UPSC – Roles of an IAS Officer

Role of an IAS officer


IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service. IAS cadre officers are civil servants who take care of administrative matters, working under the supervision of state and central government ministers. IAS forms the bureaucratic arm of the government for managing civil society and providing directions to it. Officers of this cadre are at least graduates who are selected based on the merit by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) through a selection process consisting of two-part written test and interview.

IAS officers not only occupy coveted posts but also command immense power and prestige. They are responsible for taking decisions and directing financial and human resources towards implementing the schemes and policies of the government. Based on the training and varied job profile, one can say that this career gives enriching experience to deal with wide variety of situations, develops leadership qualities, helps in understanding the functioning of various ministries, departments and institutions and the most important being that it gives a chance to be at the helm of the country’s social and economic development process.

IAS officers assist ministers in taking decisions of national and international importance. At a short notice, they collect information and prepare answers to the questions that are directed at concerned ministers in the parliament and state legislatures. They also head inquiry commissions constituted by the government and also chair the board meetings of public corporations and institutions.

Senior IAS officers represent India at International conferences and sign international agreements on behalf of Government of India (GoI). They also play a very important key role in developing security, commerce and trade relations with our neighboring countries and rest of the world.

In a nutshell one can say that career as an IAS officer is not only enriching due to personal reasons such as job security, time-bound promotions, government accommodation facilities and other perks but also due to the fact that it provides a rare chance to serve the masses at the grass root level. Many of the rules and regulations are framed in whole or part by senior and experienced officers of the civil service themselves.

Role of an IAS Officer

The role of an IAS Officer is multi faceted and acts as a bridge between government and people. An IAS officer is the person who administers all the policies of government so that the fruits delivered by Government are equally distributed to the people. If the people’s representatives are the eyes of people, the IAS officers are the heart of people.

An IAS Officer should be of high integrity, ethics and moral values so that he/she leads the bureaucratic machinery effectively and efficiently. He should set an example for all others in the bureaucracy so that everyone can emulate the officer to set highest standards in the government.

The role of an IAS Officer is mostly administrative in nature. It therefore involves a good deal of social and official interaction with mass at all levels. The officer understands their problems and gives suitable directions to their subordinates to mitigate the problems. For this reason they travel widely for inspections since the initial years of their career are spent in districts and small towns.

Civil servants are responsible for developing the structure and framework for formulating and modifying rules, regulations and laws in consultation with concerned ministry. Accordingly, the laws and rules thus formulated are discussed in the cabinet meetings and approved by the state legislatures and parliament, as the case may be.

Officers must be perfectly able to get all things done in accordance with the existing rules and regulations laid down by the state as well as central Government.

Responsible decision-making is another important aspect of this work, as a great many lives are usually affected by an officer’s action. Certain administrative functions handled by IAS Officers include Planning, Policy Formulation and Implementation, Supervision of Projects and Public Works along with monitoring their progress in line with allotment of funds, Assessment and making necessary recommendations to Government on various works, Providing accurate and unbiased information in response to questions raised in Parliament/Assembly and other meetings and Representing Government of India as nominee on the board of a Public Corporation or Institution at national or international forums.

In addition, the role of an IAS officer is not a cake walk as lot of pressure and strong arm tactics from various people who are in power have to be faced. So the path has to be treaded carefully as the officer should know in and out of his scope of work thoroughly as he is equally answerable to government as well as to the people.

The upper age limit relaxation is prescribed for certain categories:

Eligibility Conditions

According to the Union Public Service Commission, all men and women who are a citizen of Indian,  a subject of our neighboring countries such as Nepal or Bhutan, or a Tibetan refugee who came cross to India before 1st January,1962 with the main purpose  of permanently setting in India  or  a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya ,Uganda the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia,  and Vietnam with the main purpose of permanently setting in India and on those person (subject), the Government of India has issued  a certificate of eligibility.

An Aspirant, in whose special case a original certificate of eligibility is must, may be admitted to the examination but the appointment  letter will be given only after the proper verification and necessary eligibility certificates has been issued to him/ her by the Government of India.

Please do check the latest notification for any change or modification in the eligibility criteria updated by the UPSC from time to time through the Government gazette.

Age limits:

An Aspirant while applying for the post must have reached the age of 21 years and the upper age must not have crossed the age of 30 years on the date of issue of his notification.

Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, it is up to a maximum of five years.

Other Backward Classes who under the Government policy are eligible to avail of reservation, it is up to a maximum of three years.

An Aspirant had ordinarily been domiciled in Jammu & Kashmir during the crucial period starting from the 1st January, 1980 to the end of 31st day of December, 1989; it is up to a maximum of five years.

In the special case of Defense Services Personnel due to certain situation became disabled in operations in a disturbed area or during hostilities with any neighboring or foreign country or and released mainly due to consequence thereof, it is up to a maximum of three years.

In the special case of ex-servicemen mainly including the Commissioned Officers and SSOs/ ECOs who have successfully rendered at least a minimum of five years Military Service otherwise than due o certain situation faced with dismissal or discharge on account of serious misconduct of inefficiency, or on account of any type of physical disability attributable common to Military Service, or on invalidment, it is up to a maximum of five years.

