Various Security Forces and their Mandate


To prepare for INTERNAL SECURITY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Various Security Forces and their Mandate. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Economy syllabus (GS-III.). Various Security Forces and their Mandate terms are important from Economy perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.


  • Indian Armed Forces, which consist of Defence Forces, Paramilitary Forces and Strategic Force Command plays a major role in ensuring national security.
  • Law and order is a state subject of the state, therefore the bulk of the policing lies with the respective states and territories of India. Larger cities also operate metropolitan police forces (MPF) under respective state governments. The majority of federal law enforcement agencies are controlled by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Security forces in India can be broadly classified into two:

  1. Indian Armed Forces
  2. Central Armed Police Force(CAPF)


Contributions of paramilitary forces:

  • Disaster: During the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, Indo-Tibetan Border Police was the first to respond to the catastrophe. Kerala floods is also prominent example.
  • Organised crime: The paramilitary forces like the BSF, Sashastra Seema Bal, ITBP deployed at borders check smuggling of drugs, fake currencies and human trafficking along with border security.
  • Law and order: The CRPF personnel provides their services when law and order situation goes beyond the control during riots or large scale violence.
  • Naxalism: The paramilitary forces are also deployed in fighting insurgencies and violent activities like Naxalism.

Security forces dealing with External Threats

The Indian Armed Forces are the primary force responsible for the security of the nation, and they come under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence. CAPF mainly manage the internal security threats but they also aid in combating external threats. CAPF comes under administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs.

Indian Armed Force:

The defence forces are classified into four sub-categories:

  1. Indian Army Personnel
  2. Indian Air Force
  3. Indian Navy
  4. Indian Coast Guard.


Security forces dealing with internal threats:


There are many divisions of CAPF:

    1. Assam Riffles
    2. Border Security Force (BSF)
    3. Central Industrial Security Force
    4. Central Reserve Police Force
    5. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
    6. National Security Guard
    7. Sashastra Seema Dal (SSB)


  1. Assam Rifles

Role and Tasks:

  • Conduct counter insurgency operations in the north-east and other areas where deemed necessary, under control of the army.
  • During peace and ‘proxy war’, ensure security of the Indo-China and Indo-Myanmar borders. During war, rear area security in the TBA.
  • Act as penultimate interventionist force of the central government in internal security situation, under the control of army; when the situation goes beyond the control of central paramilitary operations.
  • Headquarter:


  • The Assam Rifles came into being in 1835, as a militia called the ‘Cachar Levy’. This Force was formed to primarily protect British Tea estates and their settlements against tribal raids.
  • Subsequently, all these Forces were reorganised and renamed as the ‘Frontier Force’ as their role was increased to conduct of punitive expeditions across the borders of Assam.
  • This Force significantly contributed in opening the region to administration and commerce and over time they came to be known as the “right arm of the civil and left arm of the military”.
  • The ‘Darrang’ Battalion was raised just before the onset of World War–I.
  • In 1917, recognising their work during the Great War (WW-I), fighting shoulder to shoulder with Rifle Regiments of the regular British Army, the name of the Force was changed to ‘Assam Rifles’.
  • The Post-Independence role of the Assam Rifles continued to evolve ranging from conventional combat role during Sino-India War 1962, operating in foreign land as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka in 1987 (Op Pawan) to peacekeeping role in the North-Eastern areas of India in the face of growing tribal unrest and insurgency wherein the maintenance of law and order, countering insurgency and reassuring the people of the region became important tasks for the Assam Rifles.
  • Today the Force remains deployed in some of the most remote and under developed areas and provides security to locals. Assam Rifles has grown substantially over the years from 17 battalions in 1960 to 46 battalions at present.
  • The Force also has a Training Centre and a number of Logistics Units. Through its long deployment in the tribal belt, the Assam Rifles has earned the complete confidence of the locals and has helped considerably in bringing the people of this region into the national main stream.
  • The humane, just and ever helpful approach of the men of Assam Rifles has truly managed to win hearts and minds earning the Assam Rifles the sobriquet of ‘Friends of the North East’.


