The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is part of the Central Services of the country. The IFS is a sought-after tag both for the monetary benefits and lifestyle a diplomat enjoys and also for the unique challenges it poses. This article throws light on the training imparted to probationary IFS officers; salary, perks, skills, roles and responsibilities associated with Indian Foreign Service.
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Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Roles & Responsibilities
- Representing India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, in Foreign countries and Permanent Missions to Multilateral Organizations like UN
- IFS officers must safeguard India’s concerns and affairs in the country of his deputation.
- Must develop cordial relations with all the stakeholders in the country of his/her posting.
- Any developments that take place in the country of deputation, which might probably influence the policies of India, must be reported.
- Successfully negotiate on various matters of importance with the concerned authorities in the country of posting,
- Provide consular access to Indian and Foreign nationals.
- The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is totally responsible for all matters concerning India’s foreign relations. There are 2 divisions. One of them is the Territorial division which handles the economic, political and bilateral matters with the concerned countries. The other division is the functional division which handles a host of issues concerning multilateral organizations, disarmament issues, various regional groupings, legal, press, publicity, policy matters, and many other issues.
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Vacancies
There are fewer vacancies for the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) when compared to other highly popular services like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Revenue Service (IRS).
The below table lists the last rank (minimum rank) which got awarded the IFS in the previous years.
As one can see, a candidate needs to get top ranks to be eligible for Foreign Services. You don’t need to know a foreign language to be eligible for the IFS, although you will have to learn one during your training after the selection. According to the MEA website, recent intake into the IFS has averaged between 30-35 persons annually. Currently, there are approximately 850 officers manning around 193 Indian missions and posts abroad and in India.
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Training for Probationary Officers
- The candidates selected into Indian Foreign Service (IFS) cadre are provided training at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussourie. The training would be for a period ranging from 3 months to 4 months. The probationers would be trained on diplomatic skills, knowledge and the qualities that are expected from a diplomat.
- After this, probationers are sent to the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi and undergo focused training in the various disciplines that a career diplomat needs to familiarize himself/herself with. The course here involves lectures, attachments with various wings of the Government as well as familiarisation tours both inside and outside the country. As a Foreign Service Probationer, your training here will be for one year where you are taught International Relations, Indian Foreign Service Pay, Leave and Compensatory Allowances (IFS-PLCA) Rules, Foreign Trade, functioning of Indian missions in neighbouring South Asian countries, attachments with the Army, Navy and the Air Force, attachment with the district and the state administration and attachment with the corporate sector.
- After completion of the above training, probationers will receive on-the-job training wherein they will be attached to a Division of the Ministry of External Affairs for a period of six months. Post this, they will be assigned a Compulsory Foreign Language (CFL) such as Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish or others.
- Later will be posted as a Third Secretary (Language Trainee) in an Indian mission abroad. Here, they are expected to learn CFL. Only after clearing a proficiency test conducted by the School of Foreign Languages (SFL), Ministry of Defence, will they be confirmed as an IFS officer. It takes a total of three years to make it this far from Mussoorie training days!
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Postings after Training
After confirmation, you will be posted as a Second Secretary in one of the wings (Political, Economic or Commerce, Consular, Administrative or Cultural) at an Indian Embassy or as Consul at an Indian Consulate for a period of 3 years. Here again, an officer is expected to learn about the political, economic, commercial and cultural nuances of his country of posting.
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Career Prospects
The below table gives the promotion chain in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
|At an Indian Mission Abroad||1. Third Secretary (Language Trainee)
2. Second Secretary
3. First Secretary
|At MEA Headquarters, India||1. Attaché
2. Under Secretary
3. Deputy Secretary
5. Joint Secretary
6. Additional Secretary
(The Highest Post under IFS is the Foreign Secretary, who serves from India).
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Grade, Salary, Payscale
Salary & Perks
The salary and perks are quite attractive. Apart from the salary, IFS officers would be given a Special Foreign Allowance. This amount varies with the country of posting. For example, when a new officer is assigned to the Indian mission in the USA, he/she can get the US $4000 per month. This allowance increases with the grade.
The below table gives the pay scale for different positions in Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
|Post Abroad||Post in India||Payscale|
|Attaché/Third Secretary||Under Secretary||8000-275-13500|
|Second/First Secretary||Under Secretary||10650-325-15850|
|First Secretary||Deputy Secretary||12750-375-16500|
|Minister/DCM Ambassador||Joint Secretary||18400-500-22400|
|Ambassador/High Commissioner||Additional Secretary||22400-525-24500|
|Ambassador/High Commissioner||Secretary||26000 (Fixed)|
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IFS officers are also given good accommodation, household help, official vehicles, security guards, abroad study options and retirement benefits and pension.
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Skills Required
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Analytical skills
- Interest and knowledge in International relations
- Decision-making skills
- Ability to adapt to different environments and cultures
- Sensitivity to other cultures
The above details would help candidates preparing for UPSC 2020 in setting up their goals.