governance. However, given the ground realities it would be harsh to say that the IAS has not delivered at all or failed the nation.

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Finding the right fix

Rather than imposing a mandate over officers, the Central government must assess the reasons behind their ‘unwillingness’ to be deputed for Central roles
A controversy is raging these days regarding the proposed amendments to the IAS (cadre) rules proposed by the Central Government. Several states have reacted strongly opposing these amendments as they feel that this would give the Government of India much greater control over the posting of IAS officers to the Center. This amendment is agitating the State Governments more because of certain recent orders issued by the Government of India like those relating to the Chief Secretary of West Bengal and some senior officers of the same state.

To put the matter in perspective it is important to understand the current rules regarding deputation. Central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is covered under rule 6(1) of the IAS cadre rule 1954 inserted in May 1969 which states that “a cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government”. It further states that “provided that in the case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government”.

There were around 5,200 IAS officers in the country as of January 1, 2021, and 458 were on central deputation. The Central Government is concerned because the required numbers of officers are not coming forward for central deputation and the Government of India is facing a shortage of officers. Central Government wrote to the State Governments recently pointing out that States were not sponsoring an adequate number of officers for central deputation. Depending upon the strength of the IAS officers in a particular state a central deputation reserve is created which indicates the number of officers, at various levels, who are eligible for Government of India deputation. Based on this, the Central Government asks for an “offer list” of officers from which it selects the required officers. The Government of India has now proposed an additional condition in 6(1) which states “provided that each government shall make available for deputation to the Central Government such number of eligible officers of various levels to the extent of the central deputation reserve”. It goes on to add that “the actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central Government shall be decided by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government concerned”. It also says that in the event of any disagreement the State Governments shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government within a specified time. In the letter written to the State Governments, the Central Government has also said that “in specific situations where services of cadre officers are required by the Central Government in the public interest the Central Government may seek the services of such officers for posting under the Central Government”. The states realized that through these changes the Government of India is taking greater control over the IAS officers and this is the reason why they are objecting quite vociferously.

It is significant to note that the willingness of the officer concerned to go on deputation to the Government of India is essential as per rule 6(2) which states that “no cadre officer shall be deputed except with his consent”. The clause about posting the officers in the Government of India in public interest appears to override this crucial requirement of the willingness of the officer concerned. In effect, it would mean that any time the Central Government can pull out an officer from the State Government to serve in Government of India irrespective of the willingness of the State Government or the officer concerned. This has become the real bone of contention, particularly, in the light of recent examples of West Bengal and earlier Tamil Nadu.

Most states are having a central deputation reserve shortfall. Over 14 states have a CDR shortfall of over 80 per cent with the West Bengal figure being 95 per cent and it is above 90 per cent for MP, Haryana and Telangana. It is a fact that most states are not meeting their CDR obligations. This is not in consonance with the concept of an All India Service. This is happening even though the annual recruitment to the service has gone up since 2000. There is a particular shortage at the level of Joint Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Secretaries. This is a genuine problem that needs to be resolved through consultation between States and Central Government.

It is also essential to understand the concept of All India Services as well as the federal structure of the constitution. The idea behind the creation of All India Services like IAS has been to have a common perspective between the State Governments and Government of India and that States should also function towards the achievement of national goals. On selection, IAS officers are assigned to a State cadre where they serve in the district and State Secretariat and acquire knowledge about the ground-level realities. They can also opt for central deputation and generally, they spend five years in the Government of India if selected and acquire a national and international perspective. He carries his experience back to the state after his central deputation period is over. The All-India character of the service is maintained by the mechanism of giving 1/3 of the vacancies in a state in a particular year to candidates who belong to the state and the balance is given to the officers from outside the state.

