What is the Public Services Commission (1887) in India? What is its impact?

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The Public Services Commission, appointed in 1886 by Lord Dufferin, was a branch of the British colonial government in India. It was intended to be a merit-based program in which the best educated elites, both British and Indian, were recruited to work in the bureaucracy. Entry into the service was based on competitive exams, which were designed in London. With a heavy emphasis on European history and classical education, the exam was intentionally difficult for Indian applicants. However, the intent of the program was to recruit Indians to work as an integral part of the British colonial government.

ICS (Indian Civil Service) agents were perceived as rather glamorous individuals, representing the British Crown throughout the vast colony of India. They were intended to settle local disputes and report on all pertinent happenings of the district in which they were stationed. If done in such a way, it would require great physical strength and moral character. However, the reality of the job was not so exciting. Like most large government agencies, it eventually became bogged down in paperwork and pointless bureaucratic nonsense.

The impact of the ICS was profound. It endured for many years and was the primary point of contact for many Indians with the British government. Despite its obsolescence after Indian independence, the traditions of the program live on, as the independent governments inherited the agents' sense of service, hard work, and high standards.

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