Fondly called ‘Friends of the North East People’, the Force is the highest awarded and decorated Para Military Force of the Republic of India.


  • It is under the control of the MHA and they perform many roles including the provision of internal security under the control of the army through the conduct of counter insurgencyand border security operations, provision of aid to the civilians in times of emergency, and the provision of communications, medical assistance and education in remote areas.
  • In times of war they can also be used as a combat force to secure rear areas if needed.
  • Since 2002 it has been guarding the Indo–Myanmar barrieras per the government policy “one border one force”.
  • Assam Rifles Act 2006 and rules 2010 gives it statutory status, powers, functions, roles, operations etc.


2. Border Security Force:

The BSF, in its 54th years of existence, has emerged as an elite force of the country having excelled with distinction in the 1971 & Kargil war with Pakistan. Mission of BSF is “Any task, Anytime, Anywhere”. The Officers and men have given blood and sweat to uphold its motto “Jeevan Paryant Kartavya”.


  • Till 1965 India’s borders with Pakistan were manned by the State Armed Police Battalion. Pakistan attacked Sardar Post, Chhar Bet and Beria Bet on 9 April, 1965 in Kutch.
  • This exposed the inadequacy of the State Armed Police to cope with armed aggression due to which the Government of India felt the need for a specialized centrally controlled BSF, which would be armed and trained to man the International Border with Pakistan.
  • As a result of the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries, the Border Security Force came into existence on 01 Dec 1965, and Shri K F Rustamji was the first chief and founding father of BSF.

The tasks of the BSF are divided as follow :

  1. Peace time:
  • Promote a sense of security among the people living in the border areas.
  • Prevent trans-border crimes, unauthorized entry into or exit from the territory of India.
  • Prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity.

  1. War Time:
  • Holding ground in less threatened sectors so long as the main attack does not develop in a particular sector and it is felt that the local situation is within the capability of BSF to deal with.
  • Protection of vital installations particular air-fields against enemy commandoes/para troopers or raids. The role can be entrusted to the BSF Units which are placed under the Army’s operational Control.
  • Providing extension to the flanks of main defence line by the holding of strong points in conjunction with other units.
  • Limited Aggressive action against para military or irregular forces of the enemy within the overall plan of the Armed Forces.
  • Performing special tasks connected with intelligence including raids. These are tasks which might be entrusted to BSF Units by the Army in a war situation according to local necessity.
  • Acting as guides in an area of responsibility where routes are known.
  • Maintenance of law and order in enemy territory administrated under the control of Army.
  • Provision of escorts.
  • Guarding of prisoners of war
  • Assistance in control of refugees. It is the intention to utilise civil police force and armed Home Guards etc. for these tasks but again depending upon local exigencies, the BSF might be entrusted with these tasks.
  • Anti-infiltration duties in specified area. This is an important responsibility which will have to be performed by security forces. The exact responsibility of the BSF in this matter is still under consideration and separate instructions are expected to be issued.


3. CISF:
  • CISF is an armed force of the Union established under an Act of Parliament, “Central Industrial Security Force Act, 1968”.
  • In the year 1969, the strength of the force established with the help of 3129 personnel, was increased to 1,41,421 as of 01.03.2020.
  • CISF has 12 reserve battalions, 08 training institutes and 63 other formations.
  • According to the mandate, CISF provides security to the premises staff along with the security of property and establishments.
  • CISF is providing security to the strategic establishment, including the Department of Space, the Department of Atomic Energy, the Airports, the Delhi Metro, the ports, the historical monuments and the basic areas of Indian economy such as petroleum and natural gas, electricity, coal, steel and mining.
  • CISF is providing protection to some private sector units and important government buildings in Delhi.
  • Presently, CISF is also providing security to the protected persons classified as Z Plus, Z, X, Y.
  • CISF is the only force with a customized and dedicated fire wing.
  • CISF is a compensatory cost force.


