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War within
Army’s stand is perplexing

A few days back, the Indian Government challenged the Delhi High Court judgment regarding permanent commission to women in the army by moving the Supreme Court of India. On March 12, 2010, the HC had directed the government to allow grant of permanent commission to women in army and air force. Under this directive, women serving in the short service commission program would be treated at par with their male counterparts, which will be applicable to future recruitments only. While the air force has complied with the order already, the army has gone on record to say that it is not ready to provide permanent commission to women yet.

As of now, women in the Army are only recruited for Short Service Commission (period of 14 years) unlike their male counterparts, who enjoy permanent commission after five years. This move by the government and the army does come out as highly discriminatory, despite claims to the contrary. Even Indian paramilitary forces viz. BSF, CRPF, ITBP and CISF maintain special Mahila battalions posted at borders! A contingent of around 120 women CRPF were deployed in Liberia, which prominently features among war torn nations of the world, a few months back. And since our forces are also facing a staff crunch (close to 15,000 officers across the armed forces this year), the step appears all the more illogical.

In countries like New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Israel, Sweden and Switzerland, women are already in serving the armed forces and taking part in combat roles too. US and UK don’t allow combat roles, but permanent commission is a reality.

A number of arguments are being given by proponents of the army’s stand. For instance, it is brought forward that women are especially vulnerable in combat roles, and that the army’s experience with women officers is too little to be able to gauge its operational impact. Even if you choose to agree to the combat logic, it still doesn’t justify refusal to grant permanent commission. Surely the army can be more transparent on their perplexing stand on this issue.

By:- Sray Agarwal

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