On 5th September 2017, the Government came out with a totally new Cadre Policy for All India Services (IAS, IPS and IFoS). Since then it has aroused much interest as well as confusion amongst new aspirants.

The aim of this post is to demystify the new cadre policy. Before we go further explaining the nitty gritty of the new policy, it would be good to first have a brief look into the previous cadre policies.

In the 90s until 2008, the cadre allocation was done through Roster System. In this either of these 2 things used to take place.

  • A candidate will be given his / her home state
  • Will be allotted a cadre based on a complex system based on alphabetical grouping of states.

Under this system if a candidate securing Rank 1 does not get her home state (due to lack of insider vacancy) then she could be randomly assigned any state.

This policy was discontinued in CSE 2008 which brought Choice Based system. Under this a candidate had to give preference for the states (1, 2, 3, .. 15, 16, …).

Now if a candidate secures Rank 1 then she is sure to get a cadre which is amongst her top 3 choices.

This system resulted in a situation where the students from North India mostly remained in North Indian states and vice versa. The Government felt that somewhere the sense of being in All India Service was getting lost.

To strike a balance between choice and maintaining the spirit of AIS the Government came up with this new policy.

In this system the states have been grouped into 5 zones.

Zone I

  1. AGMUT
  2. Jammu & Kashmir
  3. Himachal Pradesh
  4. Uttarakhand
  5. Punjab
  6. Rajasthan
  7. Haryana

Zone II

  1. Uttar Pradesh
  2. Bihar
  3. Jharkhand
  4. Odisha

Zone III

  1. Gujarat
  2. Maharashtra
  3. Madhya Pradesh
  4. Chhattisgarh

Zone IV

  1. West Bengal
  2. Sikkim
  3. Assam Meghalaya
  4. Manipur
  5. Tripura
  6. Nagaland

Zone V

  1. Telangana
  2. Andhra Pradesh
  3. Karnataka
  4. Tamil Nadu
  5. Kerala

Now a candidate has to first give preferences for zones and then within that zone give preferences for states.

For instance let’s consider a hypothetical case where a student has given preferences like this.

  1. Zone 4 : 5, 2, 4, 1, 6, 3
  2. Zone 2 : 3, 1, 4, 2
  3. Zone 5 : 1, 5, 3, 2, 4
  4. Zone 1 : 2, 1, 5, 6, 3, 4, 7
  5. Zone 3 : 2, 4, 3, 1

Now when it comes to allocating cadre, the cycle would be as follows:

  • 1st preference in Zone 4
  • 1st preference in Zone 2
  • 1st preference in Zone 5
  • 1st preference in Zone 1
  • 1st preference in Zone 3
  • 2nd preference in Zone 4
  • 2nd preference in Zone 2
  • ……
  • ……
  • 3rd preference in Zone 4
  • 3rd preference in Zone 2
  • ….
  • ….

Thus if one doesn’t get 1st preference of a particular zone then one would be considered for 1st preference of next preferred zone rather than 2nd preference within same zone.

Since zones are grouped region wise instead of alphabetically therefore the chances of getting a cadre within same zone reduces significantly since 4 other states from other zones separates 1st and 2nd preferences within same zone.

With this new system the government hopes to address the regional imbalance in cadre allocation.

The other aspects related to cadre allotment like insider-outsider ratio, reservation would remain unchanged.

For the last several years there was a certain predictability in cadre allotment which is likely to end now with the new system in place.


Posted by iasjourneyandbeyond


  1. Is there any “trick” to get good cadre??



  2. Madam, mains test series should be join before prelims or after? Apne kab ki thi n konsi coa theek rhti h..so confused pls help

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Hello Yash,

      I had joined after Prelims. But I also made some mistakes which I don’t want any aspirant to repeat.

      I would request you to read my book 71 to 51. Here’s more about it


      You can get through in first attempt itself if you follow a good schedule as mentioned in the book.

      All the best




  3. Its a nice book madam. I read it already. Thank you
    I will contact you one day obviously after selection for showing grtitude



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