The Indian Civil Service Exam: A Modest Beginning toward Democratization
Office of Student Research and Creative Activity
MetadataShow full item record
In 1855 the Indian Civil Service (ICS), the cornerstone bureaucratic system of the East India Company (EIC), made an important change in the appointment of officers. Rather than continuing with the system of individual appointment—that was often based upon merit, rank, and insider connections—the EIC developed a civil service examination for admitting new officers into the inner workings of the public service. The exam also allowed for unprecedented equity within the British colonial system; new prospects for the exam had to be British subjects, which meant they could be Indian. Statistical analysis shows that the exam did not increase Indian involvement in the civil service. But, as this article will demonstrate, the introduction of a standardized procedure and body of knowledge required for the selection of ICS officers had other important consequences. The civil service exam, which first served as a barrier for Indian cadets, would later make the bureaucracy more efficient, even after India gained independence.
Indian Civil Service
India--History--British occupation, 1765-1947