The CISF came into existence in 1969, following a major fire incident in HEC, Ranchi. Over the last 50 years the force has seen many ups and downs, given the unique mandate with which the force came into existence i.e. to give protection and security to the employees and the property of the Public Sector Undertakings. In keeping with changing demands of the dynamic nature of security, the force has evolved, re-oriented and updated the nature of professional services rendered and metamorphosized from being an industrial security force into a multi-talented, multi-tasking and multi-faceted force, ready to face newer challenges in the future.

The Ethos, Values and Ethics policy of an CISF:

  1. Shape its “Character
  2. Create a desired “Identity
  3. Lay out principles that guide organization’s policies and strategies
  4. Help set clear “organizational goals
  5. Establish “standards for organizational performance


Consultancy services offered by CISF:

  • Threat Perception & Risk analysis
  • Access Control & Perimeter protection
  • Assessment of Manpower requirements
  • Security systems applications
  • Security & Fire Audit
  • Document security
  • Procedures for material Security.
  • Internal intelligence.
  • Fire protection measures
  • Crisis management schemes
  • Executive Protection.
  • Crowd control and management procedures
  • Training in security & fire protection matters to the officers and men of the organization & Security Wing.



4. ITBP:
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police was raised on October 24, 1962 for reorganizing the frontier intelligence and security set up along the Indo-Tibetan border.
  • In 1992, parliament enacted the ITBPF Act and the rules there under were framed in 1994.
  • With additional tasks entrusted to ITBP from time to time on border guarding, counter insurgency and internal security roles, the number of ITBP Battalions increased gradually and ITBP presently has 56 service Battalions, 4 Specialist Battalions, 17 Training Centres and 07 logistics establishments with a total strength of 90,000 personnel.
  • In the year 2004, in pursuance of GoM recommendations on “One Border One Force”, the entire stretch of India-China Border comprising 3488 Kms was assigned to the ITBP for Border Guarding duty and, accordingly, ITBP, replaced Assam Rifles in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in 2004.
  • The motto of the Force is “Shaurya-Dridhata-Karma Nishtha” (Valour – Determination – Devotion to Duty).


Tasks of ITBP:

  • Vigil on the northern borders, detection and prevention of border violations, and promotion of the sense of security among the local populace.
  • Check illegal immigration , trans-border smuggling and crimes.
  • Security to sensitive installations, banks and protected persons.
  • Restore and preserve order in any area in the event of disturbance.


Presently ITBP has been guarding India-China border in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh states from the Karakoram Pass in Jammu & Kashmir to Jechap La in Arunachal Pradesh. The altitude of ITBP BOPs ranges from 9,000 ft to 18,750 ft where temperature dips to (-) 45 degree Celsius.

  • ITBP Battalions are also providing security to various installations of national importance throughout the country, which includes Rashtrapati Bhawan, Vice President House, Rumtek Monastery (Sikkim), Tihar Jail (N Delhi), LBSNAA (UKD) and various sensitive installations in Chandigarh (Punjab) & Jammu (J&K).
  • At present, a well equipped and highly trained team of elite commandos are deployed in Afghanistan for providing security to the Indian Embassy in Kabul and 4 Consulates General.
  • ITBP has also excelled in UN peacekeeping operations. The Force personnel were deployed for peacekeeping operations in Angola, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Mozambique and Kosovo.
  • ITBP is also providing security, communication and medical cover to the pilgrims during the Annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra since 1981.
  • Being the first responder for natural Disaster in Himalayas, ITBP was the first to establish 7 Regional Response Centres and carried out numerous rescue and relief operations in all disaster situations, which took place in our areas of responsibility as well as other parts of the country. In a historic rescue and relief operation in 2013, the ITBP saved 33,009 pilgrims from grave situation from char dham yatra routes in Uttarakhand in the 15 day rescue effort by the Force.
  • ITBP conducts a large number of medical civic action programmes in remote border and terrorist/naxal affected areas to provide free and expert medical, health and hygiene care to the civilian population in remote villages.
  • ITBP is at the forefront of movement for the preservation of Himalayan environment & ecology. ITBP has taken up in a big way the task of greening the Himalayan regions especially in Inner Himalayas.


5. National Security Guards:

NSG is Federal Contingency World Class Zero Error Force to deal with anti-terrorist activities in all its manifestation. The NSG is a Force specially equipped and trained to deal with specific situations and is therefore, to be used only in exceptional circumstances to thwart serious acts of terrorism.


