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Monday, July 13, 2009

Is this 1909 or 2009 ?




The pictures above may astonish some as to their relevance here. But these have some application to the subject I want to discuss. On a recent private visit to Sri Lanka, I was cheerfully surprised to see women soldiers in civilian areas of Colombo going about their day to day activities with total professionalism, the cheer was about their utmost dedication, and the surprise was about the fact that the soldiers were not officers but Other Ranks.

The recent case involving dismissal of a lady officer upon being found guilty of misdemeanour has evoked sharp reactions from many quarters. While some talk of instances of impropriety in the services, others are seeing it as a fallout of induction of women in our forces. It has been heard and read ad nauseum that women should not be allowed in our forces because in a milieu that is male oriented, allegations of sexual harassment can, and are often misused. However the point I want to make is that this cannot become per se a case against having women in the forces because:

One. Hurling allegations of sexual advances against male colleagues is something that can happen in any occupation, not just the armed forces. Ethics are on the decline north south east and west, being a man or woman has nothing to do with it.

Two. One woman officer getting the sack generates so much heat, while we conveniently overlook the many men who have similarly been shown the door - it is not about gender, it is about character.

High time to end this kind of positioning vis-à-vis women in a progressive society, let us allow the armed forces lead by example in allowing women utilise their full potential while in uniform. Impropriety knows no gender. Soldiering in women is not even an issue in countries like Sri Lanka while it is made out to be such a big deal by us. While deployment of women at the battlefront may rightly remain a debatable subject, in other arenas, women are here to stay and the sooner we accept and make them (and the men) comfortable, the better.

Let us grow up, a look on my calendar shows it’s 2009.

(Pictures courtesy : squidoo.com and dailnews.lk)

21 comments:

AS said...

I fully agree with Maj Navdeep.There is absolutely NO rationale/logic in these reactions.Also it is unbelievable that a well up gentleman like Mr Simrinjit Mann could bring in the religion (Sikh)angle into this sordid affair.Goes to show how even learned persons living in 2009 can behave being in 1909!!

ANUPAM said...

even after about 10 years now since WES started in army,we are still fighting with teething problems since the induction of the women fleet has still not been full fledged...i mean they have been mostly exposed to peace and may be mod fd conditions.For them their is no infantry attachment,their is no such actual army(i mean fd job with a rifle) job and are mostly confined to office documnetation work.....yes i agree we should break the barriers now!!!!BUT REMEMBER TEETHING PROBLEMS WILL BE THERE IN THE FIRST LOT.....

ANUPAM said...

even after about 10 years now since WES started in army,we are still fighting with teething problems since the induction of the women fleet has still not been full fledged...i mean they have been mostly exposed to peace and may be mod fd conditions.For them their is no infantry attachment,their is no such actual army(i mean fd job with a rifle) job and are mostly confined to office documnetation work.....yes i agree we should break the barriers now!!!!BUT REMEMBER TEETHING PROBLEMS WILL BE THERE IN THE FIRST LOT.....

Col NR Kurup (Retd) said...

You said it ! In an orthodox society where men and women are kept too apart, the modern trend to eliminate sex descrimination is bound to cause some teething trouble. In my younger days we could never imagine a female staying in Mess Accommodation alone. Our news hungry media blow such news viz., like the
present GCM of a lady officer out of proportion. These are only passing phace. Hope the present generation of females accept the challenge and grow up with more healthy mind.

As regards females in the AF, we just cannot afford to eliminate 50% of its population. One of my friends in SSB had once told me that the cakubre of the lowest of the selected female candidate is often better than the brightest of the selected male candidate. AF has to go ahead with bringing in more females so that the taboo slowly vanish.

Ramani said...

during the second world war, a lot of wacs( women soldiers) were employed in the britsh army. however i have not come across the type type of accusation of sexual harassment like we see today. why???????

Yogesh said...

If women are treated as "soldier only"; there will not be any teething problem. But when "kid glove" treatment is offered, then only these problems starts. Give opportunity of soldiering to all, whether male or female without any kind of assurance/shelter pertaining to their gender.

Anonymous said...

....Problem is not with women entry, the problem is with Organisational design. How about making some verticals within AFs as Gender nuetral, meaning training, postings, all inclusive. It also means across all ranks - down upto PBOR level. So either have all women (sub)verticals or have Gender nuetral verticals.

For some its still 'the fuedal ages'...1909 is just too modern.

maj surender singh said...

