We thank our readers for the tremendous response to the April-May issue of SALUTE Magazine. A sampling of the some of the letters received, as a response to the article ‘WOMEN IN MILITARIES’ is placed below. We look forward to your continued interaction Editor.
Dear Sir, Women as combat fighters is an enormous symbolic breakthrough. To welcome this would be distinctly a popular & politically correct view. Personally, I feel women can distinguish themselves far better in administrative/support echelons of the Armed Forces than in rough & tumble of combat units. Well, men are no where near equal to women in several spheres of life which are too well known to enumerate here. And conversely, women cannot be equated with men in a few areas, combat being one of them. Even in the majority of sports, standards & rules for women are a little different – in tennis “best of three” against “best of five” for men; in golf they tee off from shorter distances …& so on. Though I do see a bright silver lining – so in a fighter squadron, apart from bringing in some excitement & enthusiasm, the competitive spirit to achieve greater “dash” among men pilots will decidedly rise. I would not recommend to the IAF to send women fighter pilots into missions in enemy territory but confine their services in defensive/protective role.
Maj. Gen. Harwant Krishan
‘Women in the Armed Forces are fine but why in the Army Combat Arms? ‘Follow the West’ has become a fashion for us Indians without going into the pros and cons of the policy to be adopted. The west, on the other hand, is handicapped with an inadequate work force and that is the main reason why they have gone in for employing women to make up for the shortfall of men in Combat Arms. In India, on the other hand, we have a large number of unemployed male youth coming forward to join the Armed Forces. Do the advocates for inducting women in combat roles and employing them in remote field areas have the ground experience of service below brigade level? Many people cite the bravery of Rani Jhansi, Razia Sultana and Chand Bibi, but majority were forced to save their kingdoms and their line of succession.
This reservation will result into having more and more working couples, while certain families may not have even a single earning member. Unemployment graph for men is sky rocketing and is the main cause of insurgencies and unrest. I would be happy however, if single working women marry and settle down with an unemployed man. If reservation for women is done away then the nation will have more men gainfully employed and an equal number of more happy families in the country resulting into Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index going up.
Col RC Patial
As pilots, women are OK, but we need to look into the question of job denial to men, where there is no population shortage. Let us also remember that most women will still remain dependant. Aerial combat is more dependant on machine handling and women may even prove superior. We hope they then do not demand special treatment, as has been the army experience. Blunt views? I plead guilty.
The issue is not easy to take sides with. The step can be called progressive no doubt and even desirable in the long run. It’s success depends entirely upon strict and uniform attitude of the commanding officers towards them during their grooming stage. Unfortunately many COs show a bias in giving them duties and responsibilities. The slipshod manner in which the army commenced women officers training, allotting only months for it is a case in point. Treating them as women and hence lessor soldiers is discrimination. Those already inducted in the non fighting arms must be fully integrated by way of equal treatment in training, duties, promotions and by being made eligible for permanent commission, before inducting them in the fighting arms is introduced.
Yashpal Singh Chauhan
This was coming for a long time. Gender barrier is lifting. How it will work, say in Infantry?
Col Abdul Rasul Khan
I dread to think of these brave ladies as POW especially with respect to:
a) Our neighbours psyche and track record
b) Apathy filled MoD, IFS and politicians. Hope the indifferent MoD/IFS who continuously talk of action on a “war footing”, translate some of that talk into action and do not let our brave women warriors down. In the mean time many happy landings to them
The key in my opinion would be to eliminate discrimination during the training phase. As long as that is assured, I think women will do as well and perhaps better than the men on the battlefield!