A decision was taken in 1990 to induct women officers in selected arms and services, an extension of earlier service in AMC, ADC and MNS. It seemed a hurried decision as there wasn’t any declared studies on impact of it or suitability or need for it and there was no debate in public domain. It seemed to have been implemented more for political and global image considerations as it seemed to be a done thing in the West. A small section of women who formed the feminist pushed for it and succeeded.
Women in almost all societies except India have had to compete for equal rights with the men to an extent that often they didn’t even have voting rights, significantly lower wages for similar work which led to women’s movements. The World Wars saw large numbers of casualties forcing women initially in support roles and gradually into softer jobs in active areas and finally in active combat too. Women were exerting themselves to prove they are no less than men in any manner and must have equal rights.
Women’s lib as a movement became a Human Rights issue and fashionable across the globe. Educated Indian women too found an opportunity in this lib to exert themselves for better bargains though women’s reservation was there in civil jobs and political arena. The politicians saw an opportunity in nearly 50% vote bank and Judiciary supported the HR need of women and we had women joining in though there was no need at all from any perspective.
India has large recruitable male population available in the desired age brackets and all don’t find appropriate employment in govt/ pvt sector or even informal sector and seek some employment through processions/agitations held so very frequently in the country. Stone pelters was a live example of such youth. A small number are required in jobs dealing with women and children but these are all administrative jobs not in active combat.
Nature has created the female species for generation of life and nurturing life which is a critical role in nature. Traditionally, men have been the hunter gatherers facing the hardships and struggles associated with the role and combat is an extension of it. Women are not meant for this role physically, emotionally, psychologically or socially and except small deviations which might get absorbed/ accommodated anytime man has ventured to control or go against nature, he has had a heavy price to pay. Women are the ones who bring sanity to life through nurturing, care and compassion which is a more important need in the human society. Taking this opportunity/responsibility away from the women can have disastrous consequences in the long run. An early indicator may be failed marriages amongst women military officers though it can be given a HR veneer still.
For a moment take your mind to the Galwan clashes of 2020-21 where rudimentary improvised tools were used as weapons to play down the clashes, do we expect our women to be actively participating in such barbaric acts? War in any form and shape is a barbaric act and are we willing to permit that violence to permeate in to our families and society? Some sections already have it through their faith and exploitation of women but not willingly. Historically, we have had quite a few courageous queens who picked up arms and led their armies but that invariably was against an oppressor or attacker and had a larger purpose of duty.
In next conflict are we going to expose our women to brutalities of war or be forced to keep them in rear areas. Are we comfortable with our women being taken PWs and repeat the inhuman brutalizing and slavery as was done by invaders a few centuries ago?
Within the services environment especially the male dominated army manned by rural stock has had its own share of administrative and discipline problems. That has settled down to a large extent and is not expected to be a major factor. Even a minor decline in numbers of males for combat is a minor aspect. Main issue is do we have to depend on women to make up our numbers or to lead our troops into combat?
Unfortunately, in India, politics has become the overarching dome over everything else including media and judiciary who have become power centres themselves resulting in frequent over-reach but often neglecting larger ethical responsibilities of a democracy. It is also commonly believed that both these are often influenced by political aspects. Women’s rights are an important aspect, no doubt, but that shouldn’t have been allowed to be stretched to extreme areas of combat and violence. It is also an indicator where capitalist interests of profits are taking our society to. Video games and movies for children are only full of violence. Tune into a cartoon channel and there are bright chances we’ll find violence there too. Often systems that are supposed to support mankind seem to be operating at cross purposes; recent pandemic being a live example. Is this brutalizing of the society, our children and sanity keepers (women) necessary?
On the other hand, having allowed women in active service and roles, there can be no justification for any discrimination and they are bound to go to the judiciary who are very likely to support them. All this should have been analysed, considered and appreciated before their induction. Any plan or policy in India usually have a five year perspective/ vision, from one election to the next. Hence decision making at times may even supersede voice of the affected parties. The affected often repent at leisure. Such politico-socio aspects shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with critical areas like national security. How long can the nation be held ransom for gains of a handful privileged to decide?
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)
For more defence related content, follow us on Twitter: @MVictoryIndia and Facebook: @MissionVictoryIndia