What is IAS (Indian Administrative Service)?

Everyone has heard this saying. “Great cry little wool. “It means  Naam bade or darshan chote… But here is opposite.  The smaller the IAS name, the larger the post. “Indian Administrative Service” is one of the three-arm of “ All India Services “along with “Indian Police Service (IPS)” and “Indian Forest Service (IFS)”.

About IAS – Indian Administrative Service

The Indian Administrative Service IAS is the elite public management cadre of the Government of India (Central Government). IAS officers hold key positions in the Union Government, State governments, Public-sector Companies, and other Statutory regulatory institutions such as the Central Bank (RBI), SEBI, and Election Commission. Once known as the Imperial Civil Service (ICS) under the British Raj, this service was one of the top 5 highest paid jobs on earth in the pre-World War II era – working for the British Crown. Post-independence it was restructured in 1947 as the IAS and the members of this Service enjoy unparalleled access to the highest offices of the largest democracy of the world.

The Indian Administrative Services, often abbreviated to I.A.S., is the administrative arm of the All India Services. Considered the premier civil service of India, the IAS is one of the three arms of the All India Services along with the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service.

What is IAS Salary in India?

Salary of IAS Officer and IAS Career Path – 7th Pay Commission: IAS Salary starts at Rs.56,100(TA, DA and HRA are extra) and maximum is Rs.2,500,00 for a month salary of Cabinet Secretary.

The new pay structure has dispensed with the system of ‘Pay Grades for Civil Services’ and introduced ‘Consolidated Pay Levels’ in the 7th Central Pay Commission. Now the IAS pay scale is decided only on the ‘Basic Pay’ along with TA, DA, and HRA.

IAS officer’s Salary & Salary of IAS in India:

Pay Level Basic Pay(INR) Number of years required in service Post
District Administration State Secretariat Central Secretariat
10 56100 1-4 Sub-Divisional Magistrate Undersecretary Assistant Secretary
11 67,700 5-8 Additional District Magistrate Deputy Secretary Undersecretary
12 78,800 9-12 District Magistrate Joint Secretary Deputy Secretary
13 1,18,500 13-16 District Magistrate Special Secretary-cum-Director Director
14 1,44,200 16-24 Divisional Commissioner Secretary-cum-Commissioner Joint Secretary
15 1,82,200 25-30 Divisional Commissioner Principal Secretary Additional Secretary
16 2,05,400 30-33 No Equivalent Rank Additional Chief Secretary No Equivalent Rank
17 2,25,000 34-36 No Equivalent Rank Chief Secretary Secretary
18 2,50,000 37+ years No Equivalent Rank No Equivalent Rank Cabinet Secretary of India

The salaries of all IAS officers start at the same level and then increase with their tenure and promotions.

The next table answers the question that what is the salary of an IAS officer per month at the entry-level and the monthly salary of IAS officer at the apex level:

Level Basic Pay Total Salary
Entry-level (starting salary) 56100 56100 – 132000
Maximum Pay (cabinet secretary level) 250000 250000

The old pay structure according to the 6th Central Pay Commission was as follows:

Grade Pay Scale Grade Pay Number of years required in service Post
Junior or Lower Time Scale 15600 – 39100 5400 Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), SDO, or Sub-Collector (after 2 years of probation)
Senior Time Scale 15600 – 39100 6600 5 District Magistrate (DM) or Collector or a Joint Secretary of a Government Ministry
Junior Administrative 15600 – 39100 7600 9 Special Secretary or the Head of Various Government Departments
Selection Grade 37400 – 67000 8700 12 – 15 Secretary to a Ministry
Super Time Scale 37400 – 67000 8700 17 – 20 Principal Secretary of a Very Important Department of the Government
Above Super Time Scale 37400 – 67000 12000 Varies Varies
Apex Scale 80000 (Fixed) NA Varies Chief Secretary of States, Union Secretaries in charge of various ministries of Government of India
Cabinet Secretary Grade 90000 (Fixed) NA Varies Cabinet Secretary of India

There is a difference in the grade of pay of IAS officers from junior grade to above super time scale. At the Cabinet Secretary level, it is fixed. The Dearness Allowance (DA) for IAS officers is revised on a half-yearly basis depending on the inflation index. DA increases each year.

Youngsters should remember that the IAS pay scale in India should not be the only criterion for them to join the services. The civil service is an opportunity to serve the nation and make a positive impact on the lives of the people of the country. Your chief motivation should be the desire to work for the country and make life better for many people.

