Indian Civil Service Association

(Incorporating the Indian Police (UK) Association)

Kashmir 1943 , Srinagar from the Bund

Welcome to our website, intended for ICSA members and for others interested in the history of the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Police, both cornerstones of the British administration of India between 1858 and 1947.

The two associations that together comprise the ICSA were established after the Second World War by former members of the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Police, on their return to the UK after the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, and of Burma in 1948.

The area covered by British India comprised most of the territory of the present states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, with ill-defined borders to the north east and north west. Members of the ICS and IP served in those parts of British India – about one third of the whole by area – controlled directly by the British. In the remaining two thirds of British India the native princes continued to rule, albeit closely “advised” by the British. From the 1930s Indian Police officers also served in Burma.

During the early 19th century members of the ICS and IP were exclusively of British origin, but by 1872 Indians had started joining the Finance department in the 'covenanted' first class jobs, that let to posts such as Accountant-General. By the late 19th century the post of Comptroller of the India Treasuries was held by an Indian, Rajani Nath Ray, who had been the first Indian to have joined the Finance Dept. From the early part of the 20th century Indians were recruited in increasing numbers to both services, thereby easing the transition to independence. Indeed the successor services in India – the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service – are still modelled recognisably on their predecessors.

Both services were remarkably small, given the vast territories and millions of people that they administered. At peak the ICS comprised some 1200 officers, while the IP had barely half that number. Members of the two services worked together and played together, most evidently perhaps in the vast rural hinterland where they were often the sole British representatives of the Raj, embodying the principles of law, order and justice.

Now, over seventy years after the end of British rule in India, very few of the “old India hands” remain and memories of their service are growing dim. But, rather than winding up the two associations, children of ICS and IP officers decided to merge them in order to provide a focal point, and social setting, for those with an interest in their forebears' service in British India.

The Motor Road, Naini Tal U.P