First IAS Officer of India – History of Civil Services in India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The first IAS officer of India is Satyendranath Tagore. The importance of the Indian Civil Service speaks for itself. Hence, candidates taking the IAS exam must be familiar with the service’s background in India. The IAS is integral to the Indian government and forms part of the country’s permanent bureaucracy. Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the administrative division of the All India Services of the Indian Government.

IAS officers are positioned in a broad range of government organisations, including auxiliary bodies, staff & line agencies, statutory bodies, autonomous bodies, regulatory bodies, and public sector organisations. Through this article, learn about the history of Civil Services in India including interesting facts about the Indian Administrative Service.

First IAS Officer of India

The first IAS officer of India is Satyendranath Tagore. He was the first Indian to join the ICS (Indian Civil Services) in 1863. He hailed from the renowned Tagore family of Kolkata. He was the second-oldest brother of Rabindranath Tagore, the only Indian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. During the British raj, he significantly aided in the emancipation of women in Indian society.

Additionally, Satyendranath Tagore made significant contributions to society. He was a genius in addition to being the first IAS officer in India. In addition to being a member of the Brahmo Samaj, Satyendranath was an active participant. His father played a significant role in the events. Even though he was an IAS officer, he played important roles in operations. He was a writer, lyricist, and linguist. He took several actions to advance women’s rights in Indian culture.

History of Indian Civil Service

The higher-level civil service of the British Empire in India from 1858 until 1947 was the Indian Civil Service (ICS), also known as the Imperial Civil Service. In an effort to enter the country’s civil service, thousands of applicants take the UPSC civil services preliminary exam each year. And more than any other service, the majority of them desire to join the IAS.

The history of the Indian Civil Services in India is discussed below.

  • Civil services were divided into three categories during the East India Company era: covenanted, uncovenanted, and special civil services. The Honourable East India Company’s Civil Service (HEICCS), as it was known, was the name given to the covenanted civil service, which was mostly made up of employees holding senior positions in the government. The uncovenanted civil service was created solely to make it easier for Indians to join the lower ranks of the executive branch.
  • The special service consisted of specialised divisions such as the Indian Forest Service, Imperial Police, and Indian Political Service, whose personnel were selected from either the Indian Army or the covenanted civil service.
  • Although, until 1893, an annual exam was used to choose its officers, the Imperial Police nonetheless had several Indian Army officers among its members.
  • The Indian Civil Service (ICS), which took the role of the HEICCS in 1858 and served as the highest Indian Civil Service until 1947, superseded the HEICCS. In 1942, the ICS’s final appointments were made.
  • The Government of India Act 1919 divided the Indian Civil Services into the All India Services and the Central Services, under the overall control of the Secretary of State for India. One of the ten All India Services was the Indian Civil Service.
  • The Central Cabinet resolved to establish the Indian Administrative Service, based on the Indian Civil Service, and the Indian Police Service, based on the Imperial Police, in 1946 at the Premier’s Conference.
  • The Indian Civil Service was split between the new nations of India and Pakistan when India was divided after the British left in 1947. The Pakistan Administrative Service was given to the Pakistani portion, whereas the Indian portion was renamed the Indian Administrative Service.

Father of Civil Services in India

Charles Cornwallis is referred to as the “father of Civil Service in India” because of his efforts to modernise and reform the Indian civil services. However, Warren Hastings provided the groundwork for India’s civil services, but it was Cornwallis who took on the challenge of implementing the change.

Cornwallis also established the covenanted and uncovenanted branches of the Indian Civil Service. He served as the British Governor-General of India and was a British soldier and statesman (1786-1793, 1805). On 23 February 1786, he formally accepted the position of governor-general of India. By treating civil servants appropriately, he built a tradition of law-abiding, incorruptible British administration in India. He also prohibited them from conducting their own business.

Facts about Indian Administrative Service

The ICS initially solely recruited candidates from Oxford and Cambridge. As a result, ICS was regarded as a premium service. ICS later allowed Indians admittance. As a result, the Indian Civil Service Examination started to be held in India starting in 1922.

Here, we have provided some important facts about Indian Administrative Service in India.

  • Recruitment to the Indian Civil Services (ICS) began solely based on merit in 1855.
  • After 1947, the Indian Civil Service developed into its current form.
  • The first person to join the Civil Service in India was Satyendranath Tagore in 1864.
  • The highest position for an IAS officer is Cabinet Secretary.
  • From 1950 to 1953, R Pillai was the first person to hold the position of Cabinet Secretary.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had a vision for how public service would bring the nation together once it attained freedom.
  • The first woman IAS officer in India is Anna George Malhotra.
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