The Indian Army will offer permanent commission to women officers from April 2020, Adjutant General Lt Gen Ashwani Kumar said. Female recruits will have to select one of the six specializations – such as language expert or air traffic controller – during their second and third year of service. Earlier this year, the defence ministry approved permanent commission for women in all the 10 branches where they qualify for short service commission. The army is also working on inducting the first batch of 100 women soldiers, who will be assigned non-combat roles such as policing cantonments and handling prisoners of war.
But the real watershed, I dare say, would arrive when the army starts hiring women for front line combat. India’s armed forces currently have an inconsistent approach towards inducting women in conflict roles: The air force recruits them as fighter pilots but the navy doesn’t deploy them at sea (although that may change following the construction of three ships for training women officers).
Army chief General Bipin Rawat has a list of reasons as to why women don’t fit the bill, from difficulty exercising authority over soldiers to maternal leave to logistical issues such as changing rooms. Countries such as Germany, Australia, the US, Britain, France, Norway and Israel have allowed women in combat roles.
This is a huge step for equality of women. Armed forces have always been considered a privilege only for males. Partly because in earlier times, physical strength might have been a crucial factor in selection for army, navy and air force. But technology has changed everything. Also equalized the skills required for being in the armed forces.
Great move! Not only will it encourage more women to join the armed forces, but it could also help bridge the shortfall of nearly 7,500 officers in the Indian Army. With this new move of allowing permanent commissioned women officers in the armed forces and increasing the streams in which they can be recruited , is a huge step forward in women equality.
In the US women are already 15% of the active duty army and 23% of the army reserve. A huge move for India! Will be happy to see our women solider getting equivalent pride, recognition, and combat role as Men’s.