IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 3rd September
Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. – C.S. Lewis
EDITORIAL HUNT #123 :“Women in Armed Forces | UPSC“
Women in Armed Forces | UPSC
Jasmine Kaur is Wing Commander (retired), Indian Air Force
Victory in a long battle for equal opportunities
With the grant of permanent commission, women officers of the Indian Army will have clarity on their career paths
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : 3: Issues related to women and society : Armed Forces
Patriarchal mindset has slowed down the admission of women into Armed Forces . Comment -(GS 1,3)
- The Verdict
- Significance of SC Verdict
- Women Struggle in Armed Forces
- This year shall be remembered as a landmark in Indian military history for years to come.
- The Supreme Court also directed the central Government to rescind the embargo on command appointments for women officers.
- This is the culmination of a struggle for equal opportunity that began almost 27 years ago when the Army inducted the first batches of women as officers in non-medical corps .
CULMINATION OF A STRUGGLE
- ORTHODOX MINDSETS : The judgment iconic not only because it allowed equal opportunities but also addressed the issue of regressive mindsets.
- IMPLEMENTATION : The onus of implementing this change rests with the leadership, but the direction has been shown.
- TENURE : The scheme initially allowed for a five-year service period, which was revised to 14 years.
- SELECTION : In the armed forces, both men and women opt for the Short Service Commission.
- JEOPARDY : Women officers who had put in the same number of years of service, were denied this privilege.
- FIRST GRANT : The Indian Air Force was first among the three services to grant PC to SSC women officers.
- SPECULATIONS : The Indian Army chose to appeal in the Supreme Court, citing reasons of peculiar service conditions and operational requirements.
- DEPLOYMENT : Approximately 30% of women officers in the Indian Army are deployed in combat zones performing similar duties like other officers.
- EXCLUSION : The policy issued in 2019 was discriminatory to exclude them from command positions.
IMPLICATIONS OF JUDGMENT
- STABILITY : Women officers will now be entitled to serving till the age of retirement and not forced to look for alternative careers after 14 years.
- CLARITY : This will provide clarity on their career paths an equal footing with men for promotions, professional growth, and provide job security.
- KEY POSTS : Despite forming a relatively minuscule 3.29% of the total strength of the Indian Army, women serve in key operational positions.
COMMAND ROLES : Now, women officers can be considered for command roles, career postings with many other opportunities too.
WHAT DOES PERMANENT COMMISSION MEAN
- A grant of PC will accrue many other employee benefits.
In service career courses at :
- The National Defence College,
- College of Defence Management,
- The Army War College, etc
- The Defence Services Staff College
- Options in higher studies .
- Ex-servicemen status and consequent benefits to name a few.
- In addition, allowing a motivated set of experienced women officers will mitigate the shortage of officers.
WARFARE IS CHANGING
- GENDER ABILITY : Given the evolving nature of warfare supported by technology, many of us do not consider this a question of gender ability but of performance, opportunity, and a fighting chance.
- QUESTION OF MERIT : Each of these questions merits separate discussions, determined by the maturity and mindset of the system.
- CONSERVATIVE APPROACH : Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States have been conservative about women in their respective combat arms.
- INTEGRATED APPROACH : While others like the Israeli Defense Forces have achieved widespread integration of women.
- SSC CADRE : The terms of employment of short service commission are subject to change and conversions into PC are based on force requirements.
- POSSIBILITIES AHEAD : It is possible that based on cadre forecast, an SSC officer may not ever get a chance of converting to PC if there are no vacancies.
- NO PROVISIONS : There is no provision for women to choose defence as a long-term career right at the outset as a PC officer.
- LEVEL PLAYING FIELD : When parity of allowing entry of women as permanent cadre is attained, it would truly be a level-playing field in terms of equal opportunity and career advancement.
Is the patriarchal mindset in India the only hurdle in allowing the entry of women into combat arms? Let us debate again..