A move of the Indian government of granting permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army has made every woman feel as if this is her personal achievement. On 23rd July 2020, a formal letter was issued by the Ministry of Defence granting ‘Permanent Commission’ to the woman officers of the Indian Army.
Though India has a long way to go in placing women on significant roles in the force which will equal to the placement of men, the Supreme Court a few months back had asked the officials of the India Army and the government to change their ‘mindset’ about the role women in the army played and assign them more crucial and high ranks. Following this order, the government issued a formal order of granting women officers permanent commission, a move that is sure to empower women.
Only those who complete 10 years of service in the Indian Army can apply for permanent commission. Further, any army officer who has permanent commission can serve the nation by working in the army till the age of retirement which presently stands at 60 years.
As rigid and discriminatory this might sound, it is a fact that prior to 23rd July 2020, only male Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers could apply for a permanent commission in the Indian Army, at the end of 10 years of their service. Since women earlier did not have the option of applying for permanent commission, they were also barred from taking up commanding ranks and could not be eligible to receive a government pension which is only offered to officers who complete 20 years of service in the army.
Now, however, the Supreme Court has directed that women officers of the Indian Army, serving under Short Service Commission, can be granted a permanent commission, irrespective of tenure of service, and also for command posts in non-combat areas.
The Indian Army spokesperson Col. Aman Anand while making an official statement said, “ the order “paved the way for empowering women officers to shoulder larger roles in the Army. The order specifies grant of permanent commission to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers in all 10 streams of the Indian Army.”
The 10 streams where women officers will now be granted a permanent commission include Army Air Defence, Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics, and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, and Intelligence corps in addition to the existing streams of Judge and Advocate General and Army Educational Corps.
The spokesperson further added that. “Their selection board will be scheduled as soon as all affected SSC women officers exercise their option and complete requisite documentation”.
The percentage of women in the Indian Army is meager as compared to that of men.
The Indian Army has only 3.89 percent of women, Navy 6.7 percent and Air Force 13.28 percent. This figure excludes the percentage of women employed in the Medical Corps, Dental Corps, and Military Nursing Service.
Women, till now, have been appointed in the Army only via Short Service Commission (SSC) and could not stay in service beyond 14 years. Nevertheless, there were a few who successfully continued on extensions but were still kept from granting permanent commission.
At present, there are about 300 women officers in the army who are serving for more than 14 years on extension.
There are many reasons which were used by the government that kept women from treading shoulder to shoulder with men which include physiological limitation (worst reasons of all), motherhood, childcare, and troops from rural backgrounds not accepting women in commanding roles. The Supreme Court, however, kicked away all these reasons while giving permanent and respectable status to women in the Indian Army.
Youth Incorporated congratulates all the woman officers on this great achievement.