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What the Army can do for gender parity

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Transformation now is the buzzword in the Army, yet the issue of induction of women into combat roles is still steeped in controversy. There are competing mainstream narratives driven by disparate arguments, none of which is path-breaking or original. We’ve seen much hyperbole and exaggeration as well as statements of the obvious with one side stating their case in a highly emotional fashion and the other side taking a dogmatic stance. Crucially, what’s been missing has been an attempt to find pragmatic and progressive policy, with a long term perspective.

Women are not new in the armed forces. Women officers have been serving in the Army Medical Corps, the Army Dental Corps and the Military Nursing Service. For the last 26 years, besides the medicos, many other branches of the Army have had women officers serving in them. Consequently, many internal studies have been undertaken on the induction of women in the forces, the most prominent one being in 2013. A long drawn out legal case is presently before the Supreme Court. To determine the future of women’s roles in the armed forces, especially in the combat role, the issue needs to be disaggregated into its multitude of constituent factors.

Traditionally, the armed forces have preferred to hew largely to the status quo. Major decisions are, however, arrived at after intense deliberations, thorough analysis, test-bedding, trials and exercises with objective lessons. In contemplating the induction of women in the Army, deliberations and analysis are required along five essential pathways.

A potentially game-changing policy

Right now, the Army is composed of more than 42,000 officers, and over 11.5 lakh (1.15 million) junior commissioned officers and other ranks. Women until recently had only been inducted as officers in the Army. But a 2017 policy change to induct women into the Corps of Military Police below officer rank could serve as a potential game-changer. While this step may seem tentative, it’s an experience-learning initiative and one that may be a harbinger of future trends. Indeed induction of women ought to be considered in other ranks equally as it has been hitherto for officers. The question of which arms and services can be allocated to women in other ranks, will require deliberation. The primary concern must still be fostering and guaranteeing cohesion so that a unit retains effectiveness to discharge its assigned missions in a near permanently tense environment. https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/what-the-army-can-do-for-gender-parity/cid/1680634?ref=package-story-second-tier-m_home-template

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