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Civil Service Aptitude Test History

Civil Service Aptitude Test History beginning from the ancient to modern history up to independence along with some in-depth explanation about various progress made under the East India rule.

The Indian Civil Service is one of the world’s oldest administrative systems. Its origins can be traced back to ancient India’s Mauryan period. Though it was the Chinese who began the practice of civil service, the old Chinese government’s administrative system, whose members were chosen through a competitive examination, it was eventually used as a template for civil service systems in other Asian and Western countries.

The Arthashastra mentions specific checks and balances on their appointments and a continual watch on the running of the civil service, including frequent briefings to the king on the performance of the civil workers. Akbar initiated land reforms and established the land revenue system during the mediaeval period, which ultimately became a major component of the Indian taxation system. His idea of service was welfare-oriented and regulated.

Civil Services Aptitude Test: Progress Under the East India Company

Civil servants for the East India Company were once nominated by the company’s directors and then trained at Haileybury College in London before being deployed to India.

The Regulating Act of 1773 gave the British government power over the Company’s management. Following his appointment as Governor-General of India in February 1786, Lord Cornwallis instituted a number of legal and administrative reforms. In 1793, he established the Cornwallis Code to strengthen the overall governance of the East India Company in India by separating revenue management and judicial administration. He is also known as the “Father of Indian Civil Service” since he overhauled and reorganised the Company’s administration. Lord Cornwallis prohibited government servants from accepting gifts or bribes to combat widespread corruption among company servants. He even increased their pay and prohibited such servants from engaging in private trade. The Directors of Company later condemned Governor-General Wellesley’s establishment of Fort William College to train fresh soldiers. This prompted the formation of the East India College in Haileybury, England, in 1806 to provide two years of training to recruits.

Civil Services Aptitude Test History: Progress Under Lord Macaulay

The Charter Act of 1833 gave native Indians the right to participate in British India’s administration. Under Lord Macaulay’s chairmanship, the Charter established India’s First Law Commission, which proposed codification of the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, and other legal laws. After Lord Macaulay’s Report of the British Parliament’s Select Committee was submitted in 1854, the concept of a merit-based modern civil service was established in India.

The report proposed that the East India Company’s patronage-based system be replaced with a merit-based Permanent Civil Service with competitive tests for admittance. Based on the proposals, a Civil Service Commission was established in London in 1854, and competitive examinations began in 1855. The Company’s patronage to appoint servants was legally stopped by the Charter Act of 1853, which, together with Lord Macaulay’s suggestions, prepared the way for an open merit-based examination to hire civil workers. Lord Macaulay’s recommendations (in the context of the Charter Act of 1853 and the Queen’s Proclamation of 1858) led to the passage of the Indian Civil Services Act of 1861, which permitted Indians to compete on an equal footing with Britishers in an open merit-based recruiting process. Initially, the Indian Civil Service tests were exclusively held in London, and the age restriction was fixed at 18 to 23 years. The curriculum was structured to benefit British colonists, making it harder for Indians to excel. Shri Satyendranath Tagore, the younger brother of Shri Rabindranath Tagore, was the first Indian to pass the exam in 1864.

The appointment of the Royal Commission on the Superior Civil Services in India, often known as the Lee Commission, was the next major event in the permeation of civil services in Indian culture. The Commission, which had an equal number of Indian and British members, was established by the British administration in 1923 to look into the ethnic composition of the superior Indian public services of the Government of India. The Islington Commission (1917) had previously suggested that Indians be given 25% of higher government positions in its 1917 report. The Lee Commission looked at the Islington Commission’s proposals and the current positions of two kinds of services: All-India Services and Central Services.

Civil Service Aptitude Test History: Till Independence

The Government of India Act, 1935, enacted the Simon Commission’s recommendations, including provisions for Crown Services in India, among other legislative, executive, and judicial provisions (Part X). For the Federation and Province, this portion provided for Defence Services, Civil Services, Special Provisions for Judicial Officers, and Public Service Commissions. The chairman and other members of a Public Service Commission were appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion in the case of a Federal Commission and by the Governor of the Province in his discretion in the case of a Provincial Commission.

The Federal and Provincial Service Commissions were in charge of conducting examinations for appointments to the Federation and Provincial services, respectively. As a result, the provision of the Federal and Provincial Commission remained in force until the Government of India Act, 1935 was repealed in 1950, when the Constitution of India was adopted following extensive debate and deliberation in the Constituent Assembly.


Despite Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s displeasure, the Constituent Assembly of India opted to continue governance of India with the support of the Indian Civil Service after much debate and deliberation. He was not opposed to the existing administrative service recruitment process, but he did want new civil service recruits to be well-versed in the concept of progressive socialisation as a state policy tenet, as well as get early selection and specific training.


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