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History of 17th July – Women’s ICS

History of 17th July – Women’s ICS

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17th July - Anna Rajam Malhotra

This article provides a historical overview of notable events from the history of 17th July, including religious executions, significant battles, literary milestones, space exploration, and the historical milestone of Indian women becoming eligible for civil service.

The first recorded history of 17th July dates back to the year 180 when on this day 6 inhabitants of Carthage, North Africa (now known as Tunisia) were executed for converting to Christianity. This is the earliest record of Christianity in this part of the world.

Second I would like to the year 1453 when the battle of Castillon was fought where the French Army defeated the British forces. This battle is significant as this is considered the end of a hundred years of war.

The next event I would like to highlight from the history of 17th July is from the year 1586 when English secret services discovered Anthony Babington’s murder plot against Queen Elizabeth I. This was the third plot against the life of Elizabeth I. The main reason for this plot was to establish a Catholic rule. Funny how religion has been used time and again for violence.

From Wars and Murder plots let us shift our focus to literature. It was on this day in the year 1814 when Matthew Flinders published “A Voyage to Terra Australis”, detailing his circumnavigation of Australia. This is significant as this was the first time when the continent Australia was named. Unfortunately, Matthew died a day later.

Another event from the world of publication was it was this day in the year 1841 when the British humorous and satirical magazine “Punch” was published for the first time. The magazine finally closed in 2002 after 161 years of brilliant quality humor.

Other events from the history of 17th July are it was the day when Forbes magazine declared Bill Gates as the richest man in the world in the year 1995. This was also the day in 2006 when The Discovery spacecraft landed safely on Earth at Cape Carnaveral (florida) after completing its 13-day space journey at the Space Center. Moreover, this day is celebrated as World Day for International Justice.

With this, I come to the feature story from the history of 17th July.

Women’s Eligibility in Civil Service 

It is a historic day as this was the day when Indian Women were declared eligible for any kind of civil service, including the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service. But before that let me share some facts about the Indian Civil Service.

The roots of civil service in India for administrative purposes can be traced back to the post-1757 era when the East India Company held de-facto control over various regions of India. During this time, the company established the Covenanted Civil Services (CCS), where members were required to enter into covenants with the company’s board.

In 1854, the Macaulay Committee put forth a crucial proposal advocating the cessation of appointment to the service solely through the company’s patronage and the implementation of a merit-based system. Following this recommendation, from 1855 onwards, recruitment to the Indian Civil Services (ICS) was exclusively based on merit, determined through a competitive examination. This transformative change marked the end of patronage-driven appointments and opened the doors for qualified Indians to participate in the ICS selection process. The Macaulay Committee was established under the provisions of the Indian Charter Act of 1853.

Following the Revolt of 1857, when the rule of the East India Company came to an end and authority was transferred to the British Crown, the service underwent a significant change. After 1886, it was designated as the Imperial Civil Service, reflecting the shift in governance. Subsequently, the nomenclature was further adapted, and it became known as the Indian Civil Service, signifying its specific role in administering India under British rule.

In 1886, the Aitchison Commission, led by Sir Charles Umpherston Aitchison, put forth a vital recommendation, advocating the inclusion of Indians in public service employment.

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In 1912, the Islington Commission provided additional impetus to the inclusion of Indians in the civil service. The commission proposed that 25% of higher positions should be allocated to Indians. Additionally, it suggested a dual approach to recruitment for higher posts, with a portion of positions filled within India and the remainder recruited from England.

Later in 1922, the ICS exam was held in India. Later in 1926, the public service commission was established. Over a period of time, the number of Indians increased in the service, but women were not allowed until the 17th of July 1947.

After Independence, the initial competitive examination for the All India Services (IAS and IPS) was conducted in 1948. Initially, the IAS was dominated by male officers until 1950, when the first female candidate entered the service in 1951, and that is how India found its first lady IAS in the form of Anna Rajam Malhotra who belonged to the 1951 batch of the IAS.

Despite the constitutional assurance of equality, the Indian Administrative Service Rules of 1954 imposed discriminatory and disadvantageous conditions on women. It stated that “no married women shall be appointed to the service,” and required women to resign from the service upon marriage. This provision was discriminatory and limiting.

Fortunately, in 1972, significant progress was made in promoting gender equality within the IAS. The restrictive provision was removed from the IAS recruitment rules, allowing married women to join the service. Additionally, the revised rules granted women the right to avail of maternity leave, making the service more inclusive and supportive of women officers. These changes marked a positive step towards gender parity and equal opportunities within the Indian Administrative Service.

That’s all for today from the history of 17th July.

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