Addressing the parliament on Tuesday, the President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee said the government will induct women in combat roles in the Indian Military.
So far, while women officers are there in the Army, Navy and Airforce; they are only in administrative jobs and are not in actual combat.
“In our country, shakti is the manifestation of female energy. This shakti defines our strength. My government has approved the induction of women as short service commission officers and as fighter pilots in the IAF. In the future, my government will induct women in all fighter streams of our armed forces,” said Mukherjee.
Women have already been inducted into combat roles in the Air Force; with 3 women fighter pilots who will be deployed later this year.
However, the officials in the Army and Navy are not too keen on having women in combat roles; owing to logistical and practical issues. “Can women officers be deployed in bunkers and posts along the LoC amid heavy shelling and infiltration bids? Similarly, warships and submarines have constricted spaces. Only a few of the new warships (like the Shivalik-class stealth frigates) cater for individual bathrooms for some officers. The rest have open bathrooms,” said an officer.
The Indian military has a shortage of almost 11,000 officers; so this inclusion of women in combat roles will strengthen the forces greatly. Female soldiers and fighter pilots are common in the armed forces of countries like the United States, Russia, Israel.
Considering the significant role that technology plays over physical toughness in combat, offering equal roles for men and women is something that can be done, according to many in the Indian army.