Paramilitary Forces – Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Paramilitary forces and security forces in India are significant topics in GS Paper 3 of the UPSC Civil Services Mains exam. The two primary topics that all candidates should concentrate on from this part are the paramilitary forces and different security forces and agencies in India, including the central armed police forces, abbreviated as CAPFs.

A Paramilitary Force is a semi-militarized force that is not a member of a state’s official armed forces but has an organisational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) functions comparable to those of a professional military. Here, we will discuss the paramilitary forces and armed forces of India along with their function in the nation’s security system.

Paramilitary Forces

Indian Paramilitary Forces are the three organisations that closely support the Indian Armed Forces and are directed by officers of the Indian Army or Indian Navy. However, they have not been defined by any laws or government regulations. The Paramilitary forces in India are not military forces, but in terms of organisational structure and training, it is typically similar to the military’s special operations force.

Paramilitary Forces PDF

Previously, the term “paramilitary forces” was used to describe several armed services that support the activities of the Indian Armed Forces and law enforcement authorities. In addition to the word “paramilitary”, many forces developed their own terminology because there was none used by the central government. Other terms used included Central Police Organisations (CPO), Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMF or CPF), Paramilitary Forces (PMF), and Central Police Forces (CPF).

Security Forces in India

The various armed forces of India are governed by various ministries and have their own distinct missions. The Ministry of Defence, with assistance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, manages the majority of India’s external security threats.

Both the Home Ministry and the Defense Ministry are in charge of managing the majority of the internal security issues in border regions. The Ministry of Home Affairs is primarily in charge of addressing risks to internal security, such as riots, separatism, and insurgencies.

In India, the security forces that deal with various threats are divided into:

  • Indian Armed Forces
  • Central Armed Police Forces
  • Paramilitary Forces of India

Oldest Central Paramilitary Forces in India

The oldest central Paramilitary forces in India is Assam Rifles which was established under British rule in 1835. It was earlier called Cachar Levy and was formed in the Assam region with an aim of monitoring the international borders lying with the Northeastern states of India. The headquarters of this oldest Paramilitary force in India is located in Shillong. At present, there are around 63747 personnel and 46 battalions in the Assam Rifles.

Indian Armed Forces

The various armed forces of the Union of India are subject to distinct mandates managed by various ministries. Most of the risks to India’s external security are handled by the Defense Ministry with assistance from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The following uniformed services make up the defence forces of India.

  • Indian Army
  • Indian Navy
  • Indian Air Force

The Indian Coast Guard, paramilitary forces, and numerous other groups provide assistance to the Indian Armed Forces. The supervision of paramilitary forces, internal security, administration of Union Territories, Center-State relations, disaster management, and other vital duties are under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Indian Army

The land-based force of the armed forces is known as the Indian Army or Bhartiya Thal Sena. After India gained its independence, it evolved from the military forces of the East India Company to become the British Indian Army and the Indian Army.

  • The Indian Army’s slogan is “Service before Self.”
  • Its military force ranks third in size globally.
  • The Indian Army is geographically and functionally split into seven commands.
  • The Indian Army has 34 divisions
  • Six operational commands (field armies) and one training command make up this organisation.

Indian Navy

India has a 7516.6 km long coastline. The Indian Navy defends India’s maritime interests and borders. It also safeguards Indian commercial ships by putting an end to high-seas piracy. Additionally, it aids common people in crisis situations.

  • “Sam no Varunah” is the Indian Navy’s slogan.
  • The Indian President serves as the Indian Navy’s supreme commander.
  • In 1947, the Indian Navy was founded.
  • Securing the country’s maritime borders is the main goal of the Indian Navy.

Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force was formally established on October 8 1932. It was awarded the moniker Royal Indian Air Force in honour of its contributions during the Second World War. The term “Royal” was abandoned after Independence.

The Indian Air Force is ranked as the fourth-largest in the world. The Indian Air Force’s primary duties include securing Indian airspace and engaging in aerial warfare during a conflict. It has participated in various UN peacekeeping missions in addition to taking part in India’s independence battles and humanitarian efforts.

  • The motto of the Indian Air Force is “Touch the sky with Glory”.
  • It was founded on 8 October 1932 as an independent Air Force for the British Empire.
  • The commander in chief of the Indian Air Force and all other Indian armed services is the President of India.

Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF)

The Central Armed Police Forces were previously known as Paramilitary Forces. To prevent confusion, the Ministry of Home Affairs created a standard name for the Central Armed Police Forces in March 2011. There are seven paramilitary forces present. These forces all serve different purposes. The Ministry of Home Affairs oversees its operations. The 7 paramilitary forces of India are given below.

  • Assam Riffles (AR)
  • Border Security Force (BSF)
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
  • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
  • National Security Guard (NSG)
  • Sashastra Seema Dal (SSB)

Assam Rifles (AR)

The Assam Rifles were originally formed in 1835 as a militia known as the “Cachar Levy” to defend British Tea estates and adjacent communities from assaults by local tribes. Over time, this paramilitary force earned the reputation of being the “right arm of the civil and left arm of the military” because of their enormous contribution to opening the region to administration and commerce.

