Comparison between IAS and IFS
The preferred choice of service for most UPSC civil services candidates is the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), rather than the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) even though both are given an equal ranking. Even UPSC exam toppers (candidates with top 10 ranking) do not generally choose to go for the foreign services. Is the life of a civil servant in India more appealing than that of a diplomat? This article tries to throw some light on this issue of why the IAS is generally more popular than the IFS.
It might seem that a diplomat leads a very colourful and luxurious life. They usually get grand houses with domestic staff to live in. They also get to host and attend parties. IFS officers also do not have to worry about meddling politicians like their IAS/IPS counterparts do. And, they also have diplomatic immunity. But life is not all hunky-dory here. There is a lot of work and sweat that goes on behind the parties and dinners that a diplomat hosts for various dignitaries. It is no mean feat to be constantly under the scanner. Your behaviour and words must be measured as you represent your country to the world. One wrong move and your career can take a beating. And, it is not just the official who is involved, his/her spouse and children are also expected to do their part. Apart from this, there are a few other pitfalls also with the foreign services.
Frequent moving from one country to the next means that the official’s spouse’s career may be compromised. Also, diplomats have to constantly adapt to the culture and living conditions when they move to another posting. Another factor that deters a lot of candidates is the fact that their posting can be anywhere in the world where India has missions. It need not always be a developed country. They would have to live in less developed countries or worse, war-torn countries. They might also have to serve in a hostile country. Many times, their life and well-being could be under threat. In politically unstable countries, they have to be on guard all the time and sometimes the whole mission might have to be evacuated in a day’s time.
Who is Senior IAS or IFS?
Let it be clear that at the end of the day, a candidate chooses his/her service according to his/her aspirations and aptitudes, and of course, rank. If a candidate wishes to serve within the country by bringing about changes in people’s lives, if he/she wants to interact with the common man and do a hands-on job of ushering in progress, then, the IAS seems to be the ideal line of profession. But, if a life of travel and adventure, not to mention, meeting people from different cultures and places appeals to the candidate, then the foreign services might suit him/her. Also, IAS officers have more visibility in the public. If you shun publicity, the foreign services might suit you where you remain rather anonymous at least for a few years of your career.
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