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Vice-Chief's remark so 'misogynistic'

Surfers insist the forces have to get out of the "men versus women" debate.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2006 12:02 IST

The statement of the Vice-Chief of Indian Army has received flak from our surfers. His claim that the armed forces can do without women officers has largely been panned.

Our surfers have reacted at two levels that it is a chauvinistic claim and it speaks of closed mindsets that encourage corruption.

Many women were appalled at what they saw as a "misogynistic view of women's abilities". Here's how most of the reactions went.

"I served as an officer in the Air Force for six years from 1998 to 2004 and have been working in the corporate world ever since. There are far lesser women in my current organisation compared to my last base at the IAF. I strongly believe that having the right attitude is key to cope up with the rigours anywhere, military or civil.

It is true that at times soldiers (office cadre has got adjusted to having women around) do get uncomfortable initially, but if you show that you mean business, they become very easy to get the work out of.

Suicide due to an unhappy job can happen anywhere. Please don't draw unnecessary and uncalled for conclusions out of one unfortunate episode," reacted Suneetha of Pune, India.

Rajshree from Edmonton, Canada too held similar views.

"I find the comments of the Vice-Chief absolutely unacceptable and very derogatory to women officers. At a time when women are performing at par if not better than men in every sphere of human activity, this kind of misogynistic view of women's abilities is not only insulting but is incredibly disturbing.

The Vice-Chief represents the Army's 'ethos and culture' - and if this is how it is - then the Indian Army needs to seriously reconsider whether they want talented 'human beings' who have the potential to be good officers, in the organisation."

Zubin Kabraji from Mumbai too took offence of the remark.

"The Vice-Chief's comment that the army can do without women is at best nearsighted and in many respects in bad taste - a clear case that many of our brass hats are also ending up with brass brains!

All across the world and India, women have broken the glass ceiling and come forward and shown that as good as men in the field. So what is the General afraid of? That soon he may have to take orders from a woman - he probably already does that at home!

I suggest that the army chief should start by giving his deputy a female administrative team and that the Defence Ministry should seriously consider that women should start becoming battalion and regiment commanders," he said.

An irritated Oopasani from Washington, USA asked the girls to stay put.

"The officers of the armed forces are yet to get out of their dated mindsets. It's only the matter of few years that the things will change for better. Girls just hang on. You are changing history," she said.

But not all were willing to take the "men are chauvinistic" line of thinking.

Dr VK Bansal of London felt the nature of armed forces live required a different set of qualities that women may not be equipped with.

"Armed forces require absolute performance and duty unto death! Most women join the forces not for a career but for wages, etc. and may find hard to be a jawan even in non-combat role. I am not a sexist but motherhood is the best role God has assigned the females.

Women in forces do well as nurses and doctors away from frontlines. Symbolism doesn't help the rigours of forces duties."

Prof RK Gupta of Chandigarh, India too felt a dominant male scenario, army's often rigorous and rigid discipline as well as biological reasons meant that men would always have an edge over women in the armed forces.

"Women as a biological fact are not suitable for such jobs as army. But we try to prove that we treat everyone equally and want to bring everyone at same level.

So we take women in such positions that really don't suit them. Then there is rigorous discipline and working of army has its own style which I won't like to comment in interest of army's image.

Add all this to male chauvinism and dominant male scenario and any young woman and for that matter a man would go cranky," he said.

There were yet another lot of surfers who felt that the suicide was not a men versus women debate. It reflected at the other pressing issue: corruption in armed forces.

Atul Saxena from Tarrytown had this to say.

"I am highly disappointed with the way our forces work, beginning with Anjali Gupta who was treated badly and now Susmita Chakraborty. It implies that there is corruption, which many can't accept. We need enquiry done by a female not by male bench," he added.

Rohit from Delhi felt the reasons for the lady officer could have been entirely professional.

"The army is bluffing. The army, air force and navy do ask for the cost of training to be paid in case the person wants to leave service before 10 years of service and the cost is made exorbitant. This is the reason this lady officer must be felt hopeless and killed herself," he said.

Tough to take sides, right?

All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfers and do not necessarily represent those of

First Published: Jun 18, 2006 12:02 IST