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Note: Readers' comments are not visible here due to number of comments exceeding the limit. Please direct all your queries to another post of the same title at http://www.abhayk.com/2013/05/life-in-indian-foreign-service.html
Please direct all your queries at http://www.abhayk.com/2014/01/life-in-indian-foreign-service.html
Life in the Indian Foreign Service
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is unlike any other Civil Service such as Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or Indian Police Service (IPS). An Indian Foreign Service officer spends most of his/her time abroad ( two-third of his/her career) and only one third of career in India at the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) in New Delhi.
After joining the Indian Foreign Service, for which one has to be generally at the top of the ranking order in Civil Services Examination (CSE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of India, one is sent to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussorie for training for a period of three months where he/she is known as Foreign Service Probationer/ Officer Trainee.
After completing the three months training, which involves training in multiple disciplines including a foreign language, horse riding and trekking in high Himalayas, a Foreign Service Probationer moves to the Foreign Service Institute located in New Delhi for further training.
At the Foreign Service Institute, which is located on Baba Gangnath Marg near Jawaharlal University (JNU) campus, a Foreign Service Probationer undergoes training for a year which involves International Relations, Indian Foreign Service Pay, Leave and Compensatory Allowances (IFS-PLCA) Rules, Foreign Trade, functioning of Indian missions in neighbouring South Asian countries, attachments with the Army, Navy and the Air Force, attachment with the district and the state administration and attachment with the corporate sector.
After the end of the training with the Foreign Service Institute a Foreign Service Probationer is attached with a Division of the Ministry of External Affairs for a period of six months for on-the-job training. After completing on-the -job training a probationer is allocated a Compulsory Foreign Language (CFL) such as Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish or others as deemed fit and then she is posted in an Indian mission as Third Secretary (Language Trainee) where the probationer learns the allocated foreign language.
After successful completion of the foreign language learning process, a proficiency test is administered by the School of Foreign Languages(SFL), Ministry of Defence, India. Only after successfully passing the proficiency test in a given foreign language, a Foreign Service Probationer is confirmed in the Indian Foreign Service. Usually it takes almost 3 years to become an Indian Foreign Service officer from the date of joining the Indian Foreign Service as a Probationer at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussorie.
After being confirmed in the Indian Foreign Service, an Indian Foreign Service Officer is posted as a Second Secretary in one of the wings (Political, Economic or Commerce, Consular, Administrative or Cultural) at an Indian Embassy or as Consul at an Indian Consulate for a period of 3 years. During this period the officer learns political, economic, commercial, cultural, consular or administrative works from his senior colleagues at the Embassy or the Consulate.
An IFS officer can take his/her parents abroad but the Government provides for medical facilities of only dependent parents- who have no body else to look after them and have abysmally low income.
Let me clarify the difference between an Embassy and Consulate at this stage. An Embassy is located in the capital city of a country whereas a Consulate is located in other important cities of a country and works under the supervision of the Embassy.
A Second Secretary in an Indian mission gets a decent accommodation of 110 sq meters but has to purchase his/her own car. He/She gets a decent foreign allowance (which increases with promotion) and medical facilities besides government provided accommodation. Government provides for education fees for the children(up to 2 children only) above five years of age. Government also provides Representational Grant (RG) to entertain foreign guests.
An average day of a Second Secretary starts at 9 a.m in the morning with driving to the office, reading e-mails/fax-messages, making phone calls, writing notes, replying letters, briefing senior officers, following up with the Ministry of External Affairs Headquarters, attending meetings and occasionally attending a reception hosted on the occasion of national day or welcome/farewell of a diplomat by another Embassy, driving back home, spending 2-3 hours with the family and watching news of the day before going to bed.
After completing 3 years at an Indian Embassy or Consulate, an IFS officer is transferred to another Embassy or Consulate or to the MEA headquarters in New Delhi. In New Delhi the officer joins as Under Secretary and looks after a particular desk in a Division of the Ministry for the next 3 years. The average day of an Under Secretary is same as an average day of a Second Secretary mentioned above except he/she has to look after several Indian Embassies and Consulates, respond to their queries, follow up with them and speak to several people during an average working day. Generally he/she has to work extra hours beyond the office hours (i.e. 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week) and over the weekends to clear the extra workload.
After completion of 9 years in the service from the date of joining the Indian Foreign Service(including probation period), an IFS officer gets automatically promoted to the rank of Deputy Secretary. After spending approximately three years in New Delhi, an IFS officer is posted abroad for the next three years at one of the 163 Indian Missions/Posts abroad which are categorized into A*, A, B, C and C* categories depending on the hardship and standard of living. For example London, New York, Canberra are the places rated as A*, Paris, Rome etc. are categorized as A, Moscow, Cairo etc. are categorized as B, while places like Islamabad, Kathmandu, Khartoum are categorized as C*.
An IFS officer has to choose three places of his choice out of the number of vacant posts which are circulated. If he/she is lucky then he/she can get one of the three places of his/her choice. Foreign postings are decided by the Foreign Service Board which is headed by the Foreign Secretary.
An IFS officer has to choose three places of his choice out of the number of vacant posts which are circulated. If he/she is lucky then he/she can get one of the three places of his/her choice. Foreign postings are decided by the Foreign Service Board which is headed by the Foreign Secretary.
After completing his/her tenure in a given Mission/Post, the officer is again posted for three years to another Indian Mission/Post located in another country. An officer is provided for by the MEA for the transport of his/her baggage, car and other belongings from one country to another by air, land or sea.
The promotion chain in the Indian Foreign Service is as following -
While abroad at an Indian Mission/Post-
Third Secretary(Language Trainee); Second Secretary: First Secretary; Counsellor; Minister;
While in India at MEA Headquarters-
Attache; Under Secretary; Deputy Secretary; Director; Joint Secretary; Additional Secretary; Secretary
On average it takes 9 years of service to get to the rank of Deputy Secretary, 13 years of service to become a Director and 16 years of service to get to the rank of Joint Secretary. Promotions up to the Director/Counsellor rank are automatic and time bound while promotion to the next level i.e. Joint Secretary is based on the Confidential Annual Performance Appraisal Reports (CAPAR) of the last ten years. Generally a Joint Secretary becomes an Ambassador abroad (now a days Director rank officers have also been given Ambassadorial assignments) and head of a Division in the MEA headquarters in New Delhi.
