Indian Foreign Service Officer in India – Profile, Career

Indian Foreign Service – How to get selected, Job Profile & Career of IFS Officer

Indian Foreign Service in India – With only 180 missions, a rank among the top 90s guarantee selection into Indian Foreign Services— this service is said to have an acceptance rate of 0.02 percent and owing to the job description and the rarity of selection, it is known to as the ‘heaven borne service’. The nature of the job pertains to the academic dialogue between the theoretical knowledge about foreign policy and its application in the for a of international relations. Foreign policy is, according to Hudson, the “strategy or approach chosen by the national government in order to achieve its goals in its relations with the external entities. This includes decisions to do nothing”. All of this is done in a foreign country through country’s Diplomat. A thorough analysis of the job description and how to get into the service has been done below:


Also See : UPSC Exams



With the advent of globalisation, especially  since Mr. Narendra Modi’s government came to power, the importance and charm of the IFS has increased four-folds. Now they are not mere convoys of India sitting abroad but have had a role in active governance through foreign policy mechanisms. Under British Raj when India was merely a colony, serving the needs of British, the Foreign Department was created to conduct business with the "Foreign European Powers" directed by British Parliament to mold Indian Foreign  Policy. After independence, through a cabinet note, it was officially created in 1946.


Job description:

IFS happens to be a Group-A Central Service Government service because Foreign policy is the subject matter and prerogative of Union Government and not an all India service, for which the creation must be under Art 312 of the constitution. Ministry of External Affairs mentions the job duties of an IFS to be as:

  • Representing India in hi Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, and Permanent Missions to multilateral organizations like UN;
  • Protecting India’s national interests in the country of his/her posting;
  • Promoting friendly relations with the receiving state as also its people, including NRI/PIOs;
  • Reporting accurately on developments in the country of posting which are likely to influence the formulation of India’s policies;
  • Negotiating agreements on various issues with the authorities of the receiving state;
  • Extending consular facilities to foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.


What Happens After Selection?

Among all the other selected candidates, the IFS recruits go through a around 4 weeks foundation course at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.
These fresh recruits to the IFS are trained at the Foreign Service Institute, Delhi. A super lush campus with regular sessions with retd. Ambassador, current delegates and other renowned personalities. After one of longest service trainings under Government of India, nearly taking more than 3 years to graduate from, the entrants undergo a probationary period, referred to as Officer Trainees. The officer further have to undergo a language training and is expected to develop expertise in the one chosen language by hin, known as CFL, and has to pass an examination to continue in the services. This is followed with a short term stint of desk job in the Ministry of External Affairs, with the rank being that of Assistant Secretary, the officer is, after over 3-4 years of selection is then, finally posted to an Indian diplomatic mission, where the CFL is the native language.
At an embassy:
Third Secretary, Second Secretary, First Secretary,
Counsellor, Deputy Chief of Mission/Deputy High Commissioner/Deputy Permanent Representative
Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative
At Ministry of External Affairs:
Assistant Secretary/Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Secretary, Foreign Secretary of India- this is India’s Top Diplomatic Rank, Head of the Indian Foreign Service & Foreign Service Board)Also, they are deployed as Permanent Representative of India to the United Nation.
Unlike an IAS officer, an IFS officer spends his entire in-job life entirely in capital cities or farely classic  cities where there are Consulates be it in developed or in developing countries, providing them with the best facilities of the country.


Perks of being an IFS:

 An IFS officer gets Foreign salary allowance when posted abroad. Foreign Allowances, while not comparable to remuneration in the corporate jobs, but are much higher than salaries at home. A ministry of External Affairs in the Government of India is the Controlling Authority of the Indian Foreign Service.
Provision for 1st class tickets once in an year to come back to one’s place, and while loving there you’ll  be provided with accommodation and conveyance package. Furthermore, expenses on education done upon kids, while living  out of the country.
A few known personalities who were IFS officers are:

  • Natwar Singhan: Indian politician, a former senior bureaucrat, a former Union cabinet minister, and a writer.
  • Mani Shankar Aiyar: Indian diplomat turned politician. He was a member of the Indian National Congress party and was a part of first Cabinet (2004–2009) of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh
  • Gopalaswami Parthasarathy: he was the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office, popularly regarded as "hawk" in matters of India’s policy towards Pakistan and terrorism.
  • Mohammad Hamid Ansari: Indian Politician, Vice president of India from 2007 to 2017, also served as an Indian ambassador and is ex-chairman of Rajya Sabha.


How to get in:

To get into IFS, one has to go through the UPSC Civil Services examination, a three-tiered process beginning with preliminary examination, which is of qualifying nature,mains exam and interview. The past trends suggests that those with two digits rank are sure to get into the service but depending upon the seats available and preferences of other candidates in a particular year, the competition varies from tough to too tough but never easy, any time.
But come what may, as Walt Disney said," if you can dream it, you can do it". So, be true to your target, be fearless. Stay spirited guys, happy preparation!


Author: Anushka Mishra