– An Address by V.Srinivas IAS  –

Respected Secretary Culture,

Respected Director General of National Archives of India,

Senior Officials of NAI, Distinguished Scholars, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me immense pleasure to deliver the Foundation Day Lecture to mark the 129th year celebrations of National Archives of India.I am grateful to the Ministry of Culture for giving me this opportunity. I dedicate this Foundation Day Lecture to all the Archivists, Oriental Language Experts, Historians, Conservationists who severe this great Institution driven by immense commitment to preserve the public records of the Nation. It is due to their efforts that the National Archives of India represents the greatest repository of official records in India with a number of significant collections. I have been witness to the significant milestones of the National Archives of India over the past decade – The 125th Foundation Day Celebrations held in 2015, declassified files of Netaji were released and thelaunch of a web portal, inaugurating 2 major exhibitions: Swachagraha: BapuKaryanjali exhibition commemorating 100 years of Champaran Satyagraha and Sabarmati Shatabdi commemorating 100 years of Sabarmati Ashram. Today’s talk titled “The Central Secretariat, Indian Civil Service and the Indian Political Service” is based on my research work conducted in the National Archives of India.


Administrative Reforms in the British Raj were largely guided by the considerations of the economy. This necessitated strengthening of the Executive Administration. The Government of India Act was passed in 1833 and under this Act, the Governor General of Bengal became the Governor General of India. On November 14, 1834, the Governor General in Council took over charge as the Governor General of Bengal but the 2 Governments continued to have a joint secretariat arrangement. With the termination of the Company’s trade, the Commercial Department was abolished and Military, Secret and Law Department was transferred to the Government of India. The remaining Departments of the Government of India were grouped together under 2 Secretaries. H.T.Princep took charge as Secretary in charge of the General, Foreign and Financial Departments while W.H.Mcnaghton took charge as Secretary of Secret, Revenue and Judicial Departments. The basic principle of the Government of India was to focus its attention to important questions of legislation, policy and general principles of Government leaving details to be exclusively conducted by the Local Governments. The Central Secretariat did not acquire an all-India character and remained dominated by Bengal civilians who preferred a limited controlling function of the Central Secretariat and a dominant function of the Local Government.

Reorganization of Departments 1843-1862

In 1843 the Governor General in Council decided to organize the Secretariat of the Government of India, and by resolution established the Military, Foreign, Home and Financial departments. The Military Department was charged with all the business connected with the administration of the army,cantonments, military works and Royal Indian Marines. The Foreign Department was charged with conduct of all correspondence belonging to the external and internal diplomatic relations of the Government. The Home Department was charged with legislation and correspondence with Local Governments on all subjects with the administration of civil and criminal justice, police, revenue, postal and ecclesiastical matters, medical, public works and buildings, Indian education and marine affairs. The Department of Finance was charged with the sole and entire conduct of Indian financial operations including the preparation of estimates, ways and means, loans, and the accounts of the Presidencies of Bengal, Madras, Bombay and Agra. In addition to the Military Secretary, a Secretary to Government of India was appointed for each of the Foreign and Home Departments.  An Under Secretary was appointed in the Foreign Department.  At the same time the Government of Bengal with a single Secretary, assisted by two Under Secretaries, conducted the business of the Departments of Revenue, Judicial and General.  The Joint Secretariat system with the presence of separate Secretaries for assisting the Governor General in the performance of his duties as the Governor General of India and the Governor of Bengal produced considerable confusion.  This necessitated the appointment of a separate Head of Government for Bengal which was done in 1854.

The Central Secretariat was first reorganized with the creation of the Public Works Department in 1855.  Its necessity arose from the great magnitude and ever increasing importance of public works, especially irrigation, railways and buildings.  There was also a department of Public Works in each of the Local Governments of India, which submitted projects for sanction to the Home Department.  By creating an office of Secretary to Government of India in the Department of Public Works, a post which must be held by a highly qualified officer of the Corps of Engineers, with an Assistant Secretary belonging to the same Corps, the Government of India exercised universal control duly backed by the weight of scientific knowledge and professional advice.

