In a step towards breaking gender barrier, Indian Navy announced to grant permanent commission to seven women officers. It additionally plans to allow women to join as pilots of the maritime reconnaissance planes like Boeing P8I and Dornier in 2017.
After ministry of defence gave its green signal to the recruitment of women in the combat stream of Indian Air Force (IAF) last October joining countries such as Pakistan, Israel, Canada, France, UAE and United Kingdom (UK) among others who have women in active combat roles in respective air forces, it was Indian Navy’s turn to break the gender barrier. While so far women in the Navy were limited to short service commission of 14 years, seven women officers from 2008-2009 batch have been granted permanent commission. This implies that they can serve the Navy until the retirement age, a liberty women already enjoy in Army and Air Force divisions.
“Recognising the importance of providing equal opportunities to women officers, seven women officers from the batch of Short Service Commission officers of the Education branch and Naval Constructor cadre, who joined in 2008-09, have been granted permanent commission,” a statement issued by the Navy said. Based on the government order in 2008, when the issue was raised, the Navy propositioned to grant permanent commission to only those women who joined after that year and restricting it to education, law and naval architecture branches. However, the women officers would have to meet four conditions to for permanent commission that includes being medically fit and having good confidential report besides the vacancy available for the post.
In addition to this, the Navy has also announced that starting 2017, women can also choose to join as pilots of the maritime reconnaissance planes like Boeing P8I and Dornier as also in the Naval Armament Inspectorate cadre. With this total eight branches for women would be open for women.
Women in Indian defence
Of the 1,436 in the Army, 1,331 in IAF and 532 in Navy, only 340 women have been granted permanent commission. Although they had been allowed to joined the three services since 1990s as short service commission officers, the permanent commission has only been recent. And while women in countries such as Australia, United States, Denmark, Norway and Israel are inducted in the combat roles, women in India so far had been kept at distance from the combat until the announcement by the IAF last year to recruit women as fighter pilots. In this regard the training for three women has already begun on experimental basis. But Army has no such plans to induct them into the fighting arms of infantry, armoured corps and artillery that involve direct ground combat with enemy forces. It is, therefore, the announcement that women can opt to join as pilots of the maritime reconnaissance planes gives a new hope.