Defence Forces of India and their roles: Know Everything About

Let’s see how well do you know India’s defence forces and their roles. Here’s a list of India’s various defence forces and their roles.

1)Border Security Force (BSF)

  • Founded: 1 December 1965 (raised in the wake of the 1965 War)
  • Motto: जीवन पर्यन्त कर्तव्य (Duty Unto Death)
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, India
  • Preceding agency: Ministry of Home Affairs (INDIA)
  • First Director General: Khusro Faramurz Rustamji
  • Current Director General:  Mr V K Johri  (25th)
  • About BSF: The Border Security Force (BSF) is the border defence organisation of India. It is one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces of India.
  • Western Command (Chandigarh): Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab Frontier, Jammu & Kashmir
  • Eastern Command (Kolkata): West Bengal, Meghalaya,  Tripura, Mizoram, Assam
  • BSF’s role during peacetime
  1. To promote a sense of security among the people living in the border areas.
  2. To prevent trans-border crimes, unauthorized entry into or exit from the territory of India.
  3. To prevent smuggling and any other illegal activities on the Border.
  4. Anti-infiltration duties.
  5. To collect trans-border intelligence.
  • BSF’s role during war time
  1. Holding ground in assigned sectors.
  2. Limited aggressive action against irregular forces of the enemy.
  3. Maintenance of Law and Order in enemy territory administered under the Army’s control.
  4. Acting as guides to the Army in border areas.
  5. Assistance in control of refugees.
  6. Provision of escorts.
  7. Performing special tasks connected with intelligence including cross-border raids.

2. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

  • Formed: It came into existence as the Crown Representative’s Police on 27 July 1939. After Indian Independence, it became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act on 28 December 1949.
  • Motto:  “सेवा और निष्ठा” Service and Loyalty
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Annual budget: ₹237 billion (US$3.4 billion)
  • Preceding agency: Ministry of Home Affairs (INDIA)
  • First Chiefs of CRPF: V. G. Kanetkar (3 August 1968 to 15 September 1969)
  • Current Director General of CRPF: Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar
  • About CRPF: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is India’s largest Central Armed Police Force and also considered to be World’s largest Paramilitary Force. It functions under the authority of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India.
  • Role: The CRPF’s primary role lies in assisting the State/Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and counter insurgency.

The mission of the Central Reserve Police Force shall be to enable the government to maintain Rule of Law, Public Order and Internal Security effectively and efficiently to preserve National Integrity & Promote Social Harmony and Development by upholding supremacy of the Constitution.

In performing these tasks with utmost regard for human dignity and freedom of the citizens of India, the force shall endeavour to achieve excellence in management of internal security and national calamities by placing Service and Loyalty above self.

Note: (i)The Parliament Duty Group is an elite CRPF unit tasked with providing armed protection to Parliament House

(ii)The Rapid Action Force (RAF) is a specialised 10 battalion wing of the Indian Central Reserve Police Force.

3) Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)

  • Established in its present form: 15 June 1983 (It was set up under an Act of the Parliament of India on 10 March 1969 with a strength of 2,800. CISF was subsequently made an armed force of the Republic of India by another Act of Parliament passed on 15 June 1983.)
  • Annual budget: ₹8,217.92 crore (US$1.2 billion)
  • Minister responsible: Union Home Minister
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Role: CISF to protect Non Nationalised industry/Corporate sector  Universities Security, Airport securit.  Security for Delhi Metro

4) Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

  • Formed: 24 October, 1962
  • Motto: Shaurya – Dridhata – Karm Nishtha  Valour – Steadfastness and Commitment
  • Annual budget: ₹5,521.67 crore (US$800 million)
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, India
  • Governing body: Ministry of Home Affairs (India)
  • Role: ITBP is a multi-dimensional force which primarily has 5 functions:
  1. Vigil on the northern borders, detection and prevention of border violations, and promotion of the sense of security among the local populace.
  2. Check illegal immigration and trans-border smuggling
  3. Provide security to sensitive installations and threatened VIPs
  4. Restore and preserve order in any area in the event of disturbance
  5. to maintain the peace

5) Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

  • Formed: 1963
  • Annual budget: ₹4,929.90 crore (US$710 million)
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Governing body: Ministry of Home Affairs (India)
  • Role: The previous role of the Special Service Bureau was to motivate and mobilise India’s border population for national security during times of peace as well as war and to promote a sense of security and brotherhood among the population, in furtherance of national integration. Its present-day role consists of preventing cross-border crime and smuggling as well as other anti-national activities.
  • These powers are to be exercised within a belt of 15 km in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, running along the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders, as well as in any other area of SSB operation.

6) National Security Guards (NSG)

  • Founded: 15th October 1984
  • Motto: सर्वत्र सर्वोत्तम सुरक्षा (Sanskrit)
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Governing body: Ministry of Home Affairs (India)
  • Annual budget: ₹816.10 crore (US$118.0 million)
  • About NSG: The National Security Guard (NSG) is a counter terrorism unit under the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It was raised in 15th October 1984, following Operation Blue Star, Akshardham Temple attack and the assassination of Indira Gandhi, “for combating terrorist activities with a view to protect states against internal disturbances”.

