By Brig Deepak Sinha
Issue: Net Edition | Date : 06 Nov , 2015
One must compliment the Chief of Air Staff for having taken the decision to permit women officers to opt for the fighter stream, a decision ratified by the Defence Minister as well. That they have already been flying transport aircraft and helicopters for some decades now is a well- known fact. While increasing legal intervention by the courts may have had something to do with this decision, it is still a positive step forward and will go a long way in enhancing gender equality within the Services.
…while the Air Force can ensure their selective employment on tasks within our borders, the same would not hold true for Naval ships and even more so for the Army.
That women can play an important role in our Armed Forces is not under doubt and the fact that the Services needed to be nudged by Courts to grant women permanent commissions is a sad commentary on existing mind-sets, especially since precedents, even of Indian women, participating in combat exist. We are, off course all familiar with the exploits of Rani Manikarnika or Laxmibai as she is better known, the Rani of Jhansi, who took on the might of the East India Company during the First War of Independence. Less well known may be the fact that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose also established the Rani Jhansi Regiment as a part of the Indian National Army in 1943. In fact, he was given a Guard of Honour shortly after his arrival in Singapore by selected women volunteers of the INA who then went on to form the core of this Regiment. Though Netaji even envisaged a combat role for the Rani Jhansi Regiment, it needs to be remembered that he was raising a citizen’s army for the liberation of India from the British and the question of women in combat roles continues to be a controversial issue.