Arms and the Women

Gauri Chhabra
In a transformational move, the Indian Army opens combat positions for women, a gender barrier broken by only a few countries globally.The role of women in the armed forces for a long time, was limited to the medical profession i.e. doctors and nurses. In 1992, the doors were thrown open for women entry as regular officers in aviation, logistics, law, engineering and executive cadres. Thousands of spirited young women applied against advertisements and it was a turning point in the history of time. In the recent years, India has been taking steps to crush gender barriers in its armed forces by enabling women to serve on-board submarines, in ground combat positions and tank units. In February 2016, President Pranab Mukherjee announced that women will finally be allowed to take up combat roles in all sections of the Indian armed forces, signalling a radical move towards gender parity in one of the world’s most male-dominated professions. A few months ago, the  Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence has asked all wings of the Army to come up with suggestions for roles for women.In October, the government took the first steps towards bringing women into fighting roles and approved air force plans for female pilots to fly warplanes from June 2017 on a three-year experimental basis.
Getting in
The Indian Armed Forces are the federal military forces of the Union of Republic of India. It consists of four professional uniformed services: The Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Coast Guard . Recruitment is voluntary, which implies that every citizen of India is eligible to be a part of it, provided he/she fulfils the specified criteria for selection. Manpower in each of the services is broadly divided into ‘Commissioned officers’, ‘JCO’s (Junior Commissioned Officers)’ and ‘Other Ranks’ based on their qualifications and seniority.
Selection Process
The procedure for becoming a lady officer in army is same as the followed for the men. The candidates have to clear a written exam CDSE in this case, or there is direct shortlisting on the basis of cutoff percentage, like in the SSC-Tech and NCC Entries. After getting selected in the initial process i.e. written or getting shortlisted, SSB calls are made. The women are called for SSB(Service Selection Board) at various selection Centers of Indian Army, and after getting recommended in the SSB ,which is  a two stage process where after clearing stage one you are advanced for Stage II, medical examination is done of successful candidates. The All India Merit List decides the final entry, based on the vacancies.
Currently, women in the non-medical cadre, serve as Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers. Under this type of commission, they can serve in the armed forces for a period ranging from 5-14 years. On release they can pursue a career in the civil sector. SSC officers are released with gratuity and can avail some benefits as ex-service person, but they do not get pension.  Women in the medical branch i.e. doctors and nurses can serve as Permanent Commissioned (PC) officers and are eligible for pension after retirement. They also have the option to serve as Short Service Commissioned officers.
Eligible women, who qualify various tests successfully, serve as Short Service Commissioned officers in the following branches of the Armed Forces.
The Combined Defence Services (CDS) Examination is conducted twice a year by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment into the Indian Military Academy(IMA), Officers Training Academy(OTA), Indian Naval Academy (INA)and Indian Air Force Academy(AFA).
Girls are only eligible for Officers Training Academy (OTA).The other three the IMA-Indian Military Academy , AFA-Air force Academy and the NA-Naval Academy, are only for boys
NCC Special entry
You can write the NCC Special entry exam if you are a NCC Women Cadet and the qualification needed is that the candidate should have 19-25 years of age and the education qualification needed is that the candidate must have completed a degree with 50% aggregate.
JAG entry
This entry is mainly for the Law Graduates as the candidate who has an age limit between 21-27 years of age and also having the education qualification of completed LLB degree is eligible for applying for this exam.
Air Force
Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) is a written exam conducted by Indian Air Force twice every year to induct officers in the IAF. The written exam is followed by Air Force Selection Board Interview for shortlisted candidates.
The air force entry is possible for the girls through the AFCAT-Air Force Common Admission. The candidates should be a graduate from any stream with physics and Maths in 10+2.
Presently the women are recruited for ATC, Observer, Law, Logistics, Education, Naval Architecture
Short Service Commissioned Officer Under University Entry Scheme (UES):The women candidates who has an age limit of 19-25 years of age and the education qualification of completed B.E/B.Tech degree in naval architecture / Mechanical / Civil / Aeronautical / Metallurgical / Aerospace engineering with aggregate of 60% are eligible.
SSC Naval Architecture: The candidate appearing for this exam should have 21-25 years of age and the candidate should have completed B.E/B.Tech in Computer Science, IT, Electrical, Electronics, Mechanical OR M.Sc in Physics/Maths/Computer application with at least 50% marks.
SC – ATC: The candidate appearing for this exam should have 19 – 25 years of age and the candidate should have completed B.E/ B.Tech (Any Discipline) with 60% marks from a recognized University/ Institution with Maths & Physics at 10+2 level.
SSC – Observer: The candidate should have 19-24 years of age and should have completed B.E/ B.Tech in any discipline with minimum 55 % marks from a recognized University/ Institution with Maths & Physics at 10+2 level.
SSC Logistics: The candidate should be within 19 – 25 years of age and be a B.Tech/ B.E (Any Discipline), MBA with First Class, B.Sc/ B.Com/B.Sc(IT) with First Class and a Post Graduate Diploma in Material Management/ Finance/ Logistics/ Supply Chain Management.
Catering Billets
M.Sc (Hotel Management)/ MBA (Hotel Management)/ BSc or BA with First Class and a Post Graduate Diploma in Hotel Management.
SSC Education:
The candidate should be within the age limit of 21- 25 yrs:
*B.E/ B.Tech/ M.Tech in IT/ Computer Science Engg  / Electrical & Electronics/ Electronics & Telecommuni- cation / Electronics & Instrumentation / Mechanical / Electronics and Communication / Instrumentation / Telecommunication.
*M.Sc (Maths) with Physics in B.Sc / M.Sc (Physics) with Maths in B.Sc / M.Sc (Operational Research)/ M.Sc (Analysis).
*MCA (Physics or Maths at Graduation Level).
*M.A (English) / M.A (history).
Indian Coast Guard
Women are recruited in Coast Guard only as officers in General duty, General Duty (Pilot / Navigation) and General Duty (CPL Holders, Short Service entry) branches. The selection process for women is similar to that of male candidates.
Assistant Commandant (GD)-SSA
General Duty (Short Service Appointment for a period of 08 years, which may be extended to 10 years and can be further extended upto 14 years) 21-25 years of Age (5 years relaxation for SC/ST and 3 years for OBC) Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline of any recognized university by any Central / State Government / UGC with Mathematics and Physics as subjects upto class XII of 10+2+3 scheme of education
Assistant Commandant (Law)
Law Branch
21-30 years (5 years relaxation for Govt. servant)
(i) A degree in Law Desirable
(ii) Knowledge / Experience Assignment connected with International Law/Maritime Law
As commissioned officers at the age of 22-23 years, they may often have subordinates older than their parents. Hence, from day one, it is a challenge and leadership qualities are under test. The color of their crisp uniforms and the stars/stripes they adorn differentiate them from each other. Despite the good quality of life, they may sometimes undergo hardships due to the nature of work. An officer may have to work in tough terrains or difficult circumstances. Most women however, who undergo training as cadets in various military academies, cope up with various difficult situations, easily. Being a transferable job, transfers and movements are seen as unique travel opportunities to travel to remotest locations in the country.
Summing up
With this transformational move, Indian females skyrocket themselves to a position of power- Shakti in the ‘true sense’…