The conduct of business in the Executive Council, under the Act of 1833, necessitated members of the Government participated in the transaction of all business.  All papers coming before the Governor General were sent to the Members of the Council and all the Members had to go through all the papers irrespective of whether or not they were directly concerned with the subject.  Lord Ellenborough wanted to make the Members of Government individually responsible for the various departments placed under them.  That said, reforms in the conduct of business in the Executive Council happened under Lord Dalhousie.

In 1854, Lord Dalhousie proposed that the Members of the Executive Council be assigned specific Departments.  The Governor General retained the Foreign Department.  The Home and Financial Departments were entrusted to the Civil Members and Military matters to the Military Member of the Council.  All legislative business went to the Law Member.  The new system provided considerable relief to the Governor General.  Papers coming before the Government were classified as urgent, routine, important and unimportant.  Urgent papers were sent in special boxes to the Governor General who disposed of them, or if necessary, circulated them among the Members for opinion.

Lord Canning reviewed the arrangement in 1859 and directed that unimportant and important papers could be disposed at the level of the Members who would return the papers to their Secretaries with due instructions.  The Governor General would only see urgent and routine papers thus avoiding unnecessary labour and delay.  The Secretary of State approved this arrangement “to impose greater responsibility on each Member in the transaction of business of the Department placed under his charge”.  The Governor General was empowered under the Indian Council Act 1861 to make rules and orders for the more convenient transaction of business in the Executive Council.  A portfolio system was introduced in government in 1862, for perusal of papers and initiation of orders thereon in accordance with the allocation of business to the Members of the Council.  Only papers of greater importance were to be sent from the Member to the Governor General for his concurrence.  It was the duty of the Secretary to bring to the notice of Governor General, any paper of importance that required oral discussion or circulation to the Members in Council.  The Indian Council Act, 1861 gave considerable speed and efficiency in the conduct of business in the Central Secretariat.

Reorganization of Departments 1862-1919

The growth in Departments of the Central Secretariat was witnessed in the period 1862-1919. The Department of Agriculture was created in 1871. In 1878, the Home and Finance Departments were divided into two departments namely, the Home, Revenue and Agriculture Department and the Finance and Commerce Department. The Industry and Commerce Department and the Railway Board were constituted in 1905. The Military Department was abolished in 1906 and the work was entrusted to two Departments namely the Army Department and the Military Supply Department. The Education Department was created in 1911.

The increase in legislative business in the Government necessitated the establishment of a Legislative Department in 1869, by separation of the legislative business of the Government from the Home Department.  The Legislative Department was not to be an initiating or originating Department. The job of the Legislative Department was to cloth with a technical shape, projects of Law of which the policy had been affirmed elsewhere. All Bills in Government following due approval of the Member in-charge of the Department had to be sent to the Legislative Department.In 1873, the Legislative Department was empowered to correspond directly with the Local Governments on all matters relating to Bills and Acts.

The establishment of the Departments of Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce was mainly commercial.  Agriculture products – cotton and jute formed the major part of Indian exports and were a major source of supply for the industrial requirements of England.  The American Civil War of 1861-65 greatly enhanced the importance of Indian cotton as America, which hitherto supplied a major portion of cotton to England stopped exports, and British industrialists were compelled to look towards India as the only possible source.  Lord Mayo was persuaded by the Manchester Cotton Association that systemic measures were required to be taken for securing a constant supply of cotton from India.  Accordingly the new Department was established. Lord Mayo said the step should have been taken at least 20 years earlier.  The Department of Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce created in 1871 was entrusted with land revenue and settlement, agricultural improvement, agricultural and horticultural, fiber and silk, commerce and trade. In 1878, an Internal Committee of the Government said that the Department of Revenue, Agriculture and Commerce while performing excellent and useful work did not result in increase of revenue by the development of agricultural resources and hence should be abolished.  The Department was merged with the Home Department.  However by 1881, famine in several parts of the country necessitated the creation of Revenue and Agriculture Department on the recommendations of the Famine Commission.  The Department was entrusted with the task of collection of agricultural statistics.

