The Indian Navy said on Wednesday it has begun granting permanent commission to women officers while also considering a policy to allow them on warships, the latest gender barriers to come down in the country’s male-dominated military.
“…Seven women officers from the batch of short service commission officers… who joined in 2008-09 have been granted permanent commission,” an official statement said.
The navy allows women officers in short service commission with a maximum tenure of 14 years, rendering them ineligible for pension that comes with at least 20 years of service. The army and air force already have permanent commissions for women.
Defence sources said women officers will have to meet at least four conditions for permanent commission, including medical fitness and a good annual confidential report. Women officers will also have to opt for permanent commission at the start of their service.
The announcement came on the eve of a three-day naval commanders’ conference in New Delhi, which will be addressed by defence minister Manohar Parrikar.
Long a male bastion, the Indian military has, of late, been removing some glaring gender barriers, both in terms of service rules and the nature of their jobs.
Last year, the Indian Air Force began allowing women to fly combat planes, keeping with a global trend of opening up the defence forces to female officers.
The government said starting 2017, women will be eligible to join as pilots of reconnaissance planes, one of the eight branches to be opened up to female officers.
The question of permanent commission for women reached the Supreme Court last year when the navy challenged a Delhi high court order granting permanent commission to 17 female officers. That case is still to be decided by the top court.
(With PTI inputs)