About Us

About MEA

Allocation of Business Rules

  1. External affairs.
  2. Relations with foreign States and Commonwealth Countries.
  3. Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
  4. All matters affecting foreign diplomatic and consular officers, U.N. officers and its specialised agencies in India.
  5. Passports and visas excluding the grant of visas or endorsements for entry into India but including the grant of entry permits to South Africans of Non-Indian origin under the Reciprocity (South Africa) Rules, 1944 and the grant of entry visas for SriLankan nationals except missionaries.
  6. Extradition of criminals and accused persons from India to foreign and commonwealth countries and vice versa and general administration of the Extradition Act, 1962 (34 of 1962) and extra-territoriality.
  7. Preventive detention in India for reasons of State connected with External and Commonwealth affairs.
  8. Repatriation of the nationals of foreign and Commonwealth States from India and deportation and repatriation of Indian nationals of foreign and Commonwealth countries to India.
  9. Immigration to India from the Republic of South Africa or any other country to which the Reciprocity Act, 1943 (9 of 1943) may apply.
  10. All Consular functions.
  11. Travel arrangements for traders and pilgrims from India to Tibet region of China.
  12. Scholarship to foreign students including scholarship to Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin students for study in India under different schemes.1
  13. Political pensions paid to foreign refugees and descendants of those who rendered services abroad.
  14. Ceremonial matters relating to foreign and Commonwealth Visitors and Diplomatic and Consular Representatives.
  15. Matters in respect of Pondicherry, Goa, Daman and Diu, involving relations with France and Portugal.
  16. Relations with States in special Treaty relations with India such as Bhutan.
  17. Himalayan expeditions; permission to foreigners to travel to Protected Areas other than those with which the Ministry of Home Affairs is concerned.
  18. United Nations, Specialised Agencies and other International Organisations and Conferences.
  19. Indian Foreign Service.
  20. Indian Foreign Service Branch ‘B’.
  21. Foreign Service Training Institute.

    1 - Modified vide Amendment series no.278 dated 15.12.2004 and Amendment series no.321 dated 12.02.2016.

  22. External publicity including such publicity concerning overseas Indians’ affairs.1
  23. Political treaties, agreements and conventions with foreign and Commonwealth countries.
  24. (a) Pilgrimages to places outside India and the Indian Pilgrim Ships Rules, 1933, and Pilgrim parties from India to Shrines in Pakistan and vice versa excluding administration of the Haj Committee Act, 1959 (51 of 1959) and the rules made thereunder2.
    (b) Protection and preservation of Non-Muslim shrines in Pakistan and Muslim shrines in India in terms of Pant-Mirza Agreement of 1955.
  25. Abducted Persons (Recovery and Restoration).
  26. Omitted.3
  27. Recovery of advances granted to the evacuees from Burma, Malaya, etc., during the years 1942- 47 and residual work relating to refugees given asylum in India during World War II.
  28. Notification regarding commencement or cessation of a state of war.
  29. Foreign Jurisdiction.
  30. Hospitality Grant of the Government of India.
  31. Demarcation of the land frontiers of India.
  32. Border raids and incidents on the land borders of India.
  33. Diplomatic flight clearances for non-scheduled chartered flights of foreign, civil and military aircraft transiting India.
  34. Matters relating to Law of the Sea, including the Indian Territorial Waters, Contiguous Zone, Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), questions of international law arising on the high seas including fishery rights; piracies and crimes comitted on the High Seas or in the air; offences against the Law of Sovereign States comitted on land or the High seas or in the air; legal matters concerning the International Seabed Area and Authority.
  35. Economic and technical assistance given by India to the Government of Nepal under the Colombo Plan for Co-operative Economic Development.

    A. Technical and Economic assistance received by India under Technical Cooperation Scheme of the Colombo Plan.4

    B. Technical assistance given by India to the member countries of the Colombo Plan under Technical Cooperation Scheme of the Colombo Plan.5

    C. All matters relating to the meetings of the Colombo Plan Council and the Consultative Committee of the Plan.6

  36. Purchase, inspection and shipment of Stores from abroad for the Central Government other than those the purchase, inspection and shipment of which are delegated to other authorities by a general or special order.
  37. All matters relating to grant of loans and credits to Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

    1 - Modified vide Amendment series no.278 dated 15.12.2004. Further modified vide Amendment series no.321 dated 12.02.2016

    2 - Modified vide Amendment series no.329 dated 19.09.2016.

