This Article is written by Aditya Kohli (BA.LLB(Hons.) 3rdyear from Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur, M.P.)
Table of Contents
As we know, lakhs of people in India take the civil services exam to become an officer and serve the country. This article is regarding the evolution of civil services in India, which is one of the oldest and toughest examinations in India. Some commissions had created in India, which helped develop civil services for Indian citizens. Let’s see in this article.
Civil Services in Ancient India
Most people believe that the concept of civil service was introduced by the British, but this is not true because even before their arrival, the principle of civil service has been talked about in different periods. The contribution of the British was that they were the first who introduced the concept of civil services in India in a very systematic and organized manner. If we mention the civil services in India for the first time, we will find that in Kautilya book Arthashastra, we found a centralized system that dealt with tax administration. All the things like the qualification of officers and appointment of officers have been mentioned in the Arthashastra book. Therefore, we can conclude that the concept of civil service existed in India even before the arrival of the British.Similarly, there was a centralized system in the Gupta Empire, followed by a centralized system in the Mughal Empire, which they called the Mansabdari system.
Civil Services in Ancient IndiaEvolution of civil services during the British Period.
The East India Company was always busy carrying out different tasks and activities, therefore, they coined the term ‘Civil Services’ to separate the services of all commercial activities from the military services. The Governor-General in 1786 was Lord Cornwallis, who is known as the father of civil services in India. But even before them, civil services existed, it is said because they introduced civil services in India in a very systematic and organized manner.
Appointment of civil servants (Patronage system vs. Merit-based system).
All the civil services at that time were divided into two categories, first covenanted civil service and second, un-covenanted civil service. The covenanted civil service consisted of high positions, to which the majority of European candidates were appointed. The Uncovenanted civil service consists of lower positions, to which the majority of Indian candidates were appointed. The nature of work, pay scale and appointing authority were different in these two categories.
Establishment of Civil Services Commission.
All civil servants appointed to the East India Company did not take any kind of examination, as these servants were nominated directly by the company directors. However, appointing servants on own desire comes under the patronage system. After the candidates were enrolled, they were sent to Haileybury College in London for training, and from there, they came to India as civil servants for work. In 1853, when Lord Macaulay presented a report to the British Parliament regarding the Modern civil services to be introduced in India, the Charter Act, 1853 was passed based on that report. In which the patronage-based recruitment system of civil services was replaced with a merit-based recruitment system of civil services. From here, the recruitment of civil services started based on competition.
The Civil Service Commission was established in 1854 in London for examinations, and the conduct of competitive examinations started in 1855. At that time, the examination was conducted only in London, and the age of the candidates to appear in the examination was a minimum of eighteen years and a maximum of twenty-three years. The syllabus of this exam was designed in such a way that Indian candidates could rarely crack that exam. As such, the maximum marks allotted to the section of the European Classics subject and that subject was generally not taught to Indian students. Therefore, this advantage was used by European candidates as they were taught that subject.
First Indian to clear this exam and First war of Independence
Despite every possible effort of the British that Indians could not pass the examination, in 1864, Satyendra Nath Tagore, who was the elder brother of Rabindra Nath Tagore, became the first Indian to pass this examination successfully. But in the coming years, Indians filed many petitions to the British. Such a test should be conducted in India also so that Indian candidates do not have to go to London to take the exam, but nothing worked because the British did not want more and more Indians to take this test. Now, if we talk about the Revolt of 1857, which is also known as Sepoy Mutiny or First War of Independence. After this rebellion, all the rights of the Company were lost, and all power went to the British Crown. After which, the nature of all these services started changing.INC was established in 1885, which demanded significant changes for civil services such as the age of this examination should be increased, and this examination should be held in India also.
Aitchison Committee, Islington Commission, and Lee Commission.
The Aitchison Commission was established in 1886 chaired by Sir Charles Aitchison to look into the demands of the INC. This committee suggested that India should also be employed to the public services, and it removed covenanted and uncovenanted services from India and divided it into three different categories, first imperial, second provincial and third subordinate services. In imperial service, the recruitment of British candidates was maximum.
The Islington Commission was established in 1912 under the chairmanship of Lord Islington. This commission recommended, 25 per cent of the higher posts should be filled by Indians, and the recruitment to higher posts should be done partly in India and England. Hence, from 1922 onwards, ICS examinations began to be held in India and London. In London, the exam was conducted by the Civil Service Commission, and in India, the exam was conducted by the Federal Public Commission, which was established in India. The Lee Commission was established in 1924 under the chairmanship of Lee. This commission recommended the establishment of the Public Service Commission, and on 1 October 1926, the Public Service Commission was established under the chairmanship of Sir Ross Barker. After this came the GOI Act 1935, which created the Federal Public Service Commission in India, which was named Union Public Service Commission after independence. Also, after 1939, the number of Indians in the civil service started increasing, mainly because European candidates did not take the exam anymore.
So, after reading this much, I can say that the concept of civil service was there even before the arrival of the British. Yes, but it can be said that only the British could bring the civil service in India well, with their way of working and the good system, so that later INC put the interests of the people of India in front of the British. Due to which today, there is an examination like UPSC in India, in which lakhs of students participate and serve our nation India. Since 1939, this exam is completely conducted only for the people of India. It is not like before that the English government is conducting this examination.
 Under Mauryan Empire 322-185 BCE