The following letter was sent to SSBCrack by the female defense aspirants who were recommended but got merit out several times.
On one hand, the entire nation is talking about women empowerment, upliftment of the societal plight of a woman, so that she sees herself at par with her male counterparts, but on a contrary, we would like to bring your kind notice, the almost negligible number of vacancies for women in the Indian Armed Force. We, a group of candidates are writing to you with the hope that you will help us in highlighting the discrimination. Every year 200 seats are declared for IMA and 175 seats for OTA for male candidates through Combined Defence Services Examination (CDS). Whereas we female candidates get only 11 seats to pave our ways. This is not even 10% of total seats. Through CDS 1/2017 only 124 seats are filled out of 150 of IMA, 26 seats are still vacant. Same is the case with OTA, only 181 seats are filled out of 225, 44 seats are still vacant. Whereas 51 girls got recommended to join by the Service Selection Boards (SSB) but only 11 were lucky enough to get through. We feel extremely dejected at the fate of the other 40, who clearly suffered at the hands of their gender.
There are many countries across the world that lay mandate on women serving in their respective Armed Forces, so there is an obvious denial to the so-called biological reasons that are forcefully slapped across our face, whenever we seek an explanation for this prejudice inflicted on us. The actual reasons are never thrown light upon. It is nothing but, the appalling reality, of lack of infrastructure, to train the women, that compels us to hang our heads in shame. The shocking data shared above pertains to only non-technical entries into the Indian Army. The biased nature of the system shows no mercy towards the female candidates in other entries like technical, NCC and JAG, either. Few facts and statistics will pinpoint the exact issue and will make things go smoothly for further consideration. We, hereby, present a few very recent of them with apt details.
Similar is the scenario in the INDIAN NAVY. We girls toil hard day in and day out, leaving behind all the mental, physical, emotional restraints that any defence aspirant has to go through, only to find the wings to our aspirations left chopped after the announcement of any merit. In fact, to an utter dismay, not less than hundreds of seats alloted for the male candidates, go waste due to a very low recommendation rate of the male candidates. Our question to the concerned authorities is why these vacant seats of male candidates can’t be allotted to us? Why can’t we have a combined merit list? We wrote letters to the PM and the Defence Minister, but didn’t get any reply. Nevertheless, we would not stop trying to make ourselves heard. This letter is not like any other ordinary letter. It has been written with a blend of both facts and emotions after a thorough discussion and a detailed study. Before starting with what this letter contains, I would like to draw your attention to the following two facts. 1) The released manifesto of the current Government during 16th Lok Sabha elections, preached ‘SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas’ which is inclusive of the empowerment of women. 2) We get to hear that common people get to directly contact the Government to address their issues and the Government does respond to their grievances. On the lines of both these facts, we too want to express our concern directly to the highest authorities as I believe that the honorable Government of my nation listens to its each citizen. As we voice our concern on behalf of a section of society, a section so small that hardly anyone notices the injustice being done to it, but sir, the dream of this section stands par with the biggest dreams of any other section of society and that is joining the Indian Armed forces. The section we are talking about is that of the ‘FEMALE DEFENCE ASPIRANTS’. Defence Forces are one of the elite services of Government of India. Ever since the induction of women started into the forces, many girls have lived their dream of becoming an officer in the forces. But with the advancements and opportunities, there lies a lack of equality in terms of the number of vacancies. Every year a large number of girls apply for Defence Forces through the available entries but only a mere percentage gets merit in. All candidates, irrespective of the gender reach till the merit after clearing the written exam(some entries are direct also) then, a five day SSB procedure and subsequently the medicals, but for most woman candidates it is just to reach a fate where they are declared as merit out candidates. There are rare chances of boys getting merit out because of two reasons- 1) More number of entries 2) fairly large number of vacancies per entry. We take Combined Defence Services Exam after graduation as part of non tech entry and we cover the same syllabus (except mathematics, which is not required for OTA) and put same amount of effort and all we get is one choice that is Officer Training Academy. We would like to draw attention to the fact that every year, so many seats are left vacant which are declared for boys because of less no. of them getting recommended. These seats could be allotted to potential female candidates who miss to be a part of the merit because of very less vacancies. To make this more understandable, the number of vacancies declared for boys in the following three elite training institutes almost a total of 2850.
