The Supreme Court earlier this week had issued an order which now allows the women candidates to appear for the National Defence Academy entrance exam. This means that the women candidates after training at the NDA will get an opportunity for a Permanent Commission in the forces once they get commissioned.
This order by the Supreme Court has stirred the hornet's nest. There is reaction in both ‘For’ and ‘Against’, mostly showing reservation even to appear for the NDA entrance examination by women candidates!! What will happen when they finally get through and join for training!
Many writers are forgetting that this is not a new phenomenon. The first batch of 25 women to be commissioned as officers into the Indian Army were trained at the Officers Training Academy, with training commencing on 21 September 1992. There has been no adverse report since then and our women officers are presumed to be doing well. Five of them have become a time scale Colonel after 25 years of meritorious service.
If one studies the finer details, one might observe that the Supreme Court’s order in opening the NDA admission examination to the women has come after the same Supreme court gave its verdict to give Permanent Commissions to the women Short Service Commision course officers as NDA entry means to be permanent commission by virtue of its nature of commission.
Subhas Chnadra Bose announced the formation of the Indian National Army’s Women Regiment on 12 July 1943. Most of the women were teenage volunteers of Indian descent from malayan rubber estates; very few had ever been to India. The initial nucleus of the force was established with its training camp in Singapore with approximately a 170 cadets.
These cadets were given ranks of non-commissioned officer or sepoy (private) according to their education. Later, camps were established in Rangoon (Burma) and Bangkok and by November 1943, the unit had more than three hundred cadets. If Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose could raise a Women Battalion in 1943 what is wrong with our women of 2021?? Our sister officers of today.
I would like to cite statistics from foreign militaries:
The US has an active duty army of 476,000, according to Global Security.org. CNN put the number of women serving at 74,000, which equates to around 16%. Approximately 11,000 women were deployed to Vietnam from 1962 to 1972 and 41,000 sent to Iraq in 1991. The United States military opens all positions to women.
According to IISS, women comprise 10% of the Russian Armed Forces. Known as the Ground Force of the Russian Federation, the army totals 350,000, says the Defense Intelligence Agency. This means that there could be around 35,000 women serving in the Russian Army.
6,915 women serve in the Republic of Korea Army, which The National Interest says has a total of 560,000 troops. According to UPI, the government plans to increase the proportion of women serving in senior positions to 7% by 2021. Currently, they make up 5.5% of senior military ranks.
North Korea has universal conscription for men and selective conscription for women. Women serve for a maximum of six years and men for ten, so women could make up around 40% of the army, amounting to an estimated 380,000.
The National Council for the Social Studies reported in 1994 that women make up 4.5% of the PLA. This was confirmed by China Military Online, which gave a 2015 estimate of “approximately 5% or less”, suggesting just 53,000 women serve in China’s Army.
India’s Army totals 1.2 million active personnel, according to The Economic Times. Women make up 3% of the army, or 36,000, says New Delhi Television.
According to the Hindustan Times, women began joining the Indian Army through the Indian Military Nursing Service, formed during the British Raj in 1888. From 1914 to 1945, Indian Army nurses served in the First World War and Second World War, where 350 nurses died, taken prisoner or declared missing in action.
Women were first taken into the army in non-medical roles in 1992, according to the Indian Government’s army recruitment service. The first all-female peacekeeping force for the United Nations was made up of 105 Indian women, deployed to Liberia in 2007. Other than Infantry and possibly armour and mechanized infantry, women officers are in other fighting arms like Engineers, Signals etc.
The Indian Navy and Air Force are also commissioning women officers. The Air Force has opened an entry as fighter pilots. The Navy has the maximum percentage of women among the three services at 6.5 percent whereas the percentage of Army and Air Force is 0.56 and 1.08 respectively.
It is therefore, nothing new that Indian women are joining the defence services. There are 49 known countries which take women in their Defence services. So if recruiting women in the military services is accepted as per the growing demand then why should they not be trained in the best of the institution at the ripe time so that they can get the best of the training.
Other than Infantry the women should be enrolled in all other arms and services branches in all the tri-services. So NDA will be the right place for the joint training and building camaraderie so that they can fight together without any inhibition.
I only wonder why changes have to come through the Court and not through the parent organization!!! The judiciary seems to think ahead of the Legislature and Executive.
Cheer up ex-NDAs, heaven is not falling. As for the training schedule it would take its own course. Most importantly Defence service is a voluntary service in India; therefore, the women will join in their own accord knowing all the pros and cons of the military service as a whole and each service respectively.
US started increasing enrolment of women soldiers when the higher command realised the importance of presence of women soldiers to get into the core of the enemy by penetrating into women of the serving country who did not open up to the male soldiers for various information.
I am assured that our sister officers will do everything for the safety, honour and welfare of the Motherland about which many old soldiers are worried. After all they are the children of the same country from where male officers have come. They must be getting the best of the training opportunities like their male counterparts.
As it is, the future wars will be fought with more advanced weapons which will be used from far from the point of battle. There will be many such weapons and equipment which would be as deftly handled by the women soldiers as that of male with equal result.
About the Author
Lt Col. MK Guptaray is an author of two books; Sri Lanka Misadventure, coauthored with Col Gautam Das and Birth of a Nation on Bangladesh war of 1971. He is a seasoned veteran of the 1971 war; where he had the privilege to participate in the Naogan Sector under 104 Brigade, 19 Division.
He participated in Op-Pawan in 1987 capturing over half the Jaffna Town within 5 days of landing at Palali airport with barely a strength of 220 to start with which reduced to 180 in no time. He has held various A, Q and G staff appointments from Brigade to command level.
He was born on 23rd October 1946 in village Madhabi, Dhaka District, of undivided India prior to partition. Moved into Kolkata in 1950 graduated from Kolkata and joined OTA on 13th April 1968 and commissioned on 12 Jan 1969. Joined 9 Sikh. He is presently having a retired life in Pune.
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the views of MVI)