Civil Services Officer Career Information
What a Civil Services Officer does
If you are a power worshipper and want to help the netas run our country, you have to be a Civil Servant. Smell the power?
Civil Servants are bureaucrats who often significantly influence decision making of the government. Though you may not be as highly paid as a private sector executive, but the power and status associated with this field more than makes up for it. In fact, civil servants are often called the real power behind the government.
Just imagine being the District Magistrate of a district or the Secretary of a Ministry. If you want to have the power to influence people this is it.
The officers of the Indian Civil Services are general managers who have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities ranging from maintenance of law and order, collection of taxes, to developmental work within State and Central areas of jurisdiction, implementation of social welfare activities, etc. They head the Union and the State Secretariats as well as the district administrations throughout the country. The broad areas of work for a civil servant are:
• Indian Administrative Services (IAS) An IAS officer manages the general administration of the state including the development function. Policy formulation, implementation and control at different levels are your main responsibilities. At the district level your responsibilities also include overseeing law and order situations and collecting taxes. Apart from these functions at the Central and State government levels, you will actually act as the pillars of governance. You'll formulate policies, devise strategies, allocate resources and implement plans. You are the controlling authority of all plan implementation. IAS officers also serve as top level managers of Public Sector Enterprises like companies, Metropolitan Development Authorities, Trade Promotion Councils, different development authorities, etc.
• Indian Police Service (IPS) Here lies the excitement for all you budding Kiran Bedis. As an IPS officer you'll be the brain behind not just the police force but also the CRPF, BSF, CISF, etc. Your main task will be to maintain law and order at all times. Planning pro-active strategies and implementing and controlling the police force are also your responsibilities. The ones craving for some adventure will have ample in the form of tackling crime and law and order emergencies.
• Indian Foreign Service (IFS) You'll work in the Ministry of External Affairs and manage Indian offices like Indian High Commission, Indian Consulates, Indian Embassies abroad. Work related to Passport services, Visa services, Consular services, etc. will be routed through you. Of course you'll also promote trade and cultural relations with foreign countries.
• Indian Railway Service (IRS) If employed here, you'll look after different divisions of the Railways like the Traffic Service (again this is divided into Commercial and Operations.), Accounts Services, Police Services, Personnel Services, etc. The operations division is in charge of the movements of passenger and goods train and all the activities related to movement including passenger comfort and safety. Commercial division looks after all the commercial functions associated with train movement like tickets sales, collecting revenue from advertisements on the stations, etc. Indian Railway Accounts Services Officers are in charge of all the accounts of the Indian Railways like income, expenditure, etc. The Personnel officers are responsible for recruitment and selection of railway staffs, training and development and all other personnel functions. Railway Police Service officers are responsible for law and order situations on the stations and also with the movement of the trains.
• Indian Postal Service (IPS) This is one of the largest organisations in the world with numerous offices all over the country. They head different operational divisions of the Postal service and manage the entire operations.
• Indian Audit and Accounts Services (IA & AS) Accounting and auditing of different Central Government departments is the main responsibilities of these officers. They work with the Central Government.
• Indian Civil Accounts Services (ICAS) They work in the Ministry of Finance, Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Office of the Chief Controller of India, etc.
• Indian Customs and General Excise Services (IC & GES) Your Role in the Indian Civil Service: Checking of all the goods entering India or going out of India, to ensure and enforce their compliance with Indian Laws is the prime duty of the customs officials. You'll have the power to siege goods that violate Indian laws, assess and levy duties on goods entering India or leaving India, collect excise taxes or indirect taxes on goods produced in India, etc.
• Indian Defence Accounts Services (IDAS) In this department of the Indian Civil Service you'll look after the accounts of the Defence forces, Army, Air Force, Navy and other protective services. You main functions will be accounting and auditing.