Just the data from only three academies and the number goes to nearly three thousand. Whereas, for women candidatesit is a small number of 50 only. Not even 2% of the male’s vacancies from three academies. But the more disheartening reality is that out of all the seats which are declared for boys per year, just 50-60% get fulfilled. The central issue of our concern is not that the seats for men are more but the fact that for women it is too less. When IBN Live released a news report on one of Rajya Sabha sessions where honorable Defence Minister quoted that, ‘ There is a shortage of officers in Defence Forces. There is a shortage of 9, 106 officers in Indian Army and Indian Navy faces a shortage of 1467 officers’. If there is a shortage of officers in Indian Army then why girls are facing a merit out after getting recommended and being declared physically and medically fit. The idea of an Officer is extremely gendered and it’s high time to break grounds and stereotypes.
In IMA there were 150 vacancies through 1/2017 CDS out of which only 124 were filled. It is evident that many seats go vacant as there is a shortage of potential male candidates. Now let’s consider the case of Merit Out girls candidates in 1/2017 CDS entry – 40, Technical entry – 16, NCC entry- 30, JAG Entry – 24. A total of 110 girls could not join academy and the reason is quoted above.
The SSB declared them recommended along with the medical board declaring them fit for forces. Then why merit out? It’s because of lack of infrastructure to train them which is surely not a step towards development and empowerment.
The shortage of officers in Indian Army is not due to lack of deserving candidates but because of lack of infrastructure in terms of academies to train the potential recommended candidates. We have a few possible suggestions coming out of our limited experience-
1) Increasing the number of entries and also vacancies per entry in the Armed Forces.
2) Release a combined merit list so that lady candidates can compete for all seats and not just for a small number like 35-40.
3) Transfer vacant seats of male candidates to potential female candidates to reduce merit out cases which is a very high number among girls. Or a similar privilege of being called from the other Force if merit out from one of the Forces.
4) Lady Cadets should be allowed to get trained in IMA Dehradun also. If OTA Gaya can be established in three months than IMA can also be equipped in one month with the facilities to train lady cadets.
Also, there is one argument which we listen very often, it is that lady cadets and officers need to be given special facilities like proper accommodation, toilets etc., but we are assuring you that we are here to become soldiers and not on some leisure trip where we want all the luxuries of life. On behalf of all the women aspirants we assure that we don’t want any special treatment or facilities. We are docile enough to be trained to be both mentally and physically to live in & with exactly the same environment and facilities as our male counterparts are.
Our only concern is to get inducted into the Forces on the basis of performance and combined merit. Getting merit out shatters the dreams of many of us, when we are equally competent to render our services to the nation. Many of us aspire to be like Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi, Capt Divya Ajith Kumar, Wing Cdr Pooja Thakur etc. Such aspirations can only get wings if the Government tends to increase the seats for women candidates in all the three services. We appreciate that the Government is working towards all round development but the disparity in defence forces is now a major concern. Many of us have been recommended 6 times and are nearing our last attempts to be a part of the Forces. Many dreams don’t get a chance to turn into reality because of this. Kindly let hardwork triumph over luck. Not alone Beti Bachao Beti Padhhao is the need of hour but actualy “Beti Bachao Beti Padhhao Beti ko Aage Badhhao” is what we girls need because simply reducing the female feticides and educating the girls won’t bring any good unless their future is secured from all kinds of disparity. What fears us is that the Governmental policies and the language of the politicians is phallogocentric and women being equally good while performing in the SSB’s, securing a better recommendation rate has served us, even now, no right of demanding more seats in the Forces. What pains us is the fact that the high recommendation rate viz. the potential of being an officer is approved by the highest authority, the SSB; we are sought to be labeled with a natural ability of putting across and thoughts, commands and ideas into action. I argue if the ability is so NATURAL, then why are we being stopped from being the Officers that we could become After acquainting you with all the possible known areas which require your immediate attention, it’s a kind request for some policy intervention and please kindly look into the matter and please offer all the female defence aspirants a hope of keeping their dream of becoming an officer in defence forces alive as one fine day it will be a reality.
Note: SSBCrack has not verified the data mentioned in this letter.
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