Women in Indian Armed Forces

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Private Begum Pasha Shah (Noor Inayat Khan) of the Women's Auxiliary Corps (India) on duty in the Orderly Room of an RAF station in India, August 1943.
Four women of the Naval Wing of the Women's Auxiliary Corps (India), 1945.

All wings of the Indian Armed Forces allow women in combat roles (junior ranks) and combat supervisory roles (officers), except Indian Army (support roles only) and Special Forces of India (trainer role only) (c. 2017). Indian Air Force had 13.09% and 8.5%, Indian Navy 6% and 2.8% women, and Indian Army 3.80% and 3% in December 2018 and december 2014 respectively.[1][2]


In 1888, the role of women in the Indian army began when the "Indian Military Nursing Service" was formed during the British Raj.[3] During 1914-45, British Indian Army nurses fought in World War I (1914–18) and World War II (1939-45), where 350 British Indian Army nurses either died or were taken prisoner of war or declared missing in action.[3] This includes nurses who died when SS Kuala was sunk by the Japanese bombers in 1942.[3] Women's Auxiliary Corps (India) was formed in May 1942.[4] Noor Inayat Khan, George Cross (2 January 1914 – 13 September 1944), of Indian and American descent, was a British heroine of World War II renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive.[5] Kalyani Sen, a second officer and first Indian service woman who visited the UK, served in the Women's Royal Indian Naval Service of The Royal Indian Navy during World War II.[6]

Indian Army[edit]

A female officer in the Indian Army briefing Russian soldiers during a joint exercise in 2015.

Females are not allowed to serve in combat units like the Infantry, the Armoured corps and Mechanised infantry (c. 2017).

In 1992, the Indian Army began inducting women officers in non-medical roles.[7] On 19 January 2007, the United Nations first all female peacekeeping force made up of 105 Indian policewomen was deployed to Liberia.[8]

Priya Jhingan, commissioned in 1993, is the one of the 25 women to join the Indian Army as an officer. Alka Khurana, also commissioned in 1993, is the first woman from Indian Army to participate in Republic Day Parade and Army Day Parade in 1994 .[9][10][11][12][13] Sapper Shanti Tigga is the first female jawan (private rank) in the Indian Army who joined in 2011.[14] Priya Semwal, joined in 2014, first Army jawan's wife to join as an officer in the armed forces, whose husband had fallen in a counter-insurgency operation near hilly Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in 2012.[14]

Mitali Madhumita (Lieutenant Colonel), commissioned in 2000, is the first woman officer in India to receive a gallantry award,[15] who received the Sena Medal in 2011[15] for exemplary courage shown during the Attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul by terrorists in Kabul, Afghanistan on 26 February 2010,[16] and operations in Jammu-Kashmir[15] and the northeast states.[16][17][18]

Anjana Bhaduria, who joined the first-ever batch of female cadets in 1992 at the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, is the first female officer in the Indian Army to win the Gold Medal. Including her and Priya Jhingan, the first batch of women officers of the Indian Army was commissioned in March 1993.[19][14] Divya Ajith Kumar, commissioned in 2010, is the first female officer to receive Sword of Honor.[20][21] She led all women contingent of 154 women officers and cadets during the Republic Day 2015 parade.[21]

Ganeve Lalji, a third generation Army officer commissioned in the Corps of Military intelligence in 2011, is the first woman to be appointed as a key aide to an Army Commander.[14]

Swati Singh (Captain), an engineer and then only female officer in her 63 Brigade of the Indian Army, is the first female officer to be deployed at Nathu La pass as Signals in-charge.[14]

Sophia Qureshi (Lt. Colonel) of the Corps of Signals is the first female officer to lead a training contingent of the Indian Army at Force 18, the ASEAN Plus multinational field training exercise held in 2016.[14]

Indian Air Force[edit]

Women Pilots of the Indian Air Force

Indian Air Force inducts women in all roles, including combat and support roles. In 1994, women joined the air force as pilots in support role, among them Gunjan Saxena (Flight Officer ) was the first women to fly support sorties in a combat zone during Kargil War (May–July 1999).[14] In 2006, Deepika Misra became first IAF woman pilot to train for the helicopter aerobatic team.[14] In 2012, Nivedita Choudhary (Flight Lieutenant), a Jat from Rajasthan, became the first woman from the Indian Air Force to summit the Mount Everest.[14] In 2015, Indian Air Force opened new combat air force roles for women as fighter pilots, adding to their role as helicopter pilots in the Indian Air Force.[22] In 2015, there were 1,500 women, including 94 pilots and 14 navigators, in the air force.[23]

Indian Navy[edit]

Dr. Punita Arora, commissioned in 1968, is the first woman in the India Navy to reach the second highest rank as the Lieutenant General,[24] and the first female Vice admiral.[25] Padmavathy Bandopadhyay is the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force and the second woman in the Indian armed forces to be promoted to a three-star rank after Lt. General Punita Arora.[14]

Special Forces of India[edit]

Women are not yet allowed as combatant in the combat specialist forces, such as Ghatak Force, Garud Commando Force, MARCOS, para commandos, etc. but they can join paratroopers wings of their respective arms like para EME, para signals, para ASC, etc. (c. 2017).

