Govt open to entry of more women in military, says Nirmala

Govt open to entry of more women in military, says Nirmala

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a FLO interactive sesion on "Stories That Matter - Journey of India's First Full-Time Defence Minister" in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government was open to the idea of giving permanent commission to women in more branches of the military, but the decision will have to wait till the pending court cases are resolved.

Several women officers, recruited through the short service commission routes, had moved courts seeking permanent commission.

While the defence ministry awaited the court rulings, Nirmala said a dialogue had been initiated with the Army, Air Force and Navy for a "synchronised position" on the recruitment of women into the three services as there was no common ground on the matter at present.

"Each of these services has taken their own approach towards getting women a limited option of getting into their force and as a result there is no parity within the three services either.

"I am spending time with all the three forces to make sure that we take a synchronised position and also approach the court to handle all these cases, which are already there," India's first full time woman defence minister said at a FICCI event here.

In Navy, there is a policy to grant permanent commission to women officers in law, education and naval constructors, whereas in the IAF, the government had issued prospective policies for grant of permanent commission to women officers in certain branches.

But in the Army, the policy for grant of permanent commission to women officers was yet to be finalized, Subhash Bhamre, the Minister of State for Defence informed the Rajya Sabha in March, 2018.

Granting of permanent commission to women in most of the military units and allowing women in combat roles remain two controversial areas as the three services closed their doors to the fairer sex on both counts for decades.

Only in the last three years, IAF allowed girls to become fighter pilots and the Navy permitted women to fly their surveillance aircraft.

But still women officers are not allowed to be deployed on-board naval warships and entry of women in the infantry and armoured units remained a big no-no for the Army.

In a forward move, Army allowed entry of women in military police since September 2017.

Because of the skewed policies, the men-women ratio are heavily in favour of men in all the three services.

As against 41,074 male officers, the Army has only 1,561 women.

The number of women officers in the IAF and Navy are 1,594 and 644 as against their male counterparts numbering 10,781 and 10,652 respectively.