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The posts under the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for 24 different Civil Services are fulfilled through the UPSC’s Civil Service Examination (CSE). Only a few hundred candidates out of thousands of applicants pass this exam every year, and barely the top hundred are able to get the services of their choice. Despite the fact that there are 24 separate Civil Services, the most popular are Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS). The allocation of services to successful candidates is determined by the marks secured by the candidates in the examination.

Despite their similar status, most UPSC Civil Services candidates choose the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) over the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). Usually, IAS Toppers also don’t choose to join the Indian Foreign Services (IFS). Is it because the life of a public servant in India is more enticing than that of a diplomat, or is there some other reason? This article attempts to shed some insight into the difference between both services.

All About the Life of IAS and IFS

The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) are providers of a diverse variety of common service roles. In the public eye, the two governments are established and prestigious. Candidates for both roles must pass the UPSC CSE. Physical qualifications, as well as medical clearance, are also necessary. Both positions are well-known and well-established in society. However, there are certain differences in terms of the life one lives as an IAS Officer and an IFS Officer.

  • About Indian Administrative Service (IAS)-
    • As in other countries with parliamentary systems of government, the IAS is a permanent bureaucracy of the nation and an inseparable element of the executive of the Government of India. As a result, the bureaucracy stays politically neutral and assures the administrative continuity of the ruling party or coalition.
    • The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the administrative arm of the All India Services of the Government of India. The Indian Administrative Service (IAS), together with the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service, is regarded as the country’s primary civil service.
    • These three services have members who work for both the Indian government and specific states. IAS personnel may also be allocated to various government agencies and non-governmental organisations.
    • IAS/IPS officials spend their early careers in district headquarters and sub-divisional towns, which may be in distant places. An IAS official must also travel frequently within their district as part of their employment, which may include visiting underdeveloped regions or places afflicted by insurgencies, among other things. During their early careers, an IAS or IPS officer’s social life might become exceedingly constrained.
  • About Indian Foreign Service (IFS)-
    • Unlike the IAS, IFS is a Central Service. It is one of the most distinguished governmental services in India, and it represents the country’s foreign presence. It is part of Group A of the Central Civil Services, which is part of India’s Ministry of External Affairs’ executive department.
    • Diplomacy, indicating India’s presence in various international organisations, and managing India’s foreign relations are all responsibilities of the service.
    • It is a group of career diplomats who operate in over 162 Indian diplomatic missions and international organisations worldwide. They also work at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of External Affairs’ headquarters in Delhi.
    • A diplomat’s life may appear to be colourful and opulent. They frequently reside in magnificent mansions with domestic servants. They can also host and attend parties. IFS officials, unlike their IAS/IPS counterparts, are not subject to political influence.
    • When deployed overseas, they also enjoy diplomatic immunity in most cases. Because of larger allowances, the IFS Officer’s wage structure is also higher than the IAS Officer’s salary structure.
    • They must constantly monitor and document every fact that may damage India’s foreign policy goals. They must also uphold the country’s image overseas while remaining cautious in their personal and professional lives.

Comparison between the IAS and IFS

  • In terms of power-

Candidates who like making a difference in people’s lives and who enjoy travelling should apply to an IFS. Uncertainties may have a variety of effects on individuals and the country. Uncertainties wield considerable weight in global agreements and trading. They cannot, however, regulate government laws and regulations, as an IAS can. In this manner, authority is divided between IFS and IAS.

In terms of salary

The IAS has a fair pay scale that is almost similar to the IFS. Nonetheless, IFS remuneration is significantly larger than IAS compensation since an IFS receives a bigger number of remittances than an IAS.

  • In terms of flexibility

IFS requires increasing mental flexibility in order to go far and wide for administration. IAS, unlike IFS, does not have to travel around as much. As a result, being an IFS requires a sensible approach to help, family, and other important aspects of life. Strategic proximity in departments, government offices, and war-torn countries is a way of life for IFS.

In terms of functions-

The functions of an IAS are policy implementation and oversight, the conduct of district development programmes and responding to natural disasters, accidents and other situations, while the functions of an IFS include: representing India in embassies, high commissioners, foreign embassies, and permanent missions to international organisations such as the United Nations, to foster cordial connections among various countries and citizens and defending India’s national interests in the country.

It is reasonable to state that both IFS and IAS are dynamic, respected and constant profiles. However, there are some differences between these two posts, although the two officials have the same instructional capability. Whether one chooses to opt for IAS over IFS depends solely on the individual’s aptitude and interests. Usually, after the announcement of the UPSC Results, the candidates are allotted the services based on their ranks and preference.

Both the services help develop the country and protect the nation’s interests in their own way. But if India has to expand its international profile, it needs a much larger number of diplomats. It is not simply the number of officers but also the number of officers who are well-trained and skilled in technology, trade and other areas other than traditional diplomacy that is required.