    3 - Omitted vide Amendment series no.283 dated 16.02.2006

    4 - Inserted vide Amendment series no.297 dated 05.06.2010

    5 - Inserted vide Amendment series no.297 dated 05.06.2010

    6 - Inserted vide Amendment series no.297 dated 05.06.2010

  38. Technical assistance given by India to African countries under the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan Programme. NOTE:- Commonwealth countries should be taken to include British Colonies, Protectorates and Trust Territories.
  39. Human Rights:

    (a) interaction with Human Rights Organisations abroad;

    (b) international declarations, treaties, conventions and conferences; references received from the United Nations and other specialised agencies and organisations thereof;

    (c) implementation of reporting obligations, in coordination with the concerned Ministries, required under the United Nations and international conventions, to which India is a State party.

    NOTE:- These functions will be exercised by the Ministry of External Affairs in close co-ordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs, which shall be the nodal Ministry for policy and for coordination of all matters relating to Human Rights.

  40. Omitted.1
  41. Indian Council of World Affairs.
  42. All matters relating to Overseas Indians comprising Persons of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indians excluding entries specifically allotted to other Departments.2
  43. All emigration under the Emigration Act, 1983 (31 of 1983) from India to overseas countries and the return of emigrants.
  44. Matters relating to Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards and Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra.
  45. Matters relating to programmes in India for overseas Indian Volunteers.
  46. Setting up and administration of Centres for Overseas Indians’ Affairs in countries having major concentration of Overseas Indians.
  47. Policy regarding employment assistance to the Persons of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indians excluding reservations in Government service.
  48. Collection and dissemination of information concerning admission of the Persons of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indian students to various educational, technical and cultural institutions in India wherever discretionary quota for the Persons of Indian Origin and Non- Resident Indian students exists, in consultation with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture.3
  49. Development of marketing and communication strategies to ensure strong links between the Overseas Indian community and India.

    1 - Omitted vide Amendment series no.270 dated 27.05.2004.

    2 - Items 42-55 and Note thereunder inserted vide Amendment series no.321 dated 12.02.2016.

    3 - Modified vide amendment series no. 356 dated 14.08.2020

  50. Matters relating to the Persons of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indians’ contributions to the Government and parental organisations in consultation with the Department of Economic Affairs.
  51. Guidance to and Cooperation with the State Governments and coordination with them on matters related to Overseas Indians.
  52. Establishment of institutions to impart vocational and technical training to meet the requirements of skilled manpower abroad with the concurrence of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
  53. New initiatives for interaction by Overseas Indians with India in the fields such as Trade, Culture, Tourism, Media, Youth Affairs, Health, Education, Science and Technology in consultation with concerned Ministries.
  54. Exercise of powers conferred by the sub-section (1) of section 7B of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955).
  55. Work relating to totalization agreements, protection and welfare of overseas Indians and exemption from payment of social security.

NOTE: The Ministry of External Affairs will be consulted by the concerned Ministries in all matters concerning Overseas Indians handled by them such as PIO Card Scheme, dual citizenship issues, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act matters of Non-Governmental Organisations of Overseas Indians. Similarly the Reserve Bank of India will consult the Ministry of External Affairs while framing policies and schemes governing deposits by overseas Indians.

South Block

The Ministry of External Affairs is largely located in South Block, a building that also houses the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Defence.Offices of Ministry of External Affairs are also housed in Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhavan, Shastri Bhavan, Patiala House and ISIL Building.

South Block, and North Block situated across the road, were built on top of Raisina Hill in 1931. Designed by Herbert Baker, one of Britain's most distinguished architects of the early 20th Century, the two impressive Secretariat buildings flank Rashtrapati Bhavan on each side of the Central Visitor. South Block is an intricate labyrinth of vaulted staircases and high ceiling passages. Colonnades and flat roofs, dominated by huge domes are striking features of this building. Herbert Baker, as well as Edwin Lutyens who designed government buildings for New Delhi, had accepted typical Indian architectural features like the 'Jaali' and the 'Chajja'. The jaali, which is an intricately carved ornamental stone screen, is ideal for Indian climatic conditions, and the chajja, which is a thin projection of stone, protects the walls and windows from the hot summer sun and the heavy monsoon rains. The third feature adopted by the designers was the 'chattri' or the umbrella-shaped dome that broke the monotony of the flat, horizontal skylines. All these features can be seen in South Block.

