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Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

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Life in the Indian Foreign Service

Life in the Indian Foreign Service -Abhay K. 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



Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

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.

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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.

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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/PostThird Secretary(Language Trainee); Second Secretary: First Secretary; Counsellor; Minister; Ambassador While in India at MEA HeadquartersAttache; 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. View expressed are personal. Posted by White Square at 3:01 PM Labels: CAPAR, Civ il Serv ices, Consulate, DU, Embassy , IFS, Indian Foreign Serv ice, JNU, LBSNAA, Regional Passport Officer, SFL, UPSC

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122 comments: 2/19


Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

Vimal G Kumar September 11, 2011 at 1:12 PM Thanks for the information.Vimal Reply Replies White Square Thanks! Reply September 27, 2012 at 12:52 AM

Shiv September 21, 2011 at 5:11 PM Thank you. 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. Reply Read or Download Enigmatic Love

Ronnie November 17, 2011 at 1:05 AM 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? Reply Replies White Square September 27, 2012 at 12:45 AM Read or download Fallen Leaves of Autumn

IFS gives one the best pay among all Civil Services so please don't worry about that. Reply

Shiv November 18, 2011 at 8:36 PM 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. Reply Replies White Square September 27, 2012 at 12:47 AM

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...

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X blog January 6, 2013 at 7:28 AM Sir, Is it usual for a probationer to be not confirmed? What are the chances or success rates? One more thing, Is there a provision for Study leaves and Half pay leave as is with the IAS? Reply

kapyS November 20, 2011 at 7:13 PM Hello 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 Reply

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Replies White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

September 27, 2012 at 12:49 AM

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. Reply

Kishore August 19, 2012 at 8:09 PM Thanks a lot..this helps me further. Reply Replies White Square Thanks Kishore! Reply

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Harshitha Shashidhar September 14, 2012 at 9:13 PM Hello How should i prepare for UPSC to get selected in IFS in my very first attempt? Reply Replies White Square September 27, 2012 at 12:51 AM

13 (12) 12 (15) 11 (21) Nov (3) Oct (1) Sep (3) The Civil Servant's Tale Advance praise for Abhay K.'s new poetry book Cand... Life in the Indian Foreign Service Aug (3)

Harshitha, Please read Abhay K's book A Civil Servant's Tale which you can find on internet for free...just google it.. Reply

Jun (1) May (1)

valiantaryan September 26, 2012 at 2:34 PM 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. Reply Replies White Square Sure... Reply September 27, 2012 at 12:51 AM

Apr (3) Mar (3) Jan (3) 10 (8)


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anupam prasad September 30, 2012 at 12:42 AM 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.. anupam Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 10:58 PM

Abhay K.'s Video Channel Earth First Dance of Colours Colours of Soul

Thanks Anupam for your warm words! My suggestions are in my book which you have already read...remain focused and positive...that helps



Ace October 2, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service


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. Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:03 PM

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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? best Reply

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nandhini nandhini October 4, 2012 at 1:48 PM very useful and it pushes me to further career developments.. thanks a lot! sir. Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:03 PM


Most welcome nandhini! Reply

This website is purely a creative endeavour for sharing creative works for the benefit of general public . All readers of this website may kindly note that all the views expressed here are personal and have nothing to do with any Governmental Organization or Instituiton or their policies. The website owner takes no responsibility for other peoples comments here or for the contents of the websites linked to. Website contents copyright 20042013.

Ace October 5, 2012 at 9:59 AM Sir i would like to know the pro's and con's of IFS vs IAS. Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:06 PM

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. Reply

Scheherazade October 27, 2012 at 3:17 PM 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. :-) 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? Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Thanks Scheherazade! 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. best Reply



Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

Chahat Jain November 1, 2012 at 7:49 PM hello sir, 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 JAIN Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:10 PM

Chahat, please read my book A Civil Servant's Tale, available freely online best Reply

Mohan Pandey November 3, 2012 at 10:21 PM Hello Sir, 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? Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM

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.

