The Indian Civil Service (ICS) for part of the 19th century officially known as the Imperial Civil Service, was the elite higher civil service of the British Empire in British India during British rule in the period between 1858 and 1947.
Its members ruled more than 300 million people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma (then comprising British Raj). They were ultimately responsible for overseeing all government activity in the 250 districts that comprised British India. They were appointed under Section XXXII of the Government of India Act 1858, enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The ICS was headed by the Secretary of State for India, a member of the British cabinet.
At first almost all the top thousand members of the ICS, known as "Civilians", were British, and had been educated in the best British schools. By 1905, five per cent were from Bengal. In 1947 there were 322 Indians and 688 British members; most of the latter left at the time of partition and independence.
Until the 1930s the Indians in the service were very few and were not given high posts by the British. Wainwright notes that by the mid-1880s, "the basis of racial discrimination in the sub-continent had solidified".
At the time of the birth of India and Pakistan in 1947, the outgoing Government of India's ICS was divided between India and Pakistan.[a] Although these are now organised differently, the contemporary Civil Services of India, the Central Superior Services of Pakistan, Bangladesh Civil Service and Myanmar Civil Service, which are all descended from the old Indian Civil Service.
Historians often rate the ICS, together with the railway system, the legal system, and the Indian Army, as among the most important legacies of British rule in India.
Origins and history
Main articles: Civil Service in early India and British Raj
From 1858, after the demise of the East India Company's rule in India, the British civil service took on its administrative responsibilities. The change in governance came about due to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which came close to toppling British rule in the country.
Entry and setting
Main articles: Aitchison Commission and Early Nationalists
Up to 1853, the Directors of the British East India Company made appointments of covenanted civil servants by nominations. This nomination system was abolished in 1855 by the Parliament in England and it was decided that the induction would be through competitive examinations of all British subjects, without distinction of race.
Th examination for admission to the service was first held only in London in the month of August of each year.[b] All candidate also had to pass a compulsory horse riding test.
|“||An appointment to the civil service of the Company will not be a matter favour but a matter of right. He who obtains such an appointment will owe it solely to his own abilities and industry. It is undoubtedly desirable that the civil servants of the Company should have received the best, the most finished education that the native country affords (the Report insisted that the civil servants of the Company should have taken the first degree in arts at Oxford or Cambridge Universities).||”|
|— Macaulay Committee Report|
The competitive examination for entry to the civil service was combined for the Diplomatic, the Home, the Indian, and the Colonial Services. Candidates had to be aged between 21 and 24, which gave everyone three chances for entry. The total marks possible in the examination were 1,900. Successful candidates underwent one or two years probation in England, according to whether they had taken the London or the Indian examination. This period was spent at the University of Oxford (Indian Institute), the University of Cambridge, colleges in the University of London (including School of Oriental Studies) or Trinity College, Dublin, where a candidate studied the law and institutions of India, including criminal law and the Law of Evidence, which together gave knowledge of the revenue system, as well as reading Indian history and learning the language of the Province to which they had been assigned.
The Early Nationalists, also known as the Moderates, worked for several implementation of various social reforms such as the appointment of a Public Service Commission and a resolution of the House of Commons (1893) allowing for simultaneous examination for the Indian Civil Service in London and India.
By 1920, there were five methods of entry into the higher civil service: firstly, the open competitive examinations in London; secondly, separate competitive examinations in India; thirdly, nomination in India to satisfy provincial and communal representation; fourthly, promotion from the Provincial Civil Service and lastly, appointments from the bar (one-fourth of the posts in the ICS were to be filled from the bar).
Uniform and Dressing
Queen Victoria had suggested that the civil servants in India should have an official dress uniform, as did their counterparts in the Colonial Service. However, the Council of India decided that prescribing a dress uniform would be an undue expense for their officials.
Although no uniform was prescribed for the Indian Civil Service until the early twentieth century. The only civilians allowed a dress uniform by regulations were those who had distinct duties of a political kind to perform, and who are thereby brought into frequent and direct personal intercourse with native princes.
This uniform included a blue coat with gold embroidery, a black velvet lining, collar and cuffs, blue cloth trousers with gold and lace two inches wide, a beaver cocked hat with black silk cockade and ostrich feathers, and a sword.
Nature and role
Main article: Aitchison Commission
The civil services were divided into two categories – covenanted and uncovenanted. The covenanted civil service consisted of only white 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.
Salary and posts
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the pay scales were drawn up. Assistant Commissioners started out in their early twenties on around £300 a year. The governorship of a British province was the highest post an ICS officer could aspire for. The Governors at the top of the pyramid got £6,000 and allowances. All ICS officers retired on the same pension £1,000. In the first decades of the twentieth century, the imbalance in salaries and emoluments was so great that 8,000 British officers earned £13,930,554, while 130,000 Indians in government service were collectively paid a total of £3,284,163.
