Days after the Indian Air Force proposed to hire women as fighter aircraft pilots, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday his ministry was planning combat role for women in the armed forces, another male bastion.
“My ministry is working out (how) to assign combat role for women in the armed forces, and a policy decision will soon be made,” Parrikar said, addressing a gathering of retired army officers at Welingkar Institute of Management in Mumbai.
Earlier this week, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had said the IAF had moved a proposal to induct women as fighter aircraft pilots.
“We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters. We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of young women in India,” Raha had said on the occasion of IAF’s 83rd anniversary last week.
Talking about women’s empowerment, Parrikar said, “It is extremely unfortunate that our Prime Minister’s initiatives such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and Selfie With Daughter are not being taken seriously by a few people, especially so-called secular-minded people.”
“When our PM emphasises Selfie with Daughter, it does not only address the issue of gender equality but also the disorder of gender insensitivity prevailing in the current form of society in a larger context,” he said.
Parrikar was in Mumbai to pay tributes to late Lt Dilip Gupte on his 50th death anniversary. Gupte died at a young age of 23 in Operation Jura Bridge on October 11, 1965 during the India-Pakistan war.
Parrikar said he never thought that he would become the defence minister, but “like everyone, I too had no control over my destiny.”