The Indian Army’s Women

The headline is deliberately sensational. This is how the women officers are treated – with scant respect and without getting their due. Worse, the government that talks about reservations for women in Parliament agrees with the court that women in the Indian Armed Forces are lesser than men. Major Seema Singh has challenged the Supreme Court:

“The policies for women in army not only discriminate her against male officers but also lower her status to that of a jawan/junior commissioned officer, whom she has been leading for 14 years.”

After this, she is “thrown out”, and given the number of years she receives no pension and no retirement benefits. In the scathing words of Major Singh:

“The army is using the policy of use and throw while dealing with its trained women officers.”

The risk theory is propounded, which is flimsy:

“Women officers and gentlemen officers commissioned into these services are performing similar jobs, undergoing similar professional courses and are being posted to all field and peace postings. There is no separate charter of duties for women officers or short service commissioned male officers and permanent commissioned male officers. The strength of women officers posted in services in combat zone is 30% whereas short service commissioned gentlemen officers comprise 29% and permanent commissioned gentlemen officers have 23% presence.”

Even if one is to take the facing the enemy line, these tasks are not about combat. Besides, how many troops are really in a constant state of battle? Why must only combat zones be considered real work? This is just a manner in which the army, a male preserve, keeps its image of machismo alive.

It is clearly not an issue of performance but gender, for why do the officers doing the same job get to stay and why are some pushed up to give orders to the women who were once their seniors? How many women officers have been implicated in scams? How many have had cases against them for sexual harassment? How many have shirked their duties? How many have dropped out mid-way? How many have used excuses to get out of the army – it is tough and the excuses are fine-tuned? How many instances have the armed forces encountered where women officers specifically asked for soft postings? Are there more applications for leave from women officers?

Do remember these women are not getting brave in bunkers for a short while; this is their job and they ought to be given all the facilities due to them.

If militant organisations can have their women’s wing, and be sure they are combative, then the army need not worry about our women officers. They joined the forces knowing what they were getting into and not to nurse the wounds and egos of our male officers.

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On an unrelated note: 

Cinema halls play the national anthem before the start of a movie. Of late, they have the film Rajneeti's team on screen before the flag singing the anthem. No one resents standing up out of respect, but I certainly do not want to see the faces of Katrina Kaif, Ranbir Kapoor, Prakash Jha and the rest covering the flag. Why do we have to face them? It appears we are paying respects to them as representing the anthem and the flag.