The Steel Frame: A History of the IAS
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116 pages

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The development and role of the Indian Civil Service was one of the dominant features of the period of the East India Company, and later, British rule in India. It is extraordinary how people employed by a trading company in a foreign land transformed into the most powerful civil service in the world. It was also the first civil service in the modern world where recruitment was on the basis of open competition and not through patronage. Though much criticized, it developed its own character and traditions. It is really unusual that such a service – defined as the ‘steel frame’, on which depended the fortunes and the survival of a huge empire – continued essentially with the same structure and traditions, along with the administrative systems developed over a century, into Independent democratic India. Although much has changed, even today the Indian Administrative Service retains some basic characteristics from the past. This system of governance as it evolved in India is indeed fascinating story. Well researched and detailed in its presentation, Deepak Gupta looks at changes from the past, its present, and also the future of the IAS. He also suggests some measures so that it could reinvent itself to play the important role envisaged by the makers of our Constitution.



Publié par
Date de parution 19 mars 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788193984642
Langue English

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Deepak Gupta did his BA from Allahabad, MA from St Stephen’s college and MPhil in International Relations from JNU. From the IAS batch of 1974, he has spent many years in the field in the erstwhile state of Bihar, including two districts (Saharsa 1979–80; Rohtas 1986–88) as Collector. He served in many departments in state and centre and was also posted in India Trade Centre, Brussels and spent a year as WHO Advisor on TB in Delhi. He retired in 2011 as Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. After retirement he consulted with the World Bank and UNIDO and writes on issues of energy and sustainable development. He was Chairman of UPSC from November 2014 to September 2016.
His published works include Documentation of Participatory Irrigation Management, Covering a Billion with DOTS, Achieving Universal Energy Access in India: Challenges and the way Forward , and Caught by the Police .
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This digital edition published in 2019
First published in 2019 by
The Lotus Collection
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Copyright © Deepak Gupta, 2019
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eISBN: 978-81-939846-4-2
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As I went through the material and historical documents, it was inspiring to see the vision and determination of Sardar Patel who was almost single-handedly responsible for the setting up of the All India Services in independent India. He believed strongly that ‘you will not have a united India, if you do not have a good All India Service which has the independence to speak out its mind.’ His ideas about the role of the IAS, how the political executive should deal with it and the obligations and responsibilities of the civil servants are more relevant today than ever before. This book is dedicated to the memory of this great Indian.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
The Indian Civil Service and the Administrative System – Origin & Historical Context
Indianization of the Civil Services
The March to Independence and Transition from the ICS to the IAS
District Officer: Role, Life and Experiences
Character and Traditions of the ICS and IAS
The Service Transformed
Scheme of Examination
Training the Civil Servant
Reinventing the IAS
The idea of the book took shape when I was in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). I was greatly encouraged to go ahead by Dr David Syiemlieh, then member of UPSC, and later, its Chairman, and a respected historian. Had it not been so, perhaps the idea may have been still born. The task of collecting books and articles for research appeared daunting but this was facilitated by Ashok Ramchandani, librarian of the UPSC, and Noor, a research assistant. I hope in the process the related documentation of UPSC got richer.
After the initial work had been done, Priya Kapoor of Roli Books encouraged me to complete the book. Gautam Pemmaraju made very useful comments to help in structuring certain thoughts. He has also helped editorially. My brother Harsh, who retired as Chief Secretary Himachal Pradesh, kept on encouraging me providing information, references and general suggestions. My brother Madhukar, who retired as Home Secretary, went through the manuscript giving detailed comments and making many editorial suggestions.
One could not have gone on without the encouragement of my wife Amita and, from across the shores, of my two sons, Diwakar and Shashank. I often tested the patience of my mother-in-law, Mrs Priti Lal, while relating to her many interesting anecdotes from the past. Every month she would ask how my book was progressing. This encouraged me to continue and complete what had started as an idea.
Our father, Dr Anandswarup Gupta, joined the Royal Air Force in 1934, and later the Imperial Police in 1939. My three brothers, sister and I were writing his (auto)biography in 2015. 1 During this period I was chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). In its records we discovered a pamphlet of the 1934 Air Force examination, which my father had topped by a wide margin. We were quite thrilled. I set about trying to find out more such records. This led to a review of our record-keeping and the upkeep of the record room, both unfortunately not in good shape. It also resulted in weeding out unwanted records, the complete renovation of our record room, systematic collection and segregation of records and the setting up of an archives and documentation centre in the UPSC. It also led to strengthening of the library in terms of infrastructure, personnel and collection of books. As part of this process I requested officials of all Services to give us the history of their Service and relevant papers and documents that we could keep in the library and the UPSC museum, which was being set up simultaneously. I, myself, started looking for material for the Indian Civil Service (ICS) and the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
The ICS held a sort of mystique for us. As young children we were told that our grandfather wanted all his sons to join the imperial services. One of my uncles did join the ICS in 1932. Two more had taken the exam though they were not selected. Later, one of them joined the Foreign Service in 1948. My father had always regretted not being able to appear for the ICS because of family circumstances. He, instead, was persuaded to join the Imperial Police in 1939, leading to the title of our book, Caught by the Police . I met many ICS officers in my childhood and my elder brothers and their colleagues worked with many of them. They mostly spoke of them with respect and high regard. Getting into the ICS was seen as a great intellectual challenge. It became obvious that the power and prestige of the ICS and its successor service provided an unparalleled opportunity to contribute substantively to nation-building efforts and to do public service. It was not just a coincidence that all four of us brothers joined the civil services, three of us the IAS and the eldest the IFS.
I discovered that many people, mostly British, have written about the story of the ICS starting from the early nineteenth century, largely in the context of the expanding British Empire. There are many recollections of ICS officers, both British and Indian. There are some scattered accounts of the men of the ICS in various forms, both European and Indian, some chronicled while others not. Over the years, the emphasis shifted to its successor service, and there is now a large body of literature on

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