National Civil Services Day: Dedicated To Those Who Form The ‘Steel Frame Of India’

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” — Mahatma Gandhi

The Civil Services refer to Government servants who work in permanent Executive branch of the Republic of India. Elected Parliamentarians/Legislative representatives determine policy and civil servants carry it out.

Central Civil Servants are employees of the Government of India or of the states, but not all employees of the Government are civil servants. If a responsible government has to be established in India, there is a greater need for persons to take part in public affairs in the legislative assemblies.

April 21 is celebrated as National Civil Services Day, when civil servants dedicate themselves to the cause of citizens, renew their commitments and excellence in work for the betterment of the Nation. Its origin can be traced to 1947 when Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Home minister of Independent India, addressed probationary officers at the All India Administrative Service Training School at Metcalfe House, Delhi.

He delivered a powerful speech and called upon civil servants to adopt true role of national service, leaving the past behind, referring to them as the ‘steel frame of India’.

The first such function was held at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on April 21, 2006, and the day has been celebrated as National Civil Service Day ever since. The Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration are given on this day in three categories.

Every year lakhs of candidates apply for Indian Civil Service exams for almost a thousand posts at the Centre. Similarly, a huge number of candidates compete at state levels for various categories of posts. We know that civil service is the pillar on which governments run the vehicle of policies and programmes of the country smoothly. The contribution of civil servants to society and the nation as a whole can’t be expressed in words.

National Civil Service Day — Objective behind the celebration

* To motivate and appreciate the work and efforts of Civil service officers.

* Central government uses this opportunity to evaluate the work of various departments under the civil services.

* The Central government felicitates and presents awards to best working individuals and groups.

The present Civil services of India are mainly based on the pattern of former Indian Civil Services — ICS of the British period. During British raj, Warren Hastings laid the foundation of Civil service and Charles Cornwallis reformed, modernized and rationalized it. Hence, Cornwallis is known as the ‘Father of Civil service in India’.

Cornwallis introduced two divisions of the Indian Civil service — covenanted and uncovenanted. The covenanted Civil service consisted of only Europeans (British personnel) occupying the higher posts in the government. The uncovenanted Civil service was solely introduced to facilitate the entry of Indians at the lower rung of administration.

With the passing of the Government of India Act 1919, the Imperial Services headed by the Secretary of State for India was split into two — All India Services and Central Services. The All India and Central Services (Group A) were designated as Central Superior Services as early as 1924.

Modern era

The modern Civil service was formed after the partition of India in 1947. It was Sardar Patel’s vision that Civil service should strengthen cohesion and national unity. The values of integrity, impartiality, and merit remain the guiding principles of Indian Civil services.

By the early 21st century, Indian Civil servants were colloquially called ‘babus’, while Indian bureaucracy was known as ‘babudom’.

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, located in New Delhi, is unofficially the ‘Ministry of Civil Services’. The ministry is responsible for training, reforms and pensions for the Civil service system in India.

Guiding principals


A member of the Civil service while discharging his/her functions is to be guided by maintaining absolute integrity, allegiance to the constitution and the law of the nation, patriotism, national pride, devotion to duty, honesty, impartiality and transparency.

Code of ethics

The Government of India promotes values and a certain standard of ethics from every Civil servant:

— To discharge official duty with responsibility, honesty, accountability and without discrimination.

— To ensure effective management, leadership development and personal growth.

— To avoid misuse of official position or information.

— To serve as instruments of good governance and foster social and economic development.


The responsibility of the civil services is to run the administration of India. The country is managed through a number of Central government agencies in accordance with policy directions from the ministries. Civil servants are the actual makers of Indian law and policy. They work on behalf of the elected government and cannot publicly show their disinterest or disapproval for it. It is mandatory for them to form certain rules and policies according to the government’s views and interests. Their service conditions are regulated as per the provisions of law.

Among the members of Civil services are administrators in Central government and state government; emissaries in the foreign missions/embassies; tax collectors and revenue commissioners; Civil service commissioned police officers; permanent representative(s) and employees in the United Nations and its agencies; and chairmen, managing directors, and full-time functional directors and members of the board of various public-sector undertakings, enterprises, corporations, banks, and financial institutions. Civil servants are employed to various agencies of India and can also be appointed as advisors, special duty officers, or private secretaries to ministers of the Union and State government.


Head of the Civil Services

The highest-ranking civil servant is the Cabinet Secretary. They are ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board, chief of the Indian Administrative Service and head of all Civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India. They also hold the 11th position in the Order of Precedence of India.

The position holder is accountable for ensuring that the Civil Service is equipped with the skills and capability to meet the everyday challenges it faces and that civil servants work in a fair and decent environment.

Entry level recruitment

Civil Services Board is responsible for the entry level recruitment and subsequent job promotions below the rank of Joint Secretary to Government of India. The recruits are university graduates or above selected through rigorous system of specialization-based examinations for recruitment into respective specialized departments.

Civil Services in India is an integral part of social and democratic life. It is repository of hope for the people, lawmakers and stakeholders of development. The responsibility of a civil servant is much more than an ordinary person. The integrity, skills, knowledge, calibre and commitment of Civil services are the foundation upon which advancement of the country is based.

As Sardar Patel said, “Take to the path of dharma – the path of truth and justice. Don’t misuse your valour. Remain united. March forward in all humility, but fully awake to the situation you face, demanding your rights and firmness.”

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