The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is one of the country’s central services. The IFS is a common tag for the financial benefits and luxury a diplomat enjoys, as well as for the unique challenges it presents. This article sheds light on the training given to IFS probationary officers; the wages, benefits, qualifications, duties and responsibilities of the Indian Foreign Service.
What is the Life of an IFS Officer?
A diplomat is under scrutiny all the time. Thoughts and actions must be assessed as a representative of India to the world. One false decision could keep the diplomatic career of an IFS officer. And it is not only the official who is under intense surveillance; their spouses and their children are also required to do their portion.
Frequent travel from one nation to another implies that the career of the IFS Officer’s spouse may be affected. The diplomats also struggle with the change of culture every few years as they shift and adjust to a foreign country.
Another aspect that dissuades many applicants is that they can be deployed anywhere else in the world where India has diplomatic missions.
What is the life of an IFS Officer? Read about it more below
An Extraordinary Life of an IFS Officer
Many times, the life and well-being of an IFS officer could be under threat due to sudden changes in the local society such as revolutions or coups. In political instability nations, they must be on alert at all times, and often the mission as a whole can have to be relocated within a short time. One of the roles that the IFS officer also has to perform is to organise intelligence collection and campaign activities in the territory in which they are based. This is very risky for officers and their staff, even in friendly nations.
IFS Eligibility Criteria
The nationality of an applicant must be anyone of the following
- Must be a citizen of India
- Must be a subject of Nepal
- Must be a subject of Bhutan
- Can be a Tibetan refugee who came to India before January 1, 1962, for permanent residence in India.
- For permanently settling in India, the migrants from any of these countries Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam
An applicant must have a degree from any of the recognised universities in any field of education
The skills required to become a successful IFS Officer are:
- Decision-making ability
- Leadership ability
- Good analytical ability
- Good communication skills
- Interpersonal Skills
- Knowledge of India’s policy, economy and affairs
- Diplomatic approach
- Amazing Stamina
- Minimum age 21 years
- Maximum age 30 years
Relaxable age limit is as follows:
- For SC/ST candidates, upto maximum 5 years
- For OBC candidates, upto maximum 3 years
- For a candidate from the State of Jammu & Kashmir, upto maximum 5 years
- For Defence Services personnel, upto maximum 5 years
- For Blind, deaf-mute and Orthopaedically handicapped persons, upto maximum 10 years
Number of Attempts- IFS Exam
The maximum number of attempts for different categories are as follows:
- For the General Category Candidates, 7 attempts are allowed
- For the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) candidates there is no restriction
- For the Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates, 9 attempts are allowed in total
An IFS aspirant has to clear the UPSC or IFS Exam and go through a personality test to get selected to become a future IFS Officer. Do your UPSC preparation wisely to score well in these three stages
- The Preliminary Exam
- The Mains Exam
- The Personality Test/ Interview
The last and final phase is the interview, consisting of 275 points. This should be remembered, however, that it is difficult to crack the prelims and Mains. Also, the phase of the interview is far more than just theoretical knowledge. The members of the Board shall determine the quality of the candidate to see if it is sufficient for the job or not. The applicant must also know all the current affairs of the country and around the world.
On the other hand, the applicant should sit down for a few mock interviews to train himself. Often, if you already don’t know, the applicants chosen for the interview are double the number of positions.
The applicant is therefore chosen on the basis of clarity of mind and wise responses. Some other factors that influence the selection process are judgement, patience, knowledge, morality, and much more. The Interview Panel will analyze the candidate’s personality and not just expertise. They’re all analyzed in the first two rounds. Do a lot of UPSC preparation and give mock interviews before the main exam.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Constituting India in its ministries, high-level commissions, consular and multilateral organisations
- Defending India’s economic interests in the nation where the officer is stationed Improving and fostering friendship between India and the nation where the officer is stationed, including non-resident Indians or persons of Indian descent
- Details on developments in the foreign country that could have an effect on India’s policy
- The responsibility of an IFS officer is very appealing and demanding.
- To serve India on global conferences and platforms and in the nations they are named, an IFS officer is, therefore, a very high prevalence for India, which plays a vital role in shaping Indian foreign policy and building both diplomatic and economic relations with countries.
- To maintain and manage all diplomatic relations between India and the country to which they are named
- Develop, co-create and sustain economic integration between India and other countries
- Holding Indian MEA Office up-to-date on recent developments
Each IFS officer practices a foreign language before being approved to serve. This training shall be given in the country where the language is being spoken. Further than that, there is no structured cultural instruction. The Foreign Service Institute in Delhi has some training programs for young entrants on diplomatic protocol, etc. but this is very simple.