CAPARs are written by the reporting officer and reviewed by a higher ranking officer than the reporting officer. An officer has a right to appeal to the Ministry if he/she does not agree with the report given by the reporting or reviewing officer.
A Foreign Service officer can serve as a Regional Passport Officer(RPO) or can go on deputations to the Ministry of Defence, Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Commerce, Department of Space or the United Nations, World Bank etc.
Author is a poet-diplomat, writer of the Earth Anthem, awarded SAARC Literature Award and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Views expressed are personal. You may like to follow him on Twitter @TheAbhayK for the latest updates.
Thanks for the information.VimalReplyDelete
I am preparing for UPSC 2012 and lookin forward to join as IFS. This post really pushed me to follow that goal with more enthusiasm.
Once again, Thanks a lot.
Wish you all the best Shiv!Delete
Experience and a life of a diplomat filled with mind bending & interesting work is great. But I am a bit concerned with the pay for the nine years or even the first six years. Any guidance on that?ReplyDelete
IFS gives one the best pay among all Civil Services so please don't worry about that.Delete
Wish you could share yor experience as a probationer. Those 3 years of unconfirmed service. Was Those days fun or the fight was still on after UPSC CSE. Waiting fr you reply.ReplyDelete
Probation days offered me steep learning curve and were some of the best days of my life, may be the second best after college and university days...Delete
Sir, Is it usual for a probationer to be not confirmed? What are the chances or success rates?Delete
One more thing, Is there a provision for Study leaves and Half pay leave as is with the IAS?
No, usually all the probationers get confirmed.Delete
Yes, that's right.
thank you very much for the insights. One Question though...after how many years of service can an ifs officer go for a higher degree and on deputation to center? Is time taken for study also included in the years of service? If possible can you please post a link, if any , to the service conditions, allowances etc.
thanks a lot
An Indian Foreign Service officer is always posted in the Centre...don't worry about service conditions and allowances-they are better compared to other services.Delete
Thanks a lot..this helps me further.ReplyDelete
How should i prepare for UPSC to get selected in IFS in my very first attempt?
Harshitha, Please read Abhay K's book A Civil Servant's Tale which you can find on internet for free...just google it..Delete
I have a few questions for you sir. Can I ask them to you? There has not been replies to the queries in this post.ReplyDelete
the feats that you have achieved are absolutely remarkable and evenly motivating sir , i read your autobiography , was definitely a learning experience ...even i am an IFS aspirant ,looking forward to appear this year in the civil services exam ,your suggestions regarding the preparation would absolutely be invaluable to me..ReplyDelete
Thanks Anupam for your warm words!Delete
My suggestions are in my book which you have already read...remain focused and positive...that helps
Sir i would really like to know the pro's and cons of foreign services vs administrative services. In foreign services you get to see the world and meet eminent personalities, and there would be no political interference like the case with IAS. In IAS you would have to do what your political bosses demand and nothing would annoy me more, but also being District collector in the initial stages you would get to help poor people like no one can and this is what i really wanted to do and thus this dilemma. I would be grateful for your reply.ReplyDelete
You are right Ace. If you really want to help poor people, you can do it in so many ways other than becoming IAS. There are so many helping IAS officers and still we have so many poor people- have you ever thought about that? You have to decide what's your passion?Delete
very useful and it pushes me to further career developments..ReplyDelete
thanks a lot! sir.
Most welcome nandhini!Delete
Sir i would like to know the pro's and con's of IFS vs IAS.ReplyDelete
Both of these have their pros and cons. Think of the whole world as your playground, choose IFS, want to stay in a province for most of your life, choose IAS. Choice is yours.Delete
Thanks for this detailed post. I'm planning to take the Civil Services exam in 2013 and hope to join the IFS. This post only motivated me further. :-)ReplyDelete
I also have a query. Is the probationer's preference kept into account when the CFL is allocated? For example, I am fluent in French (lived in France for many years thanks to dad's job) and would like to take it up as my CFL. Is it possible for me to pick French or would I be allocated a language according to the MEA's wishes?
Yes, probationer's preference is taken into account when CFL is allocated, nevertheless that would depend on the rank you get in your batch. If you are one of the top rankers, you'll definitely get French as CFL.
I am a student of MA Political science Amity university.I am eager to know that is any kind of coaching is required for preaparing for IFS exams?
Chahat, please read my book A Civil Servant's Tale, available freely online http://www.abhayk.com/2011/09/civil-servanats-tale.htmlDelete
Thank you for your post. I have this 1 doubt. Please reply whenever you can. I want to know : Have foreign service diplomats created good names in their respective countries and have been really famous? Though the career is superb, I want to become well known ( like a public figure). Do you think foreign service has that potential?
Yes, many former Indian Foreign Service officers are famous people in India and abroad such as K.R. Narayanan, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Mira Kumar, Hamid Ansari etc.Delete
oh! these names are enough Sir! thanks a lot!Delete
and wish me best of luck!
Even if I don't make it, I will be satisfied that I had given my best shot!
Good night Sir, and all the best!
Make our country proud and hopefully I meet you as an administrative officer 1 day!
lots of regards and respect for writing this blog and really invigorating me and others through it!
Lots of respect,
Thanks Mohan, for your kind words.Delete
sir , it realy feels honourd n fortun8 2 cm acros an ias . m in 1st yr prsuing engg frm dce . actualy i hav got a die hard ambition 2 bcm n IAS officr n now ths IFS especialy aftr cming across sch n awsm future of myn seen through yor profile .can u pls guide me , wat it actualy takes 2 reach d levl u hav reachd .n how shud i start preparing 4 it frm ths stage ? pleeeeeeeease ......ReplyDelete
I would suggest you read my book A Civil Servant's Tale available freely online http://www.abhayk.com/2011/09/civil-servanats-tale.html
Hello, I am lucky to have read this post when the aspiration of joining foreign service budding in my mind. I have doubt regarding compulsory Language. Will we be given choices to choose the compulsory papers or do we have to pick up only the language they give us?ReplyDelete
You have a choice in picking CFL, however that depends on the rank in your batch. Obviously the candidates who are higher in rank are given preference to choose first.
