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Indian Navy set to open up its ‘men-only’ police branch to women officers, seeks volunteers

Provost is a non-sea-going cadre, so compulsory sea service will not be a criterion for promotions as in the case of other executive branches.

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New Delhi: The Indian Navy has sought volunteers for its police branch, Provost, from among its women officers. The branch has so far been an exclusive preserve of male officers.

The Navy has sought applications from officers, men and women, by May, according to sources in the force.

The move has come within weeks of the Supreme Court’s ruling to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Navy. On 17 March, the court upheld a 2015 verdict of the Delhi High Court and outlawed gender discrimination towards women officers during the grant of permanent commission in the Indian Navy.

At present, women officers commissioned in the Navy are not given sea-going appointments. The Navy also does not have women in the ranks akin to the Army.

Last year, the Corps of Military Police in the Army had recruited 100 women.

More opportunities opening up

According to sources, the Navy’s latest move may be the first step to open up more branches to women officers.

“Moreover, Provost is a non-sea-going cadre and therefore compulsory sea service will not be a criterion for promotions as in the case of other executive branches,” a senior naval officer told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity.

Regulations restricting sea service, which is compulsory in certain branches for promotions to the rank of Captain (Colonel equivalent in the Army) and above, put women in the Navy at a disadvantage against male colleagues when it comes to career progression.

The officer said the move is seen as another step towards grant of permanent commission to women officers across branches, including consequent promotions, as Provost officers have the opportunity to perform well and attain promotion up to the rank of a Commodore.


Also read: Navy remains ‘combat-ready’ after 26 sailors test positive for Covid-19


Provost appointments

Unlike primary branches, the recruitment of Naval Provost officers is not advertised. Existing commissioned officers are selected on a volunteer basis for a specialised course at INS Mandovi, the Provost training school. After the completion of the course, the officers are appointed to the Provost at various bases of the Navy.

The women volunteers for the Provost, if any, will be Short Service Commission (SSC) officers.

SSC women officers can also serve in the musician cadre and sports cadre, a second Navy officer said.

At present, women officers in the Navy serve in many cadres, including three where they have the option for choosing permanent commission. Last year, a woman officer graduated the pilot’s course to be the first woman pilot of Dornier.

Women officers also serve in operational appointments as ‘Observers’ in the Navy’s maritime reconnaissance aircraft like P8i, IL-38 and Dornier.

There are over 639 women personnel in the Navy, including 148 medical officers and two dental officers.


Also read: Indian Navy veterans slam ‘childish’ US response to Roosevelt ship incident


 

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