Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Civil Services Under the Crown (1858-1919)

1858 to1919 was the golden period of All Indian Services. During this period, the civil services were institutionalised. The civil services were classified into Convenanted (Higher-Imperial and Provincial) and Uncovenanted (Subordinate), on the basis of the nature of work, appointing authority and pay-scales. Imperial services, occupying the higher rungs of civil services and controlled by the Secretary of State, was further divided into All India Services and Central Services. On the eve of the Government of India Act, the following nine All India Services existed (strength  of personnel of each service is also given):


Name of service

Popular name



Indian Civil Service




Indian Police Service




Indian Forest Service




Indian Service of Engineers




Indian Medical Service (Civil)




Indian Education Service




Indian Civil Veterinary Service




Indian Forest Engineering Service



Indian Agriculture Service




The oldest and the most important amongst the All India Services was the ICS, which owes its origin to Lord Machulay Report submitted in 1854. The last to be added to the list of All India Services was the Indian Agriculture Service in 1906. All these services were grouped into Security All India Services (ICS and IP) and Other All India Services. Appointment and control of these services rested with the Secretary of State as it was thought necessary to hold British control over the country.

As the movement for Indianisation gained momentum, Indian public and leaders became allergic to All India Services, not on the basis of their actual performance, but because they were controlled by the Secretary of State and were a living symbol of foreign rule. Intensification of national movement, growing demand for Indianisation of higher civil services and introduction of Dyarchy (which promised progressive realisation of responsible and self-government in India) in the post 1919 period brought about many changes in All India Services. Criticism of the individual members of the services by questions in the provincial and Central legislatures, the `ignominy’ of working under Indian Ministers in provinces, the non-cooperation movement of 1920-22, the insufficiency of salaries due to high price-rise in the wake of the World War I, etc., left a dampening effect on the attraction of All India Services as a career service for British Youth. All efforts to attract them fell flat and the number of British Officers began to decline. In 1923, the Lee Commission recommended abolition of certain All India Services, particularly, those dealing with subjects that had been transferred to Indian hands, namely, Indian Education Service, Indian Agriculture Service, Indian Veterinary Service and the roads and Building branch of the Indian Service of Engineers. It, however, recommended retention of Indian Civil Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Forest Service, Indian Medical Service and the Irrigation branch of Indian Service of Engineers. It also recommended increasing Indianisation of these services as also that any British Official belonging to the services of transferred subjects would be free to take voluntary retirement on a proportionate pension at any time. Effect was given to these recommendations. These changes affected the “The Espirit de Corps” of these services. With the gradual Indianisation of All India Services, the class consciousness of these services became dim. The Indian element was imbued with a national spirit which looked forward to a day when Indian would be independent. It had nothing in common with the British element in the service, which, having lost its old sense of mission, was feeling frustrated. Thus, the solidarity of these services was weakened.

3 Report of the Royal Commission on Superior Services in India, Government of India Press, 1924, p.4.

4 Report of the Indian Statutory Commission, Vol. I, P.268.

June 18, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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