The South African's decision, announced on Monday, will come as a major blow to Indian cricket chiefs who believed they had reached an agreement with Ford that would see him take over the India team on a one-year contract before the end of this month.
The 46-year-old was selected for the role on Saturday following an interview in Chennai and had been due to tell his new employers when he could start work by Monday.
Instead, he revealed that he had had a change of heart.
"I am very grateful to the Club for allowing me to go to India to find out more about the job of coaching the Indian Team," he said in a statement released by Kent.
"I have had a chance to reflect on the offer made by the BCCI and their urgency to fill the vacant position. After careful consideration, I have decided to continue my work here at Kent.
"This has been a really difficult decision. I am honoured that India have shown such interest in my capabilities, but feel that this is the right decision for me and my family."
Ford's decision delighted Kent cricket chairman Graham Johnson.
"I know that all in the business at Kent, the playing staff, the coaching staff and all our administrators will be thrilled by his decision," he said.
But it is bound to infuriate India's officials, who now face a race against time to find a successor to Greg Chappell in time for scheduled one-day internationals against Ireland and South Africa between June 23 and July 1, and the subsequent Test series in England.
India could turn to former England spinner John Emburey, who was also interviewed for one of the most high-profile jobs in cricket.
But that would inevitably leave them open to accusations of having settled for a 'second choice' candidate.
India are looking for a successor to former Australia captain Chappell, who quit after India crashed out in the first round of the recent World Cup in the Caribbean.
Ford, who was South Africa's coach from 1999-2001 when the Proteas won nine of their 11 Test series, had been recommended by India's captain Rahul Dravid, a former Kent player.