Well, my own answer to that question is a flat no. Sure, they care about the welfare of their employees, but not always about the typical overseas Indian. Unless they’re forced to by a public protest.Their attitude to Indians traveling overseas can generally be summed up as: you left your country on your own volition. So we are not responsible for you now, so whatever it is, handle it yourself!

Meanwhile Indians look at embassies and consulates from other countries and see exactly how much attention they pay to issues their citizens face such as offering advice for setting up companies, support with relations with local communities, and they seem much more alert where it comes to bailing their citizens out of trouble with local law.

So if they don’t care for Indian citizens overseas, surely they must be doing their other job – of granting visas to deserving foreigners after the proper checks? Well, the David Headley case sort of exploded that particular myth.

Indian disengagement

A consequence of this elitism is that the IFS has kept their service extremely exclusive. As have other groups in India such as Chartered Accountants and, to some extent, the medical fraternity.

The IFS itself has between 600 and 800 officers, and less than 2000 staff overall when you include all different categories (see references). But the problem extends beyond the IFS itself to all facets of India’s dealing with the world. India is somewhere between China and Brazil in terms of influence but chooses to maintain the capacity levels of New Zealand and Singapore in most fora for engagement with the world, whether you are talking about the diplomatic community, trade negotiators or lawyers. Three easy to read sources of information on this topic:

1. The Diplomat, 2. TOI,  3. IE