For the ‘Civil Services as a career‘ call in the careers and colleges series of VoiceTAP we had Pradeep Mishra (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Personnel) who is an IAS officer himself. This was a really interesting call – probably the most interesting one so far!
Civil Services in India – In a nutshell
Civil Services in India can be divided into the following categories on basis of the kind of work that a civil servant would take up, exams for which (for central level) are conducted by the UPSC:
- Indian Administrative Service (IAS): Most well-known out of all the Indian civil services, also probably the toughest to get into. Only around a 100 people are inducted in a year’s batch. Postings are done all across India.
- Indian Police Service (IPS): IPS cadre takes care of administrative functioning of police at various levels.
- Indian Forest Service & Indian Foreign Service: IFS & IFS are concerned with taking care of India’s forests and India’s foreign relations, respectively. The former requires you to be a science graduate to be eligible.
There are many other different cadres, which are assigned to a successful candidate by UPSC on the basis of how well they perform in the entrance exams. Getting is tough – candidates are advised to start preparing three years in advance! Evidently, selection is difficult because just a handful of candidates are chosen out of the hundreds of thousands who give the exam. Considerable grasp of general knowledge, government functioning and structure of society is necessary. Some papers are mandatory, but among the optional papers you’re advised to stick to subjects which you’re familiar with – rather than get taken in by talk of ‘X subject is easier’.
Once you pass the gruelling Civil Services Examination you’re allocated to a state cadre at village level. Yes, you have to start right from the bottom. This is considered necessary to give a good grounding on the harsh realities of India. After that, you progress on to district magistrate level, state secretary et al till the highest position of Secretary in some ministry at the central level. (A Secretary is just one level below a cabinet minister.)
Starting salary is around Rs 35000 (per month) and scales up to Rs 1 lakh for IAS officers in the senior most positions. Perks are also given, such as (almost) free housing, telephone, transport, etc. But more than financial remuneration the reason why most people join the civil services is the amount of respect they get in their position (that’s a lot of respect they get) and the ability to actually effect policy decisions that change a common man’s life for the better. That by far is the biggest job satisfaction factor involved in being a civil servant. A small minority of civil services officers also move on to join at senior management levels in public sector undertakings, or even private companies.
In the current atmosphere of youth charged up to bring about reforms in the country, being a part of the system and making lives better as a civil servant is a career path which can bring you a lot of job satisfaction.
PS – I’m not even going to try assuming that I can suggest ‘further reading’ for civil services exams.