In 1903, Lord Curzon recommended the creation of a Department of Commerce and Industry and the appointment of a Member in the Executive Council to take charge of the Department to deal with the new fields of activity opened up in industrial and commercial development.  The business allocated to this new Department included petroleum, factories, economic products, geology and minerals, internal trade, commercial exhibitions, cotton duties, coal mines and iron works.

Successive Governor Generals felt the necessity of creating a separate Department of Railways, which was hitherto dealt with, in a branch of Public Works Department.  The great expansion of the railway system and the consequent necessity for a more powerful and efficient machinery called for reconstitution of the existing system of Railway administration.  A Railway Board was constituted in 1905 in place of the Railway Branch of the Public Works Department.  At the same time the Civil Branch of the Public Works Department was transferred the Commerce and Industry Department.  The Railway Board comprised of a Chairman and two Members.

Lord Curzon said that education represented the most complex and momentous branches of Government, which needed expert advice but was “drifting about like desert hulk on chopping seas” and proposed the appointment of a Director General of Education to advise the Government in educational matters.Further, Lord Curzon said that the appointment of Director General of Education would obviate the evils of padegogy, officialdom and bureaucratic handcuffs.  Subsequently the post of Director General of Education was upgraded to a Secretary in Government in 1910 and the allocation of business included education, examinations, the Imperial Library, sanitation, archaeology, publication and records and museums.

In 1910, the allocation of business of Government of India was divided into 8 Departments, namely, the Home Department, the Department of Revenue and Agriculture, the Foreign Department, the Department of Finance and Commerce, the Military Department, the Railway Board, the Legislative Departmentand Education Department.  The mode of business in the Council maintained that papers of special importance and urgency shall be sent directly to the Governor General who initiated ordered himself or sent them for initiation by the Member of Council in whose division they fell. All papers referred to the Legislative Department had to be sent for approval of the Governor General for circulation to all Members and placed before the Executive Council for necessary orders.  The minutes of discussion in Council were to be entered at length in the proceedings of Government and included in the despatches, addressed to the Secretary of State from the Governor General. Secretaries of the Departments were to be responsible for the correctness of the enclosures in despatches to the Secretary of State as well as for the careful observance of the rules and orders made for the transaction of business in the Council of Governor General of India.

The System of Noting

The system of noting was introduced in 1899 by Lord Curzon emphasizing the need for permanent record, which needs to be preserved in the inherited memory of the Department, to be perpetually put in print for the use of novices at a later stage. Lord Curzon pointed out that “in Great Britain, the officers of Government are manned from top to bottom by Clerks or Secretaries, all of whom have passed a severe and often a special competitive examination, whose life service will be devoted to the Department, and who acquire early and carry with them through their careers the traditions and a great deal of the unwritten knowledge of the office.  In India the lower grades of departments are filled with non-gazetted officials of a class and attainments not comparable with those of the corresponding ranks in the English officers.  The responsible officers at the upper end of the scale are few in number and constantly changing. Owing to the fluctuating nature of the gazetted establishment, there is a much greater need for a permanent record of what may be styled the inner history of cases than there is in England”.

Lord Curzon said “Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries in India must write in order to prove their mettle: that only by doing so can they vindicate their abilities to the Viceroy; and that if they did not thus exercise their faculties, the faculties themselves would remain untrained, and their owners could not qualify for the higher positions which they may hope at a later stage to fill”. Promotions were dependent upon the acumen with which official could write their notes, a principle followed in England. Further the magnitude of inter-departmental references in India was significantly larger than England given the numerous public works projects where references and counter references were necessary.