Note: The NSG personnel are often referred to in the media as Black Cats because of the black outfit and black cat insignia worn on their uniform.

  • Role: As a specialized counter terrorism force, it is intended for use “only in exceptional situations” and not meant to take over the “functions of the State Police Forces or other Para Military Forces”. Yet, over the years its role has vastly expanded to provide personal security to influential politicians quite independent of the real threat that they face.
  • The NSG is trained to conduct counter terrorist task to including counter hijacking tasks on land, sea, and air; Bomb disposal (search, detection and neutralization of IEDs); PBI (Post Blast Investigation) and Hostage Rescue missions.

7) Indian Coast Guard

  • Founded: 18 August 1978
  • Under:  Ministry of Defence
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Motto: वयम् रक्षामः (Sanskrit); Vayam Rakṣāmaḥ (IAST); We protect (English)


  • Safety and protection of artificial islands, offshore terminals and other installations
  • Protection and assistance to fishermen and mariners at sea
  • Preservation and protection of marine ecology and environment including pollution control
  • Assistance to the Department of Customs and other authorities in anti-smuggling operations
  • Law enforcement in territorial as well as international waters
  • Scientific data collection and support
  • National defence during hostilities (under the operational control of the Indian Navy)

8) Additional responsibilities of the Indian Coast Guard:

  • Offshore Security Coordination Committee (OSCC) – The Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard is the Chairman of OSCC constituted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas(MoPNG).
  • National Maritime Search and Rescue Coordinating Authority (NMSARCA) – The Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard is the NMSARCA for executing / coordinating search and rescue(SAR) missions
  • Lead Intelligence Agency (LIA) – For coastal and sea borders
  • Coastal Security – The Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard is the commander of coastal command and is responsible for overall coordination between central and state agencies in all matters relating to coastal security

9) Intelligence Bureau (IB)

  • Founded: 23 December 1887
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Motto: जागृतं अहर्निशं (English: Always Alert)
  • Annual budget: ₹1,876.44 crore (US$271.4 million)
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, India
  • Under: Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Role: Its objective is to collect secret information relating to the country’s security. It was originally set up as Central Special Branch (CSB) in 1887 and renamed IB in 1920.

10) Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • Founded: 1 April 1963
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Motto: Industry, Impartiality, Integrity
  • Annual budget: ₹698.38 crore (US$101.0 million)
  • Parent crime branch: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
  • Role: Its objective is to investigate cases of misconduct by public servants, cases of cheating, embezzlement and fraud. CBI is also entrusted with the investigation of international crime cases in collaboration with INTERPOL.

11) Rapid Action Force (RAF)

  • Established: 1992
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, India
  • Minister responsible: Union Home Minister
  • Motto: “Serving Humanity with Sensitive Policing”
  • Role: The Rapid Action Force (RAF) is a specialised wing of the Indian CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) to deal with riot and crowd control situations.
  • RAF is a zero response force which gets to the crisis situation within a minimal time, thus enthuses an immediate sense of security and confidence amongst the general public.

12) National Cadet Corps (NCC)

  • Founded: 16 April 1948
  • Headquarters location: New Delhi
  • Motto: एकता और अनुशासन; Unity and discipline
  • Founder: Government of the United Kingdom
  • Aim: Its main objective is to stimulate interest among the youth in the defence of the country in order to build up reserve manpower to expand armed forces.

13) Assam Rifles

  • Founded: 1835
  • Headquarters: Shillong
  • Motto: Sentinels of the North East
  • Governing body: Ministry of Home Affairs (India) Ministry of Defence (India)
  • Annual budget: ₹5,548.74 crore (US$800 million)
  • About: The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India. The unit can trace its lineage back to a paramilitary police force that was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy. Since then the Assam Rifles have undergone a number of name changes—the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891) and Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), before finally becoming the Assam Rifles in 1917.
  • Role: Its main objective is to keep vigilance of international borders in Northeast and counter-insurgency operations in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

14) National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

  • Founded: 11 March 1986
  • Headquarters location: New Delhi
  • Motto: Empowering Indian Police with Information Technology
  • Parent department: Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Role: Its objective is to collect crime statistics at the national level, information of inter-state and international criminals to help investigation agencies.

15) Home Guard   

  • Established: 1962
  • Role: To serve as Auxiliary to the Police and generally help in maintaining internal security. To help the community in any kind of Emergency—such as on Air-raid precautions or on any natural disaster. To function as an Emergency Force intended for special tasks directly or indirectly connected with the defence of the country.
  • To maintain functional units to provide essential services such as motor transport, Engineering groups, Fire brigade, Nursing and First Aid, Operation of Power supply, Water installations and Communication systems etc.

16) Territorial Army (TA)

  • Founded: 9 October 1949
  • Motto: सावधानी व शूरता – Savdhani Va Shoorta (Vigilance and Valour)
  • Headquarters: TA Group Headquarters
  • About: It is a voluntary part-time force, not of professional soldiers, but civilians who wish to assist in defence of the countries

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