  • Under the direction of the army, carry out counterinsurgency operations in the northeast and other regions as judged essential.
  • Ensure the security of the Indo-China and Indo-Myanmar borders both in times of peace and during “proxy wars”. Rear region protection in times of war is TBA.
  • When a crisis involving internal security deviates from what can be controlled by central paramilitary operations, the army serves as the central government’s penultimate interventionist force.

Border Security Force (BSF)

India’s Border Security Force is known as BSF. It is a paramilitary force tasked with securing India’s land borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was founded on 1 December 1965. The BSF has an artillery regiment, an air wing, a marine wing, and commando elements. It currently has the largest border guard force in the entire globe. The First Line of Defence of Indian Territories has been referred to as BSF.

  • Instil a sense of security among the residents of border regions.
  • Prevent unauthorised entry or exit from Indian territory as well as transnational crimes.
  • Prevent unlawful conduct of any kind, including smuggling.
  • Doing unique intelligence-related missions, such as raids.
  • Assuming the role of guides in a domain where the way is well-known.
  • The administration of maintaining law and order in hostile territory by the Army.
  • Keeping prisoners of war safe.

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Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)

Three battalions made up the CISF’s modest beginnings when it was founded in 1969 with the goal of providing comprehensive security cover for Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). Currently, this paramilitary force provides security protection for all national historic sites, airports, seaports, power plants, nuclear stations, and space facilities.

  • Along with protecting structures and their materials, the CISF also provides protection for the employees who work there.
  • Some businesses in the private sector and significant government structures in Delhi are protected by the CISF.
  • CISF now offers protection to protected individuals with the classifications Z Plus, Z, X, and Y.
  • CISF has a dedicated and specialised firing wing.
  • CISF is a cost-compensating force.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

The Central Reserve Police Force was founded as the Crown Representative’s Police on 27 July 1939. On 28 December 1949, the CRPF Act was passed, transforming it into the Central Reserve Police Force.

The goal of this paramilitary force is to provide the government with the means to effectively and efficiently preserve the Constitution’s supremacy while also promoting social harmony and development, public order, and internal security.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

ITBP was raised on 24 October 1962. At present, ITBP personnel are stationed at border outposts on elevations ranging from 9000 feet to 18700 feet in the Western, Middle, and Eastern sectors of the Indo-China Border, covering 3488 kilometres of the border from the Ladakh Karakoram Pass to Jachep La located in Arunachal Pradesh.

The majority of the officers and members of the ITBP, a specialist mountain force, have received professional mountaineering and skiing training. As the first to arrive on the scene in the event of a natural disaster, ITBP has been engaged in a number of rescue and relief operations all throughout the nation.

  • Monitoring the northern borders, looking for and stopping border crossings, and enhancing locals’ sense of security.
  • Verify crimes, transborder smuggling, and illegal immigration.
  • Security for banks, sensitive facilities, and protected people.
  • In the case of a disturbance, maintain and restore order wherever it exists.

National Security Guard (NSG)

As a counterterrorism unit, the National Security Guard (NSG) is responsible. Following Operation Blue Star and Indira Gandhi’s murder, this paramilitary force was established in 1984 with the goal of “combating terrorist operations to protect states against internal disturbances.”

The Special Action Group (SAG), which is made up of Army troops, and the Special Ranger Groups (SRG), which are made up of individuals from the Central Armed Police Forces and State Police Forces, are two complementary components of this task-oriented force.

Sashastra Seema Dal (SSB)

The idea for the Special Service Bureau (now Sashastra Seema Bal) was established in November 1962. After the Kargil war, a group of ministers evaluated the recommendations in the Subramanyam Committee’s report regarding the movement of all paramilitary forces in order to maximise effectiveness by allocating one border for each force.

The Ministry of Home Affairs established the SSB as a Border Guarding Force on 15 January 2001, and it changed its name to “Sashastra Seema Bal” on 15 December 2003.

The duties of SSB include the following:

  • Protect the security of India’s designated borders and create a sense of security among those who live near borders.
  • Stop smuggling, illegal immigration, and other transnational crimes.
  • Stop unlawful people from entering or leaving India’s territory.
  • Implement a civic engagement programme in the relevant area.
  • Carry out any additional tasks allocated to you by the central government. (SSB is being sent on election, law enforcement, and counterinsurgency duty).

Mandate of Security Forces UPSC

Aspirants preparing hard for the upcoming UPSC exam must download the PDF from the above link on the Mandate of Security Forces UPSC topic. It is important for both Prelims and Mains examinations as direct questions can be asked in these exams about the security forces in India and their mandate.


Paramilitary Forces of India

Types of Paramilitary Forces

Active Strength

Governing Area

Assam Rifles


Northeast India, Border of India and Myanmar

Central Reserve Police Force


Maintain public order, and internal security

Sashastra Seema Bal


Borders of India and Nepal, and India and Bhutan

Central Industrial Security Force


Public Sector Undertakings

National Security Guard


Terrorist attacks

Indo-Tibetan Border Police


Indo-China border

Border Security Force


Borders of India and Pakistan, and India and Bangladesh

Special Protection Group


Ensuring the security of important personalities

Special Frontier Force


Undertake covert operations.

Railway Protection Force


Railways of India

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