  • Pursuit for excellence
  • Lead from the front.
  • Zero Error.
  • Speed, surprise, stealth, precision and accuracy are its hall marks.


History of NSG:

  • The Union Cabinet in 1984 took a decision to create a Federal Contingency Force comprising of personnel who are highly motivated, specially equipped and well trained to tackle the various manifestations of terrorism.
  • In June 1984, a nucleus consisting of the Director General of NSG and other essential elements were sanctioned and steps were initiated to raise the Force.
  • A bill for creation of this Organization was introduced in the parliament in August 1986 and it received the assent of the President on September 22, 1986 and the National Security Guard (NSG) formally came into being from that date.
  • The basic philosophy of NSG is swift and speedy strike and immediate withdrawal from the theatre of action. National Security Guard has been given the Specific Role to handle all facets of terrorism in any part of the country as a Federal Contingency Force.
  • The NSG was modelled on the pattern of the SAS of the UK and GSG-9 of Germany. It is a task-oriented Force and has two complementary elements in the form of the Special Action Group (SAG) comprising Army personnel and the Special Ranger Groups (SRG), comprising personnel drawn from the Central Armed Police Forces / State Police Forces.


6. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB):
  • In the wake of the Chinese conflict in 1962, it was felt that the borders of the country could not be protected with the force of rifles alone. It required the backing and resolute will of a committed border population.
  • In addition, it needed an in-depth understanding and familiarity of the terrain as well as the culture and ethos of the border population.
  • A need was, therefore, realized for the creation of a unique, unconventional yet specialized organization, which would function in the far, flung, vulnerable, strategic, remote, climatically and topographically difficult border areas and motivate the border population across several states towards the cause of protecting our national sovereignty.
  • The Special Service Bureau (now Sashastra Seema Bal) was thus conceived in November 1962 and eventually created in March 1963 with the sole objective of achieving ‘Total security preparedness’ in the remote border areas for performing a ‘stay-behind’ role in the event of a war.
  • SSB was started in North Assam, North Bengal, hill districts of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand), Himachal Pradesh, part of Punjab and Ladakh area of J&K.
  • Later, the jurisdiction of SSB was extended to Manipur, Tripura and Jammu (1965), Meghalaya (1975), Sikkim (1976), Rajasthan (1985), South Bengal, Nagaland and Mizoram (1989).
  • Its area of coverage included 15 states. SSB in the erstwhile role was covering a population of more than 5.73 crores living in about 80,000 villages and about 9917 Kms of India’s international borders.
  • Since 1963, the main thrust of the SSB was on generating a sense of national belonging, security and vigilance.
  • Villagers were trained in the use of small arms and the art of self defence to develop a spirit of resistance. In early 1970s we also started National Integration Programmes in a big way. All these bore fruit slowly but surely.
  • However, the rifle training was a big draw and brought lakh of people into our fold. The trained volunteers became the eyes and ears of SSB, on the border and could be drawn on whenever required. As a result, the number of Chinese intelligencers prodding our border reduced considerably.


Role of Sashastra Seema Bal:
  • After the Kargil war, the Subramanayam Committee’s Report was considered by a Group of Ministers for relocation of all Para-military forces to achieve optimum efficiency by assigning one border for each force.
  • SSB was declared as a Border Guarding Force in 15thJanuary, 2001 under the Ministry of Home Affairs and renamed as “Sashastra Seema Bal” on 15th December, 2003.
  • In 2001 SSB was given the mandate to guard the Indo-Nepal Border (1751 Kms.) and was declared the Lead Intelligence Agency for that area.
  • The added responsibility of guarding Indo – Bhutan Border was given to SSB in 2004along with being declared the Lead Intelligence Agency for that border.
  • SSB’s present charter of duties is to:


Safeguard the security of assigned borders of India and promote sense of security among the people living in border areas.
Prevent trans-border crimes, smuggling and any other illegal activities.
Prevent unauthorized entry into or exit from the territory of India.
Carry out civic action programme in the area of responsibility.
Perform any other duty assigned by the Central Government. (SSB is being deployed for Law & Order, Counter Insurgency Operations and Election duty)


