Evolution of Civil Services in India

The civil services in India during British rule went through constant innovation and change. It has evolved over a period of two centuries and crafted by way of series of legislations by the British. The Pitt’s India Act of 1784 established a Board of Commissioners to supervise the civil and military government of the company also called the Board of Control. The act placed the civil and military government of the company in due subordination of the government in England. Lord Cornwallis introduced first major reforms in civil services. He introduced the category of covenanted and non-covenanted service in the company’s bureaucracy. The covenanted was exclusive preserve of firstly the British than the European. This was the precursor of Indian civil service. Cornwallis introduced attractive pay scales for the covenanted civil servants who entered into a covenant with the company’s government. In 1800 Lord Wellesley founded the College of Fort William at Calcutta for the purpose of training of new recruits to the covenanted services. As per Charter Act of 1853 the services were thrown open to all the citizen of British Empire including Indians. But the selection process remained highly biased against the entry of Indians. The main reasons for low representation of Indians in the services were the low maximum age of eligibility for giving the entrance exam and the location of examination center in England. After successive reductions the maximum age was reduced to 19 years during the tenure of Lord Lytton. Facilitation of entry of Indians in the elite civil services remained one of the strongest demands of the early political agitations. The first all India political association the India Association headed by Surendra Nath Banerjee started the Civil Services Agitation all over India.