What are the avenues where an IFS officer can work post retirement?Does the foreign service allowance increase with promotion or years of service?ReplyDelete
There are several IFS officers working very productively post-retirement- some of them hold some of the highest offices in India such as the Speaker of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, National Security Adviser etc. while others are working the private sector.Delete
Foreign allowance increase with promotion.
THanks for thisReplyDelete
THANK YOU SIR,i am an IFS aspirant myself and wish to join the coveted services.Have cleared the prelims and gave the mains recently.I just have one query as to what qualities besides the interest factor,should one groom to be able to serve well as an IFS officer?ReplyDelete
Thanks Nishant, I think one should be able to write well, have great conversational skills, keen interest in what's happening in the world, and love of learning new things.Delete
Sir , This is indeed an excellent and concise description of the process of becoming an I.F.S officer. I would like to ask you though... what rank does one need to get in the C.S.E to opt for the I.F.S ?ReplyDelete
thanks haripriya, You can opt for all services before writing the Mains exam however to get IFS you should be generally in the top 100.Delete
Could you please kindly tell me the importance of a candidate's preference while allotment of the services. For e.g. Is a top 100th rank sufficient to get me IFS if I opt for it as my 2nd preference?
It all depends on how many candidates have given IFS as their first preference and are above you in the ranking order. I think top 100th rank should be sufficient.Delete
I am a girl, 23 yrs of age and deeply passionate about civil services. I have lost my formative career years in software trying to move away from services , but I am simply not able to...Civil services are luring me from within. And Foreign Services is what I want to do. Though I have my mom's support I am not able to answer their questions of how would I manage my Family life , not that I am interested, yet how do I convince them. Is there any way that I can work out to balance both my family life and my career if I choose this path? Please I would like to have a clarity before I start, seeing that I do not have much time in my hand.
Hello Kaaja, there are several lady officers in the IFS who have done India proud while keeping a balance between their careers and family lives. A good family life and a good career go hand in hand. Hope this answers your question.Delete
sir i have read ur book just loved the journey and sir i am also an ifs aspirant currently working in software companyReplyDelete
sir i wanted to know i like to travel whole world and represent INDIA but at the same time after 35 i want to be in INDUA
SO is ifs for me
Thanks Sriya, I am glad you liked it.Delete
If you want to be in India after 35, then IFS is not for you as in IFS you spend two-third of your working life outside India.
Sir how can i meet you?ReplyDelete
Anoop, I live in Kathmandu these days...hope to meet you while I am in Delhi or near a place you stay.Delete
whether quarters will be given to the trainees ar NewDelhi? What abt children's education during trg.pd.
Yes, govt. provides accommodation during the training period...and also pays for Children's (up to 2 ) education above five years...Delete
Its really awesome.. I am longing to become a IFS officer !! Can you please guide?? And sir can you tell me about the benefits perks etc
May I suggest you read a few chapters of A Civil Servant's Tale available free online...there are a lots of benefits and perks in the IFS and you have to be in top 100 rank in CSE final list to get into IFS.Delete
What should be the rank so that i get selected for IFS??
It varies year to year. However if you are in top 100, you should be able to make it.Delete
Sir there is one confusion.....if i did not get my wished cfl or country (posting)......then is it mandatory ....or IFS officers have other choices as well.......for ex i did not want to learn arabic or get posted in somalia.......??...2nd query is---how many years one can spend aboard in his first 10-15 years of service and can IFS officer become citizen of country in which he is posted....as my dream is to become IFS so this will help me lot......thanks.....ReplyDelete
CFL is mandatory for all IFS officers, though they do have a choice depending on their ranks in the Civil Services Exam. Out of 15 years in Service, generally an IFS officer will spend 10 years abroad...Delete
hi Mr. Abhay!! First of all, I really appreciate you replying to each and every question put up to you. I have been appearing in the mains exam since last 2 times. This time I do expect a interview call. My first service preference has been IFS. I would like to know what all questions can I expect related with my service preference? another question. I was born in a foreign country due to my father's transfer there (he was a member of IFS (B)) so am I a indian citizen by birth or registration?? (keeping in mind my father was working in the Embassy) thanx a ton.ReplyDelete
First question the board will naturally ask you is -'why do you prefer IFS over other services' besides 'why Civil Service' ? You were bornin a foreign country but being a child of a diplomat/embassy official, you are an Indian citizen by birth. bestDelete
thank you Sir, I also strongly feel the same on the interview.Delete
good evening sir,ReplyDelete
I am preparing for the civils.
I want a service where i would get time for myself(reading,sports).Do the diplomats generally get time in the evenings(5-6 hours) and on weekends(entire day)?
Diplomats do get ample time to read, write and follow their interests including sports. All the best for your CS exam!Delete
sir what is starting salary for IFS officer including all allownces ? Is it sufficient for all expenditure ??ReplyDelete
Starting salary for an IFS officer is same as for an officer in the IAS or IPS except for the foreign allowance an IFS officer gets when he/she is posted abroad. It is sufficient for all the normal expenditure.Delete
Hello respected sir,ReplyDelete
I am a student of National Law University. I am deeply interested in international relations and geopolitics and I want to pursue my career in the field. My question is, while being a diplomat will i be able to read and write books/ research papers/ articles in newspapers about international relations while at the job or will the life be too mechanical with no acquisition of any knowledge in the subject? The other option for me is to become a foreign policy journalist or a lecturer in a university.
You'll get ample opportunity to read and write books, articles about any issue except issues which does not involve active foreign policy issues that can affect India's relations with the other countries. If you want to write on IR, foreign policy issues regularly then it is better to become a journalist, lecturer or a foreign policy analyst.Delete
Firstly, I would like to thank you for this excellent blog of yours.It is very helpful and inspiring.
Secondly, I would like to ask you the role of a candidate's educational institution in his selection in the IFS.I am preparing for the Civil Services Exam for about an year now and I really want to join Indian Foreign Services.I have noticed that a lot of IFS officers are from Tier I Colleges and Universities in India.
I have done my graduation from DAV College,Ambala City,Haryana and now I am studying in a post graduate diploma at Centennial College,Toronto.
Sir,Please tell me that do I stand a chance for the IFS.Would UPSC consider me for this elite service as other candidates from IIT's and IIM's are also competing ??
