Book Review: Ramesh K. Arora and C. K. Sardana (Eds), District Collectors—Recollections and Reflections

AuthorGyan Vardhan Pathak
Published date01 September 2017
Date01 September 2017
Subject MatterBook Reviews
498 Book Reviews
On the whole, the book is very timely in the current political situation of India,
with coalition governments (1989–2014) and a majoritarian government led by
Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the 2014 election, where Indian President’s
role will be of utmost importance for preserving the constitutional morality and
social fabric of this country intact in the midst of a few disturbing trends.
S.K. Jain
Associate Professor (Political Science)
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Evening College
University of Delhi
Ramesh K. Arora and C. K. Sardana (Eds), District Collectors
Recollections and Reflections. New Delhi: Paragon International
Publishers, 2015, 316 pp., `795.
The origin and history of civil services in India is related to the establishment of
the East India Company. The actual ‘system’ of the administrative service came
into existence in 1861 through ‘The Civil Services Act’ passed by the British
Parliament. The recruitment to this service was initially exclusively and later
practically restricted to Britons/Europeans, stationed in Great Britain. The entrance
examination was conducted in London.
From 1922 onwards, the ICS entrance examination was conducted in India
as well. This resulted in opportunities very well taken and grasped with both
hands by the Indians. Thus, in a period of little less than 20 years, Indians had
shown their competitive intellectual worth vis-à-vis the British to enter the
Indian Civil Service. During this period 60 per cent of the persons recruited to
ICS were Indians. But what about the Indianness factor in the civil service? How
the Brown sahibs shaped and impacted the structure of the Indian Civil Service?
At the time of Independence in 1947, there were only about thirty-five plus ICS
officers who chose to serve the Government of India. What part this miniscule
group of people played in the furtherance of the colonial system of administra-
tion, along with the values and ethos of India? Who will provide the answer?
I think the generation of personnel of IAS who were inducted in the system after
Independence has reflected the legacy of continuation and, of course, the changes
that have come about since then. In order to have a peep into their minds, what
better way one could have had other than reading their minds through the book
titled District CollectorsRecollections and Reflections?
The book under review is a welcome addition to the very few books on the
subject. A total of twenty-four IAS officers who have contributed in writing the
history of the districts they served, belonged to the ‘five decades’, beginning
from the early 1950s to the late 1990s. The number of districts these twenty-
four officers have served is fifty plus, spread over nine states; thus, it is a history
of approximately more than 10 per cent of districts of India. It is a history of

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