Women officers will soon be allowed to take up combat roles in all sections of its military, President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces, had recently said in an address to both houses of the Parliament.
The decision is been viewed as a sign of progress as women only make up 2.5 per cent of the Indian army’s million-plus personnel, mostly in medical or administrative roles.
The majority, 1436 women, serve in the Indian Army, 1331 in the Indian Air Force, 532 in the Indian Navy. Two days after President Mukherjee’s announcement, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that the induction of women in combat arms will take place in a phased manner based on factors such as training facilities and accommodation.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar huffingtonpost
The army has largely resisted a move to induct women into combat, expressing concerns over their ability to handle the high physical strain and vulnerability in case of capture.
Some military officials are skeptic over the decision as they question their deployment in bunkers and posts along the LoC amid heavy shelling and infiltration bids. They also raise the concern of constricted space in warships and submarines.
The decision to allow women into combat in India comes more than two decades after the country’s armed forces made nonmedical positions available to women on short-service commissions. The Indian Air Force is also planning to allow women to fly combat missions by June 2017.
India joins the U.S. — who recently opened up all combat roles to women in the military — and only a handful of other countries, including Israel, Germany and Australia, in permitting women on the front lines.