Indian Foreign Service: Functions and Diplomatic Hierarchy

The IFS is one of the three all India services you can get into if you clear the UPSC civil services and get the required ranking. On becoming an IFS officer, you can serve in the foreign services of our country and even go on to become ambassadors of India to various other countries. You can even work in India in the Ministry of External Affairs. Although there are fewer vacancies in the IFS as compared to the IAS, it is a covetable service and offers an exciting life to those willing to take it.

How to become an IFS Officer?

To become an IFS officer, you must take the UPSC civil services exam and get the required rank. The IFS is a highly ranked service and only those with high ranks can hope to get this service. In addition, there are fewer number of vacancies for the IFS as compared to the IAS, IPS or the IRS. Generally, on an average, about 30 – 40 candidates from all the categories are inducted into the Indian Foreign Service.

You can get details about the last ranks needed for the IFS in this article:

The Last All India Rank to get the Prestigious IAS, IPS and IFS

IFS vs IAS

Although both the IAS and the IFS are important functionaries of the government and administration, both services have different profiles and vastly different scope of work and career trajectories. While the IAS deals with the administration of the country and its various divisions, the IFS deals with foreign service. IFS officers work either in the External Affairs Ministry or in the various embassies and consulates that India has across the world. The following link talks about this in detail.

Why Do Most UPSC CSE Candidates Choose The IAS Over IFS?

IFS Officer Salary

The starting salary of an IFS officer would be around Rs. 60000 per month with facilities such as good accommodation, transport facilities, security and household helps, medical expenses, free phone, electricity and water, etc. As a government servant, pension and other retirement benefits would also be available. The highest position in the hierarchy is that of an ambassador or the Foreign Secretary. Based on the country, officers can also get a ‘Special Foreign Allowance’ which can also considerably increase the pay package.

Read more about the IFS salary here.

IFS Officer Functions

  • Representing India in embassies, high commissions, consulates and permanent missions to organisations like the United Nations.
  • Protecting India’s national interests in the country where he/she is posted.
  • Promoting friendly relations with the said country and also with its people including PIOs/NRIs.
  • Reporting accurately on the developments in the country of posting, which are likely to influence India.
  • Negotiating agreements on issues with the authorities of the country of his/her posting.
  • Extending consular facilities to foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.
  • In the Ministry of External Affairs, the officer is responsible for all aspects of external affairs such as bilateral political and economic work, policy manning, multilateral organizations, legal matters, protocols, regional groupings, consular affairs, disarmament, Indian diaspora, press and publicity, administration, etc.

IFS Ranks

Grade

Designation in Field (Overseas)

Designation in Headquarters (India)

Junior time scale

Attaché / Third Secretary

Under Secretary

Senior time scale

Second / First Secretary

Under Secretary

Junior administrative grade

First Secretary

Deputy Secretary

Selection grade IV

Director

Counsellor Director

Senior administrative grade

Minister/DCM Ambassador

Joint Secretary

Ambassador/High Commissioner

Additional Secretary

Ambassador/High Commissioner

Secretary

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