The Indian Army is conducting women officers Special Selection Board for promotion from the rank of Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel.

Nearly 80 women officers in the Army have been cleared so far for the rank of Colonel, making them eligible to command units in their respective arms and services for the first time. As many as 244 women officers are being considered for promotion against 108 vacancies in various arms and services.

 

Participation of women in defence

  • Navy —
      • The induction of women as officers in the Indian Navy commenced in the year 1991.
      • Since then, the Indian Navy has gradually opened all branches to women officers including induction through NDA.
        • In Navy, women are engaged in activities such as firing torpedoes and missiles at enemy warships.
        • Women officers also serve on board naval warships in combat, although discharging non-combat roles.
      • In 2020, the Indian Navy started deploying its first batch of women pilots on the Dornier maritime aircraft.
      • Further, for the first time, women are also being recruited for sailors’ entries under the Agnipath Scheme w.e.f. 2022.
        • 20% vacancies are reserved for women.
  • Air Force —
      • Officers’ recruitment in the IAF is gender neutral. Women officers are inducted in all the branches and streams of IAF.
      • In 2015, Indian Air Force had opened new combat roles for women as fighter pilots.
      • This experimental scheme to induct women officers in all combat roles has now been regularised into a permanent scheme.
  • Army —
      • Initially, woman officers were permitted permanent commission (PC) in only two services – the Judge Advocate General’s Branch and the Army Education Corps.
      • In February 2020, the defence ministry permitted SSC women officers in another eight arms/services to be granted PC.
        • This happened after the Supreme Court, in February 2020, granted women the right to permanent commission (PC), and the right to command.
      • Hence, at present, the women are being commissioned in Indian Army in ten Streams.
      • Now the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA) has started accepting women cadets.
        • In 2021, the Supreme Court allowed women to appear for the upcoming entrance exam of the National Defence Academy (NDA).
      • So far, no combat role has been given to women in Army.
  • Recent developments in Army —
      • For the first time, five women officers have cleared the prestigious Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) and Defence Services Technical Staff Course (DSTSC) Exam.
      • Recently, a women officer has been deployed, for the first time, to a post in the Siachen Glacier.
      • The Army has so far recruited six meritorious sportswomen into the Corps of Military Police under its Mission Olympic Programme.
        • The Indian Army was the first among the three Services to open its soldier ranks to women in the Corps of Military Police.
      • In January 2023, Indian Army deployed its largest-ever contingent of women soldiers for UN peacekeeping operations in the volatile oil-rich Abyei region of Africa.
        • This is India’s largest single unit of women peacekeepers in a UN Mission.

 

Conclusion

Tanks and combat positions in Army are still no-go zones for women in India. Many countries including Germany, Australia, Canada, US, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden and Israel have allowed women in combat roles. India can certainly gain from their experience although there is a variance in the cultural milieu.