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What was the role of the Indian Civil Service?

The Indian Civil Service (ICS) was the administrative backbone of British rule in India, responsible for governance and policy implementation.

The Indian Civil Service, often referred to as the 'steel frame' of the British Empire in India, was a crucial part of the colonial administration. Established by the British East India Company, it was later taken over by the British Crown following the 1857 rebellion. The ICS was responsible for the day-to-day administration of the provinces, implementing policies, maintaining law and order, and collecting revenue.

The ICS officers were selected through a highly competitive examination held in London. Initially, these positions were exclusively held by British nationals, but over time, Indians were also allowed to sit for the examinations. However, the number of Indians in the service remained significantly low until the early 20th century.

The ICS officers held key positions in the government, including district collectors, magistrates, and commissioners. They were the primary link between the colonial government and the Indian populace. Their role was not just administrative but also judicial, as they often presided over courts and were responsible for dispensing justice.

The ICS also played a significant role in policy formulation. They were involved in the drafting of laws and regulations, and their recommendations often influenced the decisions of the British government in India. They were also responsible for implementing these policies at the ground level, ensuring that they were carried out as intended.

Despite their significant role, the ICS was often criticised for its elitism and lack of understanding of Indian society and culture. The service was seen as a tool of British imperialism, designed to maintain control over the Indian populace. The ICS was also accused of being detached from the realities of Indian society, as most of its officers were British and had little interaction with the local population.

In conclusion, the Indian Civil Service was a vital part of the British administration in India. It was responsible for the governance of the country, implementing policies, and maintaining law and order. Despite its significant role, it was often criticised for its elitism and lack of understanding of Indian society.

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