The Indian Foreign Service,is a part of ‘Group A’ central services under the civil services of India. IFS is one of the three arms of the All India services along with IAS and IPS. The IFS members represent the country at an international level. IFS deals with India’s external affairs like trade, diplomacy, and cultural relations. Also, IFS is accountable for framing the Government’s foreign policies and management of Indian missions abroad. Moreover, it is the most popular job after IAS. Also, every year in this department UPSC introduces 17-18 vacancies. To sum up, the competition is quite tough among the candidates. Further, this is one of the smallest cadres in the country.
Table of Contents:-
- What is IFS?
- Recruitment Process of IFS
- Role of an IFS officer
- Required Skills
- Pros of Becoming an IFS
- Cons of Becoming an IFS
- IFS Salary Structure
- Perks of an IFS Officer
- Eligibility Criteria for IFS (Nationality, Educational, Age, Attempts)
- Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Vacancies
- IFS Examination Pattern (Prelims, Mains & Interview)
- IFS Exam Syllabus
- Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Postings after Training
- Difference Between IAS and IFS
- FAQ About IFS
What is IFS?
The Indian Foreign Service(IFS) is the diplomatic and administrative division of Group A and Group B Central services under the Indian government. IFS service brings new challenges & provides generous monetary benefits that attract many candidates to become an IFS service. IFS officers get to travel to different countries & get a chance to experience different cultures & cuisines is the tip of the iceberg. In this article, we will be exploring duties, salary perks and more things about IFS.
Recruitment Process of IFS
IFS officers are selected through the UPSC civil services exam(CSE) conducted every year annually. The UPSC exam consists of three rounds of exam/test to recruit candidates into the Group A and Group B Central services. These are Prelims, Mains, and Interview. Moreover, the selected candidates go to Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration(LBSNAA) for training. The second method of recruitment in IFS is via promotion from Group B services.For this, the Staff Selection Commission(SSC) recruits the candidate. In other words, the officer selected through this process can get the position of Joint Secretary in the Ministry.
Role of an IFS officer
IFS officers deal with the external affairs of India which include diplomacy, cultural relations and trade. The role of an IFS officer includes as mentioned below:
- IFS officers represent India in its Embassies, High Commissions, and Consulates in Foreign countries and Permanent Missions to Multilateral Organizations like the UN.
- Promoting friendly relations with all the stakeholders which include NRI or PIOs in the country of their posting.
- It is the duty of the IFS officers to safeguard India’s concerns and affairs in the country of his deputation.
- Successfully negotiate on various matters of importance with the concerned authorities in the country of posting.
- Provide consular access to Indians who are living abroad and Foreign nationals.
- The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is fully responsible for all matters regarding to India’s foreign relations. There are 2 divisions. One of them is the Territorial division that handles the political, economic and bilateral matters with the concerned countries. The other division is the functional division which handles a host of issues concerning multilateral organizations, various regional groupings, disarmament issues, legal, publicity, press, policy matters, and many other issues.
- IFS officers who are posted abroad Inform about the developments in the foreign country that could affect India’s national interest.
- To represent India on international forums and platforms and in the countries they are appointed, An IFS officer is thus a very important thread for India who plays a vital role in shaping Indian foreign policy and building all diplomatic and economic ties with countries
- To create, co-create & maintain economic cooperation between India & other foreign countries
- To constantly keep updating Indian MEA(Ministry of External Affairs) office
- responsible for managing Indian missions abroad & also frame the Government’s foreign policies.
- Interpersonal Skills
- Good Communication
- Knowledge of India’s policy, economy and affairs
- Diplomatic approach
- Leadership and decision – making quality
- Amazing Stamina
- But the most important quality is Patience
Pros of Becoming an IFS?
- Firstly, the IFS officer represents the country abroad and works hard to achieve the National objective.
- Secondly, the IFS officers travel across the globe for work and also get the opportunity to sit with celebrities and big names. Thus, IFS officers get the opportunity to experience the world & its different facets.
- Also, IFS officers enjoy diplomatic immunity
Cons of Becoming an IFS?
