National Defence Academy (NDA) now opens up for women

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NDA entry allowance, a milestone for willing female candidates. Women are now allowed to enrol for permanent commission in the armed forces. 

The Union Government told the Supreme Court that the army forces have agreed to induct women in armed forces through permanent commission. The Additional Solicitor General of India, Aishwarya Bhati, said that the idea was developing in the minds for so long but now can be implemented.

According to an article by First Post, the ASG told the Supreme Court bench that the discussion would start in two weeks. A plea was filed in the apex court by advocate Kush Kalra challenging the gender inequality in the armed forces and NDA.

An article published by Indian Legal states the petition said that the number of women in the army force is too low. It added that NDA does not enrol qualified and willing women, which signifies gender bias against women.

In 2020, the Union Government’s lawyers told the Supreme Court that women aren’t fit to send on the front line, and the male soldiers are not used to taking commands from female officers. They even added that women are mothers and have families to look after. Hence it is not feasible to enrol women in combat roles.

On this, a military historian Srinath Raghavan said that this proves the point of colonial rulers that the Indian military will never accept Indian commanders. BBC published the statement. 

Strength of women officers in Army

Women only constitute 0.56% of the Indian army total strength of 1.4 million military personnel. In July 2020, the number of women soldiers was 1,672, according to Army officials. In an article in Hindustan Times, Captain Tyagi said women could not join the infantry, armoured corps, and other fighting arms, although more women are willing to take up these roles.

Except for the Army, Indian women have been inducted into the armed forces since 1992 as Short Service Commission (SSC). Women have been in the air force and have flown fighter jets, stated BBC. 

Last month the Supreme Court allowed women candidates to sit for the NDA exam scheduled for September 5 and had criticized the Indian Army for discriminating based on gender. Today the Additional Solicitor General allowed female candidates to sit for NDA exams on November 24, reported ANI.   

What is Permanent Commission (PS)

According to the Indian Army official page, Permanent Commission means a serving period in the Army till retirement. For that, candidates must join the National Defence Academy or the Indian Military Academy.

Anita, aspiring to make a space in the armed forces, was denied entry into the National Defence Academy. She wrote an application to the Supreme Court bench.

The Army’s legal and educational wings are the only exceptions where women have held permanent commissions since 2008. According to the BBC, women have even worked in the Army as doctors, nurses, engineers, and signallers. 

In 2019, the government agreed to give permanent commissions to women on the condition that it will apply to women who have served less than 14 years, stating old age as a concerning reason. There have been advancements in defence forces over the years. Last year a 24-year-old woman became the navy’s first maritime reconnaissance pilot.

Women have been performing well in all spheres, most recently in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. If women can perform well for the country in sports, they can surely stand firm on the frontline. They need to be ‘cocooned’ from the eyes of other soldiers, Army chief Bipin Rawat said.

Justice MM Sundresh, part of the bench, said that it is a good decision for army heads, but reforms take time, he added, indicating that the discussions will start next week, reported by The News Minute.  

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