Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the administrative service of the All India Services. It is considered one of the premier civil service of India, and the IAS is one of the three premier divisions of All India services along with the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFS).
There is usually a typical UPSC syllabus pattern for services such as the IAS, Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), etc. The UPSC Prelims syllabus mainly focuses on general and societal awareness which is tested by objective-type (MCQ) questions. On the other hand, the UPSC Mains syllabus is much more comprehensive as this stage comprises of nine theory papers.
The UPSC Civil Services Exam for IAS is conducted in three phases:
Phase 1: UPSC Civil Services IAS Prelims Exam
The UPSC CSE IAS Prelims Examination is composed of two components:
- General Studies
- Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) – The UPSC Civil Services Prelims Exam consists of two papers (objective type), each of 200 marks (with a total of 400 marks) and two hours’ duration. To qualify for the CSE Mains, a candidate needs to clear both the papers. The CSAT paper has 80 questions for 200 marks, correctly answered CSAT question would attract 2.5 marks each, while every wrongly marked item would carry a negative marking of 0.833 for each wrong answer, which will be deducted from the total marks.
Note- Questions that are not attempted will not carry negative marks.
Phase 2: UPSC Civil Services IAS Mains Exam
The Main Exam is created to assess/understand the overall intellectual traits and depth of understanding of an ideal candidate rather than merely focusing on the range of their information and memory skills.
The nature and the standard of questions in the General Studies papers (Paper II to Paper V) will focus on a well-educated person who will be able to answer them without any specialized study or understanding about the topic. The questions will test/judge an ideal candidate’s general awareness of a variety of subjects, which will be useful to have for a successful career in CS.
The questions are likely to test the candidate’s basic understanding of all relevant issues, and ability to analyze, and take a view on conflicting socio-economic goals, objectives and demands. The candidates must give relevant, meaningful and concise answers.
The scope of the syllabus for optional subject papers (Paper VI and Paper VII) for the examination is broad of the honours degree 1evel, i.e. a level higher than the bachelors’ degree and lower than the masters’ degree. In the case of Engineering, Medical Science and law, the level corresponds to the bachelors’ degree.
Civil Services Mains Exam Syllabus
Syllabus of the papers included in the scheme of Civil Services (Main) Examination are given as follows:
Qualifying Papers on Indian Languages and English
The paper aims to test the candidates’ ability to read and understand serious discursive prose and to express his ideas clearly and correctly, in English and Indian language concerned.
The pattern of questions would be broad as follows:
- Comprehension of given passages.
- Précis Writing.
- Usage and Vocabulary.
- Short Essays.
- Translation from English to the Indian Language and vice-versa.
Note 1: The papers on Indian Languages and English will be of Matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.
Note 2: The candidates will have to answer the English and Indian Languages papers in English and the respective Indian language (except where the translation is involved).
Phase 3: Interview
The candidate will be interviewed by a Board who will have before them a record of his career. He/she will be asked questions on matters of general interest. The object of the interview is to assess the personal suitability of the candidate for a job in public service by a Board of competent and unbiased observers.
The test is designed to judge the mental calibre of a candidate. In broad terms, this is an assessment of not only his intellectual qualities but also social traits and his interest in current affairs.
Some of the qualities of an ideal candidate to be judged are mental alertness, critical powers of assimilation, clear and logical exposition, the balance of judgement, variety and depth of interest, ability for social cohesion and leadership, intellectual and moral integrity.
The technique of the interview is not that of a strict cross-examination but a natural, though directed and purposive conversation which is intended to reveal the mental qualities of the candidate. Government strives to have a workforce which reflects gender balance, and women candidates are encouraged to apply.
The interview test is not intended to be a test either of the specialized or general knowledge of the candidates which has been already tested through their written papers.
Candidates are expected to have taken an intelligent interest not only in their particular subjects of academic study but also in the events which are happening around them both within and outside their State or Country as well as in modern currents of thought and in discoveries which should arouse the curiosity of well-educated youth.
Find more details of the Civil Services Exam here.
