New defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman wants to look at combat roles for women with an open mind
Nirmala Sitharaman is surely an inspiration to all of us!
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government underwent a major Cabinet reshuffle recently. And for the first time ever since ex-PM Indira Gandhi, India got its second woman defence minister in Nirmala Sitharaman. And that's not even the best part. She may even make it possible for women in army to get involved in combat roles!
Many countries in the world already have women combat roles, an issue that is seen as a fallout of gender divide in India. While Army Chief Bipin Rawat had earlier said that the matter is indeed being looked into, nothing has happened. However, Sitharaman has now said that she will look into the matter with an open mind.
According to Economic Times, when asked about combat roles in the armed forces, she said "This is the matter where I definitely look into all the things before me with open mind that open mind which is required for this matter and not patronage."
"I think during his brief term, (Arun) Jaitley ji has taken lot of calls in lot of matters. I also want to see the files (on women in combat roles) and where the matter stands. Earlier when I was member of National Commission for Women, these issues regarding woman empowerment were discussed," Sitharaman added.
Although women are allowed in the army, they can only get jobs in selected areas--including medical, legal, signals and engineering wings. But, many have demanded that women be allowed to serve in combat positions. In fact, General Rawat had assured that the army is ready to open up combat positions for women in June. He had also said that army will begin with inducting them as military police first. Last year, the Indian Air Force had inducted three women as fighter pilots.
We are hoping that maybe 2017 will be the year women start fighting alongside men on the battlefield. Who know? Maybe Sitharaman will finally make this possible.