The Indian Civil Service was the elite higher civil service of the British Empire in India between 1858 and 1947. Lord Warren Hastings laid the foundations of civil service and Charles Cornwallis reformed, modernised and rationalised it. Hence, Charles Cornwallis is known as the 'Father of Civil Service in India’. Its members ruled more than 300 million Indians and were ultimately responsible for overseeing all government activities in the 250 districts that comprised British India. The present modern civil service was formed after the partition of India in 1947. It was Sardar Patel's vision that the Civil Service should strengthen cohesion and national unity.
The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a nationwide competitive examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. It is conducted in two phases - a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (general studies and aptitude test), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, followed by a personality test (interview).
From 2011 onwards, the preliminary examination, now popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) (officially it is still called General Studies Paper-1 and Paper-2), intends to focus on analytical abilities and understanding, rather than the ability to memorize. The new pattern includes two papers of two hours duration and 200 marks each. Both papers have multiple choice objective type questions only.
Paper I tests the candidate's knowledge on current events, history of India and Indian national movement, Indian and world geography, Indian polity and governance, economic and social development, environmental ecology, biodiversity, climate change and general science.
Paper II Tests the candidate's proficiency in comprehension, interpersonal and communication skills, logical reasoning, analytical ability, decision making and problem solving ability, Basic numeracy, data interpretation, and general mental ability.
The main examination is a written examination consisting of nine papers, two qualifying and seven for ranking purpose. Candidates who pass the qualifying papers are ranked according to marks obtained in the remaining 7 Papers. A selected number of candidates are called for Interview or a Personality Test at the Commission's discretion.
There are four papers of 'General Studies’, for 250 marks each, which comprises of Indian heritage, history and culture, Geography of India and the world, Indian Polity, constitution and governance, Social Issues, International relations Indian economic development, Biodiversity and environment, security and disaster management as well as ethics integrity and aptitude.
The Candidate will have to answer 2 papers of 250 marks each from a subject chosen from a list of Optional Subjects. Two qualifying papers are of Indian Language and English.
The overwhelming share of General studies in the total scheme of examination warrants an extensive preparation of these subjects for getting qualified in this examination. Selection of optional subject is also very important, in the overall context.