All candidates are requested to carefully read the Rules of Civil Services Examination notified by the Government (Department of Personnel and Training) and the Notice of Examination. The Candidates applying for the examination should ensure that they fulfill all eligibility conditions for admission to examination. Their admission to all the stages of the examination will be purely provisional subject to satisfying the prescribed eligibility conditions. Mere issue of e-Admit Card to the candidate will not imply that his/her candidature has been finally cleared by the Commission. The Commission takes up verification of eligibility conditions with reference to original documents only after the candidate has qualified for Interview/Personality Test. Further details on eligibility criteria are mentioned here.
Roles and Responsibilities of an IAS Officer
IAS officers’ roles and responsibilities depend on the type of their rank and post. Three types of assignments an IAS Officer has to perform:
- Field WorkState-SecretariatCentral-Secretariat
The field assignments are usually considered the toughest roles that an IAS officer has to function. The following are the essential functions of Civil Servants:
- Handling affairs of the government of India, such as Implementation and policies formation.Consultation with various departmentsManagement and disbursement of multiple fundsSupervision and the implementation of various schemes and policies of the Government of India.Responding to emergencies such as natural disasters, major accidents and riots in their jurisdiction and coordinating relief activities.
Note- For more details about the IAS Post, visit – UPSC CSE Posts and Ranks
The specific roles that an IAS civil servant has to perform are as follows:
- Field Assignments: The first thing an IAS officer has to perform are field assignments. Their functions vary/depends on their ranks and posts.Sub-Divisional Functions: As a Sub Divisional Magistrate, an IAS officer has to maintain law and order; they also have to oversee developmental and administrative activities.District-Level Functions: As a District Level Magistrate, they have to perform the same functions of an SDM.Their field assignments usually end at the district level, and many officers move to different positions within the state.State Secretariat Assignments: State Secretariats use their expertise to advise elected representatives while formulating policies and to make decisions regarding governmental processes.Public Sector Undertakings: Many IAS officers also get posted to PSU cadres on the committee.Central Secretariat Assignments: Secretarial level postings at the level of the Central government deal with policy review, formulation and implementation for different ministries.
Many officers are also appointed to international bodies such as the UN. There are provisions to depute IAS officers to private organisations for short tenures as well.
IAS Officer Training
Being a Civil Services IAS Officer is the dream job for many aspirants in our country. In this article, we will provide you with an insight into the life after clearing the final interview and the training phase of an IAS officer.
Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA)
The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie is a premier training institution for the civil services in India. It is headed by a Director (an officer of the level of Secretary to the Government of India) and is an attached office of the Department of Personnel & Training, Government of India.
The Academy offers a variety programmes, all of which have been developed based on a detailed training needs assessment and appraisal. Details of the major training programms conducted by the Academy are given below:
The Academy conducts the following Induction training programmes:
- Induction Training for the Direct Recruits
- Induction Training for officers of the State Civil Services promoted to the IAS
Mid-Career Training Programs (MCTP) for IAS Officers
The Mid Career Training Programme was initiated in 2007 with the aim of imparting structured in-service training to IAS officers to prepare them for higher levels of responsibilities. Spanning three phases, viz. Phase-III, Phase-IV and Phase-V training programmes. The programme was initially outsourced to various national/ international institutions for a period of three years. Since 2010, the Academy has been mandated the responsibility of designing and delivering each of these courses.
LBSNAA is the dream destination of aspiring IAS officers. They are trained and taught public handling related matters. They also get involved in sports, dance, singing, etc. Read more about LBSNAA here.
Foundation Course (15 Weeks)
This Course is for Officer Trainees of the All India Services viz the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service & the Indian Forests Service; the Indian Foreign Service and various Central Services (Group-‘A’). Run once a year usually from September to December, it marks the commencement of training of candidates selected by the UPSC. At current levels of recruitment, some 650 plus candidates drawn from across the above Services undergo the FC each year at LBSNAA and Partner Institutions.
As the Officer Trainees are fresh entrants, the focus is on familiarizing them with the environment of political, economic, social and administrative issues through a well-defined syllabus. This equips them with requisite skills, knowledge and attitudes to shoulder the responsibilities of a public service officer.