I think the most important point is that there should be a willingness on the part of the officer to go to the Government of India. He should not be forced to do so. Central Government must analyse why officers are not offering themselves to the Government of India. At the Deputy Secretary/ Director level the main issue is that at the same level of seniority the officer is working either as a District Magistrate or head of a department or some other important post in the state where he has a lot of authority to make decisions and the job is immensely satisfying. Further, creature comforts like a vehicle, house, schools for children and availability of health care are ensured. At the Deputy Secretary level in the Government of India, many of these hygiene factors are absent and even the job content is such that very few decisions are taken at that level and the officer is primarily involved in pushing files. If the Government of India really wants officers to opt for them at this level of seniority, it should focus on taking steps to enrich the job content and also provide basic creature comforts. I am surprised why there are fewer officers on offer for the Joint Secretary (JS) level posts because the JS is a crucial person in the Government of India and most decisions are taken by her and she contributes in a big way to the working of the department. The reasons for the shortage at the JS level would need to be studied. I feel one reason could be that a lesser number of officers were recruited into the IAS between 1990 and 2000 as a measure to slim down the bureaucracy who was misplaced and from 2000 onwards more officers are being selected into the IAS. The states are also guilty of not sparing officers for Government of India postings because they are doing some very important work and they cannot be allowed to go. They have been instances where due to political reasons the names of officers are not forwarded to the Government of India. I feel it is the responsibility of the State Governments to have the required number of officers in the central deputation reserve. Thereafter deputation to the Government of India can take place on the basis of the willingness of the officers and consultation between the two governments. This is how the character of All India Services can be maintained and also it is in accordance with the federal nature of our union. The problem only comes when political reasons start influencing this process either from the Government of India or the State Government level.

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An insight into an IAS officer’s work with the Government

Here’s an excerpt from Making a Difference by a successful retired IAS officer, Alok Ranjan, who served with distinction in various assignments in the State Government as well as the Government of India.

Working with the State Government

A very revealing incident took place when I was the Principal Secretary Urban Development and the urban local body elections were to take place. They were thirteen posts of mayors and as per the act and rules, there was a clear roster system to determine which seat would be general, which reserved, which would go to women, etc. The CM wanted particular candidates to contest from specific municipal corporations and I was summoned by the CM Office and given the brief to prepare the roster accordingly. I explained that this is not possible as the rules and their interpretation was clear. The stratagem of taking legal opinion was then adopted by the CM Office and the Principal Secretary Law interpreted the rules differently which accommodated eight out of the thirteen proposed mayor candidates. I said that I did not agree with the opinion but if given in writing, I would abide by it. However, the CM was keen that at least three other proposed mayoral candidates should be accommodated in the roster. To my utter disbelief I was called and told by the CM Office in the presence of the Principal Secretary Law that for eight seats, the interpretation given by the law department should be used while for other three, my earlier interpretation should be employed. I had to show my dissent by saying that I could agree with an interpretation I felt was wrong if given in writing, but I had to be consistent and could not possibly choose different interpretations for different mayor seats. At my refusal, the officers present looked at me as they would at a goat about to be sacrificed and I realized that my goose was cooked and mentally began to prepare for my transfer. Imagine my surprise and amazement when the CM saw my point and agreed with it. It just shows that often the officers close to the CM try to be holier than the king. If they put up both sides of the picture to the CM they will invariably get to the right decision.

Secretariat working is all about files which are almost like living organisms having a life and energy of their own. A good Secretariat officer believes in not keeping files pending and he is proud to proclaim that his table is clear. However, this movement of files has little relation to actual decisions being taken and on closer examination, he will find that the files have been sent to law, finance or personnel departments for advice. The files move to and fro with volumes of noting which ensures that no accountability can be fixed on anyone at a later date. A close relative of this strategy is the formation of a committee to examine the matter which takes its own sweet time to give a voluminous report. Even developing a system of tracking files and prescribing maximum time limit for files to stay at a particular desk does not help.

The Principal Secretary of a department is expected to provide leadership to his team. He has to have the skill set to build the team which shares the objectives and goals of the department and works towards its fulfillment. The key task is to prepare the budget of the department, then release the budget to the field officers and monitor physical and financial progress. Above all, he has to assess the problems in his department, resolve them and achieve the required outcomes. Unfortunately, this does not often happen as the officers are more concerned about processes than giving results. Calling or attending a meeting becomes an end in itself and occupies the majority of the time of the secretaries and the heads of the departments. The job of a Principal Secretary is not only to assist in policy formulation but ensure implementation. Often we hear the rather unfair and incorrect statement that policies are good but implementation is poor. The reality is that policies are framed in the rooms of the Secretariat overlooking the harsh realities at the field level and a good policy must take into account how it can be executed…

