In a first, women might be considered in non-officer ranks by the Indian Navy

Gradually but unwaveringly things are changing for the women of independent India

With the enrollment of women in non-officer cadre being one of the top agenda’s of the three-day Naval Commanders’ conference that concluded Friday, Navy’s Chief Admiral, Sunil Lanba confirmed that women may be able to join the Indian Navy as sailors in the future.

While addressing the Naval Commanders on Friday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asked the top-brass of the Indian Navy to give more impetus to enrollment of women in the Navy.

The deployment of women on warships is also being looked into as per reports.

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The Navy until now, has 639 women officers (including 148 doctors). The only combat-related role they have is as ‘observors’ on the maritime reconnaissance aircraft the Boeing P8-I, the IL-38 and the Dornier. Women officers are also in logistics, law, education and naval constructors, etc.

The navy is not the only service exploring the possibility of inducting women in the non-officer cadre. The army is working on a plan to recruit 800 women in the military police.

So far, the armed forces do not have women in non-officer ranks. However, in March this year, the Army announced that it will start recruiting women in other ranks in the Corps of Military Police.

The Indian Air Force is yet to consider recruiting women below the officer rank, although it was the first service to lift a combat ban on women in October 2015 to allow them to fly fighter planes. Six women have already been commissioned as fighter pilots.

Wing Commander Anupama Joshi (retd), from the first batch of women officers, commissioned into the IAF in the early 1990s pleased with this news said, “Allowing women to join the navy as sailors will be fantastic. If women have been around in para-military forces for years, what stops the armed forces from inducting them in the non-officer cadre. The IAF should also move in this direction now. The armed forces are the safest place for women to work,” she added.

Gradually but unwaveringly things are changing for the women of independent India. In a first, a small yet very significant change had happened inside the premises of the Red Fort, as India celebrated its 71st Independence. It was the first time in independent India that an ‘all female’ SWAT team was part of the security apparatus protecting the venue.

Similarly, in a first of its kind expedition by Indian Navy, Navika Sagar Parikrama -an all-women crew was flagged off by the country’s Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman from Goa On September 10, 2017. The brave women completed this historic journey in eight months by sailing around the world on the Indian Naval Sailing Vehicle (INSV) Tarini.

Reportedly, this was the first time that a woman military crew circumnavigated the globe without passing any canals or straits. Recognising their commendable determination and strength, the government of India awarded Nao Sena medals to the crew members on the eve of the Independence Day.

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