Civil Services of India

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The Civil Services refer to the civil services, the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India. The civil service system is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country.[1][2]

In the parliamentary democracy of India, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the elected representatives of the people which are the ministers. But a handful of ministers cannot be expected to deal personally with the manifold problems of modern administration. Thus the ministers lay down the policy and it is for the civil servants to carry out this policy.

The executive decisions are implemented by the Indian civil servants. The members of civil service serve at the pleasure of the President of India and Article 311 of the constitution protects them from politically motivated or vindictive action. Civil servants are employees of the Government of India or of the states; however, not all employees of the Government are civil servants. Civil servants in a personal capacity are paid from the Civil List. Senior civil servants may be called to account by Parliament.

As of year 2010, there were total 6.4 million government employees in India, and less than 50,000 civil servants to administer them.[3] The civil service system in India is rank-based and does not follow the tenets of the position-based civil services.[2]

In 2015, the Government of India approved the formation of Indian Skill Development Service.[4][5] Further, in 2016, the Government of India approved the formation of Indian Enterprise Development Service.[6]


Warren Hastings laid the foundation of civil service and Charles Cornwallis reformed, modernised and rationalised it. Hence, Charles Cornwallis is known as the 'Father of Civil Service in India'. He introduced Covenanted Civil Services (Higher Civil Services) and Uncovenanted Civil Services (Lower Civil Services).

The present civil services of India is mainly based on the pattern of the former Indian Civil Service of British India. The civil services were divided into two categories - covenanted and uncovenanted. The covenanted civil service consisted of only Europeans (i.e., English personnel) 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.[8][9]

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.[10]

The All India and Central Services (Group A) were designated as Central Superior Services as early as 1924.[11] From 1924 to 1934, Administration in India consisted of 10 All India Services and 5 central departments, all under the control of Secretary of State for India, and 3 central departments under joint Provincial and Imperial Control.[11]

Modern era

The present modern civil service was formed after the partition of India in 1947. It was Sardar Patel's vision that the Civil Service should strengthen cohesion and national unity. The values of integrity, impartiality and merit remain the guiding principles of Indian civil services.[citation needed]

By the early 21st century, Indian civil servants have been colloquially called "babus",[12] while Indian bureaucracy is called "babudom", as in the "rule of babus", especially in Indian media.[13][14][15]

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions located in New Delhi is unofficially the "Ministry of Civil Services" in India. The Ministry is responsible for training, reforms and pension for the civil service system in India.

Constitutional provision for All-India Services

The constitution under Article 312[16] provides for All India Civil Services branches to be set up by giving the power to the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Parliament of India) to resolve by a two-thirds majority to establish new all-India services. The Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service are set up under this constitutional provision.[17]