How to become an ambassador of India?

What if you get to speak for your country in a meeting with the diplomats of foreign nations? What if you get to play a major role in deciding the terms of the relationship of your country with a foreign country? What if you get to enjoy diplomatic privileges in a foreign country as a representative of your nation? 

Serving your nation is always a matter of pride. Even better is getting to represent your nation in a foreign country. That’s what becoming an ambassador of India can get you. If you are up for it, let me tell you how your journey is going to be.

How to become an ambassador of India?

That’s a question I used to ask people as a kid. But not many were able to answer. This is a high-level diplomatic position and getting there is never going to be easy. Now, let’s look at the best possible route to take up if you are someone who dreams of reaching that position sometime in Future.

Step 1: Undergraduate degree

Let’s start with an undergraduate degree. As I already said, the position of an ambassador comes under Indian Foreign Service (IFS). You must be knowing that it’s a civil service body and the direct route towards getting there is UPSC civil service examination. The minimum educational qualification required to apply for UPSC civil service examination is to have an undergraduate degree. 

Though any degree will make you eligible to go forward, IFS aspirants usually go for undergraduate courses in political science or international relations. It is commonly believed that these courses will help you later on in your career. It is also recommended to learn foreign languages if possible along with your undergraduate course.

Step 2: UPSC Civil Service examination

The Civil service examination is conducted for recruitment to 25 services that come under Indian Civil Services. This includes All India Services (IFS, IPS, and IAS), Central services and group B services. The exam has three parts. First one is the preliminary exam, then the main exam and finally personal interview. 

The preliminary exam is popularly known as the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT). It consists of two objective papers. General studies 1 and General studies 2. Paper two is taken as a qualifying exam while the score obtained in paper one is considered for merit. 

The second stage consists of the main exam and the personal interview. While submitting the application form for mains, you will have the option to choose the service you wish to get preference for. If you’re going for IFS, you should choose IFS as the first preference.

The main exam consists of 9 conventional subjective type papers. Two among them are qualifying exams while scores of the other 7 papers are considered for preparing the merit list. The written examination will be followed by a personal interview round. Here, you will face an interview panel consisting of experts from various fields. The marks obtained for the mains and interview round will be considered for the final selection. The UPSC will then recommend the names of the candidates who qualified through the exam to the government. 

Step 3: Training for Indian Foreign Service (IFS)

As I already mentioned, Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is a wing of diplomats who deals with international relations and issues. Its members either work in the external affairs ministry in India or in Indian consulates across the world. Being a member of this service is a big responsibility and each candidate goes through the prescribed training period before taking up their job roles.

So, if your Civil Service ranks are good enough, you will be allotted to the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). The selected candidates will then undergo training for three months at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie. Here, his or her designation will be of a Foreign Service Probationer/ Officer Trainee. Successful completion of this stage will be followed by a one-year training program at the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi. During this period of time, candidates will be taught various modules regarding international relations, foreign trade, Indian Foreign Service, etc.  And also, you will get to travel to nearby South Asian countries or the United Nations to observe and learn from an Indian foreign mission. You will also get to associate with the central government, state government and armed forces during this period. 

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Step 4: On job training

Once this one year period is done, the probationary officer will work with the ministry of external affairs for a 6-month on-job training program. After this, the officer will be allocated on an Indian mission as a third officer or language trainee for Compulsory Foreign Language (CFL) training. The IFS trainee will learn the foreign language allocated to him or her during this period of time like Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Russian, or any other language. The allocation of language will be on the basis of the requirements of the ministry. 

On completion of the compulsory foreign language program, the trainee officer will have to attend a foreign language ability test conducted by the School of Foreign Languages (SFL), Ministry of Defence, India. And this is the last stage of the training program. If you successfully clear the test, the candidate will receive a permanent position in the Indian foreign service. This will mark the end of three-year-long training after clearing the civil service examination. 

Step 5: Second secretary

So, now you have a job in IFS. But that doesn’t mean you are going to start as an ambassador. You’ve to climb up the ladder, make the right moves and get there. You will start with the position of the second secretary. Here you will be allocated in one of the divisions like Administration, Cultural, Commerce, Consular, Economic or Political of the Embassy or as a Consul at an Indian Consulate for 3 years. Then, after a few years in that position, you will get promoted to the position of first secretary, then the counsellor, the minister and finally ambassador. You will need at least 17 years of experience in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) to become an ambassador. 

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