The Armed Forces opposition to induct women in combat role has been well established, but the Indian Navy has now shut doors for women even in Information Technology (IT) field.
The latest IT brigade to be raised by the Indian Navy to counter Chinese threat in the cyber world has no place for women.
On July 12, the Indian Navy gave out full page advertisements in the national newspapers calling application from male computer engineers to join the specialised IT brigade, to be trained at Indian Naval Academy in Ezhimala (Kerala). The advertisement did not invite applications from women computer engineers and for the Indian Navy, it is only logical.
“In this, IT cadre officers will be required to be deployed onboard ships and as per the Navy policy no women officers could be posted onboard a warship,” an Indian Navy official said.
The first batch of the IT cadre, that will commence its training in December this year, will be Short Service Commission Officers and would be deployed onboard warships and various sensitive establishments on shore to manage and secure the network in the organisation.
Even though the armed forces inducted women officers in its ranks in 1992, they could serve only for 14 years and had to retire in their prime without any pension benefits. Unlike their male counterparts, they did not have the option of opting for Permanent Commission. It was only few years back, after a long fight, that the forces decided to make women permanent officers in the legal, education, accounts and naval constructor branches.
Similar to the Indian Air Force (IAF) resistance to women officers as fighter pilots and the Indian Army’s opposition to the women in combat roles, the Indian Navy has been against deploying women onboard warships citing design problems with its ships and submarines - the principal one being lack of separate toilets. In fact the Indian Navy had taken an initial experiment project where it posted some women officers onboard warships and said it failed to take off in the absence of accommodation facilities.
In contrast to this, the US Navy has women officers commanding its warships. Even conservative countries like Malaysia have women officers serving onboard their naval platforms.
The Indian Navy, which recently inducted women officers as ‘observers’ (navigator in layman’s term), still does not have any women pilots for its helicopters and aircraft, unlike other two services. The present strength of women officers in the Indian Navy is 232.