Indian Foreign Service (IFS) : Training Overview, Career Progression and Functions

The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is the role of administration, diplomat civil service under the Group A & Group B. It is one of the most prestigious central civil services of the executive branch of the Government of India. The members of the IFS Community represent the country in international territories.

In recent years, the intake into the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) has averaged between – 8 to 15 persons annually. The current cadre strength or a number of the service stands at approximately 600 officers operating around 162 Indian missions and posts abroad and the various positions in the Ministry at home.

The IFS, unlike any other civil services, deals with the country’s external affairs like diplomacy, trade and cultural relations. The IFS is responsible for developing the government’s foreign policies and management of Indian missions abroad.

IFS Officer Training Overview

On selection to the IFS officer through the combined Civil Services examination, the new entrants undergo a multi-faceted and comprehensive training programme intended to give them a thorough grounding in diplomatic knowledge, diplomatic qualities and diplomatic skills.

The probationers commence their training (IFS Training), together with their colleagues from the other All India Services, at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. After that, the probationers join the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi and undergo focused training in the various disciplines that a career diplomat needs to familiarise himself with.

The Foreign Service Institute (IFS training academy) course involves lectures, attachments with various wings of the government as well as familiarisation tours both within the country and abroad. This course aims to teach in the diplomatic recruit a strong sense of history, knowledge of diplomacy and international relations and a grasp of general economic and political principles.

Other Programme Inclusions

The programme usually continues till June, and it includes the following:

  • Introduction to different aspects of diplomacy and key elements of foreign affairs, work in the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian missions abroad.
  • Visit South Block, Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhawan, Hyderabad House and other offices of MEA, and calling on the Ministers and Secretaries.
  • Calling on the President, the Vice President, and the Prime Minister.
  • Various attachments that include- Bharat Darshan, Embassy Attachment, State and District Attachment, and Defence Attachments.

After the training programme, the officers are assigned with compulsory foreign language (CFL). Then after a brief period of desk attachment in the Ministry of External Affairs, the officer is posted to an Indian Mission abroad in a country where his CFL is the native language and enrolled in a foreign language course. The officer is then expected to develop proficiency in his CFL and pass the requisite examination before he is confirmed in service.

Note: For more details, you can visit https://ssifs.mea.gov.in/.

IFS Officer Training
IFS Officer Training

IFS Officer’s Career Progression

A Foreign Service Officer usually begins his career abroad as a Third Secretary and is promoted to the Second Secretary as soon as he is confirmed in the service. The subsequent promotions are to the levels of First Secretary, Counsellor, Minister and Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative. Officers can also be posted to the Indian Consulates abroad where the hierarchy (going upwards) is Vice-Consul, Consul and Consul General.

The hierarchy at the Ministry of External Affairs includes six stages: Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary.

As a career diplomat, the Foreign Service Officer is often required to project India’s interests, both at home and abroad on a wide variety of issues. These include the bilateral political and economic cooperation, trade and investment promotion, cultural interaction, press and media liaison as well as a whole host of multilateral issues.

IFS Officer Functions

  • An IFS Officer represents India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, and Permanent Missions to multilateral organizations like U.N.;
  • Protects India’s national interests in the country of officer’s posting;
  • Promotes friendly relations with the receiving state as also its people, including NRI/PIOs;
  • Reports accurately on developments in the country of posting which are most likely to influence the formulation of India’s policies; the negotiating agreements on various issues with the authorities of the receiving state; and
  • Extends consular facilities to the foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.

At home, the Ministry of External Affairs is usually responsible for all aspects of external relations. The territorial divisions deal with bilateral political and economic work. In contrast, functional divisions look after policy planning, multilateral organizations, regional groupings, legal matters, disarmament, protocol, consular, Indian Diaspora, press and publicity, administration and other aspects.

Summary

The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is a part of the Central Services of India. An IFS position is a sought-after role for the monetary benefits, the lifestyle of being a diplomat, as well as for the unique challenges this profile poses. In this article, we explored the training programme, functions and career progression for a Civil Service IFS Officer.

Areas covered in this article

  • Training details of an IFS Officer
  • IFS Officer Career Progression
  • IFS Officer Functions

Relevant Links

Learn more about Civil Services and State PSC Exams.

This post was last updated on October 31st, 2021 at 10:51 am

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