The officials of the IFS are selected by the Union Public Service Commission through a three-stage combined selection process called the Civil Services Examination, known for being extremely challenging, that recruits officers for 20 other Group A services and five Group B services.
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The first stage, the Civil Services Prelims is composed of two objective exams: one of General studies and one of a subject of one's choice amongst a given list of subjects. The candidates can choose to be examined in about forty fields, from Civil Engineering and Medicine to Chinese Literature and Accountancy. This is purely an eliminatory stage and plays no part in the final rankings. About 5000-6000 of the applicants are selected for the next stage called the Civil Services Mains. The second stage is more exhaustive. It has nine papers of which two are only qualifying in nature.
One has to choose two optional subjects of one's choice as compared to one in the Preliminary stage. There are two papers of General Studies, Optional 1 and Optional 2 each of 300 marks and one Essay paper of 200 marks. The exam is for a total of 2000 marks. Around 1200-1400 aspirants clear Mains and sit for the third stage i.e the Civil Services Interview which is for 300 marks. Every candidate is asked to choose their preference of services before the interview. Most choose IAS as their first choice but a few opt for Indian Foreign Service.
The entire selection process lasts fifteen to twenty months. Repeated attempts are allowed (maximum of 4 times). About 300-400 are finally selected each year out of the nearly 400,000 appearing. But only a rank in the top 50 guarantees an IAS or IFS selection. This translates into an acceptance rate of 0.01%. It is due to this reason that IAS / IFS officers are highly respected in Indian society.
On selection to the Indian Foreign Service through the combined Civil Services examination, the new entrants undergo a multi-faceted and comprehensive training programme intended to give them a thorough grounding in diplomatic knowledge, diplomatic qualities and diplomatic skills. The probationers commence their training, together with their colleagues from the other All India Services, at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussourie.
Visit the Foreign Service Institute Website at http://fsi.mea.gov.in
Thereafter the probationers join the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi and undergo focused training in the various disciplines that a career diplomat needs to familiarise himself with. The Foreign Service Institute course involves lectures, attachments with various wings of the Government as well as familiarisation tours both within the country and abroad. The aim of this course is to inculcate in the diplomatic recruit a strong sense of history, knowledge of diplomacy and international relations and a grasp of general economic and political principles. The entire training programme is for a period of 36 months
At the conclusion of the training programme the officer is assigned his/her compulsory foreign language (CFL). After a brief period of desk attachment in the Ministry of External Affairs the officer is posted to an Indian Mission abroad in a country where his CFL is the native language and enrolled in a language course. The officer is expected to develop proficiency in his CFL and pass the requisite examination before he is confirmed in service.