Looking forward for your guidance
Thanks so much Ankush,Delete
All the IFS officers do not come from Tier I colleges and universities of India. The fact is opposite actually. You stand a very good chance to get into the Foreign Service as anybody else.
All the best
sir iam preparing for ias 2013 i wanted to no whether we r provided woth govt accomadation just as we join bcause managing in a place like delhi is very diffixult cd u be kind to xpla abt living n accomadations in thw initail joining time and throughoutReplyDelete
Yes, as soon as you join the Service, you get govt accommodation. Please don't worry about these things.Delete
I am great fan of yours! I read your autobiography which is very inspiring. I have to compliment that the cover of your books are excellent. Do you design it on your own, as in is it your ideas or the publishers'? They say, 'Dont judge the book by its cover, but it has to be kept in mind that the cover is the only thing by which a reader will read that book!' Pure Awesomeness!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for kind words about my autobiography as well about the covers of my books. Most of the covers I design myself. I am really happy that you noticed it.Delete
Sir, Happy New Year to you and your family.Delete
Thank you very much for the prompt reply. You really are an all - rounder, having a perfect balance in life in all matters. I am greatly inspired by you and Srivatsa Krishna Sir for setting stunning examples for the energetic youth of India. Hearty congratulations for all the awards won by you & the upcoming Pushcart prize 2013.
You are simply EXEMPLARY. Quoting Steve Jobs here:
Thanks so much for your kind words.Delete
It's been pleasure reading your posts and replies, dispelled quite a few of my doubts. I'm an engineer-MBA both from top colleges, but of late Civil Services bug has smitten me, I'm finding hard to find value in my current job/field. I've few questions, it would be immensely helpful if you can answer them:
1. Will the postings for e.g. in economic, commercial stream etc. be based on the background of an officer? That is what benefit will I have considering my background of technical-business vis-a-vis other candidates?
2. What if I want to go for a PhD in future, how supportive IFS job is to pursue higher education?
3. What about work possibilities for spouse in a foreign country?
Thanks for reaching out...Delete
1. Postings are not strictly based of the background of the officer. Yet, you might have advantage in postings as a commerce/project officer abroad because of your experience in technical-business fields.
2. You can take study leave after 8/9 years of service and can do PhD.
3. There are a number of places where your spouse can work as a teacher/doctor etc.
Sir, I have a question. Some blogs have mentioned that posting in difficult countries (like Iraq for eg.) increases the count of your service years for that particular tenure to double. They gave example like if you serve in these countries for say 2yrs, it will be counted as 4yrs. Is this true? If yes, are they universally applied to all IFS officers who are posted in these difficult countries?ReplyDelete
That's not correct information.Delete
I am filling SSC CGL form and there is a post of ASSISTANT in(Ministry of External Affairs)and ASSISTANT(CYPHER) in(Ministry of External Affairs).what is the differance b/w these and what are career prospects like foreign posting, promotion and facilities.Sir as you are an IFS officer please help me about this.Is it a good career option..??
Assistants are posted in India as well as abroad and get promoted to higher ranks during the course of time.Delete
thank u very much sir for helping me.....but sir please also clarify my doubt about difference b/w ASSISTANT in(Ministry of External Affairs)and ASSISTANT(CYPHER) in(Ministry of External Affairs).Delete
R/s Very Happy New Year. Sir if husband and wife both are IFS officers then do they get the same country while posted abroad? And if one is IFS and the other is Assistant in M/O External Affairs do they get the same country? And if both husband and wife are Assistant through SSC in M/o External Affairs do they get the same country if posted abroad? Please reply sir....ReplyDelete
Wish you a very happy New Year too!Delete
They do get the same country while posted abroad for a number of initial postings. They can't be posted as Ambassadors in the same country.
I have not come across the other two cases.
In context of the previous question could you please tell me whether in that case (both husband and wife IFS) are they posted in the same city? (As in the same embassy or consulate?) and are they given separate accommodations? (as both the IFS officer husband and the IFS officer wife is separately eligible for accommodation).
Would be very obliged if you could provide answer to my queries.
Yes, they are at junior levels, until they become Ambassadors, they get a single accommodation.Delete
Sir, this is a wonderful article. Thanks a lot for the same. It is thoroughly motivating! Could you please (just as an information) tell me as to how are deputations to the World Bank etc decided? Does it involve politics? Secondly, many of the officers train abroad at the various universities in the US to specialize in certain fields. So how does this go about? Thank you once again for your time. I aspire to join the IFS and you are a wonderful role model. :)ReplyDelete
Most welcome Rohan and thanks for your kind words.Delete
An IFS officer keen to be deputed to the world back should ideally have background in economics and should have worked in the Ministry of Finance for a certain period of time. I hope this answers your question.
Mr. T P Sreenivasan presents a different side of the Indian Foreign Service in this article -> http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-10-23/edit-page/28070601_1_posts-ifs-grades
What are your views about the article ?
The article you mention was written by Amb. Sreenivasan a long time ago. He later wrote another article titled 'How the IFS is finding its soul' which is available at http://www.rediff.com/news/column/how-the-ifs-is-finding-its-soul/20111017.htmDelete
Hope this helps.
Greetings! Sir, with your esteemed knowledge about day to day affairs of Indian diplomacy,i would feel extremly obliged to know about the instances of "IFS officer activism" like their counterparts in IAS & IPS(once in a blue moon!).ReplyDelete
Suppose if a senior diplomat has a disagreement on a crtical policy issue with the minister which is vital for national interest...What are the options before that officer?As critical policy issues specially strategic ones have been even exempted from RTI,So its obvious that one can't go public with it.So,will the officer has to take all the brunts inside even if he feels what he think is best in the interest of the nation.
My question basically is about one's 'patrotic self-realization' in the Foreign services.
