History of Civil Servies in India

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The civil service was the ‘steel-frame’ of British administration. Lord Clive was the first to pay attention to the Civil Services. He prohibited the employees of the company from undertaking any private trade. Cornwallis adopted the policy of Europeanization of the civil services which was a bane for the Indians as they could not be appointed to higher posts. The highest post that an Indian could aspire to was that of Munsif, Sadar Amin or Deputy Collector.

The credit for introducing the first step towards the training of the company’s civil servants to improve their efficiency goes to Lord Wellesley, who founded the Fort William College at Calcutta in 1800.

Till 1853, all appointments of the civil services were made by the director of the East India Company. The Charter act of 1853 declared that all recruits were to be selected through a competitive examination.

In the days of Cornwallis, the Indians were completely excluded from the civil services which was a deliberate policy.

Reasons for introduction of Civil Services in India

Failure of the attempts of Clive and Warren Hasting to put an end to the corruption among officials.

Introduction of civil services by Cornwallis and his reforms to purified and improve administration.

Establishment of the college of Fort William at Kolkata by Wellesley to train the young civil servants, and its replacement by East India College at Haileybury in England.

Discontinuation of the practice of appointing civil servants by the court of directors and starting the practice of selecting civil servants through a competitive exam with the passes passing of the Charter Act of 1853.

A special feature of Indian civil service was the exclusion of Indians from it. Reason for this

  1. The belief that an administration based on British model could be firmly established only by the English personnel.
  2. Lack of trust in the ability and integrity of Indians.
  3. A deliberate policy – because the task of establishing in establishing and consolidating British rule in India could not be left to Indians.
  4. The desire of the influential class of British society to preserve the lucrative post in civil service for their sons.

However, Indians were recruited in large numbers to fill subordinate post as they were cheaper and much more readily available then Englishman.

Sir Charles Aitcheson Commission, 1886

Lord dufferin appointed this commission in 1886 to consider the demand for simultaneous examination and the loading of maximum age. It recommended –

Dropping the term ‘covenanted’ and ‘un-covenanted’ and divided the source into three classes – Imperial Indian Civil Services, The Provincial and The Subordinate
Services. The first was to be recruited in England and the latter was in India exclusively from Indian.

It suggested that the age limit to be 19 and 23 as the minimum and maximum respectively.

It rejected the idea of simultaneous examination and advised the abolition of statutory civil services.

The Montague Chelmsford Report 1918

Report’s recommendations with regard to civil services are as follows –

The holding of simultaneous examination in India and England.

One-third of the superior post in Indian Civil Services were to be recruited in India and this percentage to be increased annually by 1.5% full stop

There should be no racial discrimination in the matter of appointments.

Lee Commission, 1923

Another Royal Commission on Superior civil services exam in India was appointed in June 1923 with Lord Lee as its chairman. Its recommendations were:

The Secretary of State should continue to recruit the Indian Civil Service, the irrigation branch of some of the Service of Engineers and the Indian Forest Services.

On the basis of the Government of India Act 1990, it recommended the establishment of a public service commission.

20% of the officers should be recruited by promotion from provincial civil services and of the remaining 80%, half should be Indian and half should be British.

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