Women in Indian Armed Forces
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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 History
- 2 Indian Army
- 3 Indian Air Force
- 4 Indian Navy
- 5 Special Forces of India
- 6 Paramilitary forces of India
- 7 Central Armed Police Forces
- 8 Other Forces
- 9 Cultural Influence
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
In 1888, the role of women in the Indian army began when the "Indian Military Nursing Service" was formed during the British Raj. 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. This includes nurses who died when SS Kuala was sunk by the Japanese bombers in 1942. Women's Auxiliary Corps (India) was formed in May 1942. 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. 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.
In 1992, the Indian Army began inducting women officers in non-medical roles. On 19 January 2007, the United Nations first all female peacekeeping force made up of 105 Indian policewomen was deployed to Liberia.
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 . Sapper Shanti Tigga is the first female jawan (private rank) in the Indian Army who joined in 2011. 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.
Mitali Madhumita (Lieutenant Colonel), commissioned in 2000, is the first woman officer in India to receive a gallantry award, who received the Sena Medal in 2011 for exemplary courage shown during the Attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul by terrorists in Kabul, Afghanistan on 26 February 2010, and operations in Jammu-Kashmir and the northeast states.
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. Divya Ajith Kumar, commissioned in 2010, is the first female officer to receive Sword of Honor. She led all women contingent of 154 women officers and cadets during the Republic Day 2015 parade.
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.
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). In 2006, Deepika Misra became first IAF woman pilot to train for the helicopter aerobatic team. In 2012, Nivedita Choudhary (Flight Lieutenant), a Jat from Rajasthan, became the first woman from the Indian Air Force to summit the Mount Everest. 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. In 2015, there were 1,500 women, including 94 pilots and 14 navigators, in the air force.
Dr. Punita Arora, commissioned in 1968, is the first woman in the India Navy to reach the second highest rank as the Lieutenant General, and the first female Vice admiral. 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.
Special Forces of India
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", is India's first woman commando trainer, having trained over 15,000 Special Forces of India (including the NSG Black Cats, MARCOS, GARUD) as full-time guest trainer for 20 years without compensation as a pioneer in close quarter battle (CQB).
Paramilitary forces of India
Indian Coast Guard
Women can join the Indian Coast Guard in officer ranks as general duty, pilot or law officers. 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.
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.
Special Frontier Force
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, inducted 500 female in 1972 for the first time in medical, signals and clerical roles.
Central Armed Police Forces
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. 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.
Central Reserve Police Force
Central Industrial Security Force
Border Security Force
Sashastra Seema Bal
Indo-Tibetan Border Police
Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) allowed women officers in supervisory combat roles in 2016. About 1.75% (1,500) of 80,000 ITBP personnel are women, mostly in the rank of constables (c. March 2016).
National Security Guard
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. 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.
Special Protection Group
Railway Protection Force
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.
National Disaster Response Force
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.
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- Assam Rifles inducts first batch of 100 women personnel, Economic Times, 7 April 2016.
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- India today story
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- "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.
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- More women personnel in railway stations, trains soon: RPF, Indian Express, 27 Mar 2015.
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