Foreign Policy is conducted on the basis of national consensus. What you foresee is a very rare scenario. Nonetheless, all civil servants (including diplomats) have to implement what the political leadership of the country decides. Ultimately, you would agree, they have to face people every five years.Delete
A very happy new year sir:))))...i am a doctor.. currently in third year pursuing Masters in Surgery from delhi...i am very much attracted to the work profile IFS offers...and thanks alot for this amazing blog....i just want to know what is the procedure for IFS officers to represent India in United Nation??....and is my experience in medical field of any use in the work profile???...and can i get time to further study surgery subject out of interest in future????ReplyDelete
Wish you a very happy new year too Dr. Samrat and thanks for your warm words. You can directly join the United Nations without joining the IFS. You can certainly take study leave to pursue your studies after joining the service.Delete
Thank you so much for this informative blog sir.I am a fan of your poetry as well.ReplyDelete
I would like to ask whether the Foreign Service Probationer/ Officer Trainee gets any kind of salary or not?
Yes, Foreign Service Probationer does get salary.
Sir, is it necessary to have a postgraduate degree for IFS? All the IFS officers i have known till now have a PG in their respective fields. I mean while being considered for any important foreign assignments does a person with PG get preference over the one who has just done a Bachelors?ReplyDelete
No,the basic qualification required for all Civil Services including IFS is a graduation degree. Person with PG degree does not get any preference over who have just a Bachelor degree.Delete
sir, do assistant(cypher) in MEA can become IFS after promotions and getting higher ranksReplyDelete
Let me check about this and get back.Delete
tq sir, reply as soon as possible.Delete
thank u very much sir for helping me.....but sir please also clarify my doubt about difference b/w ASSISTANT in(Ministry of External Affairs)and ASSISTANT(CYPHER) in(Ministry of External Affairs)ReplyDelete
This is Jaya, I also want to join IFS I have just completed my Law graduation. I have filled with zeal and zest by reading your article, Thank You.
Wish you all the best Jaya. Many thanks for your warm words.Delete
1.When can we expect part 2 of your book 'The Civil Servant's Tale'?
2.Do the probationers get remuneration during their time at LBSNAA ?
3.Please suggest some good books for my UPSC preparation.
Thanks in advance
Sonakshi, You are the second person who wants to read the 2nd part, so now I'll think about writing it.Delete
2. yes, probationers go get remuneration at LBSNAA.
3. you should check the good books of your subject area from the people who are currently preparing for the exam.
Sir I want to ask you a question that i want to appear in 2014 CSE and Right now I am preparing for Haryana judicial services exam, with G.S. date of which is yet to come. Should I leave this exam and focus on UPSC or what?ReplyDelete
It is up to you to decide what exactly you want in life.
I'm giving my exam after graduation and wish to pursue my masters within 2-3 years of service. Will that be possible? Would i get a study leave of 2 years for that purpose?
One gets paid study leave after 8 years of service and you can do your masters then.
Sir I am B.A English Lit graduate & completed English short hand, I would like appear for SSC Stenography Exam. Could Please tell about job role in IFS(B) Stenographer Service, Its my ambition please help me on this...ReplyDelete
I am not the best person to answer this question.
sir i am going to appear for SSC CGL and i have opted for assistant(cypher) in external affairs ministry. I want to know that can i become IFS by clearing departmental exams in ministry. Please reply.........ReplyDelete
I do not have much idea about departmental exams.
sir what kind of pay n perks n allowances and foreign postings do an assistant in mea get and wat z d work structure.ReplyDelete
this can be best answered by an assistant I think.
hello sir. first of all i want to ask abut the language. I am very intrested in spanish language. and if I would like to work in south american countries.... is it possible for me to choose (the language &the country) u said that only high rankers can choose ... so wht r there preferences genrally from 1 to 10.ReplyDelete
my other question is, as I am intrested in adventure sports.. so can I get the time for that & other activities? during the job period. thank u
Yes, to a great extent if you get a high rank. Generally the preference is French, Spanish, Chinese,Russian, Arabic and so on but every year it varies as the high rankers can choose whatever they like.
Sure, you can do what you like in your free time, which you get in plenty in the Service.
thank u sir!!!Delete
I found this article very helpful also the comments put by you are highly informative..thank you for writing this....
I would like to ask you the best way to get through upsc and get selected for IFS services?And is there any possibility for an IFS officer to stay back in country and provide service rather than moving around in the whole world?
IFS officers spend only two-third of their working life abroad, the rest is spent working in India.
It is very interesting to see a diplomat who balances both career life and creative life. You are helping IFS aspirants by fueling the zeal in us. I thank you for providing the information about various tasks of a diplomat job.
I wanted to ask you that whether a diplomat has free time for his private life(surfing internet,reading books,sports time,spending with family) or busy with phone calls,correspondence work,pressure from authorities?
Thanks for your kind words. Diplomats do get free time to surf internet, read books and spend time with the family.
I am appearing for the CS exams in 2014 and my primary goal is IFS. I really appreciate the fact that you are helping out the readers in such a comprehensive way.
I have two questions that have arisen in my mind. Please reply whenever possible.
1)Is the foreign allowance an extra to the salary the officer is already getting? Or does the foreign allowance become the salary when the officer is posted abroad?
2)Does the probation guarantee your entry into the IFS league or is it a doubtful horizon?
Thank you so much for your reply.
1) Yes, foreign allowance is extra to the salary an officer gets.
2) Probation guarantee your entry into the IFS, unless you do something really that is unbecoming of an officer.
wish you the best for 2014 exam.
sir, i am in big dilemma.please help me out.i love to do social welfare and business.confused between mba or ifs.i am the only child of my parents and want to support in best way,therefore concerned abou pay factor.please also tell the pay one get if he?she is in headquarters in newdelhi.ReplyDelete
Swati, honest business is perhaps the best social welfare as Adam Smith put it in the Wealth of Nations. In the IFS, one spends two-third of one's career abroad. At the hqs, one gets a sum of approximately Rs. 45,000 when one joins IFS these days(after sixth pay commission).Delete
sir 45000 including allowances or without allowances.sir can you please also tell what ifs officer actually do.he is only concerned with policies and the theoretical aspect or there are practical things to do and sir thank you very much for answering my queryDelete
sir,moreover if i get training for one foreign language along with my graduation,then will the training period reduce or not?Delete
It is including allowances at the HQs. No, training period will remain the same.Delete
Sir i am from IIT delhi, electrical branch (3rd year). I want to ask you that, will my degree help me some what way to clear IFS. And Thank you for such a great article.ReplyDelete
One needs to have a bachelor degree to write the Civil Services Exam. It does not matter from where.Delete
Thanks for your kind words about this article.
