Representational Image | The women contingent of Assam Rifles during the Republic Day parade rehearsal in 2019 | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
File photo | The women contingent of Assam Rifles during the Republic Day parade rehearsal | Suraj Bisht/ThePrint
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New Delhi: The Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs will be visiting the National Defence Academy (NDA) this week to review the training and administrative arrangements for the intake of women cadets, work on which was already initiated early this year.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said that the visit by Army chief General M.M. Naravane, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Air Force chief R.K.S Bhadauria on 20 August had already been scheduled at the beginning of the month, before the Supreme Court passed an interim order allowing women to sit for the academy’s entrance exam.

They added that the visit of the three chiefs has no relation to the court’s order that was passed Wednesday.

“The visit was scheduled earlier this month to review the training and administrative arrangements for women cadets. Additional infrastructure to provide for women cadets has been approved earlier and should come up in a time-bound manner. Gender equality has been an issue, which has been actively debated and found positive response in the Services,” a source told ThePrint.

The discussion on the induction of women into the armed services through the NDA had been ongoing and was finding support amongst the leadership, the source added.

ThePrint reported in June that the NDA is being expanded and its annual intake of military cadets will be progressively increased by around 400 to cater to the shortfall of officers in the armed forces.

The increase in seats is also to cater to the bigger demand for training of foreign cadets and ground duty cadets of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

A project for enhancement of NDA infrastructure was also rolled out this year keeping in mind a possible intake of women cadets in the institution.


Also read: Sainik schools will admit girls too, must ensure equal representation for women: Modi on I-Day


Women have long been part of armed forces

The induction of women into the armed services via the NDA will not be the first such instance.

Sources said the Armed Forces had inducted women as officers in the medical services a very long time ago.

The Armed Forces Medical College in Pune has been training men and women medical officers for years. Military Nursing Officers have been in service since well before Independence and continue to serve the Defence Services, the source quoted above said.

Women were also inducted in the lower ranks in the Corps of Military Police recently.

“Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission women officers had been considered earlier in JAG and Education Branches and recently they have been given similar benefits in some other branches. Women officers have also been inducted for training into Army Aviation recently”, the source said.

As of February this year, there were 9,118 women officers serving in the three Services.

Women officers have been inducted into the Army since 1993. In the beginning, they were brought in for five years of service under the ‘Special Entry Scheme’. This was later converted into the Short Service Commission (SSC).

In 2008, a permanent commission was extended to women in streams of Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Education Corps.

In 2019, the Narendra Modi government granted permanent commission to women in all ten branches that allowed women officers through the Short Service Commission.

These were Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps and Intelligence.

However, the rule was applicable for the current serving SSC officers and future ones and was not retrospective.

Following an order of the Supreme Court, a total of 147 additional women SSC officers of the Army were granted permanent commission. But combat roles for women in the Army are yet to be opened up due to a wide range of reasons.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)


Also read: Women in combat roles: India can romanticise it but here’s why we are not ready yet


 

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