Family life is complicated. Many younger officers are partnered with highly skilled wives who would like to work. It’s not always feasible. A few countries do not allow diplomatic spouses to work, some do, but unique positions are difficult to find, and some have limitations such as language.
IFS vs IAS
It may seem that a diplomat is living a very exciting and comfortable life. Typically, they get large houses of domestic workers to work in. They’re even going to throw and attend celebrations. IFS officers also don’t have to think about interacting with politicians like their IAS/IPS peers. Although, in most situations, they have diplomatic immunity when they are posted overseas. The salary structure of the IFS officer is also better than the salary structure of the IAS officer due to higher compensation.
IAS/IPS officers, on the other hand, spend their early careers in district headquarters and sub-divisional towns that may be in remote locations. The IAS officer must also move continuously within his district as part of his work, which may involve going to undeveloped areas or areas affected by insurrections, etc. The lifestyle of an IAS or IPS officer may be extremely limited in their early careers. Even then, the Indian administration is an All India service, whereas the Indian Foreign Service is a central service.
Who is the Senior? IAS or IFS
Candidates want to serve on the basis of their aspirations, competence and UPSC rank. If an applicant wants to work inside India and has a significant positive effect on people’s lives, accelerating the growth of the country firsthand, then IAS will be the perfect option.
When a life of travel and adventure and an interaction of people from various cultures and places appeal to an individual, foreign services might be acceptable to them. Both services help to improve the nation and to protect the interests of the community in their very own way. If one decides to opt for IAS over IFS ultimately depends on the individual’s skill and interests.
Pay Scale of an IFS
The IFS officer is responsible for dealing with the foreign matters of the country, which also involves diplomacy, commerce and cultural ties. Many applicants dream of securing a central government job as an IFS officer due to a variety of advantages, such as free housing, travel, retirement benefits, pensions, and, furthermore, it is a highly rewarding career that offers them the incentive to remain and study abroad.
Even, the 7th pay commission has been accepted and, for this purpose, there is a big rise in salary for IFS officers. As a result, candidates who work as an IFS officer in India will be granted various benefits as stated above. In addition, the Government of India also offers specific international allowances for candidates who are appointed outside the country.
Pros of Becoming an IFS Officer
- You’ll save at least 4-5 times as much as any Group A officer when you’re deployed abroad and if you’re not going nuts about buying things, etc.
- You should do your duty with dignity and without any political intervention.
- You may not get a red beacon, but you’re just riding in the Mercedes E-Class or the S-Class with the Indian flag.
- You would be linked to tax-free sales of products ranging from vehicles to clothing to food items.
- You’re never going to be spoken to by any politician from any party; you’re going to fly around the world and just live in the largest cities of those nations in the best locations.
Cons of Becoming an IFS Officer
- In the longer term, you can often get cut off from the truth of the land and get separated from its serious challenges. Your only origin would be the media and the third party accounts.
- Unless you’re some kind of person who enjoys the red beacon, and when you walk in, people will be annoyed. Particularly within India, no one appears to care too much if you’re inside their room or outside.
- So if you have a dreadful Ambassador or Deputy Chief of Mission, you’re messed. It’s the reverse of what’s going on in the IAS in a manner.
- If your partner is employed, it will be a struggle to balance both of your jobs. And if you don’t send your kids back to study in India after grade 5, they’ll get the best standard of education and become great international students and are expected to go to Harvard/Yale
Top Colleges for IFS Career
- BU Bhopal, Bhopal
- Loyola College, Chennai
- Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
- Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune
- St. Xaviers College,Mumbai
- S. S. Jain Subodh P. G. College, Jaipur
- Tezpur University, Tezpur
- DG Vaishnav College, Chennai
- Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kharagpur
It depends entirely on the applicant whether he or she wishes to become an IAS or an IFS officer. That being said, one element that must be borne in mind is that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be a government officer. It’s a noble work, as you serve and represent the country. You should concentrate on your UPSC preparation because it’s not easy to crack these tests.
The IFS officer is the one who encompasses the country in different countries. So, you need to form your character accordingly. Benefits and opportunities are very eye-catching, but the obligations are very challenging. Whatever they choose to do, that’s the judgment of 1,34 billion Indians. Isn’t that great?