Essay on Union Public Service Commission of India


Historical background

Indianisation of the superior Civil Services became one of the major demands of the political movement compelling the British Indian Government to consider setting up of a Public Service Commission for recruitment to its services in the territory.

The first Public Service Commission was set up on October 1 st, 1926. However, its limited advisory functions failed to satisfy the people’s aspirations and the continued stress on this aspect by the leaders of our freedom movement resulted in the setting up of the Federal Public Service Commission under the Government of India Act 1935.


Under this Act, for the first time, provision was also made for the formation of Public Service Commission’s at the provincial level.

The Constituent Assembly, after independence, saw the need for giving a secure and autonomous status to Public Service Commission’s both at Federal and Provincial levels for ensuring unbiased recruitment to Civil Services as also for protection of service interests.

With the promulgation of the new Constitution for independent India on 26th January, 1950, the Federal Public Service Commission was accorded a constitutional status as an autonomous entity and given the title – Union Public Service Commission.

Constitutional provisions


The Union Public Service Commission has been established under Article 315 of the Constitution of India. The Commission consists of a Chairman and ten Members.

The terms and conditions of service of Chairman and Members of the Commission are governed by the Union Public Service Commission (Members) Regulations, 1969.

The Commission is serviced by a Secretariat headed by a Secretary with two Additional Secretaries, a number of Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and other supporting staff.

The Union Public Service Commission has been entrusted with the following duties and role under the Constitution:


1. Recruitment to services & posts under the Union through conduct of competitive examinations;

2. Recruitment to services & posts under the Central Government by selection through Interviews;

3. Advising on the suitability of officers for appointment on promotion as well as transfer-on-deputation;

4. Advising the Government on all matters relating to methods of recruitment to various services and posts;


5. Disciplinary cases relating to different civil services; and

6. Miscellaneous matters relating to grant of extraordinary pensions, reimbursement of legal expenses etc.

The major role played by the Commission is to select persons to man the various Central Civil Services and Posts and the Services common to the Union and States (viz. All-India Services).

Recruitment to various services and posts


Under Article 320 of the Constitution of India, the Commissions are, inter-alia, required to be consulted on all matters relating to recruitment to civil services and posts. Recruitment is made by one of the following three methods: 1. Direct Recruitment;

2. Promotion; and

3. Transfer

1. Direct Recruitment: Direct Recruitment is conducted broadly under the following methods:

(a) Recruitment by competitive examination.

(b) Recruitment by selection.

(c) Recruitment through interview.

(a) Recruitment by Competitive Examination:

Under the Constitution one of the functions of the Commission is to conduct examinations for appointment to Civil Services/Posts of the Union.

In addition, competitive examinations are also held by the Commission under arrangements with the Ministry of Defence for entry to certain Defence Services, through the National Defence Academy, Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and the Officers Training Academy.

The Commission usually conducts over a dozen examinations every year on an all-India basis. These include examinations for recruitment to services/posts in various fields, such as Civil Services, Engineering, Medical and Forest Service, etc.

At present the Union Public Service Commission conducts its examinations at numerous venues spread over 42 regular centers throughout the country.

(b) Recruitment by Selection:

Recruitment by Selection is made by the following methods:

1. By interview only

2. By recruitment test followed by interview

(c) Recruitment through interview:

Where the number of applicants is very large, it is not practicable to call for Interview all the applicants who fulfill the minimum eligibility conditions prescribed.

The Commission, therefore, shortlists the candidates to be called for the interview on the basis of certain pre-determined criteria related to the job. A large number of recruitment cases are handled by the Commission by the method (1) above.

By Written Test Followed By Interview

In this category, there are two types of procedure followed:

(a) An objective-type written and/or practical test to test the skill of the candidates followed by Interview, the final selection being decided by Interview, aided by the performance of the candidates in the written test and/or practical test.

(b) An objective-type written and/or practical test to screen candidates to be called for interview, the final selection being decided by Interview only.

2. Appointment by Promotion and Transfer on Deputation/Transfer:

In accordance with the procedure decided by the Government, in consultation with the Commission, Chairman or a Member of the Commission presides over the Departmental Promotion Committee Meetings to consider promotions from Group B to Group A and from one grade to another within Group A, where promotion is to be made by Selection.

3. Deputation:

The Recruitment Rules for a number of posts provide for appointment by Transfer on Deputation (including short term contract) and Transfer.

When the field of consideration consists of Central Government as well as State Government officers, prior consultation with the Commission is necessary for selection of an officer.

When the file for consideration is made more broad-based and consists of not only Central/State Government officers but also officers from Non-Government Institutions, the selection has to be made in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission.

All India services

The All India Services Act, 1951 and Rules and Regulations framed there under regulate the recruitment and conditions of service in respect of the All India Services viz. Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service.