- IFS officers are not allowed to take their family along in foreign postings.
- Work can get extremely stressful if they get posted in areas with high conflicts.
- The biggest drawback in IFS service as most people highlight is that almost half of the lifetime of an IFS officer is spent in a foreign country. The IFS officers are not able to spend the prime time with their families and by the time they come back to India, they have already spent the prime time of their lives abroad. In many cases, families of IFS officers move along with them but not everybody does because of constraints like schooling, socializing, etc.
IFS Officer Salary
The overall salary of an IFS officer is around Rs 60,000 per month. Moreover, they are provided with several benefits like transportation, accommodation, medical expenses and much more. In addition to that, a government servant enjoys a pension and many retirement benefits. The officer’s pay package can also get increased based on the country of posting. In this case, the salary can go up to 2.4 lakhs. Also, the highest position an IFS officer can attain is of the ambassador or the Foreign Secretary.
An IFS officer is posted in different foreign countries and serves the nation. Furthermore, it comes with various additional benefits & perks in addition to the benefits for family as well.. They get allowances according to the country’s level of security and level of posting which makes their salary very attractive. As they are posted abroad and are subjected to the local environment (political, economic, social etc.) and therefore get paid accordingly. Also, they have to keep up with the standard of living in different foreign countries. It depends on the country of posting and the level of danger the IFS officers are posted.
An IFS officer serves the nation but is posted in different foreign countries. Moreover, it comes with various additional benefits and perks along with the benefits for family as well. The salary seems to be high because they get allowances according to the country’s level of security and level of posting. They are subjected to the local environment (political, economic, etc.) and hence get paid accordingly. Also, they have to keep up with the standard of living in different countries. It depends on the country of posting and the level of danger the IFS officers are in.
- The Junior Level post, the IFS officer’s pay lies between Rs. 15,600 to 39,100 along with grade pay of Rs. 5400 .
- However, the pay for a Senior Time Scale Officer lies between Rs. 15,600 to 39,100 along with grade pay of Rs. 6600.
- At the level of Junior Administrative, the pay is Rs. 15,600 to Rs. 39,100 along with grade pay of Rs. 7600.
- The pay scale for Selection Grade level officers is Rs. 37,400 to 67,000 along with grade pay of Rs. 8,700.
- On the other hand, the pay scale for Super Time Scale officers is Rs. 37,400 to Rs Rs. 67,000, along with grade pay of Rs. 12,000.
- Further, the Apex Pay scale level officer’s pay is fixed at Rs. 80,000, and the same goes for Cabinet Secretary whose pay scale is also fixed at Rs. 90,000.
Perks of an IFS Officer
- 2 or 3 BHK Accommodation
- Government Transportation
- Security and House Help
- Medical Expenses
- Water and electricity is almost free
- Free phone calls
- Retirement benefits and pension
- An IFS officer also has an opportunity to study abroad and the expenses for study are borne by the government.
Eligibility Criteria for IFS:-
Nationality Criteria: The IFS candidate’s nationality must be either of the following::
- A citizen of India;
- A citizen of Nepal;
- A citizen of Bhutan;
- IFS candidate can be a Tibetan refugee who came to India for permanent settlement but before 1 January 1962; or
- Migrants from any of the countries mentioned below for permanent settlement in India – Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Uganda, East African countries of Kenya, The United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zaire, Malawi, Ethiopia & Vietnam.
For IFS officers post the candidate should have a degree of graduate or a degree which is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from any of the recognized Universities.
Skills Required for an IFS officer:
- Good Decision-making ability
- Good communication skills
- Excellent knowledge about foreign nations and their relation with India
- current affairs
- Good analytical ability
- Leadership ability
The minimum age is 21 years but the maximum is 32 years as per the UPSC CSE notification. For SC/ST candidates, the age relaxation is up to 37 years and there is no limit on the number of attempts. For OBC, it is up to 35 years of age. Similarly, the age limit is different for residents from J&K, physically handicapped and Defence candidates.
- It is 5 years for SC/ST
- 3 years for OBC
- Upto maximum 10 years of age relaxation for Deaf, Blind, and disabled people.
