Yes, Ma’am Supreme Commander! | india | Hindustan Times
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Yes, Ma’am Supreme Commander!

The last male bastion — the position of supreme commander of India’s armed forces — will fall if Pratibha Patil makes it to Rashtrapati Bhavan. But the generals are fine with it. Rahul Singh reports.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2007 11:27 IST
Rahul Singh

The last male bastion — the position of supreme commander of India’s armed forces — will fall if UPA candidate Pratibha Patil makes it to Rashtrapati Bhavan. But the generals are fine with snapping out crisp salutes to her.

Army chief General JJ Singh told Hindustan Times: "As a nation, we have always been open to women holding the highest offices. We have had a woman prime minister and now we are likely to get a woman president. It will be a great honour for us to serve whoever is appointed the supreme commander."

Several serving three-star generals HT spoke to shared his views.

Former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash said the country had a tradition of producing women warriors like the Rani of Jhansi.

Indian National Army veteran Captain Lakshmi Sehgal, 93, said that a woman in the seat of the supreme commander would inspire women in the Army to go beyond the roles currently assigned to them, even taking up combat responsibilities. Sehgal had run for the president’s post in 2002.

Patil too has spoken of women’s empowerment as a priority. It will be interesting to see if her elevation makes a difference.

It is hardly a secret that women are marginalised in the military. Their induction began in the early 1990s. In an army of over 1.12 million, there are only 950 women, serving in supportive roles like logistics and legal services. The Chiefs of Staff Committee — a panel of the three service chiefs — recently advised the government against bringing women into close combat roles.