To become an IAS officer you have to Clear UPSC Civil Services Examination. IAS Exam consists of a Preliminary exam, Mains Exam, and Personality Test (Interview).  To Know More Visit:

IAS Exam Syllabus & Pattern

To become an IAS officer, you need to qualify the Union Public Service Commission Civil Services Exam (CSE). The exam itself is conducted as a means to recruit civil servants to one of the 25 services that comprise the All India Services, Central Government Services (IRS, Railways, etc), and Group B services.

The exam is considered to be among the toughest in the country, if not in the world. Among the lakhs of candidates who apply for the exam, only a thousand some manage to break it into the Indian bureaucracy. The success rate of the UPSC Civil Service Exam (CSE) is thus less than 1%.

The exam itself is structured into three parts – the Preliminary exam (Civil Services Aptitude Test – CSAT), Main Exam, and finally the Interview.

The table below shows the statistics of the number of candidates going in between 2013 and 2015, compared to the number that finally qualified (Source).

Year Applications Number appearing for Preliminary
2013 7,76,604 3,24,279
2014 9,47,428 4,46,623
2015 9,39,763 4,65,882

Candidates, finally selected, were only of the order of a thousand. Staggeringly steep, the competition requires some serious preparation, often for years. You can apply online on the UPSC website. The instructions are also available on the UPSC website, or at various Post Offices across the country.

The application deadline is usually around February/March. The table below lays out the format and syllabus for the three stages of the CSE.

Paper Exam Schedule Syllabus Marks Time
Preliminary- Paper I May/June General Studies: Current Topics, History, Geography, Politics, etc 200 2 Hrs
Preliminary- Paper II May/June Comprehension and Analytical Ability 200 2 Hrs

Preliminary Exam Paper I is counted for merit rank while Paper II is simply qualifying by nature. The results are announced after, upon which qualified candidates appear for the CSE Main Examination in October.

Paper Syllabus Marks
Paper A Indian Language from among languages in Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. Not compulsory for candidates from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim 300
Paper B English 300
Paper I Essay 250
Paper II – IV General Studies: Indian Heritage, History, Geography, Politics, International Relations, Technology, Economy, Environment, Ethics, Aptitude, etc. 250 x 4
Paper VI – VII Optional Subject 250 x 2

Qualifying candidates are shortlisted for a Personality Interview for 275 marks.

Preparatory Material and Sample Questions

The market is teeming with IAS preparatory material and books. While it is humanly impossible to cover all, there are certain well-known books that are useful in making headway towards qualifying for the exam.

Some of the books and associated topics include NCERT preparatory books for the UPSC exam, India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra, Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh, Essays for Civil Services by Pulkit Khare, India Year Book for current affairs, Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor, and more.

The details of syllabus coverage are shared in the Appendix of the UPSC Examination Notice (page: 124-196).

Here’s a snippet of the type of questions to be expected at the Civil Services Main examination (as gathered from 2017 UPSC CSE).

General Studies Paper I

  • Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the specter of a fragmented polity (150 words)
  • How does the Juno Mission of NASA help to understand the origin and evolution of the Earth? (150 words)

General Studies Paper-II

  • Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people. (Discuss in 150 words)
  • Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgment of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy (250 words)

General Studies Paper III

  • India has achieved remarkable successes in unmanned space missions including the Chandrayaan and Mars Orbiter Mission but has not ventured into manned space missions. What are the main obstacles to launching a manned space mission, both in terms of technology and logistics? (150 words)
  • How do subsidies affect the cropping pattern, crop diversity, and economy of farmers? What is the significance of crop insurance, minimum support price, and food processing for small and marginal farmers? (250 words)

General Studies Paper IV

  • Increased national wealth did not result in equitable distribution of its benefits. It has created only some “enclaves of modernity and prosperity for a small minority at the cost of the majority”. Justify (150 words)
  • You are the head of Human Resources. A worker has died and the family is demanding compensation. The investigation has revealed that the worker was drunk at the time of the accident and the company is refusing to pay compensation. The workers have gone on strike and the company Chairman wants your recommendation to manage the crisis. What will be your recommendation? Discuss the merits and demerits of each. (250 words)

Language Paper

  • Write a 600-word essay on one of the following – “Recent Economic Reforms in India”, “Threats to the Environment”, “Uses and Abuses of Social Networking “, and “Caring for the Aged”.
  • Sentence reconstruction, sentence formation, passage comprehension and analysis, and more.

Clearly, the road to success is filled with extremely hard work, tremendous dedication, and almost super-human reasoning, memorizing, and analytical abilities. Becoming an IAS officer thus entails almost miraculous capabilities garnering them the nickname of being heaven-born. But maybe it has also got to do with the fact that they shoulder the responsibility of making our society better for all of us.

So, if you think you have it in you, give it a shot (or about as much as 5 more!) and maybe you will get a chance to become the next Magistrate Madam cutting the ribbon to a new hospital you championed in your district.

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