UPSC Civil Services Main GS Paper III: Various Internal Security Forces In India and their Mandate

The “Various security forces in India and their mandate” is very important topic in UPSC Civil Services Examination General Studies Paper III. As per the term “Various security forces in India and their mandate”, this area in General studies Paper III covers the important security forces in the country dealing with external and internal threat. It also covers the mandates, new initiatives to tackle internal and external threats faced by India.

Unconventional security threats pose the biggest challenge before the country as well as world today. The number of Special Forces in India is significantly large. The Indian armed forces have their own designated Special Forces. In addition, the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) also have their dedicated units which come under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Some Special Forces work directly under the Cabinet Secretariat. Apart from these, Special Forces have been created at the state level primarily for counterterrorism.

The security forces are the authority to carry out action regarding country’s security. The external threats posed by neighboring countries and anti- radical elements were majorly dealt by Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Home Affairs manages the internal threats such as left wing extremism, regionalism, and insurgency.

Security Forces and Agencies in India


The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of India. It consists of three uniformed services:

  1.    The Indian Army
  2.    The Indian Navy
  3.    The Indian Air Force

The Indian Armed force is supported by the Indian coast guard, paramilitary forces, and various other organizations. The supreme commander of the Indian Armed forces is the President of India. The Indian armed force belongs to the Ministry of Defense.

The Indian Army

Indian army or Bhartiya thalsena is a territorially based component of the armed forces. It is evolved from the armed forces of the East India Company, ultimately turned into the British Indian Army and lastly the National armed force after independence. It is commanded by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). It is considered as the third largest active military contingent in the world. The mission of the Indian Army is to guarantee the national security and defend sovereignty, territorial integrity and harmony of India from external aggression and intimidation. It also includes providing humanitarian support and aid to the common people during natural disasters and unexpected time. General Bipin Rawat, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM is the 27th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army and assumed office on 31 December 2016.

The Indian Navy

India has a coastline of 7516 km. The Indian Navy secure India’s maritime borders and interests. Notwithstanding this, it safeguards and provides support to Country’s trade volume that moves through the sea. Along with that, it provides assistance to the common people during disasters.

The Indian Navy operates three Commands- the Eastern command (Vizag), Western command (Mumbai) and Southern Command (Kochi). The Naval forces are used to support the foreign policy objectives, to build ‘bridges of friendship’ and strengthen international cooperation. Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC is the 23rd Chief of the Naval Staff of the Indian Navy.

Four main roles envisaged for the Indian Navy are:

  1.    The military role
  2.    The diplomatic role
  3.    Constabulary role
  4.    Benign role

The Marine Commando Force (MCF), also known as MARCOS. It is a Special Forces unit that for direct action, special reconnaissance, land- water warfare and counter-terrorism.

The Indian Air force- IAF

The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8 October 1932. It was known as the Royal Indian Air Force in recognition of its services during the Second World War. After Independence, the term ‘Royal’ was omitted. It is considered as the 4th largest Air force in the world. It has been involved in four wars with Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China. The primary responsibility of Indian Air force is to secure the Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict. Apart from humanitarian work, it has participated in the United Nations peacekeeping missions. The Air Force Network (AFNET) launched in 2010, is a digital information grid that enabled quick and accurate threat responses. It is a fiber optic-based network on which the Integrated Air Command and Control System.


The term “paramilitary forces” in India has not been defined in any acts or by authorities. But, in 2011, Government of India made the official definition that the Paramilitary forces are the ones that assist the military forces and headed by Military officer, not by an IPS officer.

Assam Rifles

The Assam Rifles was established in 1835. It is considered as the oldest of all paramilitary forces. This force plays a crucial role North East India to counterinsurgency and holds border security operations. They are also guarding the 1,643 km long Indo-Myanmar border since 2002.

Special Frontier Force

It is based in Uttarakhand.SFF was the first Special Force of independent India. Special Frontier Force or Establishment 22 (pronounced Two-Two) was an outcome of the 1962 India–China War. The focal task of SFF was, and remains, stirring up guerrilla operations against China in Tibet. This concealed special force operates under India’s intelligence agency Research Analysis Wing and reports directly to the Prime Minister through the Directorate General of Security in the Cabinet Secretariat.

Indian Coast Guard

The Indian Coast Guard was established on 18 August 1978 as a sovereign armed force of the country. It protects the country’s maritime interests and maritime law enforcement with jurisdiction over both territorial and international waters. This includes both contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. It works in close cooperation with the Indian Navy, Department of Revenue (Customs), Department of Fisheries, and the Central and State police forces.