Dr. Seema Rao, also known as "India's Wonder Woman",[26][27][28] is India's first woman commando trainer,[29][30] having trained over 15,000 Special Forces of India[31][32] (including the NSG Black Cats, MARCOS, GARUD)[33] as full-time guest trainer for 20 years without compensation[33][34] as a pioneer in close quarter battle (CQB).[35][36]

Paramilitary forces of India[edit]

Women in Indian Coast Guard, Assam Rifles and Special Frontier Force.

Indian Coast Guard[edit]

Women can join the Indian Coast Guard in officer ranks as general duty, pilot or law officers.[37] In January 2017, Indian Coast Guard became the first force to deploy four female officers, assistant commandants Anuradha Shukla, Sneha Kathyat, Shirin Chandran and Vasundhara Chouksey, in combat roles on board KV Kuber hovercraft ship patrolling the Indian maritime zone bordering Pakistan and Bangladesh.[38][39]

Assam Rifles[edit]

In April 2016, Assam Rifles inducted a first batch of 100 female soldiers who had undergone year-long training programme and graduated in the passing-out parade at the Assam Rifles Training Centre and School in Shokhuvi in Dimapur district of Nagaland. They will be deployed at Cordon And Search Operation (CASO), Mobile Check Posts (MCP) and road opening operations in various battalions for search, frisking and interrogation of women, crowd control and dispersal of female agitators.[40][41]

Special Frontier Force[edit]

Special Frontier Force, created in 1962 as a most covert and elite Special Force unit as the armed wing of RAW to conduct covert operations behind the Chinese Lines in the event of another Sino-Indian War,[42] inducted 500 female in 1972 for the first time in medical, signals and clerical roles.[43]

Central Armed Police Forces[edit]

Women of the Border Security Force at the Indian Pakistan border

In 1992 Asha Sinha a 1982 Batch IPS Officer became the First Woman Commandant in the Paramilitary forces of India when she was posted as Commandant, Central Industrial Security Force in Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited. In 2018 a IPS Officer Archana Ramasundram of 1980 Batch became the first Woman to become the Director General of Police of a Paramilitary Force as DG, Sashastra Seema Bal. In March 2016, govt allowed direct-entery women officers in all five Central Armed Police Forces, namely Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), allow direct entery to women in junior rank via direct recruitment and also to women officer via Union Public Service Commission in supervisory combat roles.[44] In March 2016, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that women will be inducted in 33% constable-rank personnel in CRPF and CISF and 15% in the border guarding forces BSF, SSB and ITBP.[44]

Central Reserve Police Force[edit]

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) allows women officers in supervisory combat roles since a long time via UPSC route.[44]

Central Industrial Security Force[edit]

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) allows women officers in supervisory combat roles since a long time via UPSC route.[44]

Border Security Force[edit]

Border Security Force (BSF) allowed women officers in supervisory combat roles in 2013.[44]

Sashastra Seema Bal[edit]

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) allowed women officers in supervisory combat roles in 2014.[44]

Indo-Tibetan Border Police[edit]

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) allowed women officers in supervisory combat roles in 2016.[44] About 1.75% (1,500) of 80,000 ITBP personnel are women, mostly in the rank of constables (c. March 2016).[44]

Other Forces[edit]

Women in National Security Guard (NSG), Special Protection Group (SPG), Railway Protection Force (RPF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

National Security Guard[edit]

National Security Guard (NSG) (Black Cat Commandos) inducted female commandos for the first in 2011-12, however the first discrimination they faced was from the then 2 female Chief Ministers, Mayawati and Jayalalitha, who refused to be guarded by the female commandos.[45] In 2015, govt announced that the female NSG Black Cat Commandos, who undergo the same training as their male counterpart, will be deployed in counter-terrorism operations as they also perform VIP protection duties.[46]

Special Protection Group[edit]

Special Protection Group (SPG) inducted female commandos in 2013, and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur became the first SPG protectee to have women commandos.[47][48]

Railway Protection Force[edit]

Railway Protection Force (RPF) has female unit, Shakti Squad. In 2015, 25-year-old Debashmita Chattopadhyay became first female Assistant Security Commissioner (ASC) in RPF who took charge of the Shakti squad of RPF women constables.[49]

National Disaster Response Force[edit]

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) got its first woman commander in 2015 when 40-years old senior Commandant Rekha Nambiar joined the 4th Battalion based in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu to lead 1,000 personnel-strong all-men battalion.[50]

