From the halls of the United Nations to various capitals of the world, IFS officers work 24*7 as foot soldiers of the country. Around the world, Service remains a Call Away for Indians, leading from the front in times of distress.
The ongoing pandemic led to unprecedented disruptions in international travel, with hundreds of thousands of Indian nationals stranded overseas.
The Ministry of External Affairs and the Service promptly rose to the occasion, created a 24×7 Special COVID Cell in March to help stranded Indians abroad and then took up the massive evacuation operation called Vande Bharat Mission in May 2020. The Service was at the front lines of managing the crisis as first responders.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission, more than 17 lakh Indians have been brought back by air, sea and land across multiple borders.
During the pandemic, Indian pharma industry emerged as an asset not only for India but also for the whole world. As India converted the crisis into an opportunity, IFS Officers and their teams worked with other government agencies and private sector. India as the pharmacy to the world provided medicines and covid-19 protective mask and equipment to more than 150 countries during the pandemic overcoming daunting logistical challenges.
Over the years IFS has produced President and Vice President of India, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Ministers, Parliamentarians, noted authors, scholars, historians and international public servants from its ranks.
“On IFS day, greetings to all #IndianForeignService officers. Their work towards #ServingTheNation, furthering national interests globally are commendable. Their efforts during Vande Bharat Mission and other COVID related help to our citizens and other nations is noteworthy.” PM Narendra Modi tweeted.
Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla in his remarks on the occasion, noted, “The Indian Foreign Service has always risen up to its calling with the ‘Nation First’ approach. IFS officers have been called upon to serve in difficult geographies across the globe and some of our colleagues died in harness while serving the nation. Today, I would like to recall their contribution and sacrifices and express my sincere gratitude to them and their families. I would like us all to remember the supreme sacrifice made by our colleague Shri V. Venkateshwara Rao in Kabul in 2008.”
“The Indian Foreign Service has proved its mettle in not only achieving India’s foreign policy objectives but also raising the bar in taking the service closer to the citizens. Be it bringing quantitative and qualitative changes in delivering passports and other consular services to Indian citizens both in India and abroad in a timely, transparent, more accessible, and in a reliable manner or protecting welfare of Indian workers abroad, the IFS has always made its indelible mark.
“In this inter connected globalized world, our Missions and posts abroad, working in tandem with headquarters are the first line of defence in times of crisis. Our officers have displayed leadership, courage, innovation and responded to needs of Indian citizens around the world,” he said, adding, “We are meeting in difficult times. The pandemic has disrupted all our lives. As the foot-soldiers of globalized India, our service has been at the cutting edge of the battle. We remained at our stations even as the world locked down. We functioned and have continued to function through the pandemic in each of the Missions and Posts and at headquarters through this troubling time.”
Ambassadors of the USA, Russia, France and China extended their greetings on the occasion. Senior Russian Foreign Ministry officials also extended their felicitations from Moscow and shared their experience of dealing with IFS.