Indian Administrative Service was started by the British more than 150 years ago. Prior to 1950, this service was known as ICS (Indian Civil Service). Initially during the British rule in India only the British were allowed to take the exam. This was because this service was the most important service of the British administration and the foreign government did not trust Indians. After a while Indians were allowed entry into Indian Civil Service. During the British rule, all those who joined the service held important positions in the administration. They also yielded a lot of power. These were the actual rulers who allowed British to rule over India. They were known as the king of the district and steel frame of the government.
After independence, in 1950, the name of the servicewas changed to Indian Administrative Service but the role, power and benefits of the job remained the same. But as democracy spread its roots in India, administration was decentralised. The concept ofPanchayati Raj was strengthened and this service lost its lustre. Now the situation has changed from the ruler to that of an administrator. And it's a good thing from the point of view of democracy. However the service still has its sheen and status- as they say 'a dead elephant is worth more than a live one'. Most young people today still dream of becoming an IAS officer. And they have all the reasons for it. Let us see some of those reasons closely:
(1) IAS officers are generalists, not specialists. If we still want to call them specialists we can call them specialists in administration. Since every department needs administration, IAS officers hold positions of power across all departments of administration. This way they exert a direct or indirect control over all departments and ministries. For example, let us study the Indian Revenue service. All the officers of this service will head their departments but in the ministries, the secretary, the upper secretary and joint secretary are IAS officers. This way they control the service.
So is the case with the departments of the state governments. All the important departments of the state governments are generally headed by the IAS officers.
(2) These officers have the collective benefit of working in all the services. Police Service, Foreign Service and other services have officers who are specialists and have thorough knowledge of their field. So they usually holddifferent posts in their own departments only. Their work changes a bit when they are deputed to a ministry of the Central government. But IAS officers have a dynamic job.
(3) IAS officers have a direct role to play in the policies that are formed.
(4) They have the experience at both grassroots level and at the top administration level. In the initial 8 to 10 years of their careers they get introduced to developmental problems and issues faced by the locals in the districts and tehsils. This is considered a difficult posting but an adventurous one which provides immense experience.
(5) All the rights of administration lie with these officers.
(6) The cadre management of this service is strong. Once you enter the service the chances of your promotion are strong. The promotions you get here are frequent and at high levels. There is hardly any service that can match this.
(7) The officers get a lot of respect from society because they have the power to get work done. (8) As far as material things such as house, vehicles etc go, all of this is received as soon as you enter the service and remain till you retire.
(9) If someone wants, along with a routine job, to do something big that he enjoys doing and always wanted to do, it is possible to do so in this service. Other services won't give you this much liberty.
(10) This is the country's oldest and most well-organised service so as soon as you become a member of it; youbecome a part of a wide network. There are almost 6,000 IAS officers in the country, and you will become one of them. There is no part of this country that doesn't fall under the administrative control of an IAS officer. You can assume that you can reach this area through your colleague.
(11) And last but not the least, a lot of problems associated with daily life will no longer pose an issue because you are an IAS officer. People will respect you and give priority to your work.
These are some of the facts associated with this service, so if young people give IAS as their first preference, they aren't doing anything wrong. There is more than mere luxury and power that is on offer.
But you have not seen the other side of the coin, my friend, which is equally important. There is nothing free in this world, or as they say 'no lunch is free'. If IAS offers so many benefits, it also makes demands of you. Isn't it better if you are aware of the costs beforehand? Let us have a look:
(1) If you prefer a peaceful and routine life, if you want to go to work at 10 and leave at 6 then IAS is not the job for you. Initially when you are posted in districts, you may be responsible for not just the development of people but also their life. This will not allow you to follow the principle of office time. In fact a civil servant is bound to be available for work all 24 hours.
(2) If you shy away from struggles of daily life this is not the job for you. Wherever there is public, there will be problems and you will have to take part in this struggle.
(3) If you dislike politicians, this job is not meant for you. A politician is the representative of the people in a democracy while you as an IAS officer represent the government. The politicians will obviously come to you to get the work of their people done. You cannot escape them and why would you want to? You simply need to find ways of tackling them well. After all, how you handle these situations shows how good an administrator you are.
(4) If you are very 'choosy', then also you will face problems. The biggest problem you face may be that of cadre. There are two services under civil services that are known as top Indian services- Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service. A third pan-India service is Indian Forest Service for which UPSC conducts another exam.
One of the main features of the top Indian service is that it allots you a cadre (state) and you have to work in that state for a lifetime. For instance, if you get Bhopal cadre, you will always work there- except in the case of deputation, and that too if you opt for it.
After passing the preliminary exam, when you fill the application for mains, you are asked your preference for the states. If you do not give any preference, the government will decide for you.
There is a formula for cadre allotment. According to this formula, if you are allotted the cadre of your choice well and good, if not then you will have to go to the state that you have been allotted. You may get a cadre you do not want. In this situation you will have to live your whole life (till retirement) ata place that doesn't seem favourable to you. Now it's up to you whether you can adjust with this very nature of the job.
(5) If you are in favour of working at one place, this job will disappoint you. In the initial ten years you should be prepared to work in different parts (including remote areas) of the state. After this you may be posted in the state capital for a while, but your department will keep changing. This does not happen because of a rule but out of tradition and administrative convenience.
(6) If you want a very high salary package, the service will not be able to-provide you with that- not even in the later years. While you will not be in want of anything and all your needs will be met, you can bid goodbye to your dreams ofliving a luxurious lifestyle.
Now I have shown you both aspects of IAS. The decision is yours. I would advise you decide on your own and only take suggestions from others.