Foreign Service

In India, diplomacy is the domain of Indian foreign services (IFS). However, over dependency on one agency and traditional as well as tedious recruitment criteria has jeopardized its efficiency.

Currently IFS faces following lacunae:
  1. Too small cadre strength of 900 personnel only- this mean India is not adequately represented thus affects its ability to influence other nation.
  2. Owing to stressed manpower, the perspective policy division of MEA is moribund thus compromised quality on policy planning and implementation.
  3. Though Foreign affairs have diversified and encompasses strategic, economic and cultural sphere, IFS has stagnated- there are no experts or even officers from other departments.
  4. IFS officers are recruited from same common entrance exam, so disheartened aspirants who have not cleared for IAS opt for IFS, this reduces the zeal among officers
  5. MEA is not the only nodal agency which will have a say in Foreign Affairs – different ministries will nominate their own “special team of experts” (IAS bureaucrats) to handle foreign affairs related to their ministries.
Therefore as pointed by “Shiv Shankar Menon committee” though it important to strengthen IFS it is also necessary to revamp it by:
  1. Increasing pace of recruitment
  2. More deputation of IFS to other relevant departments like culture, commerce, defence etc.
  3. Lateral entries for specialised post or at special level
  4. Institutionalising Soft power of IFS in line of countries like China and France, which has coordinated policy directives for better negotiation.
  5. Financial compensation for tough assignments
  6. Unlike other services, which are restricted to regional affairs, IFS demands far greater diplomatic acumen. This is one area where compromise is a strict no. UPSC could actually think of formulating a different mechanism, to hire IFS officers, which places greater importance on their communication (particularly English language) and diplomatic skills
  7. Facilitating better coordination between MEA and other ministries, and most importantly, allowing the IFS officers to spearhead various negotiations rather than the so called “team of experts”.
  8. Practice of ad hoc postings should be ceased to allow candidates to develop specialization in field
Foreign affairs in the present times need a professional approach and technical knowledge in order to secure nation’s interest in diverse fields therefore apart from
strengthening IFS, impetus should also be given to training in these new fields.
“If IFS has to perform effectively, its elitism should be preserved, its attractiveness enhanced, and it should be brought to the centre of international relations as it was originally intended to be.” Do you agree with this view? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Created with Microsoft OneNote 2016.



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