For the first time in history, women are part of the disaster combat force in India. Over the last few months, more than 100 women have been inducted into the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) – which claims to be the world’s largest specialised disaster response force and was an all-male entity till now. The new entrant all-women team are taking charge as rescuers as well as combatants; they are ranked as constables and sub officers (sub inspectors and inspectors).
According to media reports, the initial deployment of the women’s team was for contingency duties on the banks of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh's Garh Mukteshwar town recently, and the women handled rescue boats and related equipment, just like their male counterparts would do.
The Hindu has stated that the move to include women personnel in the NDRF combat ranks has been in the works for some time. It has quoted NDRF Director General S N Pradhan saying that different battalions of the all-women team are being deputed across the country post pre-induction course and training. He has also said that the number of women in the force will cross 200 very soon.
According to the NDRF rules, each NDRF battalion - of over 1,000 personnel - can have 108 woman rescuers.( The NDRF currently has 12 battalions across the country.)
"We can deploy both components of an all-woman NDRF team or a mix squad of male and female personnel for responding to a situation. We prefer the second because if there is complement of women personnel it makes a great difference on the ground where women, children and old persons are being rescued," Pradhan has said, according to The Hindu.
According to him, the response to the women’s team has been positive, and their skillsets can be particularly leveraged in situations where women are the victims.