The Academy stands out as one of the very few institutions in the world with focus not only on Civil Service capacity building but also inter-services camaraderie and cooperation. The raison d’etre of a common FC is to instil a shared understanding of government and build camaraderie among the civil services for smoother conduct of the affairs of the Government.
Phase 1 – IAS Training Schedule
In the first phase – rigorous training to the Indian Administrative Services is communicated in a wide range of subjects to enable officers in handling varied assignments that they would typically hold in the first year/decade of their service. It usually consists of district training, but before that, it consists of two primary modules which are as follows:
Winter Study Tour
The IAS officer trainees travel across the country to experience its rich cultural diversity and adapt to its diverse nature.
A week-long fitment with the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies which exposes officers to the functioning of the Parliamentary system in India.
The Officer Trainees (OTs) also call on essential dignitaries such as the President of India, the Vice-President of India, the Prime Minister of India and others during this attachment.
It is a theme-based module that covers various subjects such as IAS in:
- perspective/role of the IAS in policy-making national security/law and order
- agriculture/land management and administration
- rural development /decentralisation and Panchayati raj urban management/infrastructure
- public-private partnership e-governance/office management/administration.
Skills such as soft skills (leadership, organisational behaviour and the interpersonal skills), projects management, necessary engineering skills and ICIT financial management and the project appraisal social sector/weaker section and the minorities are specially taken care of.
IAS officer trainees go through one year of district training, a drill to enable them to see, study and live the paradox that is quintessential India, with its unfathomable diversity, myriad challenges, and the opportunities.
District training also gives them a wide range of opportunity to study the administrative set-up, interact with people, their representatives and officials to understand the paradigm of its development as well as the effectiveness of strategies in an efficient manner.
Phase 2 – IAS Training Schedule
In the second phase, the trainees are provided with a platform to share individual learning experiences gained in the field and enable them to articulate the strengths and the weaknesses of our administration and the governance.
This phase emphasises the interactive learning mode, and it is supplemented with the individual sessions with distinguished experts from within and outside the Government of India.
The penultimate phase of the training serves as a vibrant learning ground before the Officers Trainees (OTs) launch their career in the public service.
A Typical Day for IAS Trainees at the LBSNAA Academy
A typical day for an IAS officer trainee at the academy starts around 6 am with the morning exercise drill that goes on for 60 minutes, and then the riding schedule operates simultaneously. The IAS trainee classroom sessions then start at around 9 am. These consist of 5 to 6 academic sessions – 55 minutes each on all working days.
Evening hours are mostly dedicated to sports, riding and cultural activities which are mostly less about learning and more of having leisure time. The rest of the evening and night-time is spent on interacting with fellow trainees and seniors and then preparing for the next day and its academic sessions.
The academy usually places a strong emphasis on outdoor events as part of its dynamic training curriculum. All weekends and notified holidays are generally reserved for extra-curricular activities such as – the community services, adventure sports, rock climbing, paragliding, river rafting, and short treks, etc.
The vitality of physical and mental fitness in leading a healthy lifestyle and peace needs no reiteration. It is more critical for those who usually have a hectic task and the tension-filled career.
IAS Officers Off-Campus Experiences
IAS officers are strongly encouraged to lead a rich, varied and vibrant campus life-extending much beyond the confines of the lecture halls. Some common examples of such experiences are as follows:
Trainees are sent on treks to the more magnificent Himalayas where they learn to cope with conditions of adversity, lousy weather, insufficient accommodation, and limited access to food items.
Visit and stay in the backward villages to understand and appreciate the circumstances and realities of rural life are integral to the induction level of programmes.
Officer Trainees are also encouraged to take up the extra-curricular modules and to cultivate the in-depth interest and proficiency in any hobbies and interests of their choice.
To achieve this, they are often encouraged to participate in the activities of various clubs and societies to express their creative and practical ideas and to show their potential.
Recent Trends in IAS Officers Training
The Kiran Aggarwal Committee (KAC) constituted by the Department of Personnel and Training has recommended that the total training period for IAS officers be brought down from two years to one-and-a-half years.
