The role of the Home Guard is to service as an auxiliary to the Police in maintenance of law, order and internal security, help the community in any kind of emergency such as an air-raid, an earthquake, etc., help in the maintenance of essential services, promote communal harmony, assist civil administration in protecting weaker sections, participate in socio-economic and welfare activities and perform civil defence duties. The Home Guard are trained to use .303 Rifles and Sten guns. They are also trained in fire fighting. Some also have access to light machine guns. Home Guards are of two types - rural and urban. In border states, Border Wing Home Guard battalions have also been raised, which serve as an auxiliary to the Border Security Force (BSF). The total unauthorised strength of the Home Guards in the country is at 472,000 however the actual strength is at 416,000 personnel. The organisation is spread over in all states and union territories except in Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
The Home Guard was raised in 1946 under the Home Guard Acts & Rules of States/Union Territories. They are recruited from various cross sections of people such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, employees of public & private sector organisations, college & university students, agricultural & industrial workers, etc., who give their spare time 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 the Home Guard. 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 Guard with three years services in the organisation are trained in the Police in maintenance of law and order, prevention of crime, anti-dacoit measures, border patrolling, flood relief, fire fighting, prohibition, elections and social welfare activities. In the event of a national emergency, some portion of civil defence work is also entrusted to the Home Guard. The Ministry of Home Affairs formulates the policy in respect of role, target, raising, training, equipping, establishment and other important matters of the Home Guard. Expenditure on Home Guard is generally shared between the Centre and State Governments as per the existing financial policy.