Central Armed Police Forces were formerly referred as Paramilitary Forces. From March 2011, Ministry of Home Affairs adopted a uniform nomenclature of Central Armed Police Forces for forces to avoid confusion. There are seven central armed police forces. Each of these forces performs a separate function. They come under the ministry of Home affairs. Each of the forces except Assam Rifles is led by an IPS officer

Border Security Force (BSF)

It is the Border Guarding Force of India and called as the ‘First Wall of Defense of Indian Territories’. This Union Government Agency under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs came into being in the wake of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. It ensures the security of the borders of India and headed by an officer from the Indian Police Service.

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) established in 1969. It provides integrated security cover to the Public Sector Undertakings. It is currently providing security cover to nuclear installations, space establishments, airports, seaports, power plants, sensitive Government buildings and ever heritage monuments.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

The Central Reserve Police Force was established by the enactment of the CRPF Act in 1949. Initially, it came into existence as Crown Representative’s Police in 1939 for internal security. Till 1965, CRPF guarded the India- Pakistan border. The primary mission of the Central Reserve Police Force is to be countered Naxal operations. It also assists the State and Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order. Apart from that helping the UN peace-keeping missions also comes under CRPF’s task list.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police was established after the 1962 Indo-China war. It was created under the CRPF Act. It guards the Indo-Tiber border and the mountainous regions of the Indo-China border and monitor the northern borders detects, prevents border violations. The force also keeps a check on illegal immigration and trans-border smuggling. It has been deployed in UN peacekeeping missions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Western Sahara, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Afghanistan and Sudan.

National Security Guard (NSG)

The National Security Guard is Special Forces under Ministry of Home affairs. It was established in 1984 to counter the surge of militancy in the country. It has a highly trained force which deals with exceptional situations. It was formed right after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Operation Blue Star. It was raised to combat terrorist activities and to guarantee the states do not experience any internal disturbances. This Special Forces also come under the ministry of Home affairs. They played a crucial role in 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

The Sashastra Seema Bal was set up in 1963. They guard Indo- Nepal and Indo- Bhutan Borders. They are also deployed during elections in the polling booth. Previously, it was known as the Special Service Bureau and they are deployed to control anti-national activities and inculcate feelings of national belonging in the border population among others. It also acts against smuggling and other illegal activities.


Special Protection Group (SPG)

The Special Protection Group is the most elite, nodal protection agency of the country. It was formed in 1988 by an act of the Parliament of India. It is an armed force of the Union for providing immediate security to the Prime Minister of India, the former Prime Minister and members of their close family members. The Special Protection Group (SPG) under the Cabinet Secretariat is also classified as a CAPF. It works under the control of Cabinet Secretariat.

Railway Protection Force (RPF)

Railway Protection force is a security force of India entrusted with shielding railway passengers, passenger area and railway possessions of the Indian Railways. This is the only central armed police force which has the power to arrest, investigate and prosecute criminals.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was set up under The Disaster Management Act, 2005. It was constituted for the function of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster. The aim of the National Disaster Management Authority is to construct a safer and disaster resilient India by rising a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster and technology driven strategy for disaster management. It is a force composed of 12 battalions. It is manned by persons on deputation from BSF (3 persons), CRPF (2 persons), CISF (2 persons), ITBP (2 persons), and Sashastra Seema Bal (2 persons).

The various security forces in India and their mandate is an important topic in internal security topic of UPSC Civil Services Main GS Paper III. We will be coming up with the internal security notes soon. Stay tuned with BYJU’s.

Internal Security Questions UPSC

The terms ‘Hot Pursuit’ and ‘Surgical Strikes’ are often used in connection with armed action against terrorist attacks. Discuss the strategic impact of such actions. (UPSC Civil service Main (written) Examination 2016)

Considering the threats cyberspace poses for the country, India needs a “Digital Armed Forces” to prevent crimes. Critically evaluate the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 outlining the challenges perceived in its effective implementation. . (UPSC Civil service Main (written) Examination 2016)

Religious indoctrination via digital media has resulted in Indian youth joining the ISIS. What is ISIS and its mission? How can ISIS be dangerous for the internal security of our country? (UPSC Civil service Main (written) Examination 2015)

How illegal trans-border migration does pose a threat to India’s security? Discuss the strategies to curb this, bring out the factors which give impetus to such migration. (UPSC Civil service Main (written) Examination 2014)

China and Pakistan have entered into an agreement for development of an economic corridor. What thread does it dispose for India’s security? Critically examine. (UPSC Civil service Main (written) Examination 2014)

How far are India’s internal security challenges linked with border management, particularly in view of the long porous borders with most countries of South Asia and Myanmar? (UPSC Civil service Main (written) Examination 2013)

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