Ministry of Defence has issued a formal letter for granting Permanent Commission (PC) to Female Officers in the Indian Army. It is a landmark move to crush gender barriers in the armed forces.
The Supreme Court in February directed that women Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers in the Indian Army are entitled to Permanent Commission.
The government sanction letter states granting of Permanent Commission to SSC women officers in 10 streams- Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), Army Service Corps (ASC), and Intelligence Corps in addition to the existing streams of Judge and Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC).
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This development will open doors for women officers in a male-dominated defense force. The move will “empower them to shoulder larger roles in the organization,” as per an army spokesperson. The court’s ruling is viewed as a way to stop gender biases in the force.
A selection board will be scheduled to pick women officers for PC. An official statement of The Ministry of Defence says,” In anticipation, the Army Headquarters had set in motion a series of preparatory actions for the conduct of the Permanent Commission Selection Board for affected women officers.”
Ministry of Defence also believes, “The Indian Army is committed to providing equal opportunities to all personnel, including Women Officers, to serve the Nation.”
The government’s submission on ‘women are physiological weaker’ and have other roles in family lives was dismissed by the Supreme Court as a ‘stereotype.’ SC rebuked the government and asked it to change its attitude towards women.
Women can only enter the forces through the short service commission, initially for five years and later for 14 years. This mindset started to revolutionize following a 2010 Delhi High Court ruling and finally a February 2020 Supreme Court verdict.
A two-member bench chaired by Justice D Y Chandrachud ruled, “Reliance on the inherent physiological differences between men and women rests in a deeply entrenched stereotypical and constitutionally flawed notion that women are the ‘weaker’ sex and may not undertake tasks that are ‘too arduous’ for them. Such arguments don’t constitute a constitutionally valid basis for denying equal opportunity to women officers.”
Though, women will still not be allowed to serve in army combat units, like the infantry or artillery corps.
Many notable female officers in the Indian Army have ended blatant gender bias and challenged the notions of masculinity in the combat forces.
- Padmavathy Bandopadhyay
Padmavathy Bandopadhyay is the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Not only that, she is the first woman officer to become an aviation medicine specialist and also the first woman to conduct scientific research at the North Pole.
In the Indo-Pak war in 1971, Padmavathy Bandopadhyay was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal for her commendable service. She was highly recognized by her precious contribution in the field of aviation medicine.
- Punita Arora
Punita Arora is the first woman in India to be both Lt. General of the Armed Forces, second-highest rank as well as Vice Admiral in the Indian Navy.
Punita was also chosen as the Commandant of the Armed Forces Medical College in 2004. She earned more than 15 awards and medals for her exemplary services.
- Priya Jhingan
In 1992, Priya Jhingan was the first lady to join the Indian Army and was enrolled as 001 at the Officers’ Training Academy at Chennai.
When she retired, she remarked, “It’s a dream I have lived every day for the last ten years.”
- Mitali Madhumita
Lt Col Mitali Madhumita became India’s first female officer in the Indian Army to receive the Sena Medal for gallantry in February 2011. The medal was given for her exceptional courage during the operations in J&K and the northeast.
Madhumita was in Kabul and was leading the Army’s English Language Training Team when the Indian embassy was bombarded in 2010. Though unarmed, she ran close to 2 km to reach the spot and rescued several injured civilians and officers of the training team.
- Anjana Bhaduria
Anjana Bhaduria is the first lady to win a gold medal in the Indian Army. She was accepted into the first-ever batch of training women in the Indian Army in 1992.
Excelling in literally every field, she was chosen for the gold medal in a training field that consisted of both men and women.
- Tania Shergill
Captain Tania Shergill is the first woman parade adjutant to lead an all-man contingent for the Republic Day parade of 2020.
She has graduated in electronics and communications from the Officer Training Academy, Chennai.
Tania Shergill is a fourth-generation woman army officer shattering gender stereotypes in the combat forces.