The Officer's Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai is quietly laying the groundwork to enhance the training period of lady cadets from 24 to 49 weeks, bringing it at par with gentlemen cadets.
In a clear indication that lady cadets will have to slog it out just like their male counterparts, OTA commandant Maj Gen K.K. Kohli on Monday briefed Army Chief General JJ Singh about the planned changes in the training once its scope is widened. The Army Chief was also informed about the corresponding infrastructure overhaul required for messing, training and administration.
There have been consistent demands from both instructors and lady cadets for increasing the training duration to churn out “physically fitter” officers. In an article in the USI (United Services Institution) journal, ex-Capt Deepanjali Bakshi points out that 24 weeks of training is insufficient to achieve the required physical standards needed for a military career.
Bakshi feels that to enable the organisation to have better trained, groomed and physically fitter women officers, the army should make the duration of training at par with male cadets. In her paper ‘Training of Women Cadets in the Army — Some Issues and Challenges’, she maintains the physical standards for women at the academy are ridiculously low. She underlines the fact that till standards are toughened to an extent where women as a group are perceived as physically tough, they will never be judged as equals in the academy.
A large number of lady officers feel compressing the syllabus into 24 weeks of training serves no purpose. And the present system merely resorts to allotment of lesser number of periods to teach the same topic to women cadets as those scheduled for gentlemen cadets.
Gen Singh interacted with both gentlemen and lady cadets at the academy and expressed satisfaction with training standards and high motivation levels of women. The army's move follows Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s direction to the three service chiefs to explore the possibility of granting permanent commission to lady officers and inducting them in combat arms.