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Govt asks service chiefs to explore more avenues for women

NEW DELHI (PTI): Against the backdrop of a parliamentary Panel slamming it over "discriminative" approach in giving permanent commission to women, the Indian Defence Ministry has asked the three Service chiefs to explore more avenues for female officers in the armed forces.

Pulling up the Defence Ministry for its policies on employment of women in the forces, the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women had recently said that it "fails to understand the negativism" when it comes to employing more women in the three Services.

"In a security review meeting with the three service chiefs, Defence Minister A K Antony asked them to explore more avenues for giving permanent commission to women officers in the forces," a Defence Ministry spokesperson said on Monday.

The meeting was attended by Army Chief General V K Singh, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) N A K Browne and Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma.

Tabled during the recent Budget Session of Parliament, the report had said, "The Committee takes strong objection to the way their recommendation is brushed aside without attaching importance that it needs...The tone and tenor of reply of the government clearly communicates the nonchalant attitude towards the concerns of the Committee.

"We fail to understand the negativism when it comes to employing more women in the armed forces and reiterate their earlier recommendation to enhance intake of women in various branches of armed forces," the report said.

On its recommendations for opening more branches for permanent commission to women, the Committee had said, "Defence Ministry has turned a blind eye to this recommendation by sticking to their earlier stand that women officers would be considered only in specific branches."

The report stated that Committee's suggestions to explore possibility of having more women officers in branches such as Military police, Army Postal Service and General Service have been dismissed with a grim reply by the Ministry.

Presently, Women Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCO) are eligible for consideration for grant of permanent commission in specific branches such as the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Education Corps (AEC) and their corresponding branches in Navy and Air Force.

In Navy, permanent commission is allowed to women as officers in Naval Constructor branch, while IAF inducts them similarly in its Accounts Branch.

Women have been getting permanent commission only in the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) branch.


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