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Women to be trained on par with men at the NDA

Context:

Chief of the Army Staff said that the training of women at the NDA will be on par with the men.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance, GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent developments regarding Women in NDA
  2. Background on Women in defence services
  3. About the Supreme Court Judgement on Permanent Commission
  4. Important Observations in the SC Judgement on Permanent Commission for women
  5. Gender equality without adhering to any bias

About the recent developments regarding Women in NDA

  • The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in September 2021, sought applications from women to appear in the examination for entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Naval Academy.
  • Physical standards and the number of vacancies for women candidates would be notified after it is received from the Ministry of Defence.
  • That comes after the Supreme Court passed the judgement for the induction of female candidates into the National Defence Academy (NDA) without any delay / postponement (as request by the Centre).
  • The admission of the women candidates in the national defence academy and naval academy examination (II), 2021, will remain provisional and subject to the final outcome of a writ petition pending in the court or such other order(s) as may be passed by the Supreme Court and action by the government.

Background on Women in defence services

% of women officers is more in Indian air force than army and navy.

 2017201820192020
Indian Army94981936401
Indian Air Force59595100
Indian Navy57385418 (in progress)
  • Indian Army is committed to comply to the judgement of Hon’ble Superme Court passed on 17th February, 2020 granting permanent commission to the women officers as per their qualification, professional experience, specialization, if any and organization requirement.
  • The commanding posts in the Indian Air Force (IAF) are decided purely on merit basis.  There is no embargo for detailment of women officers for Commanding Officers’ post in the IAF.
  • Male and female officers inducted into the Navy in various Branches/Cadres/Specialisations under similar schemes are treated at par and without discrimination for posting/billeting.

About the Supreme Court Judgement on Permanent Commission

  • The Supreme Court had ruled on February 2020, that the Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers are eligible for the permanent commission and command posts in the Army irrespective of their years of service.
  • The verdict came on a nearly 10-year-old appeal filed by the government against the 2010 decision of the Delhi High Court to grant SSC women officers permanent commission.
  • The court ordered the government to implement its judgment in three months.
  • The court dismissed the government’s stand that only women officers with less than 14 years of service ought to be considered for permanent commission, and those with over 20 years of service should be pensioned immediately.
  • The court has done away with all discrimination on the basis of years of service for grant of PC in 10 streams of combat support arms and services, bringing them on a par with male officers.
  • Later the Supreme Court on March 2020, upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted permanent commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts.

Important Observations in the SC Judgement on Permanent Commission for women

  • The Supreme Court dismissed the Union government’s submissions that women are physiologically weaker than men as a “sex stereotype” and declared that Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers are eligible for permanent commission and command posts in the Army irrespective of their years of service.
  • All the “excuses” given against the Permanent Commission for women- including motherhood and physiological limitations, reeked of a stereotypical mind-set.
  • The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind.

Gender equality without adhering to any bias

  • The spirit of the order is the principle of non-discrimination. According to Article 16, Gender only cannot serve as the basis for inequitable and unequal treatment in any sphere, including in defence forces.
  • It also held that right to equality under Article 14 needs to be prescribed by a right to rationality that forbids any “blanket” and “absolute” prohibition.
  • There are examples of women soldiers in combat roles like in Israel, Germany, US and Australia.
  • This gender equality can be achieved by establishing professional standards and adhering to them without any bias.
  • The framework for the induction of women should be incorporated into a policy. As for the concern of preserving the female officers’ modesty and dignity, there should be elaborate codes of conduct to ensure no adverse incident occurs.

-Source: The Hindu

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