Combat Roles for Women in the 'Future': Pranab Mukherjee
NEW DELHI: The supreme commander of the Indian armed forces, President Pranab Mukherjee, said that government would open combat operations roles for women in all armed forces in future. He said this while addressing a joint session of both Houses of Parliament beginning the Budget Session.
The President’s remark has come four months after the maiden induction of women in the Indian Air force as combat pilots. In October, last year, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that women will be inducted into the defence service in combat roles, after disapproving the move initially. Three women in the IAF are currently undergoing training at Hyderabad and will join active duty sometime later in the year, on an experimental basis.
President Mukherjee, formally approving of the combat roles for women, although not giving a time frame said that, "In our country, shakti is the manifestation of female energy. This shakti defines our strength. My government has approved the induction of women as short service commission officers and as fighter pilots in the IAF. In the future, my government will induct women in all fighter streams of our armed forces."
Apart from the Central Armed Police Forces, and the rare case of the Indian Air Force where women have been introduced as jet fighters on an experimental basis, the combat roles for women in artillery, infantry, and on submarines have remained out of bounds. The crucial reason for this segregation is argued in women’s limited physical abilities in such roles by the military brass and experts.
Countries like US, Turkey, Russia, and Pakistan have in the past inducted women in jet fighters’ role, but when it comes to close combat roles on ground the scene is not so egalitarian because of certain reasons.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, one officer revealed his doubts about possible difficulties which may arise if women are deployed in navy and on submarines, thus, “"Can women officers be deployed in bunkers and posts along the LoC amid heavy shelling and infiltration bids? Similarly, warships and submarines have constricted spaces. Only a few of the new warships (like the Shivalik-class stealth frigates) cater for individual bathrooms for some officers. The rest have open bathrooms."
A US Marine Corps report published last year also informs that induction of women in combat roles add to the risk to the unit and affects performance since women are prone to injuries and they can’t carry the injured also, they are likely to drop out more.
British PM David Cameron, has also recently said that combat roles should be open for women in UK.