Service chiefs to give report on combat role for women

SansadTV Bureau

Parrikar-ArmyAmid the strong calls of greater combat role for women in Armed forces, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar directed the three service chiefs to come out with a detailed report encapsulating the ways in which the role of women can be increased. The Union minister also sought the details of the challenges and the infrastructural changes needed in this regard.

“The three chiefs have been asked to prepare a detailed report on the ways one can increase the role of women. They have also been asked to note the challenges and the changes that need to be carried out,” said a government official.

Defence minister Parrikar, who is batting for a greater role of women even in combat positions, had recently met the three service chiefs to discuss the issue. This meeting was called soon after IAF Chief Arup Raha had announced a proposal for recruiting women as fighter pilots during celebrations of 88th Air Force Day.

Seconding the Air Chief, Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan also said that Navy too is looking at the possibility of recruiting women as pilots for its surveillance aircraft. The Navy chief, however, ruled out the combat role for women, for time being, due to the existing government rules.

Mr. Parrikar had recently stressed that he is in favour of assigning roles to women in the army’s counter-terrorism operations and his ministry is examining how a combat role can be assigned to the women in the armed forces. The move is also seen in line with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on gender sensitivity.

However he also affirmed that ‘in principle’ he is in favour of women in combat positions, but a final decision would be taken later.

“I don’t see why not. We take them as equal in everything,” Parrikar had earlier adding the ministry could assign them “role in counter-terrorism operations (at the borders) or even to tackle terrorists within the country,” the Union Defence minister said adding added.

About the IAF proposal he had said, “It has to be done in a phase-wise manner. It won’t happen immediately.” He also added that the final notification on inducting women as fighter aircraft pilots would also take some time.

(With inputs from the PTI)