South Block

Indian Foreign Service

A Backgrounder

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.

In 1843, Governor-General Ellenborough carried out administrative reforms under which the Secretariat of the Government was organized under four departments – Foreign, Home, Finance and Military. Each was headed by a Secretary level officer. The foreign department Secretary was entrusted with the "conduct of all correspondence belonging to the external and internal diplomatic relations of the government”.

From the very beginning, a distinction was maintained between the "foreign” and "political” functions of the Foreign Department; relations with all "Asiatic powers” (including native princely states of India during the British Raj) were treated as "political” and with all European powers as "foreign”.

Although the Government of India Act, 1935 sought to delineate more clearly functions of the "Foreign” and "Political” wings of the Foreign Department, it was soon realized that it was administratively imperative to completely bifurcate the Foreign department. Consequently, the External Affairs Department was set up separately under the direct charge of the Governor-General.

The idea of establishing a separate diplomatic service to handle the external activities of the Government of India originated from a note dated September 30, 1944, recorded by Lt-Gen T. J. Hutton, Secretary, Planning and Development Department of the Government. When this note was referred to the Department of External Affairs for comments, Mr Olaf Caroe, the Foreign Secretary, recorded his comments in an exhaustive note detailing the scope, composition and functions of the proposed service. Mr Caroe pointed out that as India emerged to a position of autonomy and national consciousness, it was imperative to build up a system of representation abroad that would be in complete harmony with the objectives of the future government.

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.

In 1947, there was a near seamless transformation of the Foreign and Political department of the British India government into what then became the new Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations 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.


On selection to the Indian Foreign Service through the combined Civil Services examination, the new entrants undergo a multi-faceted and comprehensive training programme intended to give them a thorough grounding in diplomatic knowledge, diplomatic qualities and diplomatic skills. The probationers commence their training, together with their colleagues from the other All India Services, at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussourie. Thereafter the probationers join the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi and undergo focused training in the various disciplines that a career diplomat needs to familiarise himself with. The Foreign Service Institute course involves lectures, attachments with various wings of the Government as well as familiarisation tours both within the country and abroad. The aim of this course is to inculcate in the diplomatic recruit a strong sense of history, knowledge of diplomacy and international relations and a grasp of general economic and political principles.

At the conclusion of the training programme the officer is assigned his/her compulsory foreign language (CFL). After a brief period of desk attachment in the Ministry of External Affairs the officer is posted to an Indian Mission abroad in a country where his CFL is the native language and enrolled in a language course. The officer is expected to develop proficiency in his CFL and pass the requisite examination before he is confirmed in service.


A Foreign Service Officer begins his career abroad as a Third Secretary and is promoted to Second Secretary as soon as he is confirmed in service. Subsequent promotions are to the levels of First Secretary, Counsellor, Minister and Ambassador/High Commissioner/Permanent Representative. Officers can also be posted to Indian Consulates abroad where the hierarchy (going upwards) is Vice-Consul, Consul and Consul General.

The hierarchy at the Ministry of External Affairs includes 6 stages: Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary.

Mission & Vision

As a career diplomat, the Foreign Service Officer is required to project India’s interests, both at home and abroad on a wide variety of issues. These include bilateral political and economic cooperation, trade and investment promotion, cultural interaction, press and media liaison as well as a whole host of multilateral issues.

The functions of an Indian diplomat may be summarized as:

  • Representing India in its Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates, and Permanent Missions to multilateral organisations like UN;
  • Protecting India’s national interests in the country of his/her posting;
  • Promoting friendly relations with the receiving state as also its people, including NRI / PIOs;
  • Reporting accurately on developments in the country of posting which are likely to influence the formulation of India’s policies;
  • Negotiating agreements on various issues with the authorities of the receiving state; and
  • Extending consular facilities to foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.

At home, Ministry of External Affairs is responsible for all aspects of external relations. Territorial divisions deal with bilateral political and economic work while functional divisions look after policy planning, multilateral organizations, regional groupings, legal matters, disarmament, protocol, consular, Indian Diaspora, press and publicity, administration and other aspects.


In recent years, the intake into the Indian Foreign Service has averaged between 30-35 persons annually. The present cadre strength of the service stands at approximately 850 officers manning around 193 Indian missions and posts abroad and the various posts in the Ministry at home.

Visit the Foreign Service Institute Website at meafsi.gov.inExternal website that opens in a new window