What does empowerment/bravery have to do with gender?

Not making women Commandant Officers in the army is simply prejudice and fear of the fraternity of male officers.

The argument made by the Solicitor General in the Supreme Court that women officers of the Indian Army cannot be made as Commandants because male soldiers will not obey their orders is in fact irrational. In 1992, women were first included in the Armed Forces through the Short Service Commission. This service is of 10 years which can be extended up to 14 years.

They train in OTA Chennai and work shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. Their posting takes place at risky, rough and tough areas, whether it borders Kashmir or as a UN Peacekeeper, Libya and Congo. In areas bordering Pakistan and in the North East, there are hardly 4-5 officers and even sometimes just a sole woman officer with her male soldiers.

The question is when the head of NCC battalion of over 800 girls can be a male commandant, then why can’t a woman be the commandant of that battalion? The argument that the physical difference in women makes them less capable of the military is ridiculous. Whether the fighter is at the junior level or senior position.

There is no need for more or less muscle power anywhere. At the senior level, job profile supervision, strategy making and decision making have to be done. An order issued by the Ministry of Defense on 25 February 2019 calls for giving a permanent commission to women in the army from the date of the order. But this leaves off the demand of women who have served the country for 24-25 years and most of them have crossed 40 years of their age.

It is necessary that the policies of the government should be proposed considering those who are currently the officers in the army and should not be made considering the future. Now that the time has come for these high-ranking women officers to be given their right to serve in high positions, the appellant suspects that selective 332 women officers, who are just 4% of their entire capacity, will purloin the vacant positions at a higher level in the military. This is nothing but prejudice and fear of the fraternity of male officers.

The Army considers women officers as an effective workforce for lower-level positions which extends up to 14 years of service and considers them incompetent and unfit for the Commandant level, which is a culmination of hypocrisy. People argue that this battle is parallel to fighting against the government. But they have to understand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that women should be taken for bureaucracy and all senior positions of government. The Prime Minister’s words are political volition.

It should be believed that a person’s rank or role in life should be according to integrity and merits. On the one hand, we send Captain Tanya Shergill in the Republic Day Parade to lead the contingent and on the other hand, we argue in the Supreme Court that she is not entitled to be a commandant in the army. This reflects the military’s dual policy towards its people. The fight is not against the government but against the misconception and mindset of bureaucracy.

Our women officers have suffered sentimental throbs during their 25-year job. To be sidelined despite having the ability, the lack of job security due to the ambiguous cadre status and working below the 6 batch Junior Officer affects the morale of giving 100 per cent for the service. The argument that can be made in favour of these women officers is that the mode of war in the world is changing. The world is evolving in a cyber age and even wars are not left rearwardly. Signal communication has to govern in ever-increasing adverse surroundings.

New technologies and methods of demolition are being prepared every day. And analytical skills are more than the physical ability to deal with them. Women are making missiles in DRDO and Chandrayaan in ISRO, then why can’t they command a battalion? We all know the answers to these questions. This idea needs to attain policies.

Men and women live in the same bunker in the army. Once a woman or a man joins the army, he/she is just a fighter, apart from gender. It is only the qualification that should decide their position in the service. Are women kept in the army only as fancy chunks? So that the army is not labelled as ‘men zone.’

And they only maintain a women-men ratio so that the data can be shown internationally.
How is heroism related to gender? When a woman can handle the election campaign of Srinagar, which is currently the most unstable area in the world, without being in the army, then why can’t women handle the commandant’s charge?

A woman can be second in command but not a commandant because women can perform in the army only as long as they do not hurt the ego and arrogance of men. However, when we look at the other side of the coin, there are some false feminists who have used the card of family and child care responsibility to deny the call of duty. There was a case when a female officer refused to go to Nagpur to court-martial because she had to take care of her newborn. Such excuses should be condemned.

If the Supreme Court and the government feel that women are not competent for combat or defence service because they are women, then their entry into the service should be stopped altogether. But Punita Arora, Padmavati Bandopadhyay, Mitali Madhumita, Priya Jhingan and Tanya Shergill prove all those arguments wrong. High positions are being demanded as rights, not in charity.

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