The presence of women in combat roles is a matter of mindset, and what better place to change it than the Indian Army?
The issue for the Army to ponder is not whether women can be inducted into combat roles, but how to make it happen. Otherwise, it is a matter of time before India’s legal system forces the Army’s hand. It has already done so in the case of granting a permanent commission to women. Moreover, the IAF has already inducted three women fighter pilots and the Indian Navy recently confirmed that induction of women as sailors was under consideration.
Arguably, the field conditions in the Army are much more rugged and proximity to comrades and adversary poses greater challenges. But the point is that if women volunteer despite these challenges, the Army should not resist. The cultural argument put forward by the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) that the rank and file, who are mostly of rural origin, may not be ready to accept a woman as their officer could be true but is surely not an immutable condition.
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