Civil Services, India, Stories

Explainer: How Are AIS Officers Selected? How is Their Cadre Strength Fixed?


The Constitution of India provides for the creation of All India Services (AIS) common to the Union and the States. The Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Services (IFS) are the only services under AIS. But how are they selected? How is their cadre strength fixed & cadre decided?

The Constitution of India provides for the creation of All India Services (AIS) common to the Union and the States. The rules for the regulation of recruitment and other service conditions of the All-India Services (AIS) personnel are determined by the All-India Services Act, 1951. The recruitment to the service is done either through direct recruitment by examination or by promotion from state services. As of now, Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Services (IFS) are the only services under AIS. 

Each year, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) publishes a list of vacancies that shall be filled though Civil Service Examination. Accordingly, the candidates are selected and allotted their preferred cadres. But how are the vacancies decided and how is the cadre allotment done? In this explainer, we try to simplify the recruitment mechanism of the All-India Services, particularly the IAS along with few datapoints from the existing AIS data.

Recruitment and vacancies

The number of vacancies every year isn’t rigid. It depends on a host of factors including the requirements by the ministries, and manpower requests from state governments. To undertake a comprehensive review at the requirement of IAS officers over longer time frame, Baswan Committee was formed, which submitted its report in 2016. It recommended fixing the intake to a limited number to ensure the quality and the balance of demands of different cadres. The report suggested that a maximum of 180 IAS officers every year can be recruited to balance out the backlog of vacancies that existed during that time, and any number above 180 could compromise quality, lead to distortion in career pyramid of IAS officers, and exceed the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration’s (LBSNAA) capacity for training. However, the backlog of vacancies can often compel the states to promote non-cadre officers to the cadre officer posts. 

As per a reply to the Parliament in April 2022, the vacancies and their filling is an ongoing process. For direct recruitment (Civil Service Examination, CSE), an examination is conducted while for vacancies in promotion quota, the selection committee of UPSC holds meetings with the respective State Governments. Further, the Central Government has decided to increase the annual intake of IAS officers to 180 from 2012 till CSE 2022, while for IPS, it increased from 150 to 200 with effect from CSE-2020. Additionally, a committee has been formed to recommend the intake for the direct recruitment of IAS officers every year from CSE 2022 to CSE 2030. 

The 112th report of the Department Related Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, noted that there is a discrepancy in the total number of vacancies published at the time of notification and vacancies before the declaration of the results. Data from 2010 to 2020 reveal an average increase of 81 vacancies between the above two stages, which the committee felt is an unhealthy practice.

Cadre management of AIS

Cadre management is an important aspect of the All-India Services. This system ensured that the officers from various regions of India are placed at different locations in India, enabling the diversity to prevail. It also has its share of pitfalls, for the professional exposure one gets is completely dependent on the nature of posting and highly varies from others. 

Cadre Management is done under the Indian Administrative Services (Cadre) Rules, 1954 for IAS. Similarly, for IPS, it is done under the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules 1954, and for forest service under the Indian Forest Service (Cadre) Rules 1966. These rules together guide the cadre management of AIS. Let’s look at some key provisions of these rules. 

Section 3 of these rules deal with the establishment of cadres for states, while section 4 deals with the strength of the cadres. Consultation with State Governments for fixing strength and composition of the cadre, and a review for every five years to re-examine this allocation are two key provisions of section 4 of the above rules.

The rules also provide guidance for allocating the members to various cadres and about the deputation of cadre officers (Cadre officer, as stated in rules, means the member of AIS). It further provides standards on the postings, temporary appointment of non-cadre officers to cadre posts, holding of more than one posts by cadre officers, authority when joint cadre is involved, reporting to the Union Government on the vacant cadre posts among other things.

As of 2022, there are 24 state cadres and AGMUT cadre which includes 3 states and 8 Union Territories. Each state cadre has a specified cadre strength which is revised by the Union Government, in consultation with the respective State Government, depending on the requirement and availability of human resources. The posts borne on, and the strength and composition of the cadre of the All-India Services of the various States shall be as specified in The Indian Administrative Service (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations, 1955; The Indian Police Service (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations, 1955; and The Indian Forest Service (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations, 1966. These cadre posts are subsequently divided into senior duty posts, central deputation reserve, state deputation reserve, training reserve, leave reserve, junior posts reserve, and posts to be filled by promotion under recruitment rules for AIS.

For the purposes of recruitment and selection, these state cadres are classified into five zones as shown below. The process of selection of candidates under different cadres is outlined in the Cadre Allocation Policy, 2017. 

Authorized IAS cadre strength of different cadres

Each state has different cadre strength, which is fixed according to the cadre fixation rules explained earlier. This undergoes periodic revisions based on the requirements and availability of necessary resources. Uttar Pradesh tops the list with highest cadre strength, followed by AGMUT, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. If we look at the gendered nature of the cadre strength, Telangana tops with 1 in 3 IAS officer being female, while at the national level it is 1 in every 5. Leaving out the Northeastern states, states like Bihar, and Jharkhand has the lowest share of female IAS officers. 

IAS officers’ shortage in India

The 112th report of the Department Related Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, shows that the total authorized strength of IAS officers is 6746 irrespective of type of selection. However, the in-position strength of IAS officers is 5231 only, representing a 22% shortage. This shortage is significantly higher in few states like the Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and 8 Union Territory’s) cadre. Such continued shortage has the potential to affect the efficiency of the service delivery.

Featured Image: All-India Services


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