Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is one of the elite services categorized under Group A of the UPSC services. This is a diplomatically conceived civil services branch that pertains to the executive department of the government of India.
Foreign diplomats who are responsible for representing our nation on foreign delegations, in foreign lands and territories, are delegated under the IFS umbrella. IFS officers are responsible for holding diplomatic ties with member nations, maintaining good decorum with foreign nationals, and monitor relations between nations on the grounds of international trade and cultural relations.
For every activity that is connected with foreign diplomacy, IFS officers are trained to be keen on managing international pet projects along with consideration of forming sound Foreign policies, placing strategies for their implementation, and setting the platform for their take off and project-wise, timely execution.
Training offered under Indian Foreign Service (IFS)
IFS officers are selected through the UPSC Civil Service Exam conducted every year on an all-India basis. Based on the order of merit and vacancies available, IFS officers are selected through a panel of authorities.
The Civil service exam pattern followed by successful candidates to reach this position consists of the preliminary phase, the mains examination phase, and, finally, the interview round. After successfully emerging in the interview round, candidates chosen for IFS cadres will be called in for induction and comprehensive training programs.
This is an intensive training program to inculcate diplomatic qualities in candidates to build good ties with other nations. Diplomatic qualities and skills thus built in this way help the candidates traverse a long successful career path in the form of IFS officers.
Training to probationary officers is provided at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussourie. This is, in fact, a general training module wherein common training is offered to candidates from all services.
The next process in the training module is the specialized and intensive training program. IFS probationary officers will undergo training at the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi, where he will attend grueling sessions to make himself a perfect foreign diplomat. The training procedure involves high level lecturing sessions and on-board cum hands-on training modules with experienced and in-house government faculties specialized for this purpose.
Syllabus for the training will focus on international trade relations, history, business modules, knowledge of diplomacy, etc. Once a candidate enters this level of the training process, he is assigned a foreign language that he has to learn and master depending on his deputation. This is called the Compulsory foreign language or CFL in official terms.
Next, the probationary IFS officer is deputed on the premises of the Ministry of External affairs for a brief period of time. Once the IFS probationary officer completes his association with the desk attachment of the Ministry of External Affairs, he moves on to his deputation, where he will be posted abroad in the language he has been assigned as CFL. Before the confirmation of his post as an officer, the probationary officer is expected to pass the language test and develop fluency with the CFL.
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At the entry level of the IFS officers, they are appointed as the Third secretary initially. Once his role as IFS officer is confirmed on rolls, and he is designated a foreign mission abroad, he gets promoted as the second secretary. In the next subsequent level, he gets posted as the first secretary. Future promotions lead to lucrative positions, namely counselors, and they may represent the government as a Minister.
Upon good experience in his roles and responsibilities, the IFS officer may now be deputed as Deputy High Commissioner and later be positioned as Ambassador / High Commissioner or upon outstanding contributions, and meritorious track records are allocated the permanent representative of a nation.
Roles and Responsibilities of Indian Foreign Service officer
- As a prospective Indian representative on foreign missions, the IFS officer is expected to hold India’s interests in very high esteem and showcase India’s contributions to the world.
- IFS officers are delegated to bring on board and open discussions about various issues, both at the national and international level, and hold talks with eminent and panel members of different bureaucracies.
- IFS officers are responsible for representing our country and support fellow Indians in their respective Embassies and consulates.
- Promoting national interests and maintaining good and friendly relations with foreign nations.
- Holding talks and facilitating the implementation of foreign policies.
- Calibrating peace negotiations or mutual agreements and diplomatic meetings in international arenas.
- Developing a good rapport with facility extension services to all Indians residing at the respective consulates of the country represented by the IFS officer.
There are various levels that an IFS officer has to cross to attain outstanding positions in the governmental bureaucratic confinements. Here are some of the lucrative career possibilities for an IFS officer starting from the lowest level:
- Beginning as a third secretary, an IFS officer can serve in a Foreign Embassy. As a second secretary, later as first secretary and then counselor in the Embassy.
- He can aim to become the Minister after the next successive promotion.
- Later he can extend his work and responsibilities in a foreign consulate under the roles of Vice Consulate, Consulate, and Consulate general.
- After the initial desk attachment with the Ministry of external affairs, he will be promoted to higher roles. During this tenure, he may serve as Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, and Joint Secretary.
IFS Officer Salary
Based on the different ranks of IFS officers, they are categorized and put in different pay slots accordingly. An indicative list is given below, which was the last updated list as of 2019. Check out:
- Junior IFS officers serving as “Under Secretary” will receive a salary in the range of 8000 to 14000/-
- Senior IFS officers serving as “Under Secretary” will be paid anywhere between 10650 to 16000/-
- Higher rank IFS officers serving as “Deputy Secretary” will receive pay between 12,750 to 17000/-
- Selection grade IFS officers serving as “Counselor Director” receive pay between 15,100 to 18,500/–
- A “Joint Secretary” can expect a salary around 18,400 to 22,500/-
IFS officers also receive a special foreign allowance that will be an addition to their basic salary shown above. With increments in roles, the grade pay shall also increase accordingly.
Apart from the above pay details, they are also entitled to facilities like:
- 2 or 3 BHK Accommodation
- Security Guard & Household Helpers
- Medical Expenses
- Electricity & Water Bill
- Free Phone Call
- Abroad Study Options
- Pension & Retirement Benefits
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