The step was suggested because of the strong feedback received from recent batches of IAS officers about the relative sub-optimal effectiveness of attachments in the district and the relatively higher utility of independent charges for on-the-job learning.
Suppose we assume the rising median age of IAS officer trainees (around 28 years). In that case, the training duration reduction seems a little valid as many enter service with significant work experience and less potential years of the service.
Moreover, the scope of this training has widened over the years as a structured mid-career training programme, and the offers can avail short-term refresher courses after four years of service. And lastly, the reduction in the training or in the probation period would be welcomed by state governments given the general shortage of junior-level IAS officers.
IAS Officers’ Salary
IAS Officers don’t get paid during the first month of training.
Many candidates think, they’ll be starting to get paid immediately after joining the service, but after qualifying the UPSC CSE, the selected candidates are invited for the training program. Post joining as an IAS, or other officers- officers don’t get rewarded for the first month of their training period. This criterion is well informed and described to the officer in the joining letter issued by the DoPT.
The new pay structure for IAS officers has dispensed with the system of Pay Grades for different Civil Services profiles and introduced by the Consolidated Pay Levels (CPL) in the 7th Central Pay Commission. And the IAS pay scale is decided only on -the Basic Pay along with TA, DA, and HRA.
|Years Required in Service
|Additional district magistrate
|No Equivalent Rank
|Additional Chief Secretary
|No Equivalent Rank
|No Equivalent Rank
|No Equivalent Rank
|No Equivalent Rank
|Cabinet Secretary of India
The Dearness Allowance (DA) is fixed at the 0% for Civil Services Indian Administrative Service officers starting from their career and increases with the time as per their ranks and performance.
The salary structure for all IAS officers start at the same level and then increase as per their performances and promotions.
|Total IAS Salary
|Entry-level (starting salary)
|56100 – 132000
|Maximum Pay (cabinet secretary level)
The basic pay of an IAS officer at the entry-level increases by- 3% each year at the starting level (As per their performance level). Salary at the Cabinet Secretary level- is fixed. The Dearness Allowance usually increases by 0-14% each year at the entry-level positions. At the highest level, the DA could increase. Young candidates should keep in mind that – the IAS or other service’s pay scale should not be the only motivating factor for them to join the service.
The UPSC Civil Services is an opportunity to serve the nation and make a positive and desired impact on the lives of millions of people in our country, which is why candidates should have a personal goal- Like to improve the countries circumstance of the education system or maybe to enhance the image of our country, etc.
Pension and Gratuity
The minimum eligibility for receipt of a pension is ten years. A Central Government servant retiring following the Pension Rules is entitled to receive pension on completion of at least ten years of qualifying the service.
In the case of the Family Pension, the widow is eligible to receive the family pension on the death of her spouse after completion of one year of continuous service or even before the end of one year if the Government servant had been examined by the appropriate Medical Authority and declared fit for the Government service.
The pension is calculated concerning payments (i.e., last basic pay) or average emoluments (i.e., an average of the basic pay drawn during the last ten months of the service) whichever is more beneficial as per the rules and requirements. The amount of a pension is 50% of the emoluments or average emoluments, whichever is beneficial.
Presently, the minimum pension is Rs. 9000 per month. The maximum pension limit is 50% of the highest pay in India’s Government (currently Rs. 1,25,000) per month. The pension is payable up to and including till the date of death of an aspirant.
Commutation of Pension
The Central Government servants have options to commute a portion of pension, not exceeding 40% of it, into a lump sum payment for future use. No medical examination is required if the option is exercised within one year of their retirement. If the option is used after the expiry of one year, he/she will have to undergo medical examination by the specified competent authority.
Lump-sum payable is calculated concerning the Commutation Table. The monthly pension will stand reduced by the portion commuted, and the commuted portion will be restored on the expiry of 15 years from the date of receipt of the commuted value of a pension. Dearness Relief, however, will continue to be calculated based on the original allowance (i.e., without reduction of commuted portion).
