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The Public Service Commission

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In 1858 Queen Victoria assured equality of opportunity to Indians in the matter of public employment. English had already been made India’s official language and arrangements for its teaching initiated. Educated Indians were in search for jobs. Yet no Indian could enter the country’s higher Civil Service till 1884 despite Queen Victoria’s solemn proclamation, which naturally aroused discontentment among Indians. To redress the accumulating grievances, the Government of India set up the Public Service Commission in 1886 under the ‘president ship’ of Sir Charles Aitchison.


The Aitchison Commission – as it was known – was charged with the responsibility ‘to devise a scheme which may reasonably be hoped to possess the necessary elements of finality and to do full justice to the claims of natives of India to higher and more extensive employment in the public service.’ The Commission was mandated to direct its attention mainly to the question of the conditions under which the natives of India should be employed in the posts which are ordinarily reserved for the covenanted service and to questions relating to the admission of natives of India and Europeans respectively to those branches of the un-covenanted service, which are directly engaged in the executive and judicial administration of the country.

Besides the President, the Aitchison Commission consisted of fifteen members and a Secretary. The Indian members were Romesh Chunder Mitter, (Raja) Udhai Pertap Singh, Sayyid Ahmad, Kazi Shahbuddin, Salem Ramaswami Mudaliyar and Krishnaji Lukshaman Nulkar. The Commission included a trained English lawyer of judicial experience, five members (excluding the President) of the covenanted Civil Service. Their personal experience of the actual working of district administration had been sufficiently varied and extensive to entitle them to speak with authority upon the subject matter of the inquiry for their own provinces. There was a representative of the non-official European and the Eurasian community respectively, a member of the un-covenanted Civil Service, and six national members selected from various provinces. Its large membership was deliberately designed to make it representative of the society at large. It included members belonging to various communities– Hindus, Muslims, Europeans and Eurasians; it provided representation to the un-covenanted service as well as to different classes and modes of thought in India the over all motive being to command the maximum confidence of the society.

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