Mohan Pandey November 25, 2012 at 1:31 AM oh! these names are enough Sir! thanks a lot! 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, Mohan Reply

Drishti Prasad November 4, 2012 at 2:21 AM 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 ...... Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:14 PM

Thanks Drishti, I would suggest you read my book A Civil Servant's Tale available freely online best Reply


arun November 8, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

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? Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Thanks Arun! 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. best Reply

JAM November 8, 2012 at 8:18 PM What are the avenues where an IFS officer can work post retirement?Does the foreign service allowance increase with promotion or years of service? Reply Replies White Square November 20, 2012 at 11:18 PM

There are several IFS officers working very productively postretirement- 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. Foreign allowance increase with promotion. Reply

SHRIKANT November 15, 2012 at 9:59 AM THanks for this Reply Replies White Square Thanks Shrikant! Reply November 20, 2012 at 11:18 PM

Nishant Virtuso November 23, 2012 at 1:44 AM 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? Reply Replies White Square December 14, 2012 at 5:49 PM

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. Reply

haripriya November 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM 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 ?


Reply Replies White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

December 14, 2012 at 5:53 PM

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.

n.deep1987 January 27, 2013 at 9:15 PM Sir, 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? Thank You. Reply

kaaja November 26, 2012 at 12:34 PM hi Sir, 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. Reply Replies White Square December 20, 2012 at 11:00 PM

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. Reply

SRIY@ MUKHERJEE November 28, 2012 at 10:40 PM sir i have read ur book just loved the journey and sir i am also an ifs aspirant currently working in software company 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 Reply Replies White Square December 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM

Thanks Sriya, I am glad you liked it. 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. Reply

Anoop Yadav November 30, 2012 at 11:12 PM Sir how can i meet you? Reply Replies White Square December 20, 2012 at 11:02 PM

Anoop, I live in Kathmandu these days...hope to meet you while I am in Delhi or near a place you stay. best Reply



Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

Gemini Sridhar December 2, 2012 at 1:53 PM Sir, whether quarters will be given to the trainees ar NewDelhi? What abt children's education during trg.pd. Reply Replies White Square December 20, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Yes, govt. provides accommodation during the training period...and also pays for Children's (up to 2 ) education above five years... Reply

Vishnu Warrier December 3, 2012 at 4:44 PM Sir, 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 Reply Replies White Square December 20, 2012 at 11:16 PM

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. Reply

Vishnu Warrier December 3, 2012 at 5:00 PM Sir, What should be the rank so that i get selected for IFS?? Reply

Unknown December 4, 2012 at 7:17 PM 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 my dream is to become IFS so this will help me lot......thanks..... Reply Replies White Square December 20, 2012 at 11:20 PM

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... Reply

prashant.ku December 9, 2012 at 1:15 AM 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. Reply Replies


White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

December 20, 2012 at 11:24 PM

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. best

Prashant.ku December 22, 2012 at 12:29 AM thank you Sir, I also strongly feel the same on the interview. Reply

saransh aggarwal December 11, 2012 at 3:54 AM good evening sir, 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)? Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Diplomats do get ample time to read, write and follow their interests including sports. All the best for your CS exam! Reply

Anand Khismatrao December 15, 2012 at 12:47 AM sir what is starting salary for IFS officer including all allownces ? Is it sufficient for all expenditure ?? Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 10:40 PM

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. best Reply

Digvijay Khapre December 21, 2012 at 12:52 AM Hello respected sir, 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. Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 10:48 PM

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. best Reply

Ankush Kashyap December 22, 2012 at 1:04 PM Respected Sir,



Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

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 Thank You Ankush Kashyap Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Thanks so much Ankush, 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 Reply

pavleen kaur December 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM 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 throughout Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Yes, as soon as you join the Service, you get govt accommodation. Please don't worry about these things. best wishes Reply

K.R. Ananthanarayanan December 24, 2012 at 9:40 AM 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! Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 10:58 PM

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. warmly A

K.R. Ananthanarayanan January 10, 2013 at 11:00 PM Sir, Happy New Year to you and your family. 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: INSANELY GREAT!


