The reasoning Army Chief Bipin Rawat gave is that women need to be “prepared for that kind of hardships” and that facilities need to be created if women are to be allowed in combat roles.

India not ready for women in combat roles Army Chief Bipin RawatPTI photo
news Gender Saturday, December 01, 2018 - 13:11

In June 2017, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat had said that he would looking at women joining as jawans and in combat roles. “I am going to start it soon,” he had said. That seems to have come to naught though, because the Army Chief recently said that India was not ready for having women in combat roles.

The reasoning Rawat gave is that women need to be “prepared for that kind of hardships” and that facilities need to be created if women are to be allowed in combat roles. “It is not easy. Let us not compare ourselves with Western nations, which are more open,” he told media persons at the occasion of the Passing Out Parade of the 135th batch of the National Defence Academy in Pune.

Another justification for withholding combat roles from women, according to the Army Chief, is because most of the army personnel – men – are not used to intermingling with women. He said that while there may be more openness in big cities, most army personnel do not come from there. “They are coming from rural areas too, where the intermingling, which is expected, is still not there,” he said. 

General Rawat added, however, that the Indian Army was looking at inducting women in other roles, like interpreters. This too, because in a “command-oriented” army, male officers could not fit the bill everywhere. “The Army needs language interpreters as military diplomacy is gaining ground. The basic requirement is understanding the language while talking to other nations, military to military. So we are looking for women as interpreters,” he said.

This also comes after Defence Minister Nirmala Sithraman, the first woman to hold that position, announced in September 2017 that she would look at inducting women in combat roles and not as a matter of patronage.

 

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