The formula for arriving for the commuted value of a Pension (CVP) is as follows:
CVP = 40 % (X) Commutation factor * (X) 12
The commutation factor will be concerning age next birthday on which the commutation becomes an absolute as per the New Table annexed to the CCS (Commutation of Pension) Rules, 1981.
This is payable to the retiring Government servant. A minimum of 5 years’ qualifying service and eligibility to receive service gratuity/pension is essential to get this one-time lump sum benefit. Retirement gratuity is calculated @ 1/4th of a month’s Basic Pay plus Dearness Allowance drawn on the date of retirement for each completed six monthly periods of qualifying service.
There is no minimum limit for the amount of gratuity. The retirement gratuity payable for qualifying service of 33 years or more is 16 times the Basic Pay plus DA, subject to a maximum of Rs. 20 lakhs.
This is a one-time lump sum benefit payable to the nominee or family member of a Government servant dying in harness. There is no stipulation concerning any minimum length of service rendered by the deceased employee. Entitlement of death gratuity is regulated as under:
Qualifying Service Rate:
- Less than one year – 2 times of basic pay
- One year or more but less than five years – 6 times of basic pay
- Five years or more but less than 11 years – 12 times of basic pay
- 11 years or more but less than 20 years – 20 times of basic pay
- Twenty years or more – Half of the payments for every completed six monthly periods of qualifying service subject to a maximum of 33 times of emoluments.
The maximum amount of Death Gratuity admissible is Rs. 20 lakhs w.e.f. 1.1.2016.
A retiring Government servant will be entitled to receive service gratuity (and not pension) if the total qualifying service is less than ten years. Admissible amount is half month’s basic pay last drawn plus DA for each completed six monthly periods of qualifying service. This one-time lump sum payment is distinct from retirement gratuity and is paid over and above the retirement gratuity.
Issue of No Demand Certificate
Dues owed by the retiring employees on account of License Fee for Government accommodation, advances, over payment of pay and allowances are required to be assessed by the Head of Office and intimated to the Accounts Officer two months in advance of the date of retirement so that these are recovered from retirement gratuity before payment.
For this purpose, the License Fee for those in the occupation of Government accommodation is considered to the end of the permissible period for which housing can be retained after retirement under the Rules on average rent. The recovery of the License Fee beyond that period is the responsibility of the Directorate of Estates.
Suppose for any reason, and final dues cannot be assessed on time. In that case, 10% of gratuity is withheld from gratuity based on a commutation from the Directorate of Estates in this regard.
New IAS Officer Pension Scheme
The pension facility for all government employees (except armed forces) has been revamped from 1 Jan 2004. So, IAS officers and other government employees joining after 1 Jan 2004 must contribute 10% of their salary for the pension, and the Govt adds 14% towards it.
There is also NPS, which can never match the old pension scheme. But IAS are gazetted officers, and they are the ones who make most of the policies. We guess they can restart for IAS and other government employees because they frame the administration policies. Let’s hope they restart it for themselves and others.
Important Steps to become an IAS Officer
The following stages are necessary to pass to become an ideal IAS Officer.
- Step #1: Deciding on your true calling:
Preparing for the civil services exams is a very time-consuming task, and it involved a lot of responsibilities and dedication because unlike other competitive exams, it consists of three rounds and many different dimensions to it. So, before aspirants embark on this journey, they must decide whether it is something that they want to do.
Ideally, if your heart desires to serve the country and become a part of the prestigious system to bring the positive changes you seek, you should consider the IAS position as a career option. It is considered one of the challenging and demanding profession, but it can be immensely satisfying and fulfilling if this is something you want. You can also reach to be the Cabinet Secretary of India through the promotions in this profile.
- Step #2: Conducting research and gathering all the relevant information
In this step, aspirants must gather all the relevant information about the exam and constraints involved in the different stages.
- Step #3: Creating and strategizing your IAS plan
Candidates should break up the syllabus and understand its pattern and nature to make a realistic study plan. Candidates must resolve themselves to stick to the plan no matter what- to clear the exam.
- Step #4: Marching ahead
This is the step where you implement the plan and start preparing accordingly. Aspirants will have to invest long hours at the study table while understanding the in-depth questions. But they also have to ensure that they need to take the much-needed breaks in between to avoid the burnout. Candidates need to take a systematic approach that can make your preparation a smooth ride.
