In recent times, the Indian armed forces have been taken by storm. After names like Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman came out big, names like Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal, Lieutenant Ganeve Lalji, and Wing Commander Shalija Dhami have begun making their marks in the armed forces by breaking the gender barriers that have been long plaguing the society in general.
Boarding this bandwagon of lady bravehearts of India is Captain Kalpana Kundu. On June 20 this year, Army officer Captain Kundu went on to undertake a high altitude patrol in the mountainous regions of Arunachal Pradesh. And, why?
Captain Kundu took on the challenges of nature in an attempt to provide help to our soldiers who are deployed along the Chinese border.
According to a report by the Indian Army, Captain Kundu took it on herself to battle the rough weathers and high altitude in order to provide medical cover to the forces that were stationed at the border of Indian and China. A part of the Indian Army Medical Corps, Captain Kundu and team are specialists driven by the mission to reach medical services to not merely the soldiers who are deployed, but also to veterans and all the army families.
On June 20, Captain Kundu volunteered to be a part of an important patrol team that spanned hostile terrains to reach medical services to the forces that guarded the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
For several years, women were not allowed into operation roles in the armed forces. While they have been in the medical segments for ages, combat roles were out of reach for them. However, this situation turned around three years back when the Government of India passed the rule to allow women in combat positions in all the wings of the armed forces.
With that announcement, things started to change in the forces. In the first quarter this year, women were given permanent commission in 10 branches across the defense services. Against this background, the Indian Army plans to induct 800 women, at the rate of 52 personnel each year. In addition, women will form an important role in the Corps of Military Police to investigate gender-specific crime allegations, such as molestation and rape.
In addition to this, the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations in war regions of Congo will have an all-women Indian team from the Central Armed Police Forces. This contingent will be a battalion that can be swiftly deployed at times of emergencies.
As of today, among all the three wings of defense, the Air Force has the highest number of women in its workforce, followed by Navy and then Army. Following an announcement made by PM Narendra Modi regarding the permanent commission for women, the headcount in the Army is bound to go up. Another announcement recently declared that eight more streams were ready to announce the formal entry of women in the Indian Army. These streams were Intelligence, Army Service Corps, Electronics & Mechanical Engineers, Army Aviation, Ordnance Corps, Army Air Defence, Engineers, and Signals.
Based on information from Army resources, their headquarters are preparing the guidelines for inducting women into the Army. The guidelines will lay down fitness parameters, course, and exams that need to be cleared for promotions. However, these guidelines will not be applicable for female officers who were inducted five to ten years ago under the Short Service Commission. Despite the advancements, infantry and armored ground-based combat will remain out of reach for women for the time being. Similarly, in the Navy, all the roles except sea-going ones are open for women.
On the Air Force front, women are eligible to take on permanent commission wherever male officers are. They will be given equal chances once they meet the required parameters of the force, and that is further established by the fact that there will be no reserved quota for women or men separately.
In recent times, women have proven that they are no lower than their men counterparts in any way. Wing Commander Shalija Dhami went on to become India’s first female officer to be promoted to the position of Flight Commander and given a permanent commission.
On the Army front, sources have claimed that preparations are being made to train the first batch of female soldiers who are to be a part of the Corps of Military Police. And, the surprising part — the Indian Army received more than two lakh applications from women for Military Police.
With so much advancement in the mindset and approval given by the government, it is time for women to take power in their hands and step forward. The era of a male-dominated society is preparing to set and the women-power is visibly rising at the horizon. And, that is only going to get better with time. After all, a country’s progress can be judged only based on the way it treats its women.
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