The method of keeping and circulating papers and inter-departmental references entered the Departments in 1897 and reached the Viceroy by 1899 with 53 pages of notes. On another file, which had meandered for 3 ½ years, Lord Curzon’s words were ‘it had wandered like an uneasy spirit through the Departments of Government of India, until at length it came upto me to be exorcized and laid.’ Lord Curzon detailed the manner in which the papers would be kept in manuscript form folded in files and docketed on the back cover with very little notings. Notes were kept separately from correspondence and a flag file system was adopted. The Secretariat’s instructions which is the modern day Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure was first outlined in 1899 along with Lord Curzon’s memorandum. The Manual of Office Procedure did away with the existing system of double noting by the Secretary and Joint Secretary recognizing the separate responsibilities of these officers.

Reorganization of Departments 1919-1947

There was further reorganization of Departments of Central Secretariat in the period 1919 to1947. The Department of Industries was created in 1920, the Central Board of Revenue was created in 1924 and the Agriculture Research Council was created in 1929. The Administrative Reforms office was first setup in 1919 abolished in 1921 and setup again in 1930 to deal with various constitutional reforms with J.M.Dunnet as Secretary and W.H.Lewis and V.P.Menon as Joint Secretary and Superintendent respectively. The Department of Labor was established in 1937. There was further reorganization of the Central Secretariat in the war years and the Department of External Affairs and Commonwealth was established in 1944. The Defense Department was created in 1942.

The Council for Agricultural Research was established in 1929 to promote, guide and coordinate agriculture and veterinary research throughout India. The Council was given the status of a Department of the Government of India and was placed under the Department of Education, Health and Lands. The Administrative Reforms Office was designed to act as the general coordinating machinery for reaching conclusions on the reports of the Statutory Commission.

The radical change that took placed in 1937 was the bifurcation of the Foreign and Political Department into two separate Departments namely, the External Affairs Department and the Political Department. The work of the Department had become unwieldy due to the political changes ushered in by the Government of India Act, 1935. The Political Department had to deal with the Indian States and was placed directly under the control of the Governor General as the crown representative. Another important change was the division of Department of Industry and Labor into two Departments namely, the Department of Labor and the Department of Communications.

Important changes were made in 1939 during the Second World War. Government created the department of Defense Coordination to coordinate the work of all Departments concerned with emergency legislation as well as problems relating to the transport and arrangements of supply during the course of the war.  A War Supply Board was constituted along with the Department of Information and Broadcasting and the Indian Overseas Department, which was subsequently redesignated as the Department of Commonwealth Relations. The creation of the Defense Department was to give effect to coordination of policies and actions between the civil departments, the work of the war members, demobilization and post war reconstruction. The Food Department was created in 1942 to ensure adequate procurement and equitable distribution of food stuffs.Amongst the post war changes was the creation of three separate departments of Education, Health and Agriculture.

The Central Secretariat in 1947 comprised of 19 departments. A pyramidal organization existed in every department with a Secretary at the top at least two Deputy Secretaries in the middle and Under Secretaries. In addition, Joint Secretaries became a regular feature and Additional Secretaries were also appointed due to expansion of public business. The vertical movement of files to the various sections and branches of a department represented what Lord Curzon called “a regular pilgrimage of files not only from one department to another in the same Secretariat, but also from the Government of India to the Provincial Governments and administration and to the Secretary of State for India in the Council”. A tenure system for Deputy Secretaries was introduced during the time of Lord Curzon and further reviewed in 1920. Deputy Secretaries were given tenure of 3 years to work in the Central Secretariat despite a number of recommendations to increase to 4 years. In the post 1920 period, a number of civil servants were lost from the Central Secretariat to the Provinces especially in the Foreign and Political Department. Thereafter the tenure in respect of Deputy Secretaries, Joint Secretaries/ Secretaries was increased to 4 and 5 years respectively. A cooling-off period of 3 years in the Provinces was introduced.