• Indian Revenue Service Officers (IRSO) In this department of the Indian Civil Service Revenue collection, i.e., tax collection will be your main concern. You'll be in the top administrative strata of the Income Tax offices in India. Overseeing the function of the Income Tax departments, assessment of taxes, collection of taxes and implementation of Indian Income Tax laws are your areas. • Indian Ordinance Factories Services •
Ordinance factories manufacture arms and ammunitions required for requirements. In this department of the Indian Civil Service IOFS officers serve in these establishments and manage the overall manufacturing functions.
• Indian Information Service (IIS) In this department of the Indian Civil Service it's your responsibility to ensure that only correct information reaches the media. Organising press conferences, controlling official media and organising festivals is your business. So, now you know that it's the civil services in India that are responsible for the smooth functioning of the country.
• Indian Administrative Service
• Indian Foreign Service
• Indian Police Service
• Indian P&T Accounts & Financial Service, (Group-A)
• Indian Audit & Accounts Service - Group 'A'
• Indian Custom & Central Excise Service - Group 'A'
• Indian Defence Accounts Service - Group 'A’
• Indian Revenue Service - Group 'A'
• Indian Ordinance Factories Service - Group 'A'
• (Assistant Manager, Non-technical)
• Indian Postal Service - Group 'A'
• Indian Civil Accounts Service - Group 'A'
• Indian Railway Traffic Service - Group 'A’
• Indian Railway Accounts Service - Group 'A'
• Indian Railway Personnel Service - Group 'A'
• Post of Assistant Security Officer - Group 'A'
• (In Railway Protection Force)
• Indian Defence Estates Service - Group 'A'
• Indian Information Service (Junior Grade) Group 'A'
• Posts of Assistant Commandant - Group 'A' in Central Industrial Security Force
• Central Secretariat Service - Group 'B'
• Railway Board Secretariat Service - Group 'B' (Section Officer's Grade)
• Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service - Group 'B'
• (Assistant Civilian Staff Officer's Grade)
• Customs Appraisers Service - Group 'B'
• The Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar
• Haveli Civil Service - Group 'B'
• The Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar
• Haveli Police Service - Group 'B'
• Pondicherry Civil Service - Group 'B'
• Pondicherry Police Service - Group 'B'
Indian Civil services fall under Group 'A' of Central Government jobs. The promotional grades are same for all the officers under Indian Civil Services, though the names of the posts differ across different services. The IAS, IPS officers are divided into 25 State cadres. In the beginning of your service life in the Civil Services, you'll be placed in the Junior Officer Scale and sent to the State cadre for probation of two years.
You are then elevated to the post of Senior Officer working as Under Secretary in the State or Central Government.
The next stopover of your service life in the Civil Services is that of Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) as Deputy Secretary. And then comes the higher posting as Director of Public Sector Enterprises and other developmental and administrative organisations.
If you are in the Senior Administrative Cadre of your service life in the Civil Services you could graduate to becoming the Joint Secretary in different ministries and departments of the Central and State Government.
The next position of your service life in the Civil Services is the Additional Secretaries in Central and State Government. The highest rank is the Secretary/Cabinet Secretary of a Ministry or department of the Central Government or State Government or the Chief Secretary of a State Government.
Abilities & Traits Required
Requirements to be in the Indian Civil Service:
• Diplomatic and discreet
• Fluency in English and local languages
• Above average organising abilities
• Excellent communication skills
• Extrovert, dynamic, meticulous
• Strong leadership abilities
• Awareness about national and international affairs.
• Interest in human affairs
You have to qualify through the Indian Civil Services examination. Very few manage to get through the ICS examination. Thereafter you can opt for different services based on your preference and ranking in the examination.
To be eligible to take the Indian Civil Service test you need to a graduate in any stream with age around 21-30. Apart from direct recruitment through the Indian Civil Services Examination some posts in the junior scale are filled in by promotes from the Group 'B' of the Central Government or State Government Services.
The starting salary is in the range of Rs 25000-35000 a month at the junior most level. Your remuneration increases with promotion to higher scales and can be a maximum of Rs 30,000 a month. Different branches of the service have different scales of pay.
