October 28, 2015 5:41:04 pm
Close on the heels of the defence ministry’s announcement to introduce women as fighter pilots into the Indian Air Force comes the news that the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Force will induct women as officers. ITBP has also decided to deploy women personnel in combat duty at its high-altitude posts in Ladakh sector along the Indo-China border.
Even though the ITBP has 1,661 women in its ranks, unlike other central armed police forces like the CRPF, BSF, CISF and SSB, it is the only force which has not been recruiting women as officers. It has now decided to send a request to the UPSC to induct women at the officer entry level of Assistant Commandant.
Going beyond the step of having women officers, the ITBP has decided to post women personnel in combat role at the border posts. One-third of the strength of these posts will be women and the balance men. Nearly 500 women are being trained by the ITBP for these duties.
A lot of talk about women in uniform has been about symbolism but the ITBP has taken a bold step by involving women in frontline roles. It is a sensitive issue which requires a change in institutional mindset. This step by ITBP emphasizes equality in real terms and is bound to encourage other forces to follow suit.
The sudden emphasis on inducting and deploying women at an equal footing is indicative of a change in the thinking of the government. At another level, it is also reflective of changes in the Indian society where women are now seeking their rightful share in every sphere. It is perhas one more indicator that things are changing for the better, slowly and surely.
Every single barrier going down is welcome news. ITBP has just added to the good news by bringing this barrier down.
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