In the period 1947 to 1956, the Central Secretariat witnessed further reorganization with 28 Departments, 8 Central Administrative Offices, a Cabinet Secretariat and 20 Ministries. The Planning Commission was established in 1951. In 1953, Government invited Paul H. Appleby of the Maxwell School of Public Administration to undertake a survey on public administration in India. The Appleby recommendations resulted in the establishment of the Indian Institute of Public Administration to provide a rational and focused attention to the field of public administration.

The Indian Civil Service

The Covenanted Civil Service provided the European elite of the Indian administration. Until the middle of the 19th century, the Directors of the East India Company nominated youth to writer-ships. A nominee had to pass a simple examination before being admitted to the Company’s training college at Haileybury, where he would spend 2 years studying Law, Political Economy and Indian languages. He then went out to India where he had to qualify in further tests in Indian languages before taking up an appointment. This was changed in 1853. The Charter Act 1853 abolished the Director’s patronage and enacted that appointments in the Covenanted Civil Service should be filled on the basis of an open competitive examination. A Committee chaired by Macauley drew up the scheme for implementation and the first competitive examination was held in 1855 and the last group of nominated entrants passed into Haileybury in 1856.

Administrative Reformers, Sir Charles Trevelyan and Rober Lowe, felt that nomination to the I.C.S was irregular and were determined to keep the method of appointment to posts out of the political polemic. The introduction of a competitive examination offered a trust worthy method of selecting at higher level of both ability and character. The structure of the examination was intended to give the greatest weight to those subjects that formed the staple of an English gentleman’s education. The Macaulay Committee recommended that the company’s civil servants should go out to India by 25, and should be men who have first taken a degree at Oxford or Cambridge. The Committee held that “The most illustrious English Jurists have been men who have never opened a law book till after the close of a distinguished academic career, nor is it any reason to believe that they would have been greater lawyers if they had passed in drawing pleas and conveyances the time which they gave to Thucydides, to Cicero and to Newton”. The whole emphasis was on general education, on the enlarging and strengthening of understanding, which must precede special education or training in skill necessary for the dispatch of professional business.

The Board of Control in 1855, framed the regulations for examinations of candidates with total marks amounting to 6875 in 12 subjects. The legal education for civil servants was introduced in 1859 with a mandatory one-year legal study in England, followed by a one year study in India and then a further period of training under a Judge. Between 1855-1863, as many as, 174 of the 414 successful candidates had come from Oxford and Cambridge. But in the next 9 years, of the 383 successful candidates, only 70 came from the 2 Universities. In 1876, the upper age limit for recruitment was reduced to 19 and the lower age limit was reduced to 17. The Secretary of State justified the change and said that it had the approval of the Universities.

The Covenanted Civil Servants were those who had entered into a covenant to serve the Company faithfully and honestly, started their careers as young men at the bottom of the service and rose gradually to higher positions. The other category of public servants, were those who signed no such covenants were the uncovenanted service.

One of the big challenges of that period was the reconstitution of the Covenanted Service into the Executive and Judicial branches to improve the administration of justice by improving the quality of judges and judicial administration. There was also a growing number of Indians who by virtue of their legal knowledge and practice were able not only to hold the highest judicial offices but even to excel European Judges, their official superiors. It was apparent that with a mastery of English language, Indians might steal a march over their European masters. The necessity of legal training for Covenanted Civil Servants was a felt need. In 1876, the Government of Bengal called upon the Covenanted Civil Servants to indicate their choice either for the Executive or Judicial branch of the Service. Such an option provided an unbroken course of judicial training for all officers who wanted to work as District Judges, and thus improved the quality of judicial administration of the province.