Cultural Influence[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indian Army's shameful treatment of women recruits". NDTV.
  2. ^ Women to comprise 20% of Military Police, The Tribune, 18 Jan 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Indian Army must stop its discrimination against military nurses, Hindustan Times, 13 December 2017.
  4. ^ Perry, Frederick William (1988). The Commonwealth armies: manpower and organisation in two world wars (p.1114). Manchester University Press ND. ISBN 0-7190-2595-8.
  5. ^ "Noor Inayat Khan: remembering Britain's Muslim war heroine," 23 October 2012.
  6. ^ 10 Daredevil Heroes of the Indian Navy You Should Know About, 4 Dec 2016.
  7. ^ Women officers entry
  8. ^ "First All-Female U.N. Peacekeeping Force to Deploy to Liberia". Fox News Channel. 19 January 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  9. ^ "Priya Jhingan army's first woman officer". archive.indianexpress.com. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  10. ^ "List of 'First' Indian women in Indian history". indiatoday.intoday.in. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  11. ^ Dr. Saroj Kumar Singh (2017). Role of Women in India. REDSHINE. ISBN 978-93-86483-09-6.
  12. ^ "First Women". zeenews.india.com. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  13. ^ "Indian women Making India proud". timeskuwait.com. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brave Indian female soldiers.
  15. ^ a b c "Sena Medal for female Army officer". thehindu.com. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  16. ^ a b "Only army woman to win gallantry award fights to stay in the force". hindustantimes.com. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  17. ^ "Lt Col Mithali to remain in service". tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  18. ^ "First woman officer to get Sena medal". timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  19. ^ <https://www.thebetterindia.com/83280/brave-women-soldiers-indian-armed-forces//ref>
  20. ^ "Chennai cadet creates history at OTA passing-out parade". The Hindu. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  21. ^ a b "25-year-old Captain Divya Ajith leads first all-women contingent in Republic Day parade". First Post. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  22. ^ "India paves way for women in military combat roles" Channel NewsAsia 24 Oct 2015
  23. ^ Govt approves induction of women fighter pilots in IAF, Business Standard, 24 Oct 2015.
  24. ^ "The General in Sari". Rediff.
  25. ^ "Navy gets its 1st lady vice-admiral". The Times Of India. 16 June 2005.
  26. ^ "India's wonder woman". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  27. ^ "India's Wonder Woman". The Asian Age. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  28. ^ "India's Wonder Woman Seema Rao: The only Female Combat Trainer in the Country". Being Indian. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  29. ^ "Dr Seema Rao Trains the Special Forces of Indian Armed Force". thebharatmilitaryreview. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  30. ^ "Interview with Dr. Seema Rao". naaree.com. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  31. ^ "India's only female commando trainer". storypick. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
  32. ^ "COMBAT SPECIALIST SEEMA RAO". Verve Magazine. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
  33. ^ a b This Amazing Woman Has Been Training India’s Special Forces for 20 Years without Compensation!, 19 July 2016.
  34. ^ "Shy Another Day". DNA. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  35. ^ "Dr Seema Rao Commando Trainer". indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  36. ^ "Training the Indian Forces". BBC. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  37. ^ Coast guard entery routes for women
  38. ^ In A First, Indian Coast Guard Deploys Female Officers In Combat Roles
  39. ^ Indian Coast Guard deploys female officers in combat roles, Dailymail UK, 31 Jan 2017.
  40. ^ Assam Rifles inducts first batch of 100 women personnel, Economic Times, 7 April 2016.
  41. ^ No longer a male bastion, Assam Rifles gets its first women’s contingent, Hindustan Times, 8 April 2016.
  42. ^ Most Elite and Covert Special Force Unit of Indian Paramilitary – Special Frontier Force (SFF), 4 Oct 2017.
  43. ^ India today story
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h Government allows women to be combat officers in all Central Armed Police Forces, Economic Times, 13 March 2016.
  45. ^ Battle of sexes: NSG loses its last woman commando after she goes on maternity leave, India Today, 29 Oct 2017.
  46. ^ NSG planning to deploy women commandos in anti-terror operations, 17 Oct 2015.
  47. ^ "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife has become the first Special Protection Group (SPG) protectee to have women commandos in her immediate security cordon.", Indian Express, 9 Nov 2013.
  48. ^ PM’s wife first SPG protectee to have women commandos, Indian Express, 18 Feb 2014.
  49. ^ More women personnel in railway stations, trains soon: RPF, Indian Express, 27 Mar 2015.
  50. ^ National Disaster Response Forces (NDRF) gets first woman commander, 14 Aug 2015.
  51. ^ "The Test Case trailer: Nimrat Kaur looks tough as nails in her upcoming web series. Watch video". The Indian Express. 2017-04-07. Retrieved 2018-02-14.

External links[edit]