My 4 attempts finished in upsc so which is the other way to be diplomat in MEA or can join international org.like UN,WTO,IF world bank etc. I am commerce graduate having 7 years of experience in commerce.
Manam, there is no other way at the moment to be an Indian diplomat without joining the IFS. You can certainly try joining the international organizations such as the UN with your long experience.Delete
I'm currently in my final year of graduation & I'M highly interested in becoming a diplomat.
There are some questions I want to ask about being a diplomat by not joining the IFS-
1) Which one according to you is a better university programme JNU MA (Political Science & International Relations) or South Asian University MA(International Relations) or IIFT MBA (International Business & Foreign Trade)?
2) How is the UN CIVIL SERVICES through UN-YPP exam?
3) After my masters should I go for doctorate in International Relations in a top US university like Harvard, Yale etc( if i get admitted)? Can i still get to become a diplomat ,if not in IFS, than in any other organisation?
4) Does an IFS officer gets luxurious mansions (you say only 110 sq meters) & security like that of IAS officers?
By the way you've really done a fantastic job by starting this blog
1. All of them are very good, depends what you are looking for.
2. I don't have much idea about UN CS.
3. You can certainly join the UN and can become an international civil servant.
4. IFS or any civil servant do not live in mansions. IFS officers do get required security wherever it it needed.
Thanks so much for your kind words about this blog.
During training, if one opts for chinese or arabic as compulsory foreign language which takes 2 years to complete when compared to french,spanish,etc which takes 1 year to complete.
will the person with spanish get promoted to higher ranks early than the person with chinese since he finished his/her training and is confirmed a year earlier??
Do elaborate if required....
Those learning Spanish/French do get confirmed in the service earlier than Chinese and Arabic, however it does not affect overall pay-scale or promotion to the Senior Scale as the promotion happens for the whole batch at the same time.
Two questions are haunting me regarding the IFS:
1. I have no siblings and although my parents are quite well off, I have the responsibility of taking care of them. I kind of think that I will betray them if I opt to live several thousand miles away. Am I going wrong somewhere? Do you know any officers in the service who were also the only child of their children and still were able to balance their professional and family life with ease?
2. I am a hardcore vegetarian and do not even consume egg. Will this be embarrassing during state dinners? Will my life be smooth being a vegetarian? Where do young 3rd secretaries eat abroad?
- Regards- SID
1. Thousand miles away is just notional as these days travel time to farthest reaches of the planet is no more than 24 hours. Distance hardly has any meaning in our age. Besides this, one can always take one's parents along or they can spend quite a large chunk of the year with you wherever you are.
2. I am vegetarian too:)and my life in the IFS has been very smooth so far. Young Third Secretaries mostly eat at home and at parties and in ubiquitous Indian restaurants (all over the planet).
Whenever I search regarding the Indian Foreign Service on the internet, most of the reviews point towards it being just an anointed profession hardly contributing to the country's global image and development. Sorry if I am being rude or condescending but that's what most of the people ranging from foreign policy experts to those who aspiring for Civil Services say. So my question is simple: Do Indian Diplomats really play an important part in framing foreign policies or do they just play their role as mute glorified clerks. Isn't this one of the reasons why people choose IAS over IFS?
PS: My question is based on the articles I have read online pertaining to IFS and I am a Civil Service aspirant.
The default setting of media is negative because that makes news and sells. Indian diplomats play vital role in framing and implementing foreign policy on day to day basis, only thing is that it is conducted on such as high level that the common man can't see it while the common man can see what an IAS officer does because he/she works at the district and state level for most of his/her career.
sir i'm a 14 year old boy whose dream is to become a IFS officerReplyDelete
I thank you a lot for giving this information
Mohamed Ishaan Zaki
Thanks a lot for your kind words.Delete
wish you all the best.
R/s I am in final year of my Masters in Public Administration. I want to take Pub.Ad. in my mains as optional. Will it have negative effect as I want to choose IFS? Somebody told me that candidates with Political Science and International Relations have edge over students with Public Administration as far as IFS is concerned. Pub. Ad. is better for IAS and IPS. Is it true?ReplyDelete
It will not have any negative effect as selection in the mains exam is made on the basis of marks you obtain in your optional subjects. In interview, your personality development is assessed, not your knowledge of the subject of IR. So please don't worry.
Really inspiring Journey it is of yours !!
I am preparing for cse 2013 and interested in IFS. It would be kind of you to clarify on some querries on IFS:
1. Does changing your country every three years or so create adaptability issues and a culture shock?
2.If one's spouse is an IAS or working in India, how does that impact your personal life and yours kids changing schools frequently?
3.Does the work life gets stressful as you go up the ladder as compared to other services(IAS)?
4.Does one badly feels like coming back to India during long stays abroad?
5.Is being in IFS like having the best at offer but still feeling that something is missing?
In the end, I must say that your journey so far has been really inspiring one !!
I would really appreciate a response for SAARC Literature awardee!
Thanking you !!
Navjot Singh Mallya
Thanks for your kind words!
1. Yes it does and one needs to adapt fast.
2. In a major way as one of the spouses have to travel to the other all the time. Children also have to choose between father and mother. Quite a task actually.
3. Yes, promotion in Civil Services brings more and more responsibilities and stress grows as you go up the ladder.
4. Yes, missing and longing for home is part of life of a diplomat.
5. Yes, you are right. IFS has its heights and depths.
Thanks once again.
Thank you so much sir for your time.Delete
keeping aside the bogey of my amateurish queries, Would it be wrong if I were to say that the aura and the responsibility and honour of representing your nation at the highest global tables overwhelmes all else.
The point is I feel great exhilaration at feeling of me being there alongside the ranks of diplomats like you taking and building a more vibrant "Brand INDIA".
Moreover, I have been through your creatively woven poems and would like a word or two from you on taking my hobby of writing poetry to the next level.
I appreciate your response and look forward to being there sooner than later.
Thanks for your kind words Navjot.Delete
Poetry is a life-long engagement...and can be very rewarding if pursued with right zeal...
wishing you the best
Sir, I am a civil services aspirant and would like to take the test this time. Your replies in the blog are quite informative and shed light on hitherto unanswered questions regarding IFS. Still I feel one of my questions yet to be answered. So I hope that you would answer it --ReplyDelete
1978 : Joined Indian Foreign Service.
