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Women in the Army

The Indian army continues to define itself along gendered lines. There is a strong belief that combat, by nature, is a male occupation; that the army is a male space and combat the most masculine of all aspects of war. Also, accommodation of women challenges the familiar gender roles in society and their intrusion into the army seems threatening.

The Indian army continues to define itself along gendered lines. There is a strong belief that combat, by nature, is a male occupation; that the army is a male space and combat the most masculine of all aspects of war. Also, accommodation of women challenges the familiar gender roles in society and their intrusion into the army seems threatening.Whenever women have moved or have attempted to move into new roles, as for example in electoral politics via reservations or into armed forces, this movement has been a ccompanied by outcry and protest especially from the male members of these i nstitutions. In the army, the government decided to grant Permanent Commission to women in September 2008. In the Short Service Commission women were employed for a period ranging from five to 14 years only and could not rise above the rank of Lt Colonel. They can now rise to the highest rank of Lt General. But as a matter of policy, they have not been a ssigned operational roles. This denial of combat role is despite an acknowledgement that the experience of putting w omen on Short Service Commission has been very encouraging and that women cadets often fared better than their male colleagues during training.

It is therefore important to note that even when women join the army on Permanent Commission eventually some time in 2015, after having undergone a prolonged training period at the National Defence Academy, they will still not be able to undertake combat roles. Women have served in the non-combat fields since the early 1990s like medical, engineering, ordnance, signals, intelligence, education, law, air traffic control among others, but not in the infantry, armed corps, mechanised infantry or artillery; women cannot fly fighter planes or serve on the warships. They did not and still do not have the options to choose these combat roles.

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