New Delhi, August 16: Four months after the Centre told the Supreme Court that it was considering granting permanent commission (PC) to short service commission (SSC) women Army officers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday made an official announcement to this effect.
This will change the career paths of a few hundred serving women officers in the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF) besides opening the doors of opportunity for women who may join in the future.
The PM during his Independence Day address from the Red Fort said, “Women officers who have been selected through the Short Service Commission in our defence forces will now have the option to take up permanent commission.”
Women officers would get the same opportunities as their male counterparts, he added.
In the Army, there are two separate entry streams for both men and women. One is the direct permanent commission allowed to men in all streams and to women only in select streams like JAG, Army Education Corps (AEC) and the Military Police.
The scope is broader for women in the SSC—the option is to work for 10 or 14 years—they are allowed entry into Army Service Corps, Ordnance, Education Corps, JAG, Engineers, Signals, Intelligence and Electrical & Mechanical Engineering branches.
Men, who join the SSC, on same service rules as women, are given an option after 14 years to become regular commissioned officers of the Army and compete for ranks of Colonel, Brigadier, Maj General and Lieut General. Women do not have the option, so Modi has announced a change in that.
However, since women so far are not allowed in direct combat arms like Infantry, Armoured, Mechanised Infantry, Aviation and Artillery, the move will not change the existing set-up in these branches.
The same two-stream entry formula applies to the IAF and the Navy; however, both have opened up some combat roles for women. The IAF has pioneered the entry of women as officers in flying and ground duty. In the IAF, women SSC officers are helicopter pilots, transport pilots and now even fighter pilots, besides being law officers, and in education and intelligence branches.
In Navy, women officers are inducted through SSC in Logistics, Law, Observers, Air Traffic Control (ATC), Pilots (Maritime Reconnaissance Stream), Naval Armament Inspectorate cadre (NAIC), Naval Architecture and Education Branch.
There are 1,561 women officers in the Army, 1,594 in the IAF and 644 in the Navy.
Women are recruited only as officers and not as troops.
Source Tribune India