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MEA Training Framework 2013

For official use only

Government of India
Ministry of External Affairs
(Administration Division)

Training Framework for the Ministry of External Affairs

Introduction: The National Training Policy, 2012 has recommended all Cadre Controlling Authorities to consider amending service rules and/or issue administrative instructions for making training at different stages of career as mandatory. Cadre Controlling Authorities are also required to establish mechanisms for imparting training in keeping with their functional requirements. Adequate training should be imparted to develop competencies and skills for effective discharge of assigned duties/functions and for improvement of service delivery. Each Ministry/Cadre Controlling Authority should allocate sufficient funds for training purposes in the beginning of every financial year. At present, the allocation for training purpose is 1.5% of the salary budget, which may be increased to a minimum of 2.5% depending upon the training needs of the respective cadres.

2. The Ministry of External Affairs already has an extensive training programme for its officers, which is coordinated and carried out by the Foreign Service Institute. With a view to aligning the MEA’s training programme with the vision/guidelines contained in the National Training Policy, 2012, a detailed exercise has been carried out and the underlying considerations for formulating a revised comprehensive training framework for MEA officers took into account the following broad aspects:

  • The job requirement: Precise identification of the kinds of jobs MEA officers are expected to perform at different stagesof their career.
  • The type of skills required: Identification of domain knowledge, skills and tools required for performing the identified functions efficiently.
  • The duration of training: Depending upon the nature of knowledge, skills and tools required for capacity building, appropriate duration may be determined for each training programme.
  • Structure of the training programme: The FSI would also define the precise structure of the various training programmes providing details of each module.
  • Institutional arrangements: Based on the functional needs and the type of capacity building required for performing the identified functions effectively and efficiently, appropriate training institutions, which could collaborate with FSI for imparting the relevant skills effectively, may be identified.
  • Administrative and financial arrangements: The training programmes shall be administered under the overall supervision of the FSI and adequate funds to be placed at their disposal as per the guidelines contained in the National Training Policy.


3. For formulating the revised comprehensive training framework for MEA, the Administration Division in collaboration with the FSI had prepared an initial approach paper, which was circulated to select Indian Missions/Posts abroad, as also the key Heads of Division at the headquarters for suggestions/inputs on various aspects of the proposed training framework. They were requested to provide inputs with regard to the parameters outlined in para-2 above with additional inputs relating to the training programmes conducted by the diplomatic services in their respective countries of accreditation as well as reputed institutions imparting such training along with details of the curricula followed by them. Interactive meetings were also organised with several officers at different stages of their career and other stakeholders, including some retired senior officers, who have continued to be associated with the training programmes for Indian Foreign Service.

Previously available literature on earlier efforts relating to the training programmes for MEA, especially the background briefs for the creation of FSI, as also the report submitted by the Abid Hussain Committee specifically aimed at improving the overall training framework for MEA was also factored in. Finally, an extensive discussion was held with a small 12-member drafting committee specifically set up for this purpose. Based on the above exercise, the salient features of a training framework for MEA are summarised below. This framework has also been discussed with the Dean, FSI as well as at the MEA Committee of Secretaries more than once.

Training Framework

1. Indian Foreign Service: The Officers of Indian Foreign Service (IFS) shall go through the following stages of induction, mid-career and voluntary training.

1.1 Induction of Training for Probationers: The total training period for Probationers in India – LBSNAA, Mussoorie, FSI New Delhi: Desk and field attachments should not exceed a total of 15 months. In principle, the time distribution would be: (i) LBSNAA, Mussoorie (3 months); (ii) FSI – First Phase ( 5 months); (iii) On the job training with the desks of MEA (2 months): (iv) Field attachments, namely, District, Army, Bharat Darshan, Mission Attachment, etc. (3 months); (v) FSI – Second Phase (1 month) followed by (vi) Pre-departure attachment with the concerned Territorial Division, including brief attachment with other relevant line Ministries (1 month).

The purpose of the training programme for probationers should be to expose them to the basics of all the aspects of India’s foreign policy; relevant domestic issues; management/housekeeping tools; diplomatic skills, diaspora and consular issues and other aspects including conversation, writing, negotiations and public speaking skills. The FSI’s modules for IFS (Probationers) appear adequate (Annexure ‘A’). However, these aspects must be covered in a structured manner to the extent possible, preferably by professional teachers so that Probationers are able to come to grips with all the aspects of a particular subject in a holistic manner. For this, if suitable study material is not already available, the FSI would bring out relevant reading material on theory and practice of international relations, international law, diplomatic practices, including global economy and defense & security related matters. The relevant teaching material may be got prepared by appropriate experts on the subject but with a clearly defined framework. The FSI may also consider preparing study material on fast changing contemporary subjects.

In addition to the standard classroom teaching, in case there is a need for exposing the Probationers to a specialized field of policy, this should be achieved through guest lectures, in line with the on-going practice at FSI. The purpose of training probationers is not to create specialization per se at this stage but to impart sufficient knowledge to start a career in diplomacy. However, some basic specialisation by way of writing thesis on a particular subject could be explored. Greater emphasis should be attached to practical training through workshops and simulation based on relevant case studies. The IFS Probationers will be encouraged to pursue advanced level course in the Compulsory Foreign Language (CFL) allocated to them depending upon their interest and performance in the prescribed language training.