To really play a transformational role, the officer must focus on results and outcomes but unfortunately, the officer is often more concerned about the process than delivering results. I have personally seen many brilliant officers mellow down in the Secretariat to the level of becoming ‘inaction wonders’. They disconnect themselves from the field and get mired in the rules and regulations with the results that the files become thicker, with no difference being made to the actual delivery of public services. For instance, if an officer is Secretary in the urban development department and is busy disposing of files while cities are full of garbage and filth rotting on the roads, then it implies that his working has no connection with the real issues confronting his department. Similarly, there is no purpose served by the Health Secretary clearing files on a daily basis if the quality of healthcare remains abysmally poor. Teachers remain absent from schools while the Secretary Education is busy issuing detailed guidelines and instructions which have a total disconnect with the realities in the field. This leads to discontentment amongst the people as they are receiving poor quality of public services. It is, thus, mandatory to make better outcomes the focus of each and every department and the performance of all the Secretariat, departments should be measured accordingly…

Working with the Government of India

The biggest attraction of a GOI posting is the international exposure. In simple language, it means the prospect of foreign travel and also a chance of a foreign posting. Ministries are categorized according to the avenues of foreign travel that they promise. That is why ministries like commerce are sought after and the competition to get into them is high. When the GOI officers meet each other, the common topic of conversation is the number of countries that an officer has visited. Some claim to have crossed the half-century mark whereas others make tall claims of having scored a century. I happened to go as JS Defence and defence was a ministry which had very few opportunities for foreign travel. If at all they travelled, it was mostly to Russia. Many of my colleagues looked sympathetically at me and said ‘could you not manage a better ministry? ’I was told that most officers avoid PHD ministries – personnel, home and defence – as they have the least chances of foreign travel. So, defence, despite being such an important strategic ministry, has few people opting for it. Within the ministries too there is intense competition for the international co-operation desk. A foreign posting or deputation to an international organization is highly coveted. This is despite the fact that these assignments do not give great opportunities for doing challenging work. Late T.S.R. Subramaniam who retired as Cabinet Secretary and had served in the state, center and in an international organization, had commented in his book that the maximum work is done in the districts, then the state government, then the GOI and finally the international organization where you have a lot of time on your hands. Still, the lure of the international posting is there.

The GOI concerns itself with policy formulation at the national level and is generally not involved in the implementation aspect, which is the responsibility of the state governments. In some departments like defence, external affairs and commerce, all the action is at the GOI level. There are, however, huge GOI bureaucracies dealing with subjects on the concurrent or the state lists. Sometimes, one wonders whether it is necessary at all. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture in the GOI has ten Joint Secretaries whereas agriculture is a state subject. There is a serious case for reduction in the size of certain ministries at the centre and also of clubbing several ministries together as it is strange that the Ministry of Agriculture is not involved with issues related to fertilizer, water or agriculture credit.

The ministries of such size at the GOI exist because of political reasons and also the bureaucratic culture of creating work to perpetuate work and justify itself. The major mechanisms for this are the centrally sponsored schemes where the major financial contribution (60 per cent or 75 per cent) is done by the centre and schemes are formulated at the GOI level with detailed guidelines. The problem arises as no two states are alike. The same schemes will succeed in one state but the conditions in other states will not favor its implementation. Thus, the states constantly argue that funds should be transferred to them and they be left free to design schemes. However, there is no denying that there is greater wisdom available at the GOI due to its knowledge about the best practices in the states, presence of experts and availability of international inputs. The GOI involves stakeholders, specialists and consultants in designing policy and the due diligence done is of a very high order. Yet, there cannot be a universal policy looking at the extreme variations between states. The solution, as usual, has to be in between…

To succeed in GOI, one needs to study the department in detail, understand crucial issues, articulate your viewpoint and have the ability to carry officers of other services and specialists along with you. It requires great qualities of leadership to set the goals and milestones for your departments and then lead the entire team towards fulfilling them. A dedicated officer will always find working in the Government of India to be a transformational opportunity.

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A letter from Alok Ranjan to all IAS aspirants

Alok Ranjan, the former Chief Secretary of the Government of Uttar Pradesh, has had the career that most people dream of. So, he has put together the information that every aspiring officer should know. While sharing his own experiences, he has provided a deep understanding of the IAS as an institution, valuable tips and insight for cracking the daunting UPSC exam, and how to build a successful career in the services.

