Apart from Army, Navy, Air Force and other security agencies, the twin voluntary organisations - Civil Defence & Home Guards were raised to provide protection to citizens in any untoward situation. Therefore, 6th December every year is celebrated throughout the nation as Raising Day of the organisation. On that day in 1946, first Home Guards Unit was conceived and raised in erstwhile Bombay State during turmoil period of civil disorders and communal riots, as a civilian voluntary force in aid of administration as an auxilliary to Police, under the stewardship of late Morarji Desai, ex-Prime Minister.
After the raising Home Guards in 1946, the concept of the voluntary citizens force was adopted by several States. In the wake of Chinese aggression in 1962, the Centre advised the States and Union Territories to merge their existing voluntary organisation into one uniform voluntary force known as Home Guards.
The role of Home Guards is to service as an auxiliary to the Police in maintenance of law and order and internal security, help the community in any kind of emergency such as an air-raid, fire, cyclone, earthquake, epidemic etc, help in maintenance of essential services, promote communal harmony and assist the administration in protecting weaker sections, participate in socio-economic and welfare activities and perform Civil Defence duties. Home Guards are of two types - rural and urban. In border States, Border Wing Home Guards Battalions have also been raised, which serve as an auxiliary to the Border Security Forces. The total strength of Home Guards in the country is 5,73,793 against which the raised strength is 405043 Home Guards. The organisation is spread over in all States and Union Territories except in Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
Raising of Home Guards
Home Guards are raised under the Home Guards Acts and Rules of the States/Union Territories. They are recruited from various cross sections of the people such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, professionals, Government Servants, employees of public and private sector organisations, college and university students, agricultural and industrial workers etc., who give their sparetime to the organisation for betterment of the community. All citizens of India, who are in the age group of 18-50, are eligible to become members of Home Guards. Normal tenure of membership in Home Guards is three to five years.
A Home Guard, whenever called up for duty/training, is paid duty/training allowance at prescribed rates to meet out of pocket expenses. Members of Home Guards with three years services in the organisation are trained in police in maintenance of law and order, prevention of crime, anti-dacoity measures, border patrolling, flood relief, prohibition, fire fighting, elections and social welfare activities. In the event of national emergency, some portion of Civil Defence work is also entrusted to the Home Guards.
The Ministry of Home Affairs formulates the policy in respect of role, target, raising, training, equipping, establishment and other important matters of Home Guards. Expenditure on Home Guards is generally shared between Centre and State governments as per the existing financial policy. During 1996-97, Rs.28 crore had been reimbursed to States on raising and training of Home Guards and their deployment for various purposes including that of Lok Sabha/Vidhan Sabha elections. For 1997-98, a budget of Rs.28 crore has been catered for, which is likely to be fully utilised during current financial year.
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