The FSI would re-work their training modules and methodology for meeting the above requirements/goals. Measures would also be taken for making the training programme more interesting by including interactive and practical sessions. The speakers should also be carefully selected and preference given to those who not only have right experience and expertise but also possess the art of engagement. There may be a need for revising the honorarium paid to the guest faculty for attracting suitable experts.

1.2 Mid-Career Training First Phase: This would be a new stage added to the mid-career training programme for IFS officers and would be meant for officers who return to the hqrs after completing the first round of postings abroad for preparing them to deal with the working at the headquarters effectively. Considering that Ministry’s preferred posting policy for the first round is language + one or two postings abroad, this phase would have officers with 5-8 years of service. For encouraging officers to undergo this phase of training programme, there could be a condition that for any officer to go on second round of postings abroad, it would be mandatory that the officer has gone through the first phase of mid-career training.

This phase should be for a period of upto 4 weeks and should inter-alia cover the working of MEA/GOI/legislative and judicial institutions/media/some domain exposure relating to the officer’s assignment. Emphasis should be on practical training through workshops and simulation based on case studies relevant to the working at hqrs.

These modules could be run once every six months, for instance, Jul/Feb, which would coincide with MEA’s major posting cycles.
The FSI would work out complete details of this phase including identifying the appropriate institutions which could be utilised for imparting the relevant modules effectively.

1.3 Mid-Career Second Phase : This phase already exists and is mandatory for officers of Gr. IV of IFS (Director level). This phase would be meant for officers who return to hqrs. after completing the second round of postings abroad. A majority under this category should be in the range of 12-16 years of service. This would replace the current e-learning programme for Grade IV officers. The revised MCTP at this level should aim to address the core needs of catching up with the emerging foreign policy issues; provide some domain specialization; exposure to domestic issues of relevance and acquiring modern management tools for developing leadership skills. The programme could be for a period of 3 weeks distributed at (i) FSI; and (ii) one of the premier national or international institutions, including BRICS, dealing with the relevant foreign policy matters. FSI could also explore the possibility of creating custom-made modules relevant to the MEA’s requirements including management and leadership skills.

1.4 Mid-Career Third Phase: This is an existing mandatory phase of MCTP for officers of Gr. III of IFS (Joint Secretary level). The current structure of the training programme might require some fine tuning, to avoid any duplication with the earlier phases. The FSI might also explore identification of more national/international institutions which could be co-opted for dealing with some of the modules with specialised domain expertise.

1.5 HOMs/Regional HOMs Conferences: The annual HOMs/Regional HOMs Conferences are also an important tool of capacity building where the participating officers are able to discuss and deliberate on the important contemporary issues affecting Indian foreign policy. Given the high level of this conference, it is more in the nature of policy deliberations.

1.6 Non-mandatory Training Programmes: Given the nature of diverse and specialised functions of Indian Foreign Service , the officers shall be encouraged to undergo some training programmes in specific subjects of their specialisation/interests at reputed Indian and international universities/centres of excellence. Such courses could be for a period of up-to one year. Officers could also be encouraged to undertake regular Diploma/Degree courses in foreign policy issues. An officer could be allowed to do up-to 2 such courses during their entire career. A list of such courses shall be prepared by the FSI in consultation with the other stakeholders and the same could be adapted from time to time in keeping with the MEA’s specific need for capacity building and specialisation. All such programmes will fall under the Ministry’s overall training framework and FSI shall be responsible for their coordination including selection, nomination and funding, where required.

2. Various Grades of Indian Foreign Service Branch (B): Officers belonging to the various grades of IFS (B) shall undergo the following training programmes:

2.1 Fresh inductees at the level of Assistant, Cipher Assistant, Personal Assistant, Steno, UDC, LDC, etc: A six week training programme on the GOI office norms and procedures at FSI in collaboration with ISTM. The training capsule should also include MEA specific subjects such as protocol, consular, passport, visa, trade issues, IVFRT, IMAS, etc.

2.2. Section Officer/Private Secretary: They could be trained for about a week in basic office procedures, rules/norms and supervisory skills for heading Sections/personal set-up attached to senior officers. The training capsule should also include MEA specific subjects including protocol, consular, passport, visa, trade issues, IVFRT, IMAS, etc. This training programme can be organized by FSI in collaboration with ISTM.

2.3 Grade I of IFS(B)/Principal Private Secretary: This is the first level where the officers belonging to the various branches of IFS(B) are assigned representational functions. All officers who are inducted into Gr.I of IFS(B)/PPS shall be required to go through a training programme for at least 5-6 weeks. The aim of this training programme would be to build their capacity to handle real diplomatic functions. As these officers would have already gone through several years of working in the Ministry, the focus of their training programme should be (i) To step up their general knowledge of the foreign policy issues; (ii) Some language skills if not acquired earlier; (iii) Exposure to diplomatic/political issues; (iv) Negotiating and interactive skills including public dealing; (v) Representational functions and (vi) Administrative skills for supervisory role.

