Till now people would have thought that discrimination against women was limited to the mindsets of people or in the social customs and practices but this is a rather shocking fact about a government policy which still exists and is being followed till date by the Indian Army very religiously. The policy in question is that of , women officers of the Indian Army being forcefully retired after 14 years of service without any pension as minimum service of 15 years is required for pension where as their male counterparts can serve till 20 years and beyond. This happens in a country whose Constitution guarantees equality at workplace without any discrimination based on class,gender or sex.(Article 21 of the Constitution of India)
But few of these women officers decided to fight and this is what happened.The headlines of all the leading dailies of Saturday, March 13 th 2010,were praising these women officers after their consecutive wins ,first in the Rajya Sabha and then in the Delhi High Court which passed the judgement for granting these women officers Permanent Commission(20 years of service) and reinstating them in service after they were forcefully retired.
Kudos ! to women and to the fact that women of India have realized that no”knight in shining Armour” will come their way and fight for them.They have understood that the road to revolution may be less travel led but its their only and final option.
The High Court of Delhi observed that”if male officers can be granted Permanent Commission while performing those tasks,there is no reason why equally capable women officers cannot be granted Permanent Commission”. Even the High Court thinks that women officers are equally capable but what about the Indian De fence Forces? On one hand a high ranking officer of the Indian Army Lt Gen Pattabhiraman said”We can do without them”(here them refers to women officers)and on the other hand the forces crib of shortage of officers which clearly spells for itself how gender biased the Indian De fence Forces are.
And this gender discrimination does not end here,the list is endless.The Indian De fence Forces do not want to grant Permanent Commission to women officers due to what they call operational,practical and cultural problems.They do not want women to operate in combat roles or combat zones.Also they do not observe sexual harassment as an offense since there is no provision for the same in the Army Act of 1950,which is applied on all defense personnel and any case of sexual harassment is very conveniently put under the Army Act of “unbecoming conduct”.
Women are not allowed on warships and cannot fly fighter planes and the reason which is given is that women have fragile bodies which cannot endure the G of a fighter plane and that women cannot perform efficiently under pressures of the war zone.All the above points are the so called facts which have been widely publicized but there are some more facts which are not that widely known and which need to be circulated.
Sgt Kelly Donovan of the US Air force stated that” Military is a male institution and women are evaluated on pre-concieved gender biases rather than their actual merits as people.
In India ,the induction of women in the Indian Army started in 1992 but women in military have a history extending over 4000 years into the past which is not a very well known fact.
Also for also those who think that women cannot operate in military or in the combat zone ,there is one more glaring fact that 800,000 women served in the Soviet military during World War II of which nearly 70% saw front line combat.Moreover countries like New Zealand,Canada,Denmark,Finland,France,Germany,Norway,Israel,Sweden and Switzerland permit women to fill up combat roles.
So why the Indian De fence Forces especially the Indian Army opposes anything and everything which is related to women officers?Is it actually some operational ,practical and cultural problem which the Army is facing because of women or it is just a mindset of a chauvinistic Army which gets threatened by the situation where power has to be shared and that too with women.
Whatever the case maybe change is inevitable and indomitable and those who do not change ,perish!