Dear Readers,

It was a difficult decision after having done my MBA from IIM Ahmadabad to resign from my job and write the IAS examination. I was fortunate to succeed in the exam in my first attempt and secured 4th position in India in the IAS and was allotted to the Uttar Pradesh cadre. I retired in 2016 after 38 years of a very fulfilling and satisfying career. I can say with complete confidence that no other service or job can provide the diversity and richness of experience that a career in the IAS provides.

I often meet young boys and girls embarking upon a career and find that most of them have dreams of joining the IAS or the civil services. Despite the numerous alternative career opportunities that are available, civil service is still the preferred choice of many. Students prepare for years to get through the hallowed portals of the civil service. For those who succeed it is a realization of their cherished aspirations while others keep making honest efforts year after year hoping that one day they shall succeed.

This book is for those young boys and girls who nurture the desire to join the IAS. I want to communicate through this book that it is possible to get selected in the IAS provided you have the right kind of motivation and are prepared to put in the requisite amount of dedicated hard work. This book is also about the challenges and opportunities that an IAS officer faces during his service period. it is not an autobiography but I have used interesting anecdotes from my career to illustrate the situations that an IAS officer faces and the leadership principles which are essential for him to ensure quality public service delivery and good governance. It is for this reason that this book would be of interest to the serving IAS officers as well as all those who are concerned in any way with issues related to public policy. A student must think of joining the IAS if she wants to bring about a positive change in society and contribute to the development of the country. Issues of power, position, and status cannot be ignored but they should not be the prime motivation for joining the IAS. This service gives you the opportunity of touching numerous human lives. You can bring about a transformation in the quality of life of the citizens. This book is all about making a difference to society which should be the main goal of an IAS officer.

A person interested in joining the IAS should prepare herself mentally for at least three to five year before the IAS exam. He should take a keen interest in current affairs and also read widely on all possible subjects. This is an extremely tough exam where you have to compete against thousands for a hundred seats and therefore your preparation has to be that much more solid and deeper. It is best to devote at least one year of single-minded focus and effort to this exam. You need to develop your personality as well as your communication skills as well as a logical and analytical way of thinking. This book will give those preparing for IAS some very useful tips for both the written exam and the personality test. I have talked about the experiences of an IAS officer as a District Magistrate which is, perhaps, the most rewarding and exciting posting in the service. A young IAS officer gets the opportunity of leading the entire team at the district and he is the voice of the government at the District level. Any scheme gets implemented if the District Magistrate takes it up. There is tremendous authority attached to this post but along with this comes a great sense of responsibility and accountability. It is, indeed, a thrilling assignment and most IAS officers never tire of talking about what they achieved in the Districts.

State Government provides a tremendous opportunity to make policies that could influence the life of the ordinary citizen. You could be looking after education and make a mark by improving the quality of education or you could be looking after the health and can make a difference by reducing infant and maternal mortality. Every post in the IAS has the potential of giving you an opportunity to bring about a positive change in the lives of people. A great experience at the State level is the post of the Chief Secretary who leads all the government officers and employees in fulfilling the ideal of good governance. IAS gives an opportunity of working with the Government of India where you get National and International experience and the policies you make impact the entire nation.

I have also discussed some of the common myths and beliefs about the IAS like the need for domain specialization, promotion on the basis of seniority, political interference, corruption, professional integrity, and lack of promptness in decision making. I have tried to show how some of these could be individual attributes but the system also plays a great role in molding the personality and administrative style of an IAS officer.

It is my fervent belief that a career in the IAS can be hugely satisfying but the relevance of the IAS for the future requires the service to introspect and reinvent itself and for this, it has to look within and make itself responsive to the changing needs of the 21 st century. The IAS is not merely a job but is a service to society and the Nation. The greatest reward that an IAS officer can get is when the common man on the street feels that a positive difference has been made in his life.

All the best!

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How did the ICS evolve into the IAS?

Alok Ranjan’s Making a Difference provides an insider’s unique perspective on the IAS and the role it plays in public administration and development. Here’s an excerpt from the book about how this service evolved over a period of time.

I often hear people talk about the Indian Civil Service (ICS) and compare the IAS unfavourably with it. It is important to understand in this context that the nature of the job, responsibility, working environment and expectations of the people from the IAS differed hugely from that of the ICS in the colonial days. It is, undoubtedly, the successor service to the ICS but it is not the same and cannot be the same.