In the case of SSCOs/ ECOs who have successfully completed an initial active period of duty of five years of Military Service and whose duty has been again continued beyond approximately five years. The aspirant’s special condition the Ministry of Defense has issues a certificate stating that they are eligible and can apply for any civil employment and that up on getting selected, they will be released within three months notice of receipt of offer of appointment, it is up to a maximum of five years.

In the case of deaf-mute, orthopaedically, blind and handicapped persons, it is up to a maximum of 10 years.

Please do check the latest notification for any change or modification in the Age limit criteria updated by the UPSC from time to time through the Government gazette.

Minimum Educational Qualifications:-

The aspirant must hold at the time of applying a Bachelor’s degree from any one of the Universities incorporated by an Indian Act of the Central or State Legislature or other educational institutions which was established by Parliament Act or declared to be in the status of deemed as University under special section-3 of the 1956, Act of University Grants Commission or possesses an equivalent qualification.

Note: Aspirants who have appeared at an examination the passing of which would render them educationally qualified for the Commission’s examination but have not been informed of the result also the aspirants who intend to appear at such a qualifying examination will also be eligible for admission to the Preliminary Examination.

All aspirants who are declared qualified by the Commission for taking the Civil Services (Main) Examination will be required to produce proof of passing the requisite examination along with their application for the Main Examination failing which such aspirants will not be admitted to the Main Examination.


The Commission is in the process of making available of online application submission in the near future for Indian Forest Service Examination.

The UPSC with the intention of uniformity in the Application Form has released a common form for all their examinations that will be fully processed and stored in computerized machines.

This Applications Form is available in all designated Head Post Office/Post Offices across the country along with detailed Information Brochure which contains all general instructions, an acknowledgement card and a long size envelope for sending the application to the commission.

The cost of the application form is Rs.20.

The application form duly filled in and the acknowledgment card attached with the main application form should then be sent through ordinary posted in the special long size envelope supplied with the kit of information Brochure.

The Aspirants should also write on top of the long size envelope the name of the examination viz.” Indian Forest Service Examination  and dispatch it to “Secretary, Union Public Service Commission, Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi – 110069”

All Aspirants who are working with Government Service at the central or state level, Government owned and managed industrial undertaking or any such similar organizations or in multinational companies or private employment should without delay submit their filled in applications directly through post to the Commission. If the process of submitting to be the employer and they posting it to be commission faces any delay and if the application reaches only after the closing date then such application will not be entertained.

Those job aspirants who are already in any Government service at the central or state level which is of permanent or temporary capacity are required to clearly submit an undertaking that they had already informed in writing about their personal intention of applying for this particular examination to their concerned Head of Office or Department.

The Aspirants who is already employed should note that in certain case if a communication is received in advance from their employer under any ground  by the Commission then the committee has he soul right to withhold permission to  the job aspirants from applying for or appearing at the examination. In some cases their application will be liable to be fully rejected or his/her candidature will be strictly liable to be cancelled for a period of time.

Important note: The aspirant while rightly filling in all relevant information of his/her application form should very carefully decide their nearest choice for the examination centre and the comfortable optional subjects from the given list for the examination.

The job aspirants are kindly advised not to send more than one examination application forms indicating different examination center or optional subject combination. In that case the application will be rejected and strict action will be taken against that aspirant at the discretion of the disciplinary committee of the commission. The commission may accept only one application in that case.



Section – I

Plan of Exam

The Civil Services Examination comprises two successive stages:

(i) Civil Services (Preliminary) Examinations (Objective Type) for the selection of aspirants for Main Examination; and

(ii) Civil Services (Main) Examination (Written and Interview) for the selection of aspirants for the various services and posts.

The Preliminary Examination will generally consist of two papers of Objective type (multiple choice questions) and carry a maximum of 450 marks [General Studies – 150 marks and any one optional subject (out of the given 23 subjects) – 300 marks] in the subjects mentioned in Section II of the notification.

The question paper consists of four alternatives or closely resembling key for the answer to every given question. One third (0.33) of the marks that is allotted to that question will be normally deducted as penalty for each attempted question for that a wrong answer has been allotted by an aspirant.

This preliminary examination is usually meant to serve as a screening test only; the total marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination by the successful aspirants who are declared perfectly qualified for admission to the next stage of Main Examination will not be counted for determining their final order of All India merit list.

Only those aspirants who are declared successful by the Commission to have qualified in the Preliminary Examination in a year will be eligible for admission to the Main Examination of that year provided they are otherwise eligible for admission to the Main Examination. The total number of vacancies that are to be filled in the annual year in the various Government Services and Posts are taken into consideration for the number of aspirants to be admitted to the Main Examination after successfully clearing the preliminary examination will be nearly twelve to thirteen times. The Main written examination will be of 9 papers of general conventional essay type in the given subjects mentioned in Section II. The Main Examination will involve the process of a written examination and followed by an interview test.