Number of Attempts
- The general & EWS (Economically Weaker Section) category has 6 attempts.
- However, there is no limit for SC/ST till the age of 37 years.
- But, for other backward classes(OBC), there is a total of 9 attempts.
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Vacancies
- There are fewer vacancies for the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) when compared to other services like IAS, IPS, IRS etc.
- To become an IFS officer candidate need to get top ranks. Candidates don’t need to know a foreign language for becoming eligible for the IFS, although after clearing the exam and getting selected for IFS service, candidates will have to learn one foreign language during their training after the selection. According to the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) website, in recent years intake into the IFS has averaged between 30-35 candidates annually.
IFS Examination Pattern
The IFS exam contains 3 stages – Prelims, Mains and interview.
IFS Prelims Exam Pattern:
The prelims exam contains 2 papers. The maximum marks of both papers are 200 marks and the time duration for both papers is 2 hours each. Moreover, both papers contain objective types of multiple-choice questions. Also, the language of both papers in Hindi and English. However, in each paper, blind candidates get an extra 20 minutes.
IFS Mains Exam Pattern:
The candidates who clear the Prelims exam sit for the Mains. However, the Mains exam total contains 1750 marks. Also, the final list is created on the basis of the sum of interview and Mains marks. But paper A and B are related to Compulsory Indian language and English respectively contains 300 marks each and the remaining 7 papers contain 250 marks each. Below are the papers in the mains –
- Paper 1( language is chosen by the candidate)
- Paper 1( language, which is mentioned in Schedule VIII of the Indian Constitution, is chosen by the candidate – 300 Marks)
- Paper 2( English – 300 Marks)
- Paper 3( Essay – 250 Marks)
- Paper 4 – General studies(GS) I – 250 Marks
- Paper 5 – General studies(GS) II – 250 Marks
- Paper 6 – General studies(GS) III – 250 Marks
- Paper 7 – General studies(GS) IV – 250 Marks
- Paper 8 – Optional subject paper 1 – 250 Marks
- Paper 9 – Optional subject paper 2 – 250 Marks
Notes regarding Optional subjects
- Candidates can opt any one Literature language as their Optional subject – Assamese, Bodo, Bengali, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, and English.
The last stage of UPSC CSE(Civil Service Exam) is the Interview and it comprises 275 marks. The interview stage is much more than just bookish knowledge it checks the overall personality of the candidates. The board members evaluate the calibre of the candidate and see if the candidate is suitable for the job or not. Also, the candidate must know about all the recent current affairs of the country & the world. Apart from this, the candidate should sit for several mock Interviews to check their weak areas and make them strong before the final UPSC interview. Candidates who are selected for the interview are twice as compared to the total number of vacancies in that year. Thus, UPSC CSE candidates are selected on the basis of the presence of mind & smart answers. The other factors that affect the selection are patience, awareness, judgement capability, morals and much more. The Interview panel test the overall personality of the candidate & not merely knowledge. The knowledge base of candidates is already tested in the first two rounds.
IFS Exam Syllabus
For General Studies(GS) Paper 1
- National & international importance related current events
- Indian History & Indian National Movement.
- Indian & World Geography related to Physical, Economic & Social Geography related to India as well as World.
- Indian Polity & Governance, Political System, Indian Constitution, Public Policy, Panchayati Raj institutions, Rights Issues etc.
- Economic & Social Development-Sustainable Development, Inclusion, Poverty, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
- General issues questions related to Bio-diversity, Environment, ecology & Climate Change – in this area, it is not required subject specialisation.
- General Science related questions.
General Studies Paper 2
- Comprehension Interpersonal skills that include communication skills.
- Logical reasoning and analytical ability-based questions.
- Problem-solving & Decision making based questions.
- General mental ability-based questions. Basic numeracy (orders of magnitude, numbers & their relations, etc.) (Class 10th level), Data interpretation (graphs, tables, charts, data sufficiency etc. — Class 10th level).