Of course the icing on the cake is the perks like subsidized accommodation and medical, dearness allowance, LTA cars, furnishing allowance, etc. as per your rankings in the scale of officers.
Interview with a Civil Services Officer
V. P. Raja, Civil Services Officer
With a Masters degree in Physics from Columbia University, New York, V.P Raja joined the Indian Administrative Services in 1974. He has held numerous important positions including that of Director-Department of Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Joint Secretary-Ministry of Defence. He is currently Joint Secretary-Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.
Did you always want to join the IAS? No, actually I wanted to be a professor. I went abroad for further studies after doing my B.Sc. with Physics from St Stephens College, New Delhi. After teaching for a few years at Columbia University, New York, I shifted to industry, working in the T.J Watson research centre near New York. During the late 60s and early 70s America was the hotbed of student activism and I too was swept by its tide and a spirit of nationalism drove me to India. I was part of the team that produced the first electronic product for DCM-Tata. But I was disillusioned by the Indian private sector and its emphasis on maximising quick returns rather than contributing to society. That is what drove me towards the civil Services.
Did you find the Civil Services exams tough? Not really. You see, temperamentally I was the studious type and so I just needed to brush up on my subjects. I was good at Physics and had read a lot on philosophy. The only new subject that I took up was European History. So, though the exam was extremely competitive in terms of the number of people appearing for it, I did not find it very difficult.
Tell us something about the training you received after selection? We had a two-year training programme at Mussorie called the Sandwich Pattern. The first four months is a combined training programme for the IAS, IPS, IFS and other Group- I Services of the government of India. In this foundation course I learnt subjects like constitution, law, public administration-basically the structure of governance. In those days horse riding was compulsory. After this I did my professional course, which was specific to the IAS. This lasted for another five months or so. Then there are various attachments to army units, agricultural universities and industrial public sector units. Then you do a Bharat Darshan - basically a sight seeing tour of the country, which helps you get an overview of the country.
By this time my cadre allotment had arrived and I was allotted to Maharashtra. I was sent to Nanded as a supernumery assistant collector. There I learnt the ropes under the heads of various departments like the police force, judiciary, revenue Services, etc.
At the end of the one-year period, I was back at Mussorie for the final four months. Here we presented our reports in the form of workshops and seminars. Thus, it was a programme of self-learning through interaction. At the end of the course I was appointed as an Assistant Collector
What is it like to be in the Civil Services? The beauty of the IAS is that on your first posting itself, you are the overall in charge of your subdivision. You may have seniors for guidance, but most of the situations you face need you to act on your own. You will face emergencies like bus accidents or communal flare-ups. You need to lead from the front and make things happen. It is just as simple as that. My daily schedule included touring villages, visiting taluka offices, conducting inspections, etc. All the while the paper work follows you around. Sometimes you end up working till late at night clearing all the files. Your social life too usually consists of interacting with fellow civil servants and some prominent citizens of the area.
What other posts did you hold? As transport commissioner, I headed the department of surface transport, Maharashtra. The Pollution Under Control scheme was introduced during my tenure. I also served as Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence at New Delhi. Currently I am Joint Secretary Department of Atomic Energy. So I have had the opportunity to serve under the state as well as the central government.
What are some of the problems that continue to dog the civil Services? Many a times ministers and bureaucrats do not see eye to eye on issues. Certainly the number of instances where civil servants have been transferred due to these problems is on the rise. Then there is the issue of corruption. Many people believe that the administration is too big. I believe that if the government reduces its areas of operations, the civil Services will shrink likewise.
What is the best part of this job? The fact that you can make things happen. You can visualise a project, find resources for it, actually implement it and see it work. It gives you immense sense of satisfaction.
How do you unwind? I enjoy swimming. I like to go on long walks. I also enjoy travelling and reading books.
What's your advice to youngsters? The first thing is getting through the exams! You need to study real hard for it. Through my experience, I have found that the study of liberal arts will help you in your future life as a civil servant than say science or engineering. Governance is all about people and if you study history or philosophy you will have a better understanding of human values.