The uncovenanted Deputy Collectors were appointed into service by the Local Government on a nomination made by the District Collector in consultation with the Commissioner and the Board of Revenue. There was no competitive test. In 1881, there were 873 covenanted civil servants and 4082 uncovenanted civil servants ranging from Tehsildars, Deputy Collectors to Deputy Magistrates. The Indian Civil Service was to be appointed based on an examination in England and the Provincial Civil Service was to be recruited separately in each province. By 1892, 1/6th of the appointments of the Indian Civil Service were to be appointed from the Provincial Civil Service. By 1918, the number of vacancies in the Indian Civil Service had risen to 200, and the Secretary of State Montagu had recommended appointment of 50 Indians by nomination. Thus began the Indianization of the Indian Civil Service. The Montford Report of 1918 said that “we are no longer seeking to govern a subject race by means of the Services, we are seeking to make the people self governing. How was the bureaucracy to accomplish this task? The answer was there must be more partnership, consultation and attempts to carry with him those who will one day do the work themselves.”

Further the Government of India Act 1935 created the Federal Public Service Commission and the Superior Services were divided into 3 classes (a) All India (b) Central and (c) Provincial. The All India Services were recruited by the Secretary of State to work in any part of India, and though as a rule assigned to a province, their members were subject to being transferred to another province. A certain number of officers were borrowed from the provinces to discharge the functions of the central functions of the Government of India. The Central Services dealt with the Indian States and Foreign Affairs, with the administration of the State Railways, with Posts and Telegraphs, Customs, Audit and Accounts and with Scientific and Technical Departments. Even as the Secretary of State began losing his grip, on the Government of India, it was the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Police Service that remained unaffected and continued to act as a unifying force. While most of the All India Services were abolished, the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Police Service were allowed to continue post Indian independence, for the considerations of National Unity and the positive needs of India’s all round development, and the attainment of a minimum standard of administration.

In 1831, Lord Bentinck placed the Joint Magistrates and Deputy Collectors under the subordination of the District Collector who was in-turn under the subordination of the Board of Revenue which reported to the Government. The District Officer in British India was the direct representative of the Government in the District, responsible for execution of State policy. The Government of India pointed out that “it is in the District administration that the Government establishes contact with the people.” The District Collector except in matters of purely judicial administration in the District, held the key position in the District.

In 1947, after the transfer of power, there was a sudden depletion in the Indian Civil Service owing to the departure of British and Muslim officers. The Indian Civil Service was replaced by the Indian Administrative Service in the same year. In July 1948, a Special Recruitment Board was set-up, for emergency recruitment of over-age personnel. Following the enactment of the Constitution of India in 1950, the Federal Public Service Commission became known as the Union Public Service Commission.

The Indian Political Service

The Indian Political Service was an elite British Service, drawn 70 percent from the Indian Army and 30 percent from the Indian Civil Service on indefinite secondment. The Indian Political Service provided quasi-diplomatic and consular representatives of the Government of India to Indian States and to certain posts in countries outside India. The Indian Political Service provided administrators to the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan. The Service functioned under the direct charge of the Viceroy.  In 1947, its sanctioned cadre stood at 170 officers, of whom there were only 124 officers actually serving, with 17 Indians. Military Officers of the Indian Political Service were liable to be recalled to military duty during the war. While appointed in the army they were granted pay and allowances according to their rank. They were assured that on return to the Indian Political Service they would be allowed to retain their seniority, pay and pension benefits. Indian Political Service Officers were trained in specific areas which included, The Rise and Fulfilment of the British Rule in India, The Introduction to Aitchison’s Treaties, The Political Department’s Manual and the Government of India Act 1935. They were sent for District Training to Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and subjected to examinations in Indian History and Political subjects.

There were 3 sections of the Indian Political Service – officers posted to Indian States with constitutional changes, Officers posted to Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province and Officers posted to foreign countries Persia, Afghanistan and Nepal. There was never any distinction in the conditions of service and officers were freely transferred from one area to another. The Indian Political Service had 3 roles, diplomacy in the States, administration in the Frontier, and consular functions in the limitrophe countries. Lord Curzon commended the Political Department of the Government of India for the splendid and varied work that Englishmen were capable of.

