From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : Women in Army
- The Supreme Court recently directed the Centre and the Indian Air Force to consider granting Permanent Commission to 32 retired women Short Service Commission (SSC) officers based on their suitability with the purpose of giving them pensionary benefits. The SC has, however, clarified that the retired women officers will only be considered for pension benefits and not salary arrears.
- The military opened its doors to women in 1992 when the Air Force inducted its first batch.
- The landmark judgment came in which Justice Kishan Kaul (then with the High Court of Delhi) had hoped that “with expanding horizon of women’s participation in different walks of life, the armed forces would be encouraged to have larger participation of women in more areas of operation.”
The case of women inducted into short service
- The 32 retired women officers were inducted into short service commission between 1993 and 1998.
- Though they were not granted permanent commission, their service was extended by six years and then then again for another four years.
Another Important verdict
- In a landmark verdict on February 17, 2020, the top court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission, rejecting the Centre’s stand on their “physiological limitations” as being based on “sex stereotypes” and “gender discrimination against women”
Permanent Commission (PC) Vs. Short Service Commission (SSC)
- SSC means an officer’s career will be of a limited period in the Indian Armed Forces whereas a PC means they shall continue to serve in the Indian Armed Forces, till they retire.
- The officers inducted through the SSC usually serve for a period of 14 years. At the end of 10 years, the officers have three options.
- A PC entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike SSC, which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
- They can either select for a PC or opt-out or have the option of a 4-years extension.
- They can resign at any time during this period of 4 years extension.
Why males have ever dominated the armed forces?
- Militaries across the world help entrench hegemonic masculine notions of aggressiveness, strength and heterosexual prowess in and outside their barracks.
- The military training focuses on creating new bonds of brotherhood and camaraderie between them based on militarized masculinity.
- This temperament is considered in order to enable conscripts to survive the tough conditions of military life and to be able to kill without guilt.
- To create these new bonds, militaries construct a racial, sexual, gendered “other”, attributes of whom the soldier must routinely and emphatically reject.
Struggle of women in combat role
- Gender parity in forces still needs a relook: Though women have been in the forces since 1992 all roles and career options are not offered to them. Women have been allowed in combat in the Air Force, but we are yet to see women in combat roles in the army and navy.
- Battle of acceptance: Acceptance of women in the military has not been smooth in any country. Every army has to mould the attitude of its society at large and male soldiers in particular to enhance acceptability of women in the military.
- Adjusting with the masculine set up: To then simply add women to this existing patriarchal setup, without challenging the notions of masculinity, can hardly be seen as “gender advancement”.
- Capabilities of women are questioned: Although women are equally capable, if not more capable than men, there might be situations that could affect the capabilities of women such as absence during pregnancy and catering to the responsibilities of motherhood, etc.
- Physical and Physiological Issues: The natural physical differences in stature, strength, and body composition between the sexes make women more vulnerable to certain types of injuries and medical problems. The natural processes of menstruation and pregnancy make women particularly vulnerable in combat situations.
- Women have been allowed in combat in the Air Force, but we are yet to see women in combat roles in the army and navy. Even though women have been in the forces since 1992 all roles and career options are not offered to them. Women in combat have still to fight for the equal opportunities and equal treatment.
Q. The Indian Army has sought to induct women into combat roles but equality remains a challenge on many fronts. Critically analyze.