Aspirants who obtain such minimum qualifying marks in the written part of the Main

Examination as may be fixed by the Commission at their discretion shall be summoned by them for an Interview for a Personality Test. However, the papers on Indian Languages and English will be of qualifying nature. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking.

The number of aspirants to be summoned for interview will be about twice the number of vacancies to be filled. The interview will carry 300 marks (with no minimum qualifying marks).

Marks thus obtained by the aspirants in the Main Examination (written part as well as interview) would determine their final ranking. Aspirants will be allotted to the various Services keeping in view their ranks in the examination and the preferences expressed by them for the various Services and posts.

Paper I General Studies 150 marks

Paper II One subject to be selected from the

list of optional subjects given below 300 marks

Total : 450 marks

List of optional subjects for Preliminary Examination are Agriculture, Animal Husbandry &Veterinary Science, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce, Economics, Electrical, Engineering, Geography, Geology, Indian History, Law, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Public Administration Sociology, Statistics and Zoology

Main Examination

The written examination will consist of the following papers:

Paper I One of the Indian languages to be selected by an aspirant from the Languages included in the Eighth Scheduled to the Constitution. 300 marks

Paper II English 300 marks

Paper III Essay 200 marks

Papers IV & V General Studies 300 marks for each paper

Papers VI, VII, Any two subjects to be selected from the VIII and IX list of the optional subjects given below. Each subject will have two papers. 300 marks for each paper

Interview Test will carry 300 marks.

List of optional subjects for Main Examination are Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary

Science, Anthropology, Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Commerce and Accountancy, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Geography, Geology, History, Law, Management, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science and International Relations, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, Statistics and Zoology

Literature of one of the following languages :

Arabic, Assamese, Bodo, Bengali, Dogri, Chinese, English, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Pali, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu.

Notes: (i) Aspirants will not be allowed to offer the following combinations of subjects:–

(a) Political Science & International Relations and Public Administration;

(b) Commerce & Accountancy and Management;

(c) Anthropology and Sociology;

(d) Mathematics and Statistics;

(e) Agriculture and Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science.

(f) Management and Public Administration;

(g) Of the Engineering subjects, viz., Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering–not more than one subject.

(h) Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science and Medical Science.

(ii) The question papers for the examination will be of conventional (essay) type.

(iii) Each paper will be of three hours duration. Blind aspirants will, however be allowed an extra time of thirty minutes at each paper.

(iv) Aspirants will have the option to answer all the question papers, except the language papers viz. Papers I and II above in anyone of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution or in English.

(v) Aspirants exercising the option to answer papers III to IX in anyone of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution may, if they so desire, give English version within brackets of only the description of the technical terms, if any, in addition to the version in the language opted by them. Aspirants should, however. Note: that if they misuse the above rule, a deduction will be made on this account from the total marks otherwise accruing to them and in extreme cases, their script(s) will not be valued for being in an unauthorized medium.

(vi) The question papers other than language papers will be set both in Hindi and English.

(vii) The details of the syllabi are mentioned in Section III.

Interview test

·     The aspirants will be interviewed by a Board with unbiased and competent observers who are expert and experienced in their respective fields will have before them all records related to their career.

·     The main object of the interview process is to assess the service of the aspirant. The aspirant will be generally expected to have a good knowledge about the residing state of India and rest of the states of the nation.

·     The aspirant’s knowledge about the latest happenings within and outside the nation along with all sort of new discoveries which really aroused a curiosity will be checked.

·     The methodology or technique of the entire interview process is not like a strict cross examination but a normal purposive conversation where the main intention is to get to know the mental qualities of the aspirant.


The normal standard of papers that may be allotted in General knowledge and General English topics will be such as may be generally expected of an Engineering or Science graduation an Indian University. Please make a note that there will not be any kind of practical examination in any of the given subjects.

Indian civil Service Examination generally conducted in the month of May/July. The pattern of exam and selection is done in three phases. The successfully selected aspirants who appear in the All India Merit List are called for Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration for foundation training.

General Instructions

All the question papers will commonly be of essay type for the examination. All question papers related to the examination will be in English and it has to be answered legibly in English. The papers will be of three hours duration only. The Aspirants must read and write the question papers in their own hand.

The help of scribe will allowed on to the blind candidate and not anyone else. The commission has soul right to fix the qualifying marks in any given subjects at their discretion in the examination. A bad handwriting of the aspirant in the answer sheet will invite reduction in the marks. Grace marks will not be allotted for showcasing some superficial extra knowledge. Extra credit will be allot in the mark when an aspirant shows writing the answers in the orderly manners, very effective expression with right usage of words in all the subjects of the examination. The aspirant can use simple scientific calculator but interchanging or loaning of personal calculators is not permitted in the examination hall.

Those aspirants who are aiming to be the future IAS officers of India should positively start their preparation a year ahead as the syllabus of the preliminary and main examinations are much to be covered in all aspects. Each individual should keep a regular update of all the regional, national and international happenings. They should collect all the required study materials so that they are not lacking in any area of the subject. They should attend mock interview sessions to improve their confidence and interview techniques. The effort shown will definitely bring good result for all the candidates. Take the help of a leading coaching centre for proper guidance and clearing of doubts.

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