Compulsory paper English Paper – 300 Marks
- Short Essay – 100 Marks
- Reading Comprehension – 75 marks
- Precis Writing – 75
- Usage & Vocabulary – 50
Compulsory Paper Indian Language Paper – 300 Marks
- Short Essay – 100 Marks
- Reading Comprehension – 60
- Precis Writing – 60
- Translation (2) – 40 marks
- Usage and Vocabulary – 40 marks
- UPSC does not define any prescribed syllabus for essay paper as such.
- As per UPSC in an essay candidate should write closely to the subject and ideas should be in an orderly fashion in a concise way. Marks will be allocated for exact & effective expression.
General Studies Paper 1
- Indian Culture – Art, Literature & Architecture (ancient to modern)
- Modern Indian history (middle 18th century to present) events, personality, issues
- Freedom struggle – various stages, contributors/contributions
- Post-independence – consolidation & reorganisation in India
- World History– from 18th-century events like the industrial revolution, colonisation, political philosophies (like communism, capitalism, socialism etc ) form & impact on society, world wars, decolonisation, redrawal of boundary
- Role, issues & remedy of Women, Women Organisation, population, poverty, development, urbanisation
- Globalisation impact on Indian society
- Social empowerment ,regionalism,communalism & secularism
- World’s physical geography
- Key natural resources distribution in the world(include South Asia & Indian subcontinent); Primary, secondary & tertiary sector industry in the world(include India)
- Geophysical phenomenon like earthquake ,Tsunami ,Volcano ,cyclone etc. ; Geographical features & their location changes(include water body & ice caps) & flora ,fauna & impact of changes.
General Studies paper 2
- Indian Constitution – historical ,evolution ,amendments ,feature ,provision & basic structure
- Union & States function, responsibility, issue in a federal structure, power & finance devolution up to local/grassroots levels
- Separation of powers between the judiciary, legislature & executive – dispute redressal mechanism & institutions
- Comparison of Indian constitution with others
- Parliament & State Legislature – structure ,function ,business conduct,power ,privileges
- Structure, organisation & function of Executive, Judiciary ministries & departments; the role of Pressure group
- Representation of People’s Act
- Constitutional bodies – appointment, functions , powers & responsibility,
- Statutory, regulatory & quasi-judicial body
- Government policies & interventions for development, issue in design & implementation
- Role of NGO, SHG, groups & association donors, charities institutional & stakeholder
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable by Centre & State; Mechanism, laws, institutions & bodies for vulnerable
- Social Service/Sector related to Education, Health and Human resources – Issues
- Poverty & Hunger – issue
- Transparency & accountability,Governance ; e-governance success,issue ,applications potential & models ; Citizen charter , accountability and transparency in governance
- Civil Services role in democracy
- India & its neighbourhood
- Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India and/or affect India’s interests
- Changing Policies & Politics of developed & developing countries – their impact on the interest of India, Impact of the Indian diaspora on India’s policy
- International institutions, agencies & fora – structure, mandate
General Studies paper 3
- Indian economy, issues related to planning, growth, development, mobilisation of resource & employment
- Inclusive growth & issue
- Government budgeting
- Cropping patterns, Types of irrigation & irrigation system storage, transport & marketing of agricultural produce – issue; e-technology
- Farm Subsidy(direct & indirect)-issue, MSP(Minimum Support Price); PDS(Public Distribution System); Buffer stocks & food security; Technology missions; animal rearing
- Food processing & related industries ,upstream & downstream requirements, supply chain management.
- Land reforms in India
- Liberalisation – impact, Industrial policy changes & impact on industrial growth
- Infrastructure – Ports,roads,railway,airports,Energy
- Investment models
- Science & Technology – development ,application & effects in everyday life.
- Indian achievement in Science & Technology; indigenisation of technology, new technology
- IT ,Computers ,Biotechnology ,Robotics ,Nanotechnology ,Space ; Intellectual Property Rights – issues
- Conservation, environmental pollution & degradation, Environmental impact assessment(EIA)
- Disaster & disaster management
- Development & spread of extremism – linkages
- External state & Non-state actors‘ role in the challenge in internal security
- Communication Networks, Media & Social networking sites role in the challenge in internal security; Cyber Security; Money Laundering.