White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

January 19, 2013 at 10:39 PM

Thanks so much for your kind words. Reply

wonkishmentations December 26, 2012 at 1:37 PM Sir, 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? Regards Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Thanks for reaching out... 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. best Reply

Oriental Asian December 26, 2012 at 3:47 PM 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? Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 11:05 PM

That's not correct information. Reply

Unknown December 30, 2012 at 7:28 PM Respected Sir, 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..?? Reply Replies


White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

January 5, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Assistants are posted in India as well as abroad and get promoted to higher ranks during the course of time. best

Unknown January 11, 2013 at 11:07 PM 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). Reply

pawan arjunaditya January 3, 2013 at 11:39 PM 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.... Reply Replies White Square January 5, 2013 at 11:10 PM

Wish you a very happy New Year too! 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. best

n.deep1987 January 27, 2013 at 9:08 PM Sir, 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. Thank You. Reply

Rohan January 10, 2013 at 7:31 PM 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. :) Reply Replies White Square January 19, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Most welcome Rohan and thanks for your kind words. 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. Reply

JD January 12, 2013 at 11:01 PM Sir, Mr. T P Sreenivasan presents a different side of the Indian Foreign Service in this article ->


What are your views about the article ? Reply Replies White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

January 19, 2013 at 10:23 PM

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 Hope this helps. Reply

sam.vedanta January 13, 2013 at 2:29 AM 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!). 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. Reply Replies White Square January 19, 2013 at 10:29 PM

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. Reply

Dr.Samrat January 13, 2013 at 6:20 PM 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???? Thank you:) Reply Replies White Square January 19, 2013 at 10:32 PM

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. Reply

Suhail Ahmed January 13, 2013 at 7:20 PM Thank you so much for this informative blog sir.I am a fan of your poetry as well. I would like to ask whether the Foreign Service Probationer/ Officer Trainee gets any kind of salary or not? Reply Replies


White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

January 19, 2013 at 10:33 PM

Thanks Suhail! Yes, Foreign Service Probationer does get salary. Reply

nitin January 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM 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? Reply Replies White Square January 19, 2013 at 10:37 PM

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. Reply

khushi January 21, 2013 at 1:40 PM sir, do assistant(cypher) in MEA can become IFS after promotions and getting higher ranks Reply Replies White Square January 22, 2013 at 10:42 PM

Let me check about this and get back.

khushi January 24, 2013 at 7:22 AM tq sir, reply as soon as possible. Reply

Unknown January 22, 2013 at 5:39 PM 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) Reply

Jaya January 22, 2013 at 9:56 PM Hello Sir, 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. Reply Replies White Square January 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Wish you all the best Jaya. Many thanks for your warm words. Reply

Sonakshi Kumar January 22, 2013 at 10:20 PM Sir, 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


Reply Replies White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

January 22, 2013 at 10:46 PM

Sonakshi, You are the second person who wants to read the 2nd part, so now I'll think about writing it. 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. best Reply

Jaya January 23, 2013 at 9:30 PM 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? Reply Replies White Square February 24, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Jaya, It is up to you to decide what exactly you want in life. best Reply

shubha January 27, 2013 at 5:57 PM Hello Sir, 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? Reply Replies White Square February 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Hello Shubha, One gets paid study leave after 8 years of service and you can do your masters then. best Reply

Ganesh Ram January 28, 2013 at 12:29 PM 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... Reply Replies White Square February 24, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Sorry Ganesh, I am not the best person to answer this question. best Reply

khushi January 29, 2013 at 7:34 PM 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


Reply Replies White Square

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

departmental exams in ministry. Please reply.........

February 24, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Hello Khushi, I do not have much idea about departmental exams. best Reply

rupam malhotra February 2, 2013 at 4:20 PM sir what kind of pay n perks n allowances and foreign postings do an assistant in mea get and wat z d work structure. Reply Replies White Square February 24, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Rupam, this can be best answered by an assistant I think. best Reply

SHRIKANT February 6, 2013 at 3:57 PM 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. 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 Reply Replies White Square February 24, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Hello Shrikant, 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. Best Reply

Megha Bairagi February 6, 2013 at 8:48 PM Greetings sir, 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? Reply Replies White Square February 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Thanks Megha, IFS officers spend only two-third of their working life abroad, the rest is spent working in India. Best Reply


Ravi T eja February 21, 2013 at 1:11 AM

Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service

Hello sir, 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? Reply

White Square

February 24, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Hello Ravi, Thanks for your kind words. Diplomats do get free time to surf internet, read books and spend time with the family. Best Abhay Reply

Anirban Mukherjee February 24, 2013 at 1:01 PM Sir, 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. -Anir Mukherjee Reply

White Square Hello Anir,

February 26, 2013 at 8:15 PM

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. Reply
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Abhay K.: Life in the Indian Foreign Service