Indian Political Service

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The Indian Political Service (IPS) was the cadre of officers which dealt with the Princely States and foreign affairs. Recruited from the ranks of the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Army.

The IPS was sometimes characterised as civil servants who didn't want to work and soldiers who didn't want to fight.

This Department was directly under the control of the Viceroy.

  • 1783 Established
  • 1843 became Foreign Department
  • 1914 becane Foreign and Political Department
  • 1937 became Indian Political Service

The Foreign and Political Department did many things: it was chiefly concerned with indirect rule, for much of British India consisted of the Princely States, presided over by their hereditary rulers, advised by a British Resident belonging to the Department – “a political”.

Next, the Department housed the officers of British India’s diplomatic service – its emissaries to Kabul, the Gulf and other areas.

Finally, it hosted “the politicals” of Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province – the officers who had chosen to make their careers in the frontier districts. The latter came about because when the NWFP was separated from the Punjab in 1901, the then Viceroy Curzon made sure the new Province was directly under his control.[1]

Members of the Foreign and Political Department were sometimes known as The Twice Born, a progression of the terminology sometimes used in respect of members the Indian Civil Service, The Heaven-Born.[2]

External links

Historical books online


  1. "Not Quite Soft Power: The Politicals" by Colonel Graeme Sligo, refer External links above.
  2. Page 23 Thim Days Is Gone. Qatar Digital Library. A memoir written by Major Maurice Patrick O'Connor Tandy recounting his career, initially in the Royal Artillery in a Light Battery, and an Indian Mountain Battery in the early 1930s and then the Foreign and Political Department from October 1936.