- Border Areas – security challenge; organise crime with terrorism linkages
- Security forces & agencies – mandate
General Studies 4
- Ethics & Human Interface : Consequences ,determinants & essence ; Dimension of Ethics ; Private & public relationship ethics ; Human Values – lesson from lives & teaching of great leaders ,reformers & administrators ; Family ,educational institutions & society role
- Attitude: structure, content and function; relation and influence with behaviour and thought; social influence & persuasion ; moral & political attitude
- Aptitude & foundational values for Civil Service ,Integrity ,impartiality ,tolerance ,non partisanship ,objectivity ,compassion ,dedication to public service,empathy
- Emotional intelligence -concepts, utility and application in administration & governance.
- Moral thinkers & philosophers(India & world) – contributions
- Public or civil service values & ethics in public administration: status & problems;
- Dilemmas & ethical concerns in government & private ;
- Ethical governance and accountability in civil services;
- Laws, rules, regulations & conscience as a source of ethical guidance;
- Strengthen ethical values & moral values in day-to-day governance;
- Ethical issues in corporate governance; Ethical issues in International relations; funding-related issues in International relations
- Probity in Governance: public service-related concept
- Philosophical basis of governance & probity
- Information sharing & transparency in government
- Right to Information(RTI), codes of conduct, codes of ethics and Citizen charters
- Work culture, Quality of service delivery in institutions, utilisation of public funds, challenges related to tackling corruption
- Case studies related to the above-mentioned issue like Attitude,Aptitude etc.
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) – Postings after Training
- After confirmation, IFS officers are posted as a Second Secretary in one of the wings (Economic Economic, Political, or Commerce, Consular, Administrative or Cultural) at an Indian Embassy or as Consul at an Indian Consulate for a 3 years period. Here again, the officer learns the economic, commercial & cultural nuances of his country of posting.
Difference Between IAS and IFS
- Firstly, Within 5 to 8 years of service, an IAS officer reaches the exciting and satisfying part of the career. In this phase, the IAS officer becomes Collector/DM. On the other hand, An IFS officer reaches an exciting part of the career after 12 to 18 years of their service. In this phase, the IFS officer becomes Consul General or Ambassador. This phase lasts for 6-8 years in the case of the IAS officer but in the case of IFS, this phase lasts for 17-25 years So IFS officers have an edge over their IFS counterparts during this aspect
- An IAS officer spends most of the time in dealing with grass-root level people. But on the other hand, an IFS officer interacts with the leading members of society. Also, the IFS officer has to visit several foreign countries in the interest of the country.
- The IAS officer works with the problems of people throughout their careers. On the other hand, the IFS officer makes the foreign policies of India with respect to other countries.
- Unlike IAS, an IFS officer spends most of the time in their career in different capitals be it developed or developing. IFS officer’s job is not a desk job.
- When IFS officers are posted abroad they get several allowances which are much more compared to any other civil service be it IAS or IPS. These services do not receive even IAS or IPS too.
It completely depends on the candidate whether they desire to become an IAS or IFS officer based on their interests. However, candidates should be kept in mind that it takes a lot of hard work and passion for becoming a government servant. To become an IAS/IFS officer is a prestigious job as you serve and represent the nation. You should be focused and hardworking as it is not a cakewalk to crack these exams. An IFS officer represents the nation in various countries. So, the Candidate should mould your personality accordingly. The benefits and perks of IFS officers are very eye-catching but the responsibilities during service are very stressful. Whatever they do is the decision of approximately 1.34 billion Indians. Isn’t it an amazing service?
FAQ Regarding IFS
1. Where does the IFS Training takes place?
The IFS training also starts at LBSNAA, Mussoorie along with IAS & IPS trainees. Later, they are shifted to Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service which functions under the Ministry of external affairs.
2. What does IFS stands for?
Indian Foreign Service is the full form of the IFS acronym. IFS is the most preferred job after IAS service but the cadre of IFS officers is one of the smallest in the country.