A special service class has been created to run the work of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, which is called the Indian Foreign Service (I.F.S.). It is a body of professional diplomats of India. This service is part of the Central Services of the Government of India. The Foreign Secretary of India is the administrative head of the Indian Foreign Service.
Indian Foreign Services Day History
Indian Foreign Services was established on 9 October 1946. Since 2011, this day is celebrated as IFS Day.
Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
A special service class has been created to conduct the functions of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, which is called the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). It is a body of professional diplomats of India. This service is part of the Central Services of the Government of India. The Foreign Secretary of India is the administrative head of the Indian Foreign Service.
Now this service has not been limited to the elite families, kings-princes, military officers etc. but has been opened to all. Ordinary citizens can also become a part of this service on the basis of their qualification and education.
Indian Foreign Service Day: Selection Process
- Selection in the Indian Foreign Service is done through the ‘Civil Services Examination’ conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) every year.
- Posts are allotted to the finally selected candidates in the Civil Services Examination according to the aggregate marks obtained by them and the service preference given by them.
- There are many challenges and responsibilities associated with this service, so the Union Public Service Commission selects only such candidates for this service who are suitable for this service.
- In recent years about 20 persons are recruited in the Indian Foreign Service every year. The present cadre strength of the service is about 600 officers, out of which about 162 officers are holding various positions in the Indian Missions abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country.
• It is mandatory for the candidate to be a graduate from a recognized university / institute.
• The new members selected for the Indian Foreign Service undergo a significant three-year (36 months’ duration) training program. This training takes place in the following phases-
- Basic Training – 4 Months (At National Academy, Mussoorie)
- Vocational Training – 12 Months (at District Office and International School, New Delhi)
- Practical Training – 6 Months (Under Ministry of External Affairs)
- Probation Training – 14 Months (At High Commissioner/Embassy abroad)
- First of all, these trainee officers are given basic training of 4 months at ‘Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie’, where members of many other elite Indian Civil Service organizations are also trained.
- New members go through a probationary period, during which they are called probationers.
- After completing the training of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, the probationers enroll in ‘Foreign Service Institute’ located in New Delhi for further training as well as engagement with various government bodies and tours in India and abroad.
- These trainee officers are given 4 months training in foreign policy and methodology, international relations and language knowledge at the ‘Indian School of International Studies, New Delhi’.
- After this, the trainee officers are attached to a district administration for 6 months so that they become able to come into practical contact with the responsibility. In addition, they are also provided training in the Secretariat of the Ministry of External Affairs for some time.
- The training program for IFS lays emphasis on the study of languages (Hindi and a foreign language) and subjects whose knowledge is considered essential for an IFS officer to acquire.
- New members are sent to the army units for a few days and also for ‘Bharat Darshan’.
- At the conclusion of the training program, the officer is mandated to learn a foreign language (Context Free Language (CFL).
- After a brief stint with the Ministry of External Affairs, the officer is assigned to an Indian diplomatic mission abroad where the local language is ‘CFL’. There officers receive language training and are then expected to master the CFL and pass an exam, only then are they allowed to continue in the service.
Appointment & Promotion:
- IFS officers are generally appointed in the Embassy, Consulate and Ministry of External Affairs.
- They start their service abroad as Third Secretary and are promoted to the post of Second Secretary as soon as they become permanent in the service.
- The best posting of an IFS officer is as Ambassador or Foreign Secretary. Their hierarchy is as follows-
- At the Embassy:
Third Secretary (Entry Level)
Second Secretary (Promotion after confirmation in service)
Mission Vice President / Deputy High Commissioner / Deputy Permanent Representative
Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative
At the consulate:
- Vice Consul
In the Ministry of External Affairs:
- Under Secretary
- Deputy Secretary
- Joint Secretary
- Additional Secretary
As a professional diplomat, the IFS officer is expected to take care of and advance India’s interests both at home and abroad on various issues. These include bilateral political and economic cooperation, trade and investment promotion, cultural exchanges, press and media contacts and all multilateral issues.
- IFS officers mainly perform functions related to the external affairs of the country such as diplomacy, trade, cultural relations, migration related matters etc.
- They are involved in the formulation and implementation of India’s foreign policy.
- They represent India in their Embassies, High Commissions and Permanent Missions of multilateral organizations like the United Nations.
- Their main objective is to ensure the security of India’s national interests in the country to be appointed.
- They play a key role in maintaining friendly relations with the host nation and its people, including NRIs and Persons of Indian Origin.
- They give accurate information about developments abroad, which can affect India’s policy-making.
- They are also responsible for negotiating various issues with the authorities of the host nation.
- The Ministry of External Affairs is responsible for all aspects related to India’s foreign relations. Regional divisions deal with bilateral political and economic functions, while functional divisions deal with policy-planning, multilateral organizations, regional parties, legal affairs, disarmament, innovation, Indian diaspora, press and propaganda, administration and other functions.