The first Goan ICS Officer

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Joseph Anthony Vaz, the first Goan Officer of the prestigious Indian Civil Service (ICS), had roots in Saligao.  Son of Antonio Caetano Vaz from Donvaddo in Saligao, Goa, Joseph was born in Karachi on 22 April 1875. He was the first member of the Goan community and among the earliest to pass the Indian Civil Service examination.

St. Patrick's High School, Karachi

St. Patrick's High School, Karachi

A bright student of the famed St. Patrick’s High School in Karachi, he continued his distinguished career at the D. J. Sind College in that same city. Joseph Anthony Vaz then proceeded to England for higher studies. At King’s College, Cambridge, he obtained the B.A. and LL.B. degrees in 1898. Joseph Anthony Vaz sat for the open ICS examination in the same year and passed with flying colours.

On his return to India, he was posted to the Bengal Presidency where he distinguished himself in the various roles assigned to him and soon rose to post of Deputy Commissioner.  Joseph Anthony Vaz was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal in 1921 in recognition of his contribution to the Bengal Gazetteer and also for working tirelessly almost round-the-clock during the Bengal famine. At the time he had risen to the post of Collector and District Magistrate of Bankura. Unfortunately he died suddenly while on a trip to Bangalore while still in office in 1921, abruptly bringing to an end a promising career. He was buried in Nagpur, the birthplace of his wife Matilda.

Joseph Anthony Vaz perhaps inspired other Goans to excel in civil service. His son-in-law Anthony Lancelot Dias was the second ICS officer with origins in Goa (Assagao). Then, one of A L Dias’s sons-in-law, Peter Lynn Sinai, topped the 1956 public services commission merit list and joined the Indian Foreign Service.

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