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Indian army not ready to give combat role for lady officers

Updated February 05, 2015

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An Indian all-female military contingent marches during the nation's Republic Day Parade in New Delhi. -AFP Photo
An Indian all-female military contingent marches during the nation's Republic Day Parade in New Delhi. -AFP Photo

NEW DELHI: The Indian army recently celebrated its lady officers on Republic Day for visiting US President Barack Obama, but it is still not ready to give them combat roles, The Hindustan Times reported.

The Indian Army has conveyed the message to its ministry of defence, chairman and chiefs of staff committee, that it has “no combat role” envisaged for lady officers, the paper reported.

“Restrictions on frontline combat deployment will continue,’’ a senior defence ministry official told Hindustan Times.

The army’s recommendation came before the parade toasted women power in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for promoting Nari Shakti (women power).

The army, navy and the air force were represented by all-women marching contingents at this year’s Republic Day function.

Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh had on January 27 hosted a reception in honour of lady officers and commended them.

“We are working on career progression plans for them. Their contribution is immense,” The Hindustan Times reported him as saying.

The army told the defence ministry that the progression however did not include combat duties.

“The army is of the view that its women officers cannot be enrolled into its fighting arms like the infantry and the artillery just yet,” another defence ministry official said.

“Given the army’s involvement in counter-insurgency operations, it feels the terrain and working conditions are not conducive for women, either in the jungles of the northeast or in insurgency areas like Kashmir.’’

Several lady officers have taken the army to court, challenging their work conditions and seeking greater benefits. They have asked for a permanent commission similar to that of their male counterparts.