As far as direct recruitment to the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service Examination are concerned, it is done through the Civil Services Examination and for the Indian Forest Service through the Indian Forest Service Examination held by the Commission.

The relevant Rules and Regulations provide that 33% of the vacancies in the IAS/IPS/IFS should be filled by promotion from amongst the officers of the State Service in consultation with the Commission. The Selection Committee presided over by Chairman/Member of the Commission consists of senior Government representatives of the Central Government and the State.

The civil services

The Indian Constitution is unique in its detailed provisions relating to the civil services, covering matters like recruitment and conditions of service, including termination and demotion as well as the institution of the all-India services and public services commissions.

Parliament is empowered to regulate the recruitment and conditions of service of civil servants, subject, of course to the constitution. Civil servants hold office at the ‘pleasure’ of the president of India, but they cannot be removed or dismissed by an authority subordinate to that by which they were appointed. Moreover, before such an action is taken, they must have been given a ‘reasonable opportunity’ of showing cause against the action proposed.


The civil service of the land consists of a complex network of all-India services, central services, and state services.

The Government of India employs nearly 4 million persons, and overwhelming number of who are in lower level jobs: only 2.6 per cent of them are engaged in positions entailing supervisory and policy-making responsibilities. Corresponding, in descending order, to the differences in the level of responsibility of the work performed and qualifications required, the civil service is classified into Group A, Group B, Group C, and Group D (earlier known as Class I, II, III and IV). Group A constitutes the service of higher civil servants in India and includes the all-India and central services, numbering three and more than thirty, respectively.

The generalist all-India and (non-technical) central services are recruited from the common competitive examination, but once service allocation is completed the officers remain in their respective services for the rest of their career with little inter-service mobility.

The emoluments patterns, career prospects, and other terms of service also differ from service to service and are the most favourable for the Indian Administration Service (IAS). A member of the IAS can reach the rank of joint secretary in his sixteenth year or so of service, whereas a member of the Indian Police Service requires more than twenty years reaching this level. Group B is basically a class of first-line supervisors, and, like Group A, includes a number of services, each separate and distinct with little inter­communication. Group C includes clerical jobs, whereas Group D comprises messengers, peons, cyclostyle machine operators, and others doing lower level jobs.

The layer of supervisory and managerial personnel is thin: broadly, out of every one hundred central employees 1.30 are in Group A, 2.20 in Group B, 54 in Group C and the remaining in Group D.

The all-India service, common to both the central and state government with ultimate control vested in the centre, is a remarkable administrative innovation of Indian federalism. It was originally an arrangement made by the British colonial government in India in the early period of its rule.

It was deliberately retained by independent India and was recognized in its constitution, which mentions the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service as two all-India services, and lays down a procedure for creating additional all-India services.

Although other federal systems in the world follow the policy of administrative dualism with the centre and the states recruiting their own civil services independently, India constitutionally adopts the practice of central recruitment of the all-India services and places them in charge of district administration and the top ranks of the administration with the state secretariats. Public administration of India is integrated, as said earlier.

Below the government of India comes the state government. One must not belittle the significance of lower level government in India. The central government’s role in development administration or even in traditional administration is primarily that of leadership, standard setting, financial assistance, consultation and advice.

The responsibility for programme implementation rests mainly on the states. Even in the execution of the central government’s programmes the states are involved at different points and even act as the Centre’s agent assisting it in the discharge of its functions.

It thus follows that the states in India hold the key to the nation’s advancement in economic and social fields, and thus to the realization of the welfare state.

In order to maintain or improve the quality of government employees, a system should be established to ensure that recruitment is based on merit.

The core design of a progressive recruitment policy is the reduction, if not the elimination, of favoritisms, nepotism and incompetence in the selection process. A development oriented recruitment policy should include (a) provision for conducting a positive search for qualified candidates with ample publicity of the vacant posts and their requirements, (b) flexibility for lateral entry and controlled mobility within the system and (c) provisions for a systematic personnel policy and career development programmes which offer incentives for a satisfying and productive career. |

It must be remembered that the political arm and the administrative arm are interrelated parts of the governments. It would be a serious mistake to treat political development and administrative development as two opposing activities or to assume that the progress of the one necessarily means the weakening of the other. On the contrary there can be no political development without administrative development, and administrative development can succeed only when political leadership is strong that it can afford to have a merit system instead of a spoils system.

It would also be an error to imagine that any political authority can be strengthened by a spoils system. It is true that if the political arm of a governments is too weak, government employee, especially the military, may take over political power.

There is also the fear that the experts or technocrats in the Government, being those who possess knowledge, may turn the Government into a technocracy. In either case, the way to solve the problem is to strengthen the political arm and not to recruit less qualified persons into public service. Filling government posts with incompetent persons will not save a weak government, but will increase possibility that an incompetent group will take over the Government.

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