New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has taken the lead in granting permanent commission to women officers after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last year that women would be given such an option in the armed forces, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria said here on Friday.
Bhadauria, while addressing his first press conference since taking over as the Air chief on September 30, referred to Wing Commanders S. Dhami and Anjali Singh, who recently became the first women officers to get permanent commission in the IAF.
The three armed services of India have traditionally been dominated by male officers while representation of women has always been low.
According to the data available with the government, only 3.8 per cent of the Army personnel are women. The IAF has the highest representation of women in the workforce at 13.09 per cent, while in the Indian Navy, the percentage of women personnel is 6 per cent.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said during his Independence Day speech in 2018 that women officers will be given the option of taking up permanent commission in the services. We formulated policies for women officers thereafter,” he said.
The IAF opened all its branches, including the fighter pilot segment, for women officers after that.
The Indian Army has formulated a policy to grant permanent commission to women in signals, army aviation, army air defence, electronics and mechanical engineering, army service corps, army ordinance corps and intelligence.
But no woman officer has been given permanent commission in these branches yet.
At present, the Indian Army allows permanent commission to women only in the branches of Judge Advocate General and Army Education Corps.
In the Indian Navy, branches including those of naval constructors, education, law, logistics and armament inspectors are open for women opting for permanent commissions. No woman has been granted a permanent commission in the Navy yet either.
Referring to Wing Commanders S. Dhami and Anjali Singh without taking their names, Bhadauria said, “One woman officer has taken over as Flying Commander of a helicopter squadron. Another woman officer has been appointed in a diplomatic assignment in Moscow.”
Wing Commander Dhami became the first female officer in the country to become the Flight Commander of a flying unit in August when she took charge of a Chetak helicopter unit.
In September, Wing Commander Anjali Singh was appointed as the Deputy Air Attache at the Indian embassy in Moscow.