1980-1983 : Second Secretary, Embassy of India, Bonn.
1983-1986 : Second/First Secretary, Embassy of India, Cairo.
1986-1990 : First Secretary, High Commission of India, Islamabad.
above mentioned profile is Dilip Sinha's, who is a 1978 batch IFS officer. He might have opted for German as a CFL which would help him do his stint at Bonn, but after that he was posted to Cairo and Islamabad, where, hopefully, no German language proficiency is expected. Will there be any language training session before each transfer or how come any IFS officer cope with this kind of situation?
I request you not to take me amiss and reply kindly.......
It is compulsory for an IFS officer to learn one foreign language. Afterwards, one has a choice.
It is not necessary to go for a language training each time an officer is posted in a new country. Missions have interpreters to help one out.
Thanks so much for your kind words.
1.Yes, after 8 years of service you can take paid study leave and pursue whatever you like. However by that time most of the officers have different priorities:)
2. Because it is only for official use, which means for the use of the officials:)
Thanks again for your warm words,
Thank you so much............ReplyDelete
Hello Sir ,ReplyDelete
Just Finished Reading your Tale (book) and the word Inspiration would be an understatement .I have couple of queries for which I seek your guidance.
1.In recent years, there has been demand of experts as diplomats for specific departments .So in light of that do you see the responsibility of an IFS officer being reduced .Or, on the contrary the responsibilities would be increased as India is strengthening its stature as global player ?
2. I have done Btech From NIT and I have always been a consistent scorer.But, Unfortunately i have 2nd class degree in Btech.So how much role does a bad academic record plays in inteview ?
1. Responsibilities of an IFS officer increases as India's engagement with the world intensifies. This is because one officer has to acquire expertise in many fields.
2. Academic record does not play much role in interview. What matters is your pragmatism, attitude and overall personality.
Sir , I have just finished my UPSC interview, read your article about the life of an IFS officer and it was extremely helpful .I have always had IAS in my mind but IFS is my second preference( I am expecting a decent rank ) and I have decent opinions about a career in Foreign servicesReplyDelete
.But recently I have heard fellow aspirants casting aspersions regarding the career prospects in IFS , like , it shall be a boring desk -job and would have to spend a lot of time in passport office etc .I would like you to quell the myths please !
Thanks Abhishek for your kind words.Delete
Let me assure you, IFS is everything except a boring desk job. It was my first choice among all the Civil Services and will remain so if I have to again appear at the Civil Services Exam. There is no parallel to a career in the IFS.
First of all sir i would like to say your efforts in running this blog are commendable.
I am Pursuing Chartered Accountancy and aspire to become an IFS officer. I will be very much obliged if you reply to my queries:
1. Will this profession satiate my need for serving the country and self growth ?
2. How will it help me in self-growth ?
3. I want my wife and children to travel with me in all my postings. Is this a roadblock ?
4. How is serving in IFS better than joining IAS ?
5. Are IFS officers respected as much as IAS back in our country?
P.S. I am not joining IAS because i am an honest and straight forward as a person and believe my methods would induce political pressure upon me, which would lead to frequent transfers.
1. That depends on the level of your satiation:)
2. You have to learn continuously and that helps in self-growth.
4.IFS means travelling almost the whole world. IAS means most of one's time would be spent in the State cadre one is assigned to.
5.IFS is mainly an external service and IFS officers are respected globally for their skills.
Sir can we take leave and come back home whenever we want while we are posted abroad? Do they give holidays for those posted in other countries to go home,something like children get summer holidays every year?ReplyDelete
No, one only gets home-leave once in three years expenses of which are paid by the Government. On the other occasions, one can get leave whenever one wants but one has to bear travel expenses oneself.Delete
sir.. i am not able to download ur book A CIvil servant's tale. the link which u have provided has been expired.. pls help me.. I am eager to read ur book...ReplyDelete
you can order a copy of 'River Valley to Silicon Valley' available on Flipkart. A Civil Servant's Tale is an edited version of this book which will be published soon.Thanks for your interest.
hello sir....i am preparing for IAS 2014....my query is that i want to know that do IAS officers also get to serve abroad..if yes..then for how long? I am someone who wants to work internationally...so what do you think is a better choice....I fascinate working in international organisations and representing India there...i am a law graduate if that can be of any help in this regard...keeping all that in mind plz suggest the better option...thank you Sir !ReplyDelete
Yes, IAS officers also get to serve abroad for short duration of 3 years...but if you want to serve two-third of your working life abroad, then IFS should be your choice.
I infact stumbled upon this site while googling about ifs.i feel soo lucky to have found it.
Thanks so much for your kind words.
Recently saw your blog.....just wanna ask how much time it takes to promote from third
secretary/attache to first secretary.
It takes nine years to be promoted from attache(Third Secretary) to Deputy Secretary (slightly senior than First Secretary).
I am krupa sagar i am preparing for civil service examination 2013. I am ifs aspirant. I want to know that can i take my wife to stay vth with me in mussorie and delhi during training or probation period, all the time. Can govt provide any facilities for couples to stay together during training in delhi? Or one have to stay alone during training period.
During training in Mussorie, one has to share a room with a batch-mate from another service however during training at the Foreign Service Institute in Delhi, you can stay with your wife (provided there is no room sharing these days. In our times batches were really very small and we had a complete suite for ourselves). Hope it helps.
Sir, after probation, when we have to buy our car, do the Government give us money for it or do we buy from our own pocket? Also, do the Government give us a driver and cook from 2nd Secretary onwards? My sincere regards to you.ReplyDelete
The Govt. does not give any money to buy a car, you'll need to take a loan or buy it with your money. Govt. does not give a driver or cook Second Secretary onward, one has to make one's own arrangements.
One of my friends came in top 30 of the results declared today. I immediately started checking internet to understand what her life would be as an IFS! I am glad I came across this page!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your kind words!Delete
Can couples(one of them is selected fr ifs) stay together at mussorie/delhi during ifs training. What i mean to ask is can i take my wife to stay with me during training. Will govt provide any accomidation for couples to stay together in his/her training.
