A first: 12 women officers get permanent commission in Army
New Delhi, November 30
This is the first ever entry of women in a permanent role into the mainstream of the Indian Army. So far, women doctors were given permanent commission (PC) in the medical corps of the armed forces. This is still out of the Army frontline fighting units, as the Ministry of Defence does not permit women in roles that “… entail direct combat or possibility of physical contact with the enemy".
The 12 women officers are from the Army Education Corps and the Judge Adjutant General - these are the only two streams that allow women to be picked up as permanent officers.
All women, cleared now, are short service commission officers (SSC) of the 1996 batch or latter. On completion of 14 years of mandatory service in SSC, they were asked to appear for a selection board along with their male counterparts and 12 of them have been picked up, the Army sources confirmed today. The selection board conducted its proceeding two weeks ago and the results have been announced now.
Most of them are Majors and Lt Colonels and would have retired from service had they not cleared the selection board. There is no reservation in the Army on the basis of gender, the women competed with their male counterparts, said sources, while adding that equal opportunity was provided.
In 2008, the Defence Minister, AK Antony, opened a few more streams for women but that was only for those who joined the SSC in March 2009 or later, meaning they would be eligible for PC only in 2019.
Women, unlike their male counterparts, do not have direct entry route into the Forces. As on date, nearly 350 male officers are inducted into the SSC each year.
Out of them, nearly 240 opt for the PC and almost all are taken in. Women were allowed in the SSC for the first time in 1992.
The latest issue is historic as this was the first time that women were given an option to choose for PC and sit in an examination for what will be full tenure. This can last up to 58 years of age depending upon the promotions each one of them gets in the future.
Notably, there are 11,500 vacancies in the Army; however, most of them are in the infantry, the artillery and the armoured units. The Army allows women to opt for the SSC (10-14 years of service) in Signals, Engineers, Ordnance and Air Defence. In the IAF women are even chopper and transport pilots.