Women are everywhere today, leading the front shoulder-in-shoulder with men in every organisastion. The armed force is one such organisation in India which provides equal and ample opportunities for women to prove themselves and gives them the platform to rise and inspire many.
All Indian Armed Forces today allow women in combat roles except Indian Army and Indian Special Forces. Till 2014, Indian Air Force had 8.5%, Indian Army 3% and Indian Navy 2.8% women in its files and ranks. This number since then had only started to fall while looking at the bigger picture. The statistics from 2014 to 2016 shows that number of women officers in the Army only decreases while it saw a rise in 2015 only to see a dip again in 2016. The statistics are of women officers in the Indian Army and Air Force excluding Medical, Dental & Nursing Branch and all the branches of Indian Navy.
The role of women in the Indian army began in 1888 when the “Indian Military Nursing Service” was formed. Since then, Indian Army nurses fought in World War I & II, where 350 nurses either died or were taken prisoner of war or declared missing in action.
Post-independence, in 2011, the Government approved consideration of women Short Service Commission Officers for grant of permanent commission along with SSC men in JAG and Army Education Corps (AEC) of the Army and their corresponding branches in Navy and Air Force along with Naval Constructor in Navy and Accounts Branch in Air Force.
In March 2016, women were approved to be commissioned as Short Service Commissioned Pilots in Maritime Reconnaissance (MR) stream and in the Naval Armament Inspectorate (NAI) cadre.
In the Air Force, the first batch of three women officers was commissioned in the fighter stream on June 18, 2016.
Some notable women officers in Indian Armed Forces and their achievements are:
- Priya Jhingan- The first lady cadet to join the Indian Army, later commissioned on 6 March 1993.
- Air Marshal Padmavathy Bandopadhyay- The first woman to become an Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force. She joined the Indian Air Force in 1968.
- Divya Ajith- The first woman in the history of the Indian Army, to be selected for the ‘Sword of Honour’ in 2010, which is the highest award given to a cadet of the Officers Training Academy.
- Shanti Tigga- The first woman to join the Territorial Army, she was honored by former president Pratibha Patil for being the first female jawan of our country.
- Ganeve Lalji- A young intelligence officer who created the history by becoming the first woman to be appointed as a key aide to an Army Commander.
- Lt Gen. Punita Arora – The first woman in India to don the second highest rank i.e. Lieutenant General of Indian Armed Forces and the first Vice Admiral of Indian Navy.
- Mitali Madhumita – She became India’s first female officer to receive the Sena Medal for gallantry in 2011.
- Flight Officer Gunjan Saxena – She made history by becoming the first woman IAF officer to fly in a combat zone during the Kargil war. She was later honored with the Shurya Vir Award.
- Sqn Ldr. Veena Saharan- The first woman pilot to land heavy lift transport aircraft IL-76 at Leh airfield.
- Sqn Ldr Sneha Shekhawat- The first woman Indian Air Force officer who led a contingent of 144 airmen at the 63rd Republic Day parade down the Raj path.
- Flt Lt. Nivedita Choudhary- The first woman from the Indian Air Force to summit the Mt. Everest.
Study Material For CDS 1 2018