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.
What is IFS?
The Indian Foreign Service or IFS is the administrative and diplomatic division of Group A and Group B Central services under the Indian govt. Many candidates seek to become IFS officers because of the new challenges the job brings and also generous monetary benefits. Getting to travel to different countries and experiencing different cultures and cuisines is the tip of the iceberg. This article tells you all about the IFS; from duties to salary to perks and more.
Recruitment Process of IFS
IFS officers are selected through the civil services exam conducted by the UPSC. The UPSC exam consists of three rounds of exam/test to recruit candidates into the Group A and Grup B Central services. These are Prelims, Mains, and Interview. Moreover, the selected candidates go to Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration for training. The second method of recruitment is via promotion from Group B services. For this, the Staff Selection Commission selects the candidate. In other words, the officer through this selection can get the position of Joint Secretary in Ministry.
Role of an IFS officer
IFS officers deal with the external affairs of India including diplomacy, trade and cultural relations. Role of an IFS officer includes the following:
- IFS officers represent India in its Embassies, High Commissions, and Consulates in Foreign countries and Permanent Missions to Multilateral Organizations like UN.
- Promoting friendly relations with all the stakeholders including NRI/PIOs in the country of his/her posting.
- IFS officers must 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 Indian and Foreign nationals.
- The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is totally responsible for all matters concerning India’s foreign relations. There are 2 divisions. One of them is the Territorial division which handles the economic, political and bilateral matters with the concerned countries. The other division is the functional division which handles a host of issues concerning multilateral organizations, disarmament issues, various regional groupings, legal, press, publicity, policy matters, and many other issues.
- 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 IFS?
- Firstly, the IFS officer represents the country and works hard to complete the National objective.
- Secondly, the officer has to travel across the globe for work and also get to sit with celebrities and big names. In this way, IFS officers get to experience the world and its different facets.
- Also, IFS officers enjoy diplomatic immunity
Cons of IFS?
- Sometimes you are not allowed to take your family along in foreign postings
- Work can get extremely stressful in areas with high conflicts.
- The biggest drawback that 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 time with their families and by the time they come back to India, they have spent the prime time of their lives away. In many cases, families move along with them but not everybody does so due to constraints like schooling, socializing, etc.
IFS Officer Salary
The overall salary of an IFS officer is 60,000 per month. Moreover, they are provided with several benefits like accommodation, transportation, medical expenses and much more. On the other hand, a government servant enjoys a pension and many retirement benefits.Based on the country the officer’s pay package can also get increased. In this case, the salary can go as high as 2.4 lakhs. Also, the highest position one can attain is of the ambassador or the Foreign Secretary.
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.
|Grade||Rank||Basic Pay in INR (as of 7th Pay Commission)|
|Junior Time Scale||Under Secretary||8000|
|Junior Time Scale||Under Secretary||8000|
|Senior Time Scale||Under Secretary||10700|
|Junior Administrative Scale||Deputy Secretary||12750|
|Selection Grade||Counselor Director||15100|
|Senior Administrative Scale||Joint Secretary||18400|
|High Commissioner/ Ambassador||Foreign Secretary||26000|
- At the Junior Level, the pay of an officer is between Rs. 15,600 to 39,100 with grade pay of Rs. 5400.
- However, for a Senior Time Scale Officer, the pay is Rs. 15,600 to 39,100 with grade pay of Rs. 6600.
- At the Junior Administrative Level, the pay is Rs. 15,600 to 39,100 with grade pay of Rs. 7600.
- The Selection Grade level officer pay is Rs. 37,400 to 67,000 with grade pay of Rs. 8,700.
- On the other hand, Super Time Scale officer pay is Rs. 37,400 to Rs 67,000, with grade pay of Rs. 12,000.
- Further, the pay of Apex Pay scale level officer is fixed at Rs. 80,000, and the same goes for Cabinet Secretary, it is Rs. 90,000.
Perks of being 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 option to study abroad and the expenses will be covered by the govt.
