The Foreign Service Journal - June 2014 - page 24

24
JUNE 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Global winds of change are sweeping
through the corridors of India’s
Ministry of External Affairs and the
Indian Foreign Service, opening up
the process of foreign policy delivery.
BY K I SHAN S . RANA
THE INDIAN FOREIGN SERVICE
I
n New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs and the
Indian Foreign Service have long been seen as silos,
sometimes criticized at home as aloof and elitist.
Yet peers view the IFS as among the best diplomatic
services. Foreign embassies in New Delhi sometimes
find MEA exasperating. How does one explain such
paradoxes?
Global winds of change now sweep through the
corridors of South Block—and Jawahar Bhavan, the
new second home of MEA—in effect opening up the process
of foreign policy delivery. This is the result of several elements:
complexity and new issues in international dialogue; a larger role
played by both the head of government and by functional min-
istries; the expanded activities of non-state actors; the ubiquity
of electronic and social media; as well as increased volatility of
foreign affairs. The same change is transforming diplomacy the
world over, forcing foreign ministries to scramble in response.
The Indian Foreign Service is an “integrated” service, designed
from its 1946 creation to handle political, commercial, consular
and all other external tasks. So, for example, some 70 of the 121
Indian embassies worldwide have commercial sections that
are staffed by the Ministry of External Affairs but funded by the
Department of Commerce. Unlike the American system, the IFS
has no separate commercial service or even a specialist “cone.”
In this “holistic” approach, the IFS is responsible for all politi-
cal, economic, public affairs and consular work, though some
embassy jobs go to officials from outside the IFS (that number
is now set to increase, as we see below). In my view, this leads to
FOCUS
OTHER COUNTRIES’ DIPLOMATS
The Glass
Gets Fuller
Kishan S. Rana was a member of the Indian Foreign Service from
1960 to 1995, serving as ambassador to Algeria, Czechoslovakia,
Kenya, Mauritius and Germany. He was also joint secretary in
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s office from 1981 to 1982, and
later headed personnel administration in the Ministry of Exter-
nal Affairs. Ambassador Rana now teaches, writes and advises
other governments on diplomatic practice. He is the author of
21st Century Diplomacy: A Practitioner’s Guide
(Bloomsbury
Academic, 2011) and
The Contemporary Embassy: Paths to
Diplomatic Success
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
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