Army Today

Women happy to be serving in the Indian Army

Pallu (Rajasthan), May 3: Two women officers of the Indian Army say they are very happy to be serving in uniform and acquiring financial independence and that the majority of women in service - nearly 1,500 - share their views. "I fit in as well as any other officer," Captain Manul Singh, the only woman officer to have served in the Siachen Glacier, a battleground between Indian and Pakistani troops for over decades in the snow-bound Himalayas, said. "The army has made me financially independent," Lieutenant Ramandeep, who uses only one name, maintained. The two officers were speaking here on the sidelines of a war game here after being felicitated by Indian Army Chief, General JJ Singh, for their sporting achievements. Pallu is located some 400 km from the Rajasthani capital of Jaipur. Captain Manul Singh is a national-level skier, while Lieutenant Ramandeep has performed creditably on the shooting ranges and has even represented the country abroad.


"Today, what I am is because of what the army has made me," declared Lieutenant Ramandeep, who belongs to the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) and represented India at the World Shooting Championships in Norway in 2006. Fifty countries participated in the event. "The army has definitely made a difference to my life. It has made me financially independent," she added. "The army has given me a lot of exposure which would not have happened had I been in any other place," said Lieutenant Ramandeep, who belongs to Jalandhar in Punjab and was inducted as a Short Service Commission (SSC) officer from Chennai's Officer's Training Academy (OTA) in 2005. Two months later, she volunteered for an army inter-command trial and was selected for further training in the 25 meters sports pistol event at the Army Marksmanship School at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. This helped her prepare for the Norway championships. As for interacting with male colleagues, she said she had no complaints. "I receive respect in equal measure as an officer and a lady. I'm happy about that," she added.

Captain Manul Singh won a silver medal at the National Alpine Skiing Championships earlier this year. She was also the first reserve for the Asian Skiing Championships in China in January-February. "It is very satisfying to be in the army. I have got the kind of exposure I might never have otherwise got," she maintained. Captain Singh belongs to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. She was commissioned as an SSC officer from the OTA and was assigned the Army Service Corps (ASC). She volunteered for a skiing course at the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) at Manali in Himachal Pradesh, one of 25 women officers to do so. She was the only one to be selected after a vigorous screening test that lasted a month. "Skiing is one of the most expensive sports. It also requires high levels of physical fitness. In both cases, the army has been a great mentor," Captain Singh maintained. Did she feel uncomfortable serving in a largely male-dominated army? "Not at all. I fit in as well as any other officer," she retorted. Both maintained that the majority of women officers in uniform shared their views.

There have been reports in the past few months about dissatisfaction among the army's women officers. These apart, the suicide of a woman officer apparently over the mundane duties assigned to her had made headlines around the country. The army is currently trying a retired woman officer for corruption. The air force dismissed a woman officer on the same charge last year. Both cases are firsts for the armed forces. Women serve in the Indian Army's support arms like the ASC, the AOC and the Corps of Signals. Women constitute the backbone of the Army Medical Corps (AMC) and the Military Nursing Service (MNS) in which they are granted permanent commissions and have risen to the rank of three-star generals. There have been demands that permanent commissions be granted to women in the other arms too - and that women also be inducted into combat arms like the infantry, the armoured corps and the artillery. The Chiefs of Staff Committee that comprises the heads of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force had studied the demand last year and concluded that it would be a while before this happened. A total of 1,468 women, not including those in the Armed Forces Medical Services, currently serve in the military - 918 in the army (out of a total of 40,000 officers), 100 in the navy (6,000 officers), and 454 in the air force (15,000 officers).

Andhra Cafe - 03 May 2007

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