The Indian Engineering Services (IES) are the organised group-A engineering services that meet the technical functions of the Government of India. Like most countries, the Government of India recruits its civil servants and officials on the basis of merit, the middle management positions in the bureaucracy are filled through competitive exams such as the Civil Service Examination, Indian Forest Service examination, Indian Engineering Service examination(ESE) and several others. Since large number of candidates take these exams, competing for limited posts it is considered to be one of the toughest examination among candidates (given the nature and pattern of exam). All officers of the All India Services and other Group-A and Central Services are appointed by the President of India for the union government on the recommendations made by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
A combined four-stage competitive examination (comprising six tests),called the Engineering Services Examination (ESE) is conducted by the UPSC for recruitment to the Indian Engineering Services.
In the year 2010, a total of 157,649 candidates applied for 434 vacancies. In 2011, a total number of 693 candidates were recommended for appointments in these four lists include 317 General, 209 Other Backward Classes, 113 Scheduled Castes and 54 Scheduled Tribes, including 44 candidates belonging to PH (Physically Handicapped category). ESE 2012 was conducted for the recruitment of candidates to as many as 560 posts, which also includes 47 vacancies available only for the PH category. ESE 2013 was conducted for the recruitment of candidates to as many as 763 posts, which also includes 19 vacancies available only for the PH category.
Most toppers of this exam are graduates of institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology, Birla Institute of Technology and Science(BITS) Pilani, National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Science. Government spending comprises more than 15 percent of India's GDP and given the extent of tasks and functions managed by the public sector, this extends to a fairly broad segment of the economy covering the railways, roads, defense, manufacturing, inspection, supply, construction, public works, power, telecommunications, etc.