The Officers of the Indian Political Service who served as Residents, resided in the Princely States. Critics from British India said that’s all they did. Critics from Princely States said that they interfered too much in handling routine problems. The work of a Resident or a Political Agent in an Indian State involved huge amount of day to day work arising from Schools, Municipalities, Hospitals and various Institutions.

How were the Officers of Indian Political Service appointed as a Resident in a Princely State? In 1945, the services of Lt. Colonel C.G.H.Smith an officer of Indian Political Service were loaned as Chief Minister Rewa State. The process entailed notification of the appointment order by the RewaDarbar and the issue of orders by the Political Department, Government of India. In his acceptance letter to the Political Department, Lt. Colonel C.G.H.Smith says the his venture at Rewa would be tough, and he was going there determined to keep his sanity. Foreign postings of Indian Political Service officers were as Civil Secretaries and the appointment file of Major Sinclair as Civil Secretary Aden reveals that he was replaced by Captain Hickinbotham, and the Viceroy carefully considered rank, experience and potential in the placement. Foreign postings were for a period of 2 years.

All Princely States were in relations with a Resident, who was assisted by a Secretary and an Under Secretary, technical experts – an executive engineer, a Residency Surgeon, a Military Advisor and Superintendent of Police and a small Secretariat of about 150 clerks, and in the larger States, a District Magistrate and a District & Sessions Judge borrowed from British India. In the case of Hyderabad, Mysore and Kashmir the Residency consisted of only one State, while there were Residents who handled several smaller Princely States. The Residents for Rajputana and Mysore were ex-officio Chief Commissioners for British India Provinces of Ajmer and Coorg. States corresponded interse and the Chamber of Princes officially encouraged this practice.

The Political Agents had an important role in succession in Indian States. The Political Department laid down in 1891 that “Every succession to an Indian State holding direct relations with the British Government must be recognized by or on behalf of the British Government and no succession is valid until recognition is given.” This order was resented by the Princes and was further amended to read as “where there is a natural heir in the direct line he succeeds as a matter of course, and the recognition of his succession by H.M. the King Emperor will be conveyed by an exchange of kharitas of a complementary character between the new Prince and the Viceroy”. Matriarchal rules of succession prevailed in Travancore and Cochin. Further the Ruler of Kapurthala married a Spaniard, the Rulers of Pudukkottai and Palanpur married Australians and the Ruler of Rajpipla married an Englishwoman. In these cases, the offsprings were not allowed to succeed and the foreign wife was refused the title of Her Highness.

Further, under no circumstances were any of the Princely States allowed to enter into relations with other States or Foreign Powers except through the medium and with the knowledge and sanction of the British Indian Government. Indian Political Service Officers serving in Princely States also had to issue passports and gun licences. It was certified that the passport holder was a ‘British Protected Person’. The Indian Political Service Officers had the responsibility for administered areas including railway lands, cantonments, where troops could move by mutual agreement of a notification. The Indian Political Service Officers served as Deputy Commissioners in the 6 Frontier Province Districts where they were responsible for relations with the Pathan Tribes. They were also associated with the operations of the Frontier Patrol and the Royal Air Force in these provinces. Amongst the Foreign Postings occupied by the Indian Political Service was Aden, Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the Himalayan Frontier namely, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Further officers of the Indian Political Service coordinated the efforts for economic unity of India and almost all Princely States supported the initiative with the exception of Hyderabad which had an elaborate currency and bank notes printed in England. There were 8 other Princely States that printed rupee currency.

On the eve of independence, the Political Department drafted a standstill agreement, which was quite sufficient to enable the transfer of power without any breakdown of administration while the two new governments negotiated permanent relationship with the Princely States. The newly constituted States Department drafted the necessary documents and by July 31, 1947 persuaded almost all Rulers to accede by August 15, 1947. Apart from the States, which were enclaves in Pakistan, only 6 States did not accede. With the lapse of paramountacy, the Political Department faded out of the picture.

The Indian Political Service is wound up, closed down and consigned to the Archives. There are over 250 files on the Indian Political Service available in the National Archives of India, and their role as Lord Curzon described as wardens of the marches, in enforcing the indirect rule of Princely States is well documented.


