(Indian) Civil Service Reform (1854)

by ukcivilservant

Those interested in the history of the Civil Service will enjoy reading the 1854 Macaulay Report on the selection and training of entrants into ‘the Civil Service of the East India Company’.  The report was in some ways a 19th century version of the 1968 Fulton Report on the structure of the UK Civil Service.

Like the Northcote Trevelyan Report, published around the same time, the text is mercifully short and to the point, and the authors were delightfully honest when not 100% sure of their recommendations:-

“… we are inclined, though with much distrust of our own judgment, to think that …”.

They were also well aware of how their recommendations could be perverted:

“We propose to include the moral sciences in the … examination … Whether this study shall have more to do with mere words or with things, whether it shall degenerate into a formal and scholastic pedantry, or shall train the mind for the highest purposes of active life, will depend, to great extent, on the way in which the examination is conducted.”

And the training was to be thorough:

“[The new recruit] should study [Indian history], not merely in the works of Orme, of Wilks, and of Mill, but also in the travels of Bernier, in the odes of Sir William Jones, and in the journals of Heber. … He should understand the mode of keeping and checking accounts, the principles of banking, the laws that regulated the exchanges … [etc.].”

I have added the report to my online reference library. Or, to go straight to the report, click here.


Martin Stanley


Understanding Regulation