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Women get command roles in the Indian Army (Specials)

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  • Published
    28th Jan, 2023


For the first time, the Indian army had begun the process for selection of women officers for command postings in the rank of Colonel, which has so far been the domain of male officers.


  • 80 women officers in the Indian Army have been cleared for the rank of Colonel (selection grade), making them eligible to command unitsin their respective arms and services for the first time.
  • The Women Officers were selected by the Special No. 3 Selection Boardfor promotion from the rank of Lt Colonel to Colonel to bring them on a par with their male counterparts.
  • Women officers were selected from the batch of 1992 to 2006in various arms and services, including Engineers, Signals, Army Air Defence, Intelligence Corps, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps and Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
  • The Corps of Engineers has the maximum vacancyfollowed by the Army Ordnance Corps and Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.

Women Induction in Army: A battle long fought

  • 1992: Women were first inducted into the Indian Army as officers in non-medical roles while the Indian Army Medical Corps started inducting them from 1993.
  • 2010: Delhi High Court ruled that the Indian Army's policy of not allowing womento serve in combat roles was discriminatory and violative of the Constitution.
  • 2013:Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Indian Army to exclude women from certain combat roles, stating that the Indian Army was not ready for women in combat roles due to societal attitudes and lack of infrastructure.
  • 2016: Indian Army announced that it would begin inducting women into combat roles in select military units, starting with the Corps of Military Police.
  • 2017Supreme Courtstated that women should be given equal opportunities in the Army, including in combat roles.
  • 2020:Indian Army announced that it would open up all positions to women, including those in combat roles
  • 2021:  The Indian army starts to induct women in short service commission as fighter pilots.

Violation of Rights:

  • Right to equality (Article 14): The exclusion of women from certain roles in the Indian Army has been seen as a violation of this right, as it discriminates against women on the basis of their gender.
  • Right to work (Article 15): The exclusion of women denies them the opportunity to work in certain roles based solely on their gender.
  • Right to non-discrimination (Article 16): The exclusion of women from certain roles in the Indian Army is a violation of the right to non-discrimination, as it discriminates against women on the basis of their gender.
  • Right to life and personal liberty (Article 21): The exclusion of women is a violation of the right to life and personal liberty, as it denies women the opportunity to serve their country and defend their rights and liberties.
  • Right to education (Article 21): Exclusion from certain roles in the Indian Army is a violation of the right to education, as it denies women the opportunity to pursue education and training in certain fields.
  • Right to freedom of expression (Article 19): The exclusion of women denies women the opportunity to express themselves and their capabilities through their work.

Advantages of women in Army

Challenges of women in Army

  • Increased diversity: Women bring a different perspective and set of skills to the military, which can enhance overall military effectiveness and decision-making.
  • Improved operational effectiveness: Women can be effective in combat roles as they can improve the overall operational effectiveness of the military.
  • Better representation of society: The Indian Army is meant to serve and protect the entire population, and by having a more representative force, it can better understand and serve the needs of the society.
  • Better retention and recruitment: By providing opportunities for women, the Indian Army can attract and retain a larger pool of talented individuals.
  • Breaking stereotypes: Induction of women challenges the societal stereotypes that women are weak and less capable.
  • Improved morale: Women's induction can improve morale among female soldiers and can lead to a more inclusive and supportive environment for all soldiers.
  • Better support for women: The Indian Army has taken steps to create a more supportive environment for women, such as increasing the number of women-only barracks and providing childcare facilities.
  • Cost-effective: As the number of women in the Indian Army increases, it can be cost-effective in terms of recruitment and training, as it would increase the pool of eligible candidates.
  • Societal attitudes: Women in the Indian Army have faced resistance from societal attitudes that view women as less capable or less suited for roles in the military.
  • Physical demands: The physical demands of military service can be challenging for women, and there have been concerns about whether women can meet the same physical standards as men.
  • Limited opportunities: There have been limited opportunities for women in the Indian Army, particularly in combat roles, which has limited their career advancement.
  • Lack of support: Women in the Indian Army have reported lack of support from their male colleagues and superiors, which can make it difficult to succeed in their roles.
  • Harassment and discrimination: Women in the Indian Army have reported experiencing harassment and discrimination on the basis of their gender.
  • Limited facilities: Women in the Indian army face limited facilities in terms of women-only barracks, toilets and other amenities.
  • Limited representation: Women are under-represented in leadership positions in the Indian Army, and there is a lack of female role models for women to look up to.

Way Ahead:

  • Although allowing women on equal footing in the army is a progressive step, the Indian Army should take steps to create a more supportive environmentfor women, such as increasing the number of women-only barracks and providing childcare facilities.
  • While there have been challenges with the induction of women into the Indian Army, there is a need to promote the overall trend as many women have succeeded in their roles and made valuable contributions to the military.

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