How to choose services in the IAS Exam, Combined Civil Services Examination is a question  that foxes all aspirants. I am going to give some candid and honest advice on this.

The notification for Combined Civil Services Examination has been made public and with this starts the preparation the exam. Prelims are over and now the serious fun begins. It’s a three stage exam with prelims, mains and interview. While we all know that serious preparation and study is required to qualify and clear all three stages, it is also very important to fill in your services choices very carefully. The service you choose and the one which is finally allotted to you will decide course of your entire career. I am in this article giving candid opinion about services based on my 23 years’ experience of Civil services.

These views are my own and sometimes brutally honest so take it as you will and make a considered decision. Also let us admit the fact that brilliant people who can have any career opt for civil services for two reasons: One to be able to make a difference where it matters, serve the people, Two: to do a respectable, prestigious job which also gives a sense of power.

Accordingly I have analysed the various service options. And one more thing before you go full scale into deciding about services just spare a moment to see what your basic personality is?

  1. Love the sense of power and are highly competitive, love to be with people who matter and you love to be constantly on the go.
  2. Power is important but not everything, you want to do things which matter to you and you like to keep bit away from power centres.
  3. You love the idea of work life balance, a bit relaxed pace of life and time for yourself.

This analysis is extremely important because many years hence this will decide your level of happiness. So do not blindly follow trends but see what suits you best. With each service I will says to which personality type it suits best.

This year the recruitment in IAS Exam is being done for the following services.

(i) Indian Administrative Service.

(ii) Indian Foreign Service.

(iii) Indian Police Service.

(iv Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Group ‘A’.

(v) Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.

(vi) Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), Group ‘A’.

(vii) Indian Defence Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.

(viii) Indian Revenue Service (I.T.), Group ‘A’.

(ix) Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Group ‘A’ (Assistant Works Manager, Administration).

(x) Indian Postal Service, Group ‘A’.

(xi) Indian Civil Accounts Service, Group ‘A’. (xii) Indian Railway Traffic Service, Group ‘A’.

(xiii) Indian Railway Accounts Service, Group ‘A’.

(xiv) Indian Railway Personnel Service, Group ‘A’.

(xv) Post of Assistant Security Commissioner in Railway Protection Force, Group ‘A’ (xvi) Indian Defence Estates Service, Group ‘A’.

(xvii) Indian Information Service (Junior Grade), Group ‘A’.

(xviii) Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’.

(xix) Indian Corporate Law Service, Group “A”.

(xx) Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service, Group ‘B’ (Section Officer’s Grade).

(xxi) Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Group ‘B’.

(xxii) Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service, Group ‘B’.

(xxiii) Pondicherry Civil Service, Group ‘B’.

(xxiv) Pondicherry Police Service, Group ‘B’.

Let us begin with the 3 All India Service, the IAS, IPS and IFS.

The IAS, IPS and IFS:  All these three services have unique characteristics and the experiences they accord.

First Among equals the IAS: The IAS gives you an opportunity to really make a difference at the ground level where it matters most. You can expect to be posted to heartlands of the country and learn all about real India. The canvas of IAS is really big and it gives you full opportunity for an amazing experience. On senior levels the most coveted posts are manned by officers belonging to the IAS. The career progression is among the best compared to all other services. If you dream of holding THE senior most posts in all Ministries go for IAS and feel powerful go for it!  It is not without reason that most candidates put IAS as priority number one. ( Personality type A, B)

IPS ( Indian Police Service): This is once again An All India Service with an extremely important role of maintaining Law and Order. You will be allotted a state cadre. It can be an extremely satisfying career. You get to lead big teams, command lot of respect, and get involved in matters which have far reaching implications in fields of law and order and safety and security of citizens. Career progression is very good and the quality of comforts and perks is pretty good too. You should be inclined to tough physical training and in general a good health status. To join IPS you do require special health parameters as defined in the gazette. If you thrive in hectic schedules, and have the guts to deal with hardened criminals there is no other job which will make you feel as good. Now coming to the downside, at times I have seen the top rung officers feel the pinch (ek Kasak) about reporting to IAS officers. This is my observation and not all IPS officers feel like that but you should keep in mind this fact.( Personality type A)

IFS ( Indian Foreign service: This is my favourite service. I think no other service gives you the level of exposure and opportunity to serve your country like IFS. In my career I chanced to meet many IFS officers and I think the personal growth and personality development I see in them I don’t see in many others. Diplomacy sure teaches you how to conduct yourself in any situation and how to think big and lead a classy life. It would be my first choice. Imagine interacting globally with those who matter and get experience of so many cultures and languages! It is amazing. A career diplomat is one of the best professions in my opinion.(Personality type A,B,C)

Now let us come to other services which are referred to as IAS allied group A services. These are rather specialised and unique in their area of operation.

The IRS , Revenue Services and the Customs: Both deal with taxation and play the important role of tax collection and tax policies. I feel these two services are extremely relevant to the economy per se and continue to remain so. With massive economic changes taking place you get to grow a lot. Career progression is as good as any other service. As an IRS or Customs officer you get a chance to get posted in a lot different stations which can be very satisfying. Since you manage very key areas of financial management you get to interact with all kinds of important people from government and private sector. It’s a very good choice amongst the Allied services and usually high rankers get it as most people prefer them after the All India Service due to the respect they command and importance these 2 services have. The fact that an Income Tax IRS officer has lot of autonomy and penalising powers certainly is attractive to many. But you need not follow the trend and fill in your choices after considering all options. (Personality type A& B)

Next we will discuss the Accounts services, I know a lot of people who simply write off the account services as they feel Accounts is not my cup of tea! I don’t like accounts and I can’t handle accounts!

Do not do that! It is the single biggest mistake you can make while choosing services. Why is that, I will cover in the next part!

For any personal advice write to me at

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