  • The challenges of manning the open border are more daunting than securing a closed border. The 2450 kms long Indo- Nepal and Indo- Bhutan border is more challenging because the open border not only provides alluring encouragement to traffickers and smugglers but, also offers huge opportunities for militants/ ANEs trained on foreign soil to infiltrate and pose a serious threat to national security.
  • It is extremely difficult to seal the entire border effectively owing to its porosity and visa free regime on one hand and social economic and cultural relationship of bordering countries on the other, but SSB, by virtue of its enormous past experience of working at grass root level in remote areas, is able to muster people’s support and cooperation besides physically guarding the border and maintaining its sanctity.



  • There is shortage of man power which increases the workload on existing personnel. It is found that CISF jawans have to do continuous duty for 15-18 hours.
  • There is an absence of a dedicated grievance redressal system. Ex: Recent BSF Jawan video.
  • A paramilitary soldier was against the sahayak/buddy system where soldiers were forced to do personal chores for senior officers of the force.
  • Poor working conditions like no housing facilities, poor food and low allowances adds to problems.
  • Top most positions are occupied by IPS officers which leads to a low morale that translates into low efficiency.
  • Promotion system lacks a proper path and set indicators to identify the deserving candidate.
  • They are devoid of justice. Armed forces tribunal does not cover them. Even Article 33 deters them to approach civilian judiciary.
  • No stability in terms of duration of posting and no peace posting. There are many accompanying services like, VIP security, law and order and election duty.
  • Till lately gallantry awards such as Paramvir chakra, Shaurya Chakra and Kirti Chakra were reserved only for the armed forces.
  • Government does not accord them the status of a martyr.
  • Lack of capital budget for new procurement schemes, especially ‘big ticket’ items, is another challenge.
  • Lack of modernisation, capital outlay being the lowest in the last ten years. Most budgets get diverted to election winning formulations of the ruling elites and thus sheer neglect of the outdated and obsolete weapon systems.
  • Pathetic understanding of matters military with political and bureaucratic decision makers, thus a general distrust of what they are asking the Army to do.
  • The politicisation of the Army is taking its toll on a soldier’s psyche as he is forced to take sides, instead of remaining apolitical and secular in his thinking and action.
  • Prolonged separation from the families, in an increasingly unsafe and polarised countryside.


Measure taken by government:
  • Improved dispute resolution, communication facility in field areas, yoga etc. have been introduced.
  • Increased communication between jawans and officers were part of the 14 measures undertaken by government to boost morale.
  • In 2015, Delhi HC ordered government to give pay upgrade to Group A officers of paramilitary according to 6th Central Pay Commission.
  • To improve gender equality in the paramilitary –
  • The government permitted reservation of 33% women at the constable rank in CRPF and CISF.
  • It also set a 15% share in the border forces BSF, SSB and ITBP for women.


  • The proposals of BGFs to raise additional number of battalions should be considered on a priority basis.
  • Composite BOPs should be developed with telephone, medical facilities etc.
  • Hard area allowance should be exclusively decided on the basis of climatic and geographical conditions of the area of deployment and should be uniform for personnel of all the forces, be it CAPFs or Army.
  • To curb depression among jawans, yoga, meditation and recreation facilities are provided.


Way forward:
  • Need of a separate grievance redressal mechanism and a separate tribunal for paramilitary forces.
  • The government must increase allocation for defence (excluding pensions) to 5 percent of GDP initially, and further raise it gradually to 3 percent until modernisation of the Armed Forces is complete.
  • The government must stop protecting the defence public sector and create a genuine level playing field for entry of the private sector into indigenous defence manufacturing.
  • For equivalence in allowance “one area, one allowance” should be implemented. It gives same allowance for both military and paramilitary deployed in same area.
  • Need greater hardship allowance.
  • The demand of the paramilitary forces should be considered for e.g.
  • A Military Service Pay
  • Timely career promotion
  • Better infrastructure
  • Martyr status when they die fighting
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