Following is a writeup from my book "ITS TIME FOR INDIAN CITIZENS' ARMY" (to be published soon).A piece of information on women's role in Indian Armed Forces.The truth and the limited vision of our GENERALS

TERRITORIAL WOMEN’S AUXILIARY CORPS OF INDIA WAC(I)

"Women from the Indian sub-continent, (present day India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka
And Pakistan), played a considerable part in the Allied war effort during the Second World War. The Territorial Women’s Auxiliary Corps of India WAC(I), was established in 1942 and by the end of the war over 10,000 Indian
Women had served in its ranks. The Territorial Women’s Auxiliary Corps of India WAC (I) was an all ranks women’s corps. The object of the Corps was to release men for more active duties in the Second World War by engaging women in military appointments at static formations of the Army. Later, it was widened to permit the employment of members of the Corps with the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) and the Royal Air Force (RAF), and allow them to replace other ranks and civilian clerks in certain establishments. Indian women also served as nurses, worked in the vital warIndustries and in civil defense. Indian princess Noor Inayat Khan served first in the WAAF(RAF) and then with the Special Operations Executive in occupied France. Captured and tortured by the Germans in October 1943, she was executed at Dachau concentration camp on 12 September1944. Her gallantry was recognized on 5 April1949 when she was posthumously awarded the George Cross."
so, have our GENERALS even heard of these facts,if yes then needs to give up their cry of INDIAN CULTURE and if not THERE IS A BIG INTELLECTUAL FAILURE
maj surender
my blog:
http://theindiananalysis.blogspot.com/

inf offr said...

women in todays society do ar better i agree ... in police there are lot of ladies but in army due to postings in difficult inhospitable terrain the job for women becomes unsuitable

Anonymous said...

Dear navdeep,
the problem is NOT with the lady officers. The problem is with the formation Commanders two levels up.

A male officer dare bypass the laid down channels and he is ###. Period.

A female officer in the garrison? Expect the GOC to teach her yoga (whose kundalini power got him court martialled: a true story)/ Bde Cdr cosying up.... It is the attitude problem. In such a situation the poor CO has to be on the guard, all the time.

Anonymous said...

Maj Navdeep is absolutely right. Women offrs have been doing yeoman service.While a few problems do exist, these are more to do with a persons attitude than sex. And yes..a lot of male offrs perhaps cite the ladies 'inability' to operate under trying conditions to hide their own lacuna. Women aircrew of the IAF are a classic examle of how lady offrs are doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

You hate Army Nurses, don't you ? God be kind on you and give you a chance to get admitted in a MH.

Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh said...

Anony @ 8.31PM

Please be a little respectful in your language and you shall see your comments here.

Your statement @ 8.31 says it all about your attitude. May the force of nature help you.

For other readers : This outburst at 8.31 is a resultant of my moderation of this person's comments at an earlier time.

mohan said...

The problem with WES is many fold.

1. We pampered the hellout of this lot in the begining.Most lady offrs were SOs to ***/**** gens.this gave them wings.
2.Our offr cadre specilly in services units have yet not grown up to accept ladies as equels.they are scared of being exposed.
3 Weare yet to grow up as a society.

Anonymous said...

Following Maj Navdeep's response to anony @ 8:31. Why dont you actually take up the issues of MNS as they are also part of the army? Frustration is obvious because they need support. You have taken up various issues successfully and created awareness through your blog in the past. Instead of just speaking about issues relating to equality of women in the forces let us see actual support for them. You can begin with MNS.

Anonymous said...

AS: Mann went off his rocker (sort of ?) or is unhinged perhaps due the trauma of his jail terms where he was reportedly locked up with a violent loony.

Anonymous said...

....Problem is not with women entry, the problem is with Organisational design.

Vive la difference

Anonymous said...

Major Surender Singh: Shall wait out for your book Sir. Of passing interest-do read Commander DJ Hasting's book on the RIN. A few lines in it seem to imply that Indian Independence was hastened due to the RIN mutiny which in turn was further 'helped on' or triggered by sailors whistling at WRINs and being tongue lashed by Commander King.

Anonymous said...

"I was cheerfully surprised to see women soldiers in civilian areas of Colombo going about their day to day activities with total professionalism, the cheer was about their utmost dedication"

Not so sure Sir. Would hate to be at the business end of that deadly serious trigger happy woman soldier. Looks as she will shoot first and ask questions afterwards.

I remember, last year on a business trip to Euroland was stopped at the customs green channel by a quartet of uniformed guards. One woman soldier type asked me to open my suitcase. When she saw three black turbans neatly 'poonied'( difficult to maneouvre a 'poonie' = pre turban tie wind in small hotel rooms.} she alerted her colleagues who crowded around menacingly. Things became tense when I cracked my version of a joke and told the woman cop that the turbans bundle was bulky as it had a Black Label inside. I meant a Johnny Walker. She fingered her Taser meaningfully till a male colleague cooled her down. Scary. Women no sense of humour.

Rajababu said...

dear navdeep

writing after a long haitus.good to see u still doing yeoman service. I have a point to make. there was a point made by other blogger about not treating the women with kid gloves. I would like to add here that most of sane minded offrs have all accepted gender equality long time back and are not MCPs.

The problem is we should treat the ladies on equal footing and not like Holy Cows(pardon me!! no offence meant). If u start treating them as HCs then they develop this attitude problem and bypass all service channels. thereafter some sincere officer try to discipline her will land up with a sexual and mental harassment case stuffed down his throat.

Bottom line ladies in forces are fine as long as they are treated on par. This can only be ensured by our senior officers for the message to be heard loud and clear else such conflicts are bound to occur.

Deep said...

Hi Navdeep,...are women SSC ex-service offrs entitled for CSD canteen facility. Pls clarify and advise.