The concept of Civil Defence owes its origin to erstwhile ARP Organisation raised and operated during World War II (1939-45) to safeguard the life and property of the civilian population and also to maintain the continuity of productive and economic activity of the nation during war time crisis. The ARP Organisation worked commendably during World War II. After the end of the war in 1945, the Organisation was winded up.

The Civil Defence concept once again got a proper thrust immediately after Sino-Indian conflict during October, 1962. The post of DGCD was created and first DGCD was appointed on 14th November, 1962.

Civil Defence aims at saving life, minimising damage to the property and maintaining continuity of industrial production in the event of an hostile attack.

The Civil Defence Policy of the Government of India till the declaration of emergency in 1962, was confined to making the States and Union Territories conscious of the need of civil protection measures and to ask to them to keep ready civil protection paper plans for major cities and towns under the then Emergency Relief Organisation (ERO) scheme. Chinese aggression in 1962 and Indo-Pak conflict in 1965 led to a considerable re-thinking about the policy and scope of Civil Defence. As a result, the Civil Defence Policy as it exists today, was evolved and Civil Defence legislation was enacted in the Parliament in 1968. The country was subjected to further hostile attacks from Pakistan in December, 1971 when the Civil Defence Organisation acquitted itself commendably.