Women serving in the Indian Army will soon play an increasing role in areas like information, psychological warfare and other non-combat areas, but the Army was not yet ready to send women for frontline combat duties, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said in Pune on Friday.
Rawat was speaking to the media after the Passing Out Parade of the National Defence Academy’s 135th course.
Responding to a question about the role that women will play in the Army in the coming years, General Rawat said, “Women are being inducted in all the three services and it is not new. We have deliberated on whether women can be given permanent commission. Along with the other two forces, Army too has identified some areas where we can see more women officers being inducted…”.
He added, “Women are already present in education and law wings of the armed forces. In addition, we have identified areas such as information warfare and psychological warfare, where women can play a bigger role. In military diplomacy, we need language interpreters. There is a need to talk, engage with and understand our
neighbouring countries and other nations. We are looking at recruiting more women as interpreters. So, you will see an increasing role of women in the armed forces.
“However, we haven’t taken them in frontline combat as of now, because we feel that we are not yet ready for that. While the facilities have to be created in these arms, women will have to be prepared for the hardships… Let us not start comparing ourselves with the western nations. These nations are more open. We have become more open… for example, in the big cities, men and women are working together. The people in the Army don’t come from these big cities. They will continue to come from villages, where the kind of intermingling that is expected has not happened.”
General Rawat’s statement is in line with what the then Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said, in May 2015, after he had reviewed the Passing Out Parade of the National Defence Academy.
“Barring combat duties, women are being recruited for all other duties. What if there is a war situation and our women soldiers are made prisoners of war? We can’t have that situation. But other than combat duties, participation of women will be increased in armed forces in a phased manner,” Parrikar had said.
‘Why don’t we create a military station from cantonments’
When asked about the future of cantonments in the country, General Rawat said, “We have a very large number of military stations. Cantonments are something that the British left behind. There are 62 cantonments and 257 military stations. Cantonments also have a large civilian population. We are looking at the possibility of whether the civilian part can be delinked from the cantonments. Civilians have their reservations, there have been conflicts with defence elements. So, why don’t we create a military station from the cantonments where we, the military people, live, and of course there would be access for civilians…”.