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Building a World-Class Civil Service for Twenty-First Century India$
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S.K. Das

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780198068662

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198068662.001.0001

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The Civil Service That We Have

The Civil Service That We Have

(p.3) One The Civil Service That We Have
Building a World-Class Civil Service for Twenty-First Century India


Oxford University Press

India’s current civil service was established by the Act of 1853 passed by the British Parliament. It was set up by the colonial government to control a large but potentially disruptive group of Indian employees in the government. For this purpose, the Indian Civil Service (ICS) used several techniques, such as centralized decision-making, layered administration, and implementing a complex set of rules. In general, ICS was a process-driven, hierarchical, and centralized bureaucracy. When India became independent from Britain, it adopted a state-led model of development implemented by the Indian Administrative Service with senior ICS officers at the helm. Countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom had the same kind of governance structure and practices found in India today, but have succeeded in modernizing their civil services by undertaking sweeping reforms based on principal-agent theory.

Keywords:   reforms, colonial government, Indian Administrative Service, principal-agent theory, centralized decision-making, layered administration, overseas’ practices, bureaucracy

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