Have replied your similar query.Delete
I'm happy to tell you that I have secured rank 123 in Civil Services Exam, 2012. Now I expect to be inducted into the IFS. I shall, from now on, keep disturbing you with queries :). Could you kindly throw some light on the following:
1) Does one get an allowance for being in a foreign country? Also, does one get an allowance for price differentials between India and the other country? Do we get both?
2) My rank would be about 6 in a batch of 30. What are my chances of getting a 1st posting in France/Spain?
3) I know that countries are categorized as A, B and C. Does one have to spend a minimum amount of time in a country belonging to each of these categories?
Looking forward to your response, I much appreciate your sparing time to answer queries on this forum.
Heartiest congratulations Kanishk,Delete
1. Yes, Foreign Allowance includes all you have mentioned.
2. You can easily get it as many top rankers prefer Chinese language.
3. One has to rotate among these three categories during the whole career. The maximum duration of a posting is 3 years.
Many thanks for your reply. I am currently undergoing training in the Indian Economic Service. Now that I am expecting to join the IFS soon, I do not feel like putting in much effort in the current training for obvious reasons. The question I want to ask is the following: Would it, by any means, have a bearing on my IFS career, if I were to perform very poorly in the IES training? For example failing in the exams?
Also, in case i want the service benefits in terms of increment and pension to continue when i switch over to IFS, would I have to continue in IES right until the day I actually join the IFS?
Sir i really appreciate you for running such an awesome blog for IFS aspirants.ReplyDelete
In an above comment you have said that you can get leave(paid by government) once in 3 years. so is it possible to live without seeing our parents for 3 years and if we take parents with us will government bear that cost?
You can avail home leave anytime during the 3 year posting duration so you can see your parents three times in 3 years- first when leaving for a posting, second time, when on home leave and third time when returning from the posting.
One has to bear oneself the cost of taking parents abroad.
Hello Sir, I am deeply interested in being IFS officer and your article and suggestions gave me more encouragement. I have one question though, If i give my UPSC exam in my regional language (Marathi) and I get rank in top 100, still am I eligible to opt for IFS officer? Does the language of mains exam affects chances to get selected in IFS? I am proficient in English but I still like to take my exams in Marathi medium because I studied in vernacular medium.ReplyDelete
Thank you Akshay.Delete
You would still be eligible for IFS. Language of Mains exam does not have anything to do with your selection in the IFS.
First of all, let me thank you for taking out time to answer individual queries regarding IFS. Although, I don't consider myself as an aspirant yet, but I'm keen to know few facts about IFS, before I become one.
You mentioned that an IFS officer need to work at New Delhi for 1/3rd of his career. Is there no option to work at any regional office apart from Delhi? May be in one of the important Metros?
Thanks for your kind words. What I meant was 'an IFS officer need to work in India for 1/3rd of his career, it could be in New Delhi or other regional offices.Delete
Please tell me one thing. Can an IFS officer study higher degree such as MSc or MBA while in service? What are the requirements?
Hello Yashark, Yes, take paid study leave (after 8-9 years of Service)and study.Delete
Thank you Sir for your reply earlierReplyDelete
Can you also provide details on:-
1).How many "YEARS" does it take "FROM EACH designated job hierarchy(say 3rd secretary)" to reach "THE NEXT job hierarchy(say 2nd secretary)" and "SO ON..." in an embassy and consulate?.
2).How true are the following facilities:
"during their foreign postings: the officers of the rank of ambassador, consul general or deputy consul general procure special monthly allowance of $3000-$8000 apart from their salary. They get up to $25000 per year for their children’s education, the latest Mercedes-Benz with Indian flag and a five-bedroom house where they can entertain guests at government cost. All their furniture and cutlery are paid by the government.
For any club membership, they have to pay only 10% and the government will take care of the rest. Moreover, they can visit India twice a year on holiday".
Title:IFS officers have to serve at home.
Thank you in advance.
1.) It varies. Third to Second Secretary takes almost 2 years, second to first 3 years, First Secretary to Counsellor 6-7 years and so on...
2.)Facilities vary from place to place but there is element of truth in this.
Respected Sir, yours is the only blog from which I have been able to get detailed information regarding the IFS. It would be very kind of you to answer the following queries -ReplyDelete
1) Are IFS trainees allotted certain regions (Latin America, Europe, Middle East, East Asia, Africa) in which they serve for most parts of their careers, getting transferred from 1 country to another, or is this wrong information?
2) If you get the country where CFL is the native language (say french), then you stay in that region of countries throughout your career?
3) What work does each wing (Political, Economic or Commerce, Consular, Administrative or Cultural) entail and does the officer's interest/aptitude matter? (Eg: someone who is good at cultural activities or has a flare for economy/commerce)
4) I read on various credible websites that the starting salary is Rs.8000 and that of an ambassador id Rs.26,000. Is this a myth? Also, is life comfortable with the pay or IFS officers face problems?
5) Why do most top scorers choose Chinese, is it because it is helpful for one's career to improve Sino-India ties?
Your blog is highly informative and helpful. My respect & gratitude for the effort.
3. Political Wing deals with the everyday political developments and keeps the HQ updated, Economic and Commercial matters such as trade queries, disputes, trade exhibitions etc. are handled by the E&C Wing, Consular Wing handles visas, passports, consular matters, Administrative Wing, also known as the Chancery, deals with the day to day running of the mission. Cultural Wing coordinated visit of the cultural troupes etc. Yes, aptitude does matter but in the IFS one has to be a master of all trades.
4. That was the basic salary before the 6th Pay Commission.
5. These days everybody wants to learn Chinese (don't you :)
Thanks for your kind words.
In all india services like ias and ips, during their training, i mean during probation period, at mussorie they get trained in unarmed combat. Do ifs probationeer also recieve
any such training like horse riding, swiming, shooting etc,
If it is, where do they get trained for that. is it in delhi or mussorie???
Thank you, Sir, for providing clarity. Please offer some advice regarding the following-ReplyDelete
I have been offered a job in an IT company, which will be starting in July 2013. The timings would be 9-6pm and if I include travelling, it will be 7:30-7:30pm. I am planning to prepare for the 2014 CSE along with my job. I know it is tough and will require dedication and hard work, but is it too ambitious a proposition? Should I follow any particular study patterns or strategy regarding the same?