By- , Ambassador of India to Venezuela
Well, I am part of the tribe. So, my opinion may be biased but I will try to answer as objectively as possible:
(i) Indian diplomats get selected through a gruelling procedure. The best in the country compete to get into the Service. Of the nearly half-a-million applicants, only about 10–15 get selected.
(ii) Only about 1000 diplomats run nearly 180 Missions/Posts abroad. The size of the Indian Foreign Service is comparable to that of many small countries.
(iii) All Indian Foreign Service officers learn a foreign language after they get into the Service. Mostly, they get less than a year to do this.
(iv) In larger Indian Missions, a single Counsellor-level may handle a full Political Department along with 2 or 3 junior colleagues covering all aspects of political work – bilateral, external, internal and multilateral. In Missions of other large countries, the Political Department may have several dozen diplomats.
(v) In important Missions, Indian diplomats handling political work also deal with technical areas such as nuclear and space cooperation.
(vi) Unlike many other countries, which have officials from other departments/ministries to handle consular, administrative, accounts and cultural work, all these areas are mostly handled by Indian Foreign Service officers in Missions/Posts abroad.