Over the last few days, women officers have taken on significant roles in the Indian Navy, Air Force, and Army.
For the first time ever, two women officers - Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi, and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh – are to be deployed on Navy warships, as part of the crew. Traditionally, women in the naval services were restricted to fixing wing aircrafts, but finally winds of change have begun to blow. The two women officers, who are Engineering graduates in Computer Science, were commissioned into the Navy in 2018. Both women are expected to fly the navy’s MH-60 R helicopters, which are among the world’s most advanced machines and can detect enemy submarines and ships.
The two women officers recently passed out of the Navy’s Observer Course at a ceremony that was held at INS Garuda. Apart from them, two others, Sub Lt. Afnan Sheikh and Sub Lt. Kreeshma R, will be operating the fixed-wing aircraft of the Navy.
Fighter Pilot in Air Force Rafale Fleet
In another historic move, a woman fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force is all set to join the newly-inducted Rafale fighter fleet, as part of its crew. The shortlisted pilot has been selected from a group of 10 women pilots, after a stringent process. Although her name has not been disclosed, media reports state that the woman pilot has been flying MiG-21 fighters and was selected to join the Ambala-based Golden Arrows squadron operating the Rafale jets. She will be joining the five male fighter pilots of the squadron in Ambala.
Earlier in 2018, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi made news by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. She was a part of a three-member women team that were commissioned as flying officers in July 2016. The other two women were Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh.
According to reports, the Indian Air Force has 10 women fighter pilots and 18 women navigators. The total strength of women in the IAF is 1,875.
Women Officers Screened For Permanent Commission
Recently, the Indian Army also began screening women officers for permanent commission, after a special screening board was constituted for the purpose. This follows the Supreme Court's landmark verdict in February this year, which allowed all women officers to seek permanent commission in the Army.
The Board has a senior general officer and a woman officer of a Brigadier rank as members.
Women officers who had joined the Army through the Women Special Entry Scheme and Short Service Commission Women are eligible for permanent commission. The candidates were asked to submit their application forms, option certificate and other documents to Army Headquarters by August 31, 2020. According to recent figures, there are 1,653 women officers in the army, out of a total of 43,000 officers.
(Edited by Athira Nair)