- Historically, the armed forces employed women only as doctors or nurses, and started allowing them to serve as short service commission officers in the 1990s.
- The Indian military has refused women entry into combat arms, as well as the option of equal career opportunities, citing various reasons, including the possibility of their being captured prisoners of war or the difficulties involved in some of the jobs.
- The IAF leadership has over the years argued against induction of women as fighter pilots citing the prohibitive cost of training a fighter pilot, over Rs.13 crore, and the concern that women officers could get married, have children, and thus disrupt their careers before the investment is fully recovered. The IAF now has around 1,500 women officers, of whom 94 are pilots and 14 navigators.
- Over the years, women officers have filed several cases challenging discrimination they allegedly suffer at workplace, including denial of permanent commission and entry into combat arms.
- Data presented to Parliament by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in August said the armed forces had granted permanent commission to 340 women officers. The number is miniscule, given the fact that the military has over 60,000 commissioned officers.
- Several countries allow women into combat duties, including as fighter pilots. Pakistan, the UAE, Israel, the U.K., Canada, Germany and the U.S. already allow women into combat roles.
HC orders and consequence
- In recent years, the Delhi High Court issued two landmark orders: one in 2010, allowing permanent commission to them in both the Army and the Air Force, and the second, last month, when a similar order was issued for the Navy.
- The Ministry of Defence said it had taken up “a comprehensive review pertaining to induction of women in the armed forces, both in short-service commission and permanent commission and once finalised more and more branches would be opened up for induction of women to give them the space which they deserve in the armed forces of the country.”
Entry to IAF combat stream
- The Ministry has approved the induction of women into the fighter [combat] stream of the IAF
- The decision came just two weeks after the IAF chief made the surprise announcement during the Air Force Day celebrations on October 8. The induction of women into the fighter stream would be the first formal entry of women into combat role with any arm of the military
- The Defence Ministry statement said the first women pilots for flying fighters would be selected from the batch now undergoing training at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal, near Hyderabad.
- After successful completion of ab-initio training, they will be commissioned into the fighter stream in June 2016.
Navy opens doors to women pilots
- After the Indian Air Force announced that it will induct women as fighter pilots, the Navy has decided to allow women pilots in various streams.
- However, for now they will be shore-based till necessary infrastructural needs are addressed.
- The Army and Navy are also looking into the issue of appointing women in combat roles.
- All flying areas in the Navy will be opened for women except where it requires staying overnight on ships like carriers and so on
- Women will be given equal status as long as there are no logistical, infrastructure and training issues.
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