3. Interpreters’Cadre: For Interpreters in MEA, there are two major challenges – (a) to upgrade their interpretational skills to reasonable international standard, and (b) give them some exposure to the overall functioning of the Ministry as on many occasions, they work like normal desk officers at the hqrs or in one of the missions/posts abroad. For this, the following training programme would be worked out:

3.1 For general exposure to the working of MEA, they would be required to join the training capsules organized for SO/PS or Gr. I of IFS(B)/PPS level officers. Given their small numbers, it would not be possible to have stand-alone programme for them.

3.2 All new inductees would be sent for a higher level interpretational course for up to six months in one of the premier language centres, in the same manner as IFS probationers. This could also be achieved as part of their first posting abroad.

4. L&T Cadre: The L&T Division is a very specialised set up and they would be required to prepare a list of short courses of up to three months in consultation with the FSI for upgrading the skills of their officers in the specialised areas of International Law relevant to the working of MEA. All officers of the L&T Cadre will be required to go through at least three such courses during their entire career. In case such courses are available abroad, the officers posted to the concerned Mission/Post should be allowed to go through such courses while posted abroad.

5. Orientation Capsule for deputationists: Would be prepared by FSI which could be handed over to the officers serving in MEA as well as Missions/Posts abroad.

6. Making training mandatory:

6.1 Induction training and MCTP Phase-II & III are already mandatory for Foreign Service Officers. The MCTP Phase-I, though not linked to promotion, shall be linked to an officer’s eligibility for posting to a Mission/Post abroad.

6.2 Training programmes for IFS (B) would be mandatory at the induction level for confirmation in service. The subsequent mid-career programmes would be linked to postings abroad.

6.3 Suitable linkage of training for officers of Interpreters and L&T cadre to posting/promotion shall be examined later as their numbers are very small and availability of suitable courses would need to be further examined before making such programmes mandatory for promotion.

7. Funding of training: Given the importance of the training framework, the full scope offered under the National Training Policy for allocations of resources will be explored for ensuring that the quality of training does not suffer for want of resources. Currently, the FSI’s budget also pays for the foreign diplomats training programme (PCFD), which is quite expensive. The rationale for PCFD is more development cooperation rather than training our own cadre. Therefore, expenditure on PCFD shall be borne by Development Partnership Administration (DPA). As far as non-mandatory courses are concerned, right in the beginning of the year, FSI may decide on the list of recommended courses and seek funding accordingly as part of its budget so as to avoid the need for obtaining case by case approvals. Once the list of recommended programmes is approved by the cadre controlling authority and the fund allocation has been done as part of the budget, the actual utilization of this facility should be left to FSI/Administration.

8. Strengthening of FSI: We could perhaps borrow some ideas from the Abid Hussain Committee Report for strengthening the FSI and the important suggestions could include:

(i) the Institute should aim to become a world class centre for training in foreign policy matters;

(ii) have greater delegated financial and administrative powers, while remaining as an integral part of the MEA;

(iii) have a small in-house team of professional managers/coordinators for running the training programmes whereas for substance, it should depend largely on guest faculty for delivering the training content;

(iv) institutional ties with similar reputed institutions within India and abroad;

(v) the MEA Committee of Secretaries along with Dean, FSI should act as an Advisory Board for supervision of the working of the FSI.

9. Some miscellaneous suggestions:

9.1 Before the IFS Probationers are sent to Mussoorie, they should be attached with FSI for one week for orientation programme. The idea of this attachment should be to expose the Probationers to the overall working, objectives, set-up, challenges, etc. of MEA and India’s foreign policy space, so that they are better prepared to take advantage of the foundationcourse and are also able to participate more effectively in the training programme.

9.2 Soon after the foundation course, when the Probationers join FSI again, they should be sent for the mission orientation attachment, preferably in the early stages of their training rather than towards end as is the current practice, so that they could better appreciate the FSI training programme.

9.3 The performance during training in FSI and the desk attachment should be appraised and it should determine the language allotment. Alternatively, a certain benchmark of performance in training should determine confirmation in service. The Probationer may be required to repeat entire training/specific modules if the performance is not up to the mark.

9.4 There should be better coordination between FSI and LBSNAA Mussoorie, which would inter-alia include a module on international relations during foundation course formulated by FSI in consultation with LBSNAA. FSI can prepare a module and identify faculty from amongst subject experts from the field of diplomacy and international relations. Besides, a regular interaction between the FSI and other training institutions should be enhanced.

10. Based on the above training framework, the FSI would take further steps for its implementation. They would follow up, in consultation with the other stakeholders, for converting this training programme into a full-fledged detailed implementable training manual providing full contents of the training programmes at each level. This will include details of (a) course content/material; (b) duration; (c) institutional arrangement; (d) evaluation procedure/methodology; (e) identification of faculty, etc.


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