Congress veteran and chairman of the parliamentary panel on external affairs Shashi Tharoor has said the government should increase the number of diplomats and conduct a separate exam for Indian Foreign Service (IFS).
“Brazil has 1,200 people in foreign services, China has something like 6,000 people, the US has 20,000 people. I am not saying we can be like the US or even like China. But 800 is far too modest a number and it needs to be increased,” Tharoor told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the panel earlier this week.
The committee noted there were only 770 IFS officers against the sanctioned strength of 912. The committee was of the view that the size of India’s diplomatic corps “is inadequate considering the tasks and challenges before the Ministry and nation”.
Pitching for lateral entry into the IFS, Tharoor said there had been an increase in recruitment for foreign service last year but those people would be ready for productivity only after 10 years of work experience. “You need some people now to make up for your efficiency. So, we can think about lateral entry and facilitating the entry of NRIs,” he said.
Making a case for a separate exam for the service, Tharoor said those golden days were over when the IFS was seen as the elite service and one had to secure a rank in the top ten of the UPSC to opt for it.
“But equally, we are getting people into the foreign service, who never wanted to be in the service. The kind of qualities that are needed in a diplomat are very different from others. So there is need for a separate exam,” he said, adding, for becoming a diplomat one required to have interest in world affairs and a flair for languages.