Women in the Armed Forces- Misconceptions and Facts

India Needs to Exercise Caution

It is universally accepted that induction of women in the services should be dictated by the level of technology, prevailing security environment and the nature of likely deployment. Availability of adequate number of male volunteers is another major consideration.

India should follow a graduated approach. Women’s expertise, talent and competence should be profitably utilised in areas which are totally non-combat in nature. For the present, women must continue to play their established role in the medical, dental and nursing services, both as short service and permanent commission officers. However, they should not be granted short service commission in any other branch. The Government has rightly approved grant of permanent commission to women in legal and education departments of the three services, accounts branch of the Air Force and constructors of the Navy. Grant of permanent commission should also be considered for women in Survey of India, Military Engineering Service Militarised Cadre and Director General Quality Assurance.

The current policy of non-induction of women in combat arms should continue. Additionally, their entry into Engineers, Signals, Supply Corps, Ordnance and EME (Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) should be deferred till infusion of technology generates adequate number of high-tech jobs.

Finally, it should never be forgotten that the raison d'être for the constitution of the armed forces is to ensure security of the country. Decisions which have a far reaching effect on the defence potential of the armed forces must be taken with due diligence. Instead of replicating a model, India must chart its own policy. It has an experience of 18 years. Honest feedback must be sought to appreciate the true ground situation and initiate corrective measures. Most importantly, the military brass must show moral courage to admit that the present mess demands a holistic review of the policy, protestations of self-styled champions of gender-parity not withstanding. Decisions taken as a matter of political and populist expediency can prove disastrous for the nation in the long run. Defence matters cannot be treated as publicity gimmick to flaunt sexual equality.

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