IAS vs IFS: Why Most of the Candidates Go for IAS Instead of IFS?

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The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Forest Service (IFS) are exams for recruitment to the All-India Services (AIS). Besides the Indian Police Services (IPS), these two are extremely sought after when it comes to bagging a top-level government job in India. All of these exams are conducted by the apex government recruitment agency — Union Public Service Commission.

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The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) are the two great posts which are prestigious in the public arena. However, most of the qualifying candidates choose to become an IAS over IFS officers.

In this article we will be discussing the possible reasons behind this trend of choice among the aspirants. Besides this article will guide the you how you should make a selection of particular post whether IAS or IFS.

The Ground Realities:

In 2019 civil services exam, the Union Public Service Commission has picked 354 candidates for the top three services which are the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).

The number of candidates selected for the IAS is 180, while that for the IPS is 150. And for the IFS, whose officers are mandated with making and implementing India’s ever-changing and complex foreign policy, the number is 24.

Comparison Between IAS vs IFS

Nowadays, the preferred choice for most UPSC Civil Services candidates is the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), instead of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) even though they both are of equal prestige.

To understand the reasons behind the choice of the Civil service aspirants first we should spot the differences among the two services.

Benefits provided to the Post


The IAS officials enjoy the lavish homes along staff for settlement. Besides they are entitled with different offices and home guards, body guards etc. They enjoy the benefits like drivers, and fuel endowment, etc. Their relatives additionally get benefitted by different services.


The Ifs officers are considered as diplomats representing the country. The IFS get benefitted with Government transport, Protection and Home Support,Hospital Expenses etc. They also get an opportunity to study abroad and the costs will be paid by the Government.

Salary Structure


IAS get paid a decent salary as per their years in service. The measure of the pay scale of an IAS officer is nearly the equivalent of an IFS.

GradePay ScaleGrade PayYears of service requiredPost
Junior Time Scale50000 – 15000016500NASub-divisional Magistrate/Sub-collector
Senior Time Scale50000 – 150001200005 yearsDistrict Magistrate/Collector/Joint Secretary of a govt. ministry
Junior Administrative Grade50000 – 150001230009 yearsSpecial Secretary/Head of Govt. departments
Selection Grade100000 – 2000002600012 – 15 yearsSecretary to a Minister
Super Time Scale100000 – 2000003000017 – 20 yearsPrincipal Secretary of an important Govt. department
Above Super Time Scale100000 – 20000030000VariesVaries
Apex Scale225000 (fixed)NAVariesChief Secretary of States/Union Secretaries in charge of various Central Govt. ministries
Cabinet Secretary Grade250000 (fixed)NAVariesCabinet Secretary of India


The IFS officers get more compensation than that of IAS. It is much higher than that of IAS on the grounds that an IFS gets a greater number of remittances than an IAS.

GradeRankBasic Pay/Grade Pay
Junior Time ScaleUnder Secretary15,600 -39,100/5400
Senior Time ScaleUnder Secretary15600 – 39100/6600
Junior Administrative ScaleDeputy Secretary15600 -39100/7600
Selection GradeCounselor Director37,400 -67,000/8700
Super time scaleJoint Secretary37,400 -67,000/1000
Above super time scaleCabinet Secretary90000 fixed



  • Implementation and supervision of policies
  • Answer to the state legislatures and the parliament in case of irregularities in their cadre
  • Maintain overall expenditure for your area
  • Possess authority to ensure law and order is maintained
  • Conduct programs for the development of the district
  • Responding to emergencies such as natural disasters, accidents, etc.


  • To promote friendly relations among different countries and citizens.
  • Defending the national interests of India in the country
  • Encouraging the global impact on certain national developments in the country
  • Representing India in embassies, high commissions, foreign embassies, and permanent missions to bodies such as the United Nations.

Both the IAS and IFS helps to ensure the country’s advantages in their own particular manner. Regardless of whether one decides to pick IAS over IFS depends entirely on the person’s bent and interests.

Why most of the aspirants choose IAS?

  • IAS is preferred choice by above 95 % of the candidates (in their DAF) as compared to IPS or IFS.
  • IAS officers play far more important role in policy formation of the Central and State Governments than other officers. E.g. chief secretary of every state and Cabinet secretary of union is IAS officer.
  • IAS officers have more discretion when it comes to exercise of power and IAS provides the fastest promotions among all civil services in India.
  • The social recognition and prestige of an IAS officer, particularly as DM, is far more than the other officer.
  • Another important factor is faster promotion.

Why most of the aspirants don’t choose IFS?

  • In 2017, the first officer to be allotted the IFS ranked 17th, and the number of officers ranked among the top 100 was just five. In 2016, the number of IFS officers in the top 100 was just seven.
  • It’s too challenging to uproot one’s life, especially nowadays, with men and women working outside the house.
  • You cannot just ask your spouse to leave their job and travel the world with you for your job.
  • Shifting demographics of aspirants has also played a part.
  • Most civil servants used to be recruited from urban centres, so the IFS was up there in their preferences. Now, with several officers being recruited from tier-2 or tier-3 cities, IFS do not command the same attention.
  • with policy making becoming globalised, every service offers the opportunity to travel abroad, thus taking away the exclusive attraction of the IFS.
  • Be it the lack of political or bureaucratic will, or the absence of interest among civil service aspirants, what is obvious is the deep impact of the under-staffed cadre on India’s foreign policy ambitions.

It very well may be said that IFS and IAS both are ground-breaking, regarded and constant. However, there are a few contrasts between these two posts. On the off chance that one feels it appropriate, at that point one can choose it. The instructive capability of the two officials is the equivalent. Yet, they vary aptitude shrewd. Being an IAS can be an accomplishment, however, being an IFS can resemble a fantasy works out.

If India has to expand its international profile, it needs a much larger number of diplomats. It is not just the number of officers, but also the number of well-trained officers. You need officers who are trained in technology, trade, etc. and not just in traditional diplomacy.

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