Since the times of colonial rule, government servants, especially those involved with administrative tasks have enjoyed status, prestige and power. Even now, we all look up to people who are able to make their way into the administrative machinery, popularly known as the Civil Services.
What makes a Civil Servant so special? Over 5 lakh students applied for the civil service examination in 2015, which increased to over 11 lakh students in 2016 (based on census by India Today and The Indian Express). This is proof of the massive upsurge in the popularity of this career and many have deemed it a “Dream” Career.
Civil Servants are the people behind implementing government and developmental policies, keeping law and order, and act as a link between the masses and the government. They hold power and are immensely respected for the job they do. In addition to this, they are highly paid, provided lush bungalows and caretakers, to live a luxurious life. These are all factors that have led the young population to become interested in a career in government services.
If you or anybody you know, ever plan on pursuing a career in the government services, you definitely need to go through this article. Here’s all that you need to know about this exam and the life that follows.
Minimum Educational Criteria
Civil Servants are generalists; they, have a well-rounded personality and awareness about the world that we live in. If you are an aspiring civil servant, you can take this examination with any stream in class 12th and a graduate degree in any subject.
However, many aspirants like to take up Humanities in school as well as in college, since the pattern of the exam is based on subjects such as Indian Polity, Constitution, Geography, World News, History, etc. You can choose any degree and any subject of your choice, the only thing that matters is your interest in it, and alternate career options that you can build out of that subject and degree.
Eligibility for the Examination
These are the eligibility conditions for taking up the Civil Service Examination:
- You should hold a graduate bachelor’s degree in any subject (or about to take final year examinations) from a recognised institution.
- You must be a minimum 21 years of age and maximum 32 years of age on the date of the examination (Relaxation of 5 years for SC/ST, individuals holding a domicile of Jammu & Kashmir; 3 years for OBC and defence personnel; 10 years for blind, deaf-mute and orthopedically handicapped persons.)
- Individuals from General Category are allowed 6 attempts at taking the examination, OBC candidates are allowed 9 attempts, and SC/ST candidates have an unlimited number of attempts at the examination.
- You should be a citizen of India to apply for the IAS and IPS, and for other deemed posts, an individual should be a citizen of India/Nepal/Bhutan/a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January, 1962/a person of Indian Origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam.
Career and Life in Different Roles in the Civil Services
1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
This is one of the most coveted posts in the Civil Services, due to the prestige attached to it. People in these posts are provided with amenities such as a house, servants, car, and their living expenses are taken care of by the government.
IAS officers are responsible for the law and order, as well as the implementation of government policies in day to day life.
Job Role – In the initial stages of their career, IAS officers join as the Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDM) in a state, and go on to occupy positions such as District Magistrate, Divisional Commissioner, etc. They are appointed as the heads of Government Organizations, Public Service Undertakings and also act as Secretary to the Government of India.
A Day in the Life – An IAS officer has no “fixed” working hours. The work that they do is hectic, since implementing policies and working to develop the nation is challenging, yet, interesting and the impact is huge. Their day can be filled with meetings with ministers, paying visits to a local village or coming up with new strategies to solve any issue at hand (such as, work related to elections, or building a big dam, road, etc.)
2. Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
A life in the foreign service is all about becoming a Diplomat, travelling the world all the while serving the nation. It may sound too good to be true, but Indian Foreign Services offers you just that, and more.
Job Role – IFS officers are representatives of our country abroad, and are posted as Third Secretary, Second Secretary, First Secretary, Ambassador, High Commissioner, etc. in foreign embassies, and international organizations such as the UN. They are provided decent accommodation, a car, and other housing and basic amenities. Education expenses of children (up to 2) are borne by the Government of India, which are a few of the perks enjoyed by an IFS Officer.
A Day in the Life – An IFS officer is often posted in a foreign country, mostly in capital cities. Working hours of 9-to-5 apply to IFS officers, and their day is spent making calls to embassies/international organizations, reading and replying to emails to foreign delegates or back home, following up with the Ministry of External Affairs, attending meetings and other important social events.
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3. Indian Police Service (IPS)
IPS Officers are the torchbearers of law and order in our country. With their intensive training, knowledge, and the power vested in them by the state, they are responsible for helping to run the country without chaos. After IAS, IPS is usually the preferred choice of position for Civil Servants, due to their active role in the administration.
Job Role – IPS officers are often posted as Assistant Superintendent of Police and then Assistant Commissioner of Police at the beginning of their career. They go on to hold positions such as Joint Commissioner and Commissioner of Police. The Intelligence Bureau is always headed by an experienced IPS Officer.
A Day in the Life – IPS Officers start their day with some general analysis of the law-and-order situation in their area (including reading the news from multiple sources), listening to juniors/IGs of their districts, or other common people who may approach them with their problems, etc. They have to work in close collaboration with ministers, as well as handle the pressures of media and scrutiny of the general public. They often work on-field, and have to be prepared for unexpected law-and-order problems. There are fixed working hours, but they work long hours as their job requires utmost dedication and responsibility.
4. Indian Revenue Service (IRS)
Indian Revenue Service is the largest service among the central civil services. They dispense one of the most important functions, i.e., the collection of taxes and other revenues for the development of the economy.
Job Role – IRS officers are posted as Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax once they are recruited. After serving for a few years and getting promoted, they work as the Joint Commissioner and Additional Commissioner of Income Tax. IRS officers go on to serve as the head of Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, and is responsible for implementation of economic laws in the country.
A Day in the Life – IRS officers are often posted in big cities, where revenue generation is the highest. They generally work a fixed number of hours in a day, and spend most of their day reviewing documents related to revenue collection. They are also involved in conducting investigations and raids against offenders (who do not pay taxes, or pay a nominal amount). Their work-life balance is often better than IAS/IPS officers.
There are many other government services that one can apply for through the Civil Service Examination, such as Indian Trade Service, Indian Defense Accounts Service, Indian Information Service, Indian Railway Personnel Service, etc.
Read More: Civil Services as a Career in India
If any of these government jobs excite you, or encourage you to pursue life as a civil servant, we wish you all the best for a fulfilling career ahead.
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