They served a minimum of twenty five and a maximum of thirty five years service.
ICS officers served as political officers in the Indian Political Department and also were given fifty percent judgeship in the state high court and rest were generally elevated from the high court bar. The tenure of ICS officers serving as judges of the high court and Supreme Court was determined by the retirement age fixed for judges.
Ranks/Posts of the Indian (Imperial) Civil Service[c][d]
Changes after 1912
|“||If a responsible government is to be established in India, there will be a far greater need than is even dreamt of at present for persons to take part in public affairs in the legislative assemblies and elsewhere and for this reason the more Indians we can employ in the public service the better. Moreover, it would lessen the burden of Imperial responsibilities if a body of capable Indian administrators could be produced..||”|
|— Regarding the importance of Indianising Civil Services, Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms|
With the passing of the Government of India Act 1919, the Imperial Services headed by the Secretary of State for India, were split into two – All India Services and Central Services.
British control of the Indian Civil Service remained after the First World War, but faced growing difficulties. Fewer and fewer young men in Britain were interested in joining, and distrust of such posts among Indians resulted in a declining recruitment base in terms of quality and quantity. By 1945 Indians were numerically dominant in the ICS and at issue was loyalty divided between the Empire and independence.
The finances of India under British rule depended largely on land taxes, and these became problematic in the 1930s. Epstein argues that after 1919 it became harder and harder to collect the land revenue. The suppression of civil disobedience by the British after 1934 temporarily increased the power of the revenue agents, but after 1937 they were forced by the new Congress-controlled provincial governments to hand back confiscated land. The outbreak of the Second World War strengthened them again, but in the face of the Quit India movement the revenue collectors had to rely on military force, and by 1946–47 direct British control was rapidly disappearing in much of the countryside.
The All India and class 1 Central Services were designated as Central Superior Services as early as 1924. From 1924 to 1934, Administration in India consisted of "ten" All India Services and five central departments, all under the control of Secretary of State for India, and 3 central departments under joint Provincial and Imperial Control.
Formation of Public Service Commissions
Arthur Lee, 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham Commission's recommendation led to the foundation of the Federal Public Service Commission and Provincial Public Service Commission under the Government of India Act, 1935.
Independence of India
At the time of the partition of India and departure of the British, in 1947, the Indian Civil Service was divided between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan. The part which went to India was named the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), while the part that went to Pakistan was named the "Civil Service of Pakistan" (CSP).
At the time of Partition, there were 980 ICS officers. 468 were Europeans, 352 Hindus, 101 Muslims, two depressed classes/Scheduled Castes, five domiciled Europeans and Anglo-Indians, 25 Indian Christians, 13 Parsis, 10 Sikhs and four other communities. Most European officers left India at Partition, while many Hindus and Muslims went to India and Pakistan respectively. This sudden loss of officer cadre caused major challenges in administering the nascent states.
Nirmal Kumar Mukarji, who retired as Cabinet Secretary in April 1980, had been the last Indian administrative officer who had originally joined as an ICS (in 1944), while the last ICS officer to retire in Pakistan was Agha Shahi, also of 1944 batch, who retired as foreign advisor to president in 1982. The last recruited batch of the ICS was in October 1944.
Support and criticism
|“||If you take that steel frame out of the fabric, it would collapse. There is one institution we will not cripple, there is one institution we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges; and that is the institution which built up the British Raj – the British Civil Service of India.||”|
|— David Lloyd George, then Prime Minister of United Kingdom on the Imperial Civil Service|
Dewey has commented that "in their heyday they [Indian Civil Service officers] mostly run by Englishmen with a few notable sons of Hindus and even a fewer Muslims were the most powerful officials in the Empire, if not the world. A tiny cadre, a little over a thousand strong, ruled more than 300 million Indians. Each Civilian had an average 300,000 subjects, and each Civilian penetrated every corner of his subjects' lives, because the Indian Civil Service directed all the activities of the Anglo-Indian state."
The ICS had responsibility for maintaining law and order, and often were at loggerheads with the freedom fighters during the Independence movement. Jawaharlal Nehru often ridiculed the ICS for its support of British policies. He noted that someone had once defined the Indian Civil Service, "with which we are unfortunately still afflicted in this country, as neither Indian, nor civil, nor a service".
As Prime Minister, Nehru retained the organisation and its top people, albeit with a change of title to the "Indian Administrative Service". It continued its main roles. Nehru appointed long-time ICS officials Chintaman Deshmukh as his Finance Minister, and K. P. S. Menon as his Foreign Minister. Sardar Patel appreciated their role in keeping India united after Partition, and noted in Parliament that without them, the country would have collapsed.
- ^ abcdefDewey, Clive. Anglo-Indian Attitudes: Mind of the Indian Civil Service. A&C Black, 1993. ISBN 978-0-8264-3254-4.