Eligibility Criteria for IFS:
Nationality: The nationality of the candidate must be either of the following:
- A citizen of India;
- A citizen of Nepal;
- A citizen of Bhutan;
- Secondly, the candidate can be a Tibetan refugee who came to India but before 1 January 1962 for permanent settlement; or
- Migrants from any of the countries mentioned below for permanent settlement in India – Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, The United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam.
Educational Qualification for IFS officer
The candidate should be a graduate or have a degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from any of the recognized Universities.
The minimum age is 21 years but the maximum is 30 years as per the norms. For SC/ST candidates, the age relaxation is up to 35 years of age. For OBC, it is up to 33 years of age. Similarly, the age limit is different for residents from J&K, Defence candidates, and physically handicapped candidates.
- It is 5 years for SC/ST
- 3 years for OBC
- 5 years for the candidate of Jammu and Kashmir.
- 10 years for Blind, deaf and disabled people.
Number of Attempts
- The general category has 6 attempts.
- However, there is no limit for SC/ST
- But, for other backward classes there are 9 attempts.
IFS Examination Pattern
The IFS exam is divided into 3 parts – Prelims, Mains and Interview.
The prelims consist of 2 papers. Both papers carry 200 marks and are of 2 hours each. Moreover, both exams are multiple-choice questions. Also, the language of the paper is Hindi and English. However, blind candidates get an extra 20 minutes for each paper.
The candidates who crack Prelims sits for the Mains. However, the mains are a total of 1750 marks. Also, the final list is created on the sum of interview and mains marks. But paper A and B are of 300 marks and the remaining are of 250 marks. Following are the papers in the mains –
- Paper 1( language is chosen by the candidate)
- Paper 2( English)
- Paper 3( Essay)
- Paper 4 – General studies I
- Paper 5 – General studies II
- Paper 6 – General studies III
- Paper 7 – General studies IV
- Paper 8 – Optional paper 1
- Paper 9 – Optional paper 2
The last and final stage is the Interview and it consists of 275 marks. But it should be noted that it is not easy to crack prelims and Mains. Also, the interview stage is much more than just bookish knowledge. The board members evaluate the caliber of the candidate and see if it is suitable for the job or not. Also, the candidate must know about all the current affairs of the country and the world. On the other hand, the candidate should sit for several mock Interviews to prepare themselves. Also if you don’t already know, the candidates selected for the Interview are twice as compared to the number of vacancies. Therefore, the candidate is selected on the basis of presence of mind and smart answers. The other factors that affect the selection are judgement capability, patience, awareness, morals and much more. The Interview panel will test the personality of the candidate and not merely knowledge. These are all tested in the first two rounds.
Difference Between IAS and IFS
- Firstly, the IAS officer reaches the foremost exciting and satisfying part of the career within 5 to 8 years of the service. This phase is when the officer is Collector/DM. Secondly, An IFS officer reaches to an exciting part of the career after 12 to 18 years. When the IFS officer becomes Consul General or Ambassador. But the IFS officer has a an edge over IAS counterpart during this aspect since this phase lasts for 17–25 years in case of IFS, while it’s about 6–8 years in case of IAS.
- An IAS officer spends most of the time dealing at the root level. But an IFS officer sits with the leading members of society. Also, the IFS officer has to visit several foreign countries.
- The IAS officer deals with the problems of people throughout their careers. But the IFS officer shapes the foreign policies of India.
- Unlike IAS, an IFS officer spends most of the time in different capitals whether it is developed or developing. It is not a desk job.
- When posted abroad the IFS officers get several allowances which are much higher compared to any other civil services. These services are not enjoyed by many officers including IAS too.
It completely depends on the candidate whether they want to become an IAS or IFS officer. However, one thing that should be kept in mind is that it takes a lot of hard work and passion to be a government servant. It is a prestigious job as you are serving and representing the nation. You should be focused as it is not easy to crack these exams. An IFS officer is the one who represents the nation in various countries. So, you should mold your personality accordingly. The benefits and perks are very eye-catching but the responsibilities are very stressful. Whatever they do is the decision of 1.34 billion Indians. Isn’t it amazing?