Have a dedicated strategy for each specific round, the prelims, mains and the interview. You must read the daily newspapers, relevant journals like Yojana, updates on PIB, and understand and be able to analyze any news that is relevant to your subject and something which is included in your study plan- and is of some importance politically, economically and socially, etc.
- Step #5: Assessing your course
Aspirants must take the periodic tests to assess the status of their preparation. Taking the mock tests both for the prelims and the mains helps you understand where you are standing today in terms of your preparation and where you want to teach while bridging the gap accordingly. Aspirants need to know their weakness it can be a particular subject or area of that subject- may be a few topics that require extra attention, and it also tells whether you need to speed up while answering the questions in the paper. This is the vital steps in knowing how to become an IAS officer.
- Step #6: Keeping up with the faith
Candidates need to have faith in themselves, and your abilities are necessary because having doubts about your strengths in the first place can lead to wrong results and depression throughout the journey. And even if one has adopted the right strategy and combined it with intense and steadfast effort, you won’t get the desired results and find your way into the Indian civil services. We need to maintain a positive mentality while preparing for the exam as it is essential to clear the exam stages and especially the interview.
The Life of an IAS Officer
The life of an officer is drastically different during his career and after retirement.
The powers bestowed by the government upon the officer for him to carry out his duties make him/her lead a very impactful and comfortable life, which actually looks quite different from their lives after their retirement.
Life during service
Becoming an Indian Administrative Service officer is a dream of almost every single person in the country, considering it is one of the respected professions in our country. The life of IAS and IPS officers is filled with difficulties and challenges. Most candidates want to know about the roles and responsibility of an IAS officer’s life- details about their training and services, roles and responsibilities and their career path.
Candidates who successfully clear the UPSC CSE get to experience the life as an IAS officer as soon as they join after the exam. The life of an IAS/IPS officers is very disciplined, and they usually follow a routine, such as- it starts at dawn-
- 6 am: Exercise/horse riding training for at least 60 mins
- 7 to 9 am time for productive activities, and during this time they usually eat breakfast.
- Afterwards: 8-10 hours of academic operation such as- lectures and other extracurricular activities.
They also focus on outdoor activities such as treks to the nearby rural areas to learn and to cope with adversity and understand the lifestyle of rural India are an integral part of the training. After graduating as an IAS officer, their schedule changes according to their allotted posts and ranks.
Life after Retirement
After the 7th Pay Commission, IAS Officers get salaries almost equal to the private sector’s pay scale. Also, suppose one is wondering, “Apart from the salary, what are the perks of an IAS Officer?” In that case, they are granted several perks that a private-firm professional can never dream of having.
Most importantly, IAS officers enjoy immense power bestowed on them by the Government. They can improve their living conditions for the better (as well as the country’s people’s lives and not just their own family).
The retired life of an IAS, IPS, IRS, etc. is usually quite comfortable. They get pension after their retirement, which is 50% of their last pay drawn. While the pension is not fixed, they do get Dearness Allowance (DA) every six months. Hence, they usually get a jump of around 10% of their pensions every year.
Even after the death of the government official, the spouse is entitled to 50% of the pension throughout her life. This pension is increased after they attain the age of 80/90 years. The retired officers are also entitled to free medical facilities for himself and his family throughout their life.
The officer loses all their powers on their retirement. However, they are often re-employed by the Government. For example, the current PS of PM Mr. Nripendra Misra is a retired IAS officer and Mr. Ajit Doval, the National Security Adviser, is a retired IPS officer.
The current Central Vigilance Commissioner is a retired IRS officer. The retired officers are also appointed in GAG, CVC, CEC, and even posted as Governors and other essential positions.
The retired IRS officers are often employed in Tax Appellate Tribunals, Settlement Commission, Advance Ruling Authority, and many similar assignments. They also can join a top tax consultancy company in India or be appointed as CFO or Head of the Tax Division in large companies.
Note: The benefits of pensions are presently not available to the new entrants. Other benefits like health are still available.