- ^"The Indian Civil Service". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- ^"Administering India: The Indian Civil Service". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- ^Blunt, (1937)
- ^Surjit Mansingh, The A to Z of India (2010), pp 288–90
- ^Michael J. Nojeim (2004). Gandhi and King: The Power of Nonviolent Resistance. Greenwood. p. 50.
- ^A. Martin Wainwright (2008). 'The better class' of Indians: social rank, imperial identity, and South Asians in Britain, 1858–1914. Manchester U.P.
- ^Ramesh Kumar Arora and Rajni Goyal, Indian public administration: institutions and issues (1995) p. 42; Ranbir Vohra, The making of India: a historical survey (2001) p 185
- ^Naithani, Sadhana (2006). In quest of Indian folktales: Pandit Ram Gharib Chaube and William Crooke. Indiana University Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-253-34544-8.
- ^Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (8 June 2011). "History of civil services in India and Reforms"(PDF). New Delhi: Government of India. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
- ^ abc"The Colonial Service Training Courses : Professionalizing the Colonial Service". Retrieved 25 February 2016.
- ^Ralhan, Om Prakash, ed. (1995). Encyclopedia of Political Parties – India – Pakistan – Bangladesh – National – Regional – Local. 23. Moderate phrase in India. New Dehli: Anmol Publications. pp. 29–36.
- ^Porter, Robin J. (2001). "Imperial India, 1858–1914". Oxford History of the British Empire: The Nineteenth Century. pp. 345, 434.
- ^Ramesh Kumar Arora and Rajni Goyal, Indian public administration: Institutions and Issues (1995) p 43
- ^ abcCohn, Bernard S. (1996). Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00043-5.
- ^Meghna Sabharwal, Evan M. Berman "Public Administration in South Asia: India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan (Public Administration and Public Policy," (2013)
- ^"Civil Service". The British Library. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- ^ abcde"Archive: The men who ran the Raj". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 4 September 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- ^"The Un-Indian Civil Service". OPEN. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- ^P. N., Chopra (2003). A Comprehensive History of India, Volume 3. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 978-81-207-2506-5.
- ^Goel, S.L. Public Personnel Administration : Theory and Practice. Deep and Deep Publications, 2008. ISBN 978-81-7629-395-2.
- ^David C. Potter, "Manpower Shortage and the End of Colonialism: The Case of Indian Civil Service," Modern Asian Studies, (Jan 1973) 7#1 pp 47–73
- ^Simon Epstein, 'District Officers in Decline: The Erosion of British Authority in the Bombay Countryside, 1919 to 1947' in Modern Asian Studies, (May 1982) 16#3, pp 493–518
- ^ abMaheshwari, Shriram. Problems and Issues in Administrative Federalism. Allied Publishers. ISBN 978-81-7023-342-8.
- ^Bali, H.N (2013). One Who Forged India’s Steel Frame. Boloji.
- ^Dewey, Clive (1993). Anglo-Indian attitudes: the mind of the Indian Civil Service. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-85285-097-5.
- ^Jawaharlal Nehru, Glimpses of world history: being further letters to his daughter (Lindsay Drummond Ltd., 1949), p. 94
- Blunt, Edward. The I.C.S.: the Indian civil service (1937)
- Burra, Arudra. "The Indian Civil Service and the nationalist movement: neutrality, politics and continuity," Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, Nov 2010, 48#4 pp 404–432
- Dewey, Clive. Anglo-Indian attitudes: the mind of the Indian Civil Service (1993)
- Ewing, Ann. "Administering India: The Indian Civil Service," History Today, June 1982, 32#6 pp 43–48, covers 1858–1947
- Gilmour, David. The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj (2007) excerpt and text search
- Gould, William. "The Dual State: The Unruly 'Subordinate', Caste, Community and Civil Service Recruitment in North India, 1930–1955," Journal of Historical Sociology, Mar-June 2007, Vol. 20 Issue 1/2, pp 13–43
- Krishna, Anirudh. "Continuity and change: the Indian administrative service 30 years ago and today," Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, Nov 2010, 48#4 pp 433–444
- MacMillan, Margaret. Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India (2007)
- Masani, Zareer. Indian Tales of the Raj (1990), interviews with retired ICS officers about pre-1947 days
- Potter, David C. India's Political Administrators,1919–1983 (1987) 289pp; the standard scholarly history
- Potter, David C. "The Last of the Indian Civil Service," South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (Apr 1979), Vol. 2 Issue 1/2, pp 19–29
- Potter, David C. "Manpower Shortage and the End of Colonialism: The Case of Indian Civil Service," Modern Asian Studies, (Jan 1973) 7#1 pp 47–73 in JSTOR
- Sharma, Malti. Indianization of the civil services in British India, 1858–1935 (2001)
- Thakur, R.N. The All India services: a study of their origin & growth (1969)
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