More women in forces, welcome step

More women in forces, welcome step

The Centre’s decision to increase recruitment of women to all paramilitary forces can only be described as brave and timely. There was a time when women were considered the weaker sex for the simple reason that men had more muscles. However, from longevity and surviving illness to coping with trauma and managing pain, one can find the surprising ways in which women really are the stronger sex. It is against this backdrop that the Home Ministry’s decision should be seen. The plan is to recruit at least 33% women to fill entry-level posts in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). It is also planned to have 15% women in the Border Security Force (BSF), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Together these forces have about 9,00,000 personnel which means over 2,00,000 women are slated to get jobs.

The decision is a shot in the arm of women who have, over the centuries, proved that they are as capable as men. In fact, given a level-playing field, they have proved to be better than men. Even in combat roles, they have not been found wanting. There are now about 20,000 women in paramilitary forces and they have proved equal to their male counterparts. While the CRPF is the pre-eminent Central force engaged in law and order duties, the CISF is primarily engaged in protecting Central properties and personnel like at the airports. It is believed that in the next war, it is that side which has better technology that will win, not the one which has larger personnel.

In short, brain, not brawn, is what matters. Even in combat duties, women can perform as efficiently as men. For instance, the accident rate of women pilots the world over is lower than that of male pilots. Small wonder that air forces in the US and European countries have been recruiting more and more women as pilots. Even in the Indian Air Force, they have proved their mettle. Women in the forces have come a long way since Kiran Bedi became the first woman IPS officer. Today, many important police cases are investigated by women officers. They still do not have a large presence in the armed forces except in the Army Medical Corps. If an opportunity is given to them, they will excel even in other wings of the army. When women drive heavy vehicles like trucks, it is difficult to believe that they will not be able to manage tanks and aircraft carriers. Remember, trust begets trust.

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