IFS - Indian Foreign Services, Diplomats


Diplomats represent the country abroad on a wide variety of issues. The issues could relate to anything from political, economic and trade to culture. Diplomats work in embassies and high commissions and even represent the country in organizations such as United Nations. A diplomat protects India’s national interests in the country where he/she is posted, promotes friendly relations with the country, reports back home the developments in the country of his/her posting, and negotiates country-level agreements with other countries.


Starting off as a Third Secretary, an IFS officer receives promotions to become Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counsellor, Minister and Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative.

They also get posted to work in the ministry of external affairs in India. At the Ministry of External Affairs, the hierarchy is Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary. An IFS officer can also be posted as a Regional Passport Officer or be deputed to other departments such as ministries of Defense or commerce or to the Prime Minister's Office, or even to an organization such as World Bank.

A diplomat gets posted to different countries. They take two international postings followed by one posting in India. In effect, an Indian diplomat spends two-thirds of his/her life abroad.

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To become an IFS officer, one has to pass the Civil Services Exam. The exam is extremely competitive because only about 800 candidates out of the over five lakh applicants are successful. Only about 15-20 of those that clear the civil services exam every year are selected into the IFS. What’s clearly visible here is that it’s extremely competitive to become a diplomat. You have to be simply brilliant in your academics and general awareness.

IFS aspirants take the civil services exam after they complete their graduation. Graduates from any discipline can become IFS officers. So if you aspire to become an IFS officer, study the subjects that interest you in class 11 and 12 and in your graduation so that you can enjoy your learning and excel at whatever you study.


The job requires changing locations every two to three years, so be ready to keep relocating. This can be disturbing for some as you never really settle down in one location.

Since the main job of a diplomat is to maintain relations with other countries, you need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. If you are not born with these, you would need to struggle hard to develop them.

Since you would travel across the world, it would help if you enjoy learning new languages, are open to diverse cultures, viewpoints and ideas.

Be ready to become a global citizen as a diplomat. Go out there, mingle with the world and influence countries to live together.

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Entrance Exam


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