Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 1
A year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced permanent commission for women, the Indian Army is ready to formally announce allowing women in eight more streams within the force as permanent commissioned officers.
The Army headquarters is readying a ‘terms of reference’ that will guide the induction of women. The terms of reference — that will lay down qualifying parameters for promotions like fitness levels, courses to be completed and exams to be cleared — will be announced soon, sources said.
In March, the government had announced its decision to allow women in newer areas, but awaited terms of reference before opening up the force for women.
It is now clear that the policy will not benefit women officers earlier inducted under the Short Service Commission (SSC), say five or 10 years ago.
A letter detailing the consent of the President, who is the Supreme Commander of the forces, says: “The policy will come into effect prospectively.” It means the existing SSC officers, who serve for 14 years, will not benefit. The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee, which gave its report 15 years ago, spoke about having more SSC officers, but that hasn’t happened. The government has approved women as permanent commissioned officers in Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Ordnance Corps and Intelligence. These eight streams will be in addition to the women who are already in Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Education Corps. In this, aviation is crucial as only the IAF and Navy allow women into the aviation.
Ground-based combat like infantry or armoured in the Army will continue to be closed for women.
In the IAF, Wing Commander Shalija Dhami became the country’s first woman officer to be appointed as flight commander of a unit. She flies helicopters and has been taken in as permanent commission officer.
The IAF has decided that wherever men SSC officers are eligible for permanent commission, women will also be given a chance as equals. They will have to meet the parameters of the force. “There is no quota of vacancies between men and women officers,” an official explained.
In the Navy, all branches barring those that are sea-going are open for women.
Doors opened to
- Army Aviation
- Army Air Defence
- EME (Electronics & Mechanical Engineers)
- Army Service Corps
- Ordnance Corps
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