For those who are unstinted in their praise for the ICS, it is a sobering thought to be told that this hallowed service was considered neither Indian nor Civil nor a service by the great leaders of the nationalist movement. Yet it would be interesting to trace the journey of the ICS, its origins and contribution, and then try to understand how it evolved into the IAS. It would be relevant to examine how the IAS itself is evolving and undergoing change in its character, nature, diversity and reputation.

In the eighteenth century, the East India Company gradually spread its tentacles through most of India and from a professed trading company, it became an agency of governance on behalf of Britain. Naturally, administering such a huge country needed the Army and the Civil Service. Teenaged men were recruited into the East India Company Civil Service and they spent their time in India collecting revenue for the company and maintaining law and order. In 1800, Governor-General Lord Wellesley decided that teenaged recruits would have to undergo special training in India. For this, he decided to set up the college of Fort William in Calcutta, but this proposal had not been approved by the company’s Directors in London.

 The Directors did however establish a college in Hertford Castle in England in 1806 and then moved to Haileybury three years later. The selection of candidates to Haileybury was by a process of nomination by the Directors. They had to be seventeen years old and come from distinguished families. There was no question of selection based on merit; family pedigree was considered the most important attribute. People joined the civil service for adventure and with a spirit of altruism. The salaries and the pensions offered were very attractive. After nomination and before joining Haileybury, the candidates had to take some kind of a written and oral exam where they were tested in history and mathematics as well as language. The foundational course at Haileybury was for two years and the candidate studied mathematics, philosophy, literature, law, history, general economics as well as Indian languages. Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic were also taught. It is a different matter that these languages were not of much use when the civil servant landed in India. They had to administer in the vernacular languages and learn them as soon as they were posted to the field. The educational atmosphere at Haileybury was not very demanding and most candidates focused on just clearing the exams. There were lectures for about two hours everyday and a lot of free time was available to socialize and indulge themselves in drink. There was, however, the minority who studied hard and were known as ‘Steadies’, much like the ‘Keen Type Probationers (KTP)’ of our time who took the training at the Mussoorie academy very seriously. Though discipline was lax at Haileybury, a feeling of esprit de corps was very visible and close friendships were formed which lasted for a long time. Haileybury continued till 1857 when the British Government took over the governance of India from the East India Company, and introduced a system of selection into the ICS on merit, through a competitive examination.

The British Government made this change as they felt that selection by patronage would no longer meet the needs of governance and that meritorious candidates were required. Initially, the ICS drew a majority of its entrants from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge but this soon changed. The Macaulay Committee laid out the guidelines of the selection which prescribed the maximum age limit initially as twenty-three but subsequently brought it down to twenty one. The committee designed an exam that demanded strong factual memory and a concentrated study of academic texts. The graduates had to study beyond their university syllabi to prepare for the exam and much like today, establishments like Crammer came up to prepare candidates for the exam.

There was a lot of criticism of this ‘Crammer’ system and many felt that unsuitable candidates were being selected just by preparing some questions that happened to appear in the examination paper. Still, many were of the view that the selection system provided better candidates than the earlier system that was based on patronage. This was followed by the Lord Salisbury Reforms which decided that candidates would take the exam at the school leaving age (seventeen to nineteen years) and then they would be on probation, studying in a university for two years. This system lasted from 1879–1892 but some leaders were of the opinion that candidates were being selected at too raw an age and they did not take their probation period in the university seriously. Another criticism was that it deterred Indian candidates from taking the exam.

Since the 1830s, Indians had joined the Government of India (GOI) in the capacity of Deputy Collectors, Deputy Magistrates and bore the burden of governance supervised by a handful of British ICS men. Lord Cornwallis in the eighteenth century had excluded Indians from high positions in the government. The 1853 Act opened up the service to all natural-born subjects of the crown. However, it was near impossible for Indians to compete as it was expensive and there were religious considerations which did not allow Indians to go to London to attempt the exam. Satyendra Nath Tagore was the first Indian to have been selected. In 1869, four Indians qualified, including Surendra Nath Banerjee and Romesh Chandra Dutt. The Indian National Congress in 1885 appealed for a simultaneous exam at a centre in India. In 1886, the government appointed a Public Service Commission which raised the age limit for the ICS to twenty-three years, enabling more Indians to write the exam. Even then, till 1910, only 6 percent of the ICS were Indians.

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