I am greatly enthused by Paul H.Appleby’s “Public Administration in India – Report of a Survey” with a foreword from the Cabinet Secretary Y.N.Sukthankar dated May 23, 1953.

The Cabinet SecretarySukhtankar said “when it becomes the central purpose and justification of the Government while adhering to democratic values and methods, to find a rich social and economic content for freedom, to bring about equality of opportunity for all and to secure the maximum development of the human and material resources of a vast country, the administration faces new and immensely vital tasks. How to organize the administrative structure and machinery of the country and refashion its methods and procedures necessarily becomes a subject of considerable concern and study.”

Dean Appleby’s concluding remarks are relevant to this day.

“It should be emphatically reaffirmed, therefore, that as of now, zeal, hard work, good-will and devotion are making India’s administrative machinery work beyond its inherent or theoretical capacity. It would be a most insensitive critic who did not offer his suggestions with great humility in the face of the intelligent and consecrated efforts which are the most distinguishing phenomenon here visible to a student of Government. India is not my country, yet in some way, I have come to have strong sense of membership in it. In my capacity as a human being I shall return to my home with great pride in India”

Jai Hind.

Author Introduction

V.Srinivas, IAS

V.Srinivas has a post graduate degree in Chemical Engineering from College of Technology, Osmania University, Hyderabad, he joined the IAS at 22 and in his 3-decade career has held a number of important policy making positions in Government. He is currently posted as Additional Secretary to Government of India, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Revenue for Rajasthan, Chairman of the Rajasthan Tax Board, Deputy Director (Administration) All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Director General National Archives of India, Joint Secretary to Government of India in the Ministries of Textiles and Culture. He has served as Advisor to Executive Director (India) at the International Monetary Fund (2003-06), Private Secretary to the Finance Minister, Private Secretary to the External Affairs Minister in Government of India and District Collector at Jodhpur and Pali in Rajasthan. He has delivered 24 orations on several areas of public policy, and published 112 articles and papers.

His first book “India’s Relations with International Monetary Fund 1991-2016, 25 years in Perspective” was pursued with a fellowship from the Indian Council of World Affairs in 2017-18. His second book “A March to New India – India’s Welfare State 2014-19” is under publication by Konarak Publishers. He has travelled extensively across India and the World.


[1]V.Srinivas, IAS is Additional Secretary to Government of India, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, PG and Pensions, New Delhi. He served as Director General National Archives of India from August 2013 to December 2014

[2]The author acknowledges the support of Smt. Jaya Ravindran, Assistant Director, National Archives of India


About the Author

V.Srinivas IAS

Senior Bureaucrats and Author

V.Srinivas, IAS , Additional Secretary to Government of India , Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

V.Srinivas is the Chairman of the Board of Revenue for Rajasthan, Ajmer and Chairman of the Rajasthan Tax Board.He has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from College of Technology Osmania University. He is a member of the Indian Administrative Service from 1989 batch, and has 30 years of distinguished service.

He is an Indian Council of World Affairs Fellow for 2017. “India’s relations with the International Monetary Fund 1991-2016: 25 years in perspective” is his first book. He has served as Chairman Rajasthan Tax Board, Deputy Director (Administration) AIIMS, Director General National Archives of India, Joint Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Textiles, Joint Secretary to Government of India in Ministry of Culture, Secretary to Government Finance and Planning Department, Rajasthan, Advisor to India’s Executive Director on the International Monetary Fund (2003-2006) and Private Secretary to Finance Minister of India and Private Secretary to External Affairs Minister (2001-2003), District Collector at Jodhpur and Pali.

Mr. Srinivas has authored 108 articles on public finance and delivered 18 orations. His second book “A March to New Age India” is scheduled for completion in November 2018. He is a recipient of a number of awards and merit certificates for distinguished public service and has travelled widely across India and the World.

Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his  own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC NEWS.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here