In September 1946, on the eve of India’s independence, the Government of India decided to create a service called the Indian Foreign Service for India’s diplomatic, consular and commercial representation overseas. The precursor to Indian Foreign Service can be traced back to September 1783 when Foreign Department was established by the British Raj to conduct business with foreign European powers. In 1947, there was a near seamless transformation of the Foreign department of the British India government into what then became the new Ministry of External Affairs and in 1948 the first batch recruited under the combined Civil service examination system of the Union Public Service Commission joined the service. This system of entry has remained the staple mode of intake into the IFS to this day. The origin of the Indian Foreign Service can be traced back to the British rule when the Foreign Department was created to conduct business with the “Foreign European Powers”. In fact it was on September 13, 1783, when the Board of Directors of the East India Company passed a resolution at Fort William, Calcutta (now Kolkata), to create a department, which could help “relieve the pressure” on the Warren Hastings administration in conducting its “secret and political business”. Subsequently known as the “Indian Foreign Department”, it went ahead with the expansion of diplomatic representation, wherever necessary, to protect British interests.
On acceptance to the Foreign Service, new entrants undergo in-depth training. The entrants undergo a probationary period (and are referred to as probationers). Training begins at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, where members of many elite Indian civil service organizations are trained.
After completing the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, the probationers join the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi for more training as well as attachments with different government bodies and tours both in India and abroad. The entire training programme is for a period of 36 months.
At the conclusion of the training programme the officer is assigned a compulsory foreign language (CFL). After a brief period of desk attachment in the Ministry of External Affairs, the officer is posted to an Indian diplomatic mission abroad where the CFL is the native language. There the officer undergoes language training and is expected to develop proficiency in his CFL and pass an examination before being allowed to continue in the service.

Career and rank structure:

•    At an embassy:

o    Third Secretary (entry level)
o    Second Secretary (promotion upon being confirmed in service)
o    First Secretary
o    Counsellor
o    Minister
o    Deputy Chief of Mission/Deputy High Commissioner/Deputy Permanent Representative
o    Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative

•    At an consulate:

o    Vice Consul
o    Consul
o    Consul General

•    At the Ministry of External Affairs

o    Under Secretary
o    Deputy Secretary
o    Director
o    Joint Secretary
o    Additional Secretary
o    Secretary