The Union Public Service Commission is the only government body to act as a central recruitment agency for the higher posts of Indian ministries. IAS officers and other central civil servants are recruited through the Civil Services Examination. In the last decade, there have been about a thousand vacancies in the civil service, but the IAS officers selected every year are not laid down anywhere in the advertisement. The number of vacant posts in IAS is very few hence the prevailing competition is very high among the candidates.
Officers in India are generally recruited through both direct and indirect recruitment. Direct selection takes place through the UPSC Civil Services Exam while Indirect Recruitment occurs through promotions of the state services officers. Not every person that clears UPSC civil service exam becomes an IAS Officer. Only those with high ranking secure the position of an IAS officer.
In the year 2022, 749 candidates were recruited and out of which 180 candidates have been recruited for the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). According to the report submitted by BS Baswan Committee. If in 2016, the number of IAS officers selected every year must not exceed 180 as the quality of training given at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), might get compromised and might also lead to a distortion in the career pyramid of IAS Officers.
Each year, the number of candidates who apply for the UPSC Civil Service Exam is approximately around 10 lakh, out of which about 5 lakh applicants appear for the examination (prelims). Only around 1000 candidates are recruited for all the 24 services combined. The probability of one candidate becoming an officer out of the total is 0.2 % percent.
UPSC Civil Services Examination is believed to be the toughest exam in the world, in consideration to the exam duration (which extends to 1 year), depth of the syllabus, and the prevailing competition.