I remember a ‘Doctor Couple’, newlyweds, posted in the same organisation. The Lady was stationed near Dehradun and husband, somewhere in the North-East. The organisation could not absorb them in the same location. Annual leave and Casual leave, they used to spend with each other. To stay together a little longer, they volunteered for Para Basic Course. The lady MO was more than three months pregnant, when she underwent that gruelling training, which she revealed much later in our interactions. I jumped from the same aircraft, in the same stick with the couple. I had gone to do my para-refresher and both of them were doing their para-basic jumps. Both earned their wings. Hats off to their spirit.

I remember we were once shown a show para-jump, as indoctrination to parachuting. It was an IL-76 jump. We were used to sitting in ILs like potatoes while going to Leh. Here, we were about to witness something very unique. Grandfather, daughter, and granddaughter team jumped out of that IL-76. I still get goose bumps, when I remember that jump.

I also know of a Lady Doctor from the Army, a dentist by profession. To list out her adventure activities is not possible in a few words. We happened to serve together. The ‘dhamki’ she used to give, ‘you try a funny stunt with me, daant nikaal dungi’. Obviously, dentistry was her profession and being a paratrooper was her passion. Another reason to doff my hat and red beret for her.

Today, there is hot debate on giving permanent commission to women. The Supreme Court has given a judgement and put it to rest. Let us welcome it. Yes, there will be issues, which the sceptics raise but they have to be ironed out. The onus is more on the men to accept them. Privacy issues, pregnancy issues, mind-set issues, peeping tom issues, toughness & endurance issues, sanskriti issues, Prisoner of War issues etc will always be there. Let us not get stuck debating them.

I know ladies are eager to enter the bastion which is considered male dominated. I welcome them but then to be fair, they will have to prove that they can perform better than men in all spheres, irrespective of the type of warfare, terrain, time of the day and other personal and health related issues. Jab sir okhli main diya hai to mullon se kya darna.

The biggest advantage would be to make up the depleting strength & shortage of officers. Forces need a helping hand. No better way to have Ladies filling the gaps and taking commanding roles. Pretty faces will help us men to look handsome, well dressed, well-groomed, well mannered, always and every time.

Men, I have seen obey orders from their commander, irrespective of the gender. To reach that point of acceptance, Officers have to prove to their command, that they are worthy of that respect. Once rapport is established, there is no looking back. Men then have blind faith and will put their life at stake, on their officer’s orders, gender doesn’t come in between. It is the mission which takes priority. The ‘Naam, Namak and Nishaan’ is their only focus.

All this debate about ladies not joining infantry and fighting arms is not fair. Why should these guys be left out? They too deserve better company. The presence of ladies would ‘raise the bar’, when a tank commander gets in her tank and issues orders to the regiment, “All stations ‘Anika One’, move now, out”. The enemy, in case is monitoring the ‘radio net’ may think it is a false propaganda and men of the regiment definitely know that it is our ‘CO Sahib Bahadur’ giving orders.

I would suggest, if the number of lady officers has to increase, there should be at least one company strength, if not half, of ladies per battalion. Even SM Saab should rise up through the ranks and have the pulse of the battalion. Then, I think this role of women in the Army would be absolutely fair. If the CAPFs can have it, why not the Armed Forces. The enclosed space syndrome, the ablutions and those days of the month would be understood by lady officers better. There is no harm in giving this a try.

????? ??? ?????? ?? ?????-?-??? ??? ? ?? ?????? ???? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ???. ‘Girte hain sheh-savaar (Horsemen) hi maidaan-e-jung (battle field) main. Vo tifl (toddler) kya gire, jo ghutno (crawls on knees) ke bal chale’. It is a challenge for ladies to now become the of the modern battle field. Will the ladies prove they are not only equal but better than men in the profession of Arms? I wonder!