Supreme Court Orders Equal Roles for Indian Women in the Army

The government recently said that Indian soldiers were not ready to accept orders from women in senior roles because many of them come from rural areas in India where women are in subordinate roles. However, the Supreme Court countered this by saying that this was something that was disturbing in India and the recent move of allowing women to serve in the army as commanders would be something that will break the male bastion and boost gender parity. Now Indian women in the army will be able to get the same opportunities as men which include ranks, promotions, and pensions and they will also be able to serve longer tenures.

Women will now be able to rise to the level of colonels and brigadiers

At the moment, Indian women are only able to serve in the army by way of short-service commission at the beginning alone and then up to 14 years later. With regards to permanent positions, women are only allowed to work in the army’s legal and educational sectors alone and hence this move is one that will change the face of the status of women in India. The judges in the ruling said, “To cast aspersion on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army.” Now women can rise to the level of colonels and brigadiers, but even as the government opposed this, now men will be trained to accept that women can too rise to leadership positions and they need to accept this. The government also put the argument that men and women were very different, particularly physically and because of this, they could never be equal. Moreover, in case women were captured by the enemy, they would be subject to a lot of atrocities more than men, However, there are many countries where women are being deployed in combat, like Australia, Germany, Israel, and the United States where women do serve in combat roles.

The judges completely negated all farcical stands to deny women equal opportunities

Back in 1992, India started recruiting women in non-medical roles like engineers, signallers, administrators, and lawyers, but today women only make up 4 percent of the entire Indian army. Aishwarya Bhati, one of the lawyers who represented the women officers in court said, “They (judges) have completely negated all the farcical stands raised by the army to deny women equal opportunities. These battles are watershed moments not just for women in the Indian army, but for women across the world.” This move by the Indian Supreme Court has been touted as historic because, until today, there has been much discrimination against women in the army. Lieutenant Colonel Poonam said, “The Indian constitution is based on equality. Denying opportunities to women was against the ethos of the constitution. Now the army will have to frame guidelines that are equal for men and women.” Hence, the right to equality is the right to rationality and the fact that now women can hold high positions in the army is a landmark move.

Image credit: The Statesman

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