When someone uttered the word ‘soldier’, all the masculine’s essence-d pronouns came across dangling in our minds; but that’s a thing of the past. In times when mobile phones define a being’s status, and time is so constraint that we hardly care, the word soldier has acquired the neutral form in the true sense ‘cause men, along with women are protecting our borders, and even helping out in the internal security of this country.
“Women are not tough,” was definitely the most bought misnomer, and maybe that’s why until the recent gallops of years we never really thought of a woman dressed in uniform. Women have played many roles in the military, from ancient warrior women, to the women currently serving in conflicts, even though the vast majority of all combatants have been men in every culture. However, the numbers don’t really shadow their true worth.
Even though women serving in the military have often been controversial, relatively few women in history have fought alongside men, and have earned the prestigious title of being war veterans.
Nowadays, you see women adorning all kind of uniforms with pride. The number, as stated above, is definitely less when compared to the number of men, but you can’t crib about it ‘cause it was only recently that we opened our eyes to the prejudice and discrimination.
In the past, and even now, women have contributed tremendously in a war by acting as the ‘off-field’ soldiers. The history of the women in Indian armed forces is nothing but the history of the Nursing Services. The Indian Military Nursing Service is a Corps or regiment of the Indian Army, first formed under British rule in 1881. This MNS has a glorifying history, taking part in both World Wars under the British, and post independence, it has now become an integral part of the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS).
There are some discriminations that the MNS has been facing ‘cause we men still want to stick to the delusional pride of being the best, but that’s a different story altogether.
Be it the Army, Air- Force, or Navy, the number of women serving is just on a rise despite all the oppositions and controversies created by various ignorant entities.
There is this family friend of ours, whose only dream was to fly. She occupied the age group that was an average of my mother’s age, and mine. She couldn’t get wings to fly, and she didn’t have the financial support to go the commercial way; so, she decided to join the Indian Air-Force.
When she was in her transition period, almost reaching adulthood, she, as custom in our country, was bombed with questions inquiring what she wanted to do in life, that is, what she wanted to do apart from getting married, ‘cause marrying is a must, ain’t it? To all these questions, she’d reply with a stern, yet soothing voice that she wanted to join the Air-Force, and fly airplanes. The society, as a whole, including her parents, didn’t support, but ridiculed the idea, and thought that she hadn’t matured up, ‘cause according to them, she wasn’t living in the real world, but was building castles in her world of delusion. However, she didn’t let any of this touch her smitten dream. It was an everyday scenario that she would imagine herself flying, tearing apart the clouds that come in her way. The ranks that she would be wearing only added to her excitement.
I am an aspiring engineer now, and she has proved all the odds wrong. That almost matured teen, who was laughed upon then by everyone has now become an epitome of inspiration for many. Serving in the Indian Air-Force, prefixing her name with a rank, and protecting our borders, she has definitely made quite a many proud!
And, she isn’t married yet. So, yes, marriage is not a necessity!
It’s not that in the 21st century our mindsets have totally evolved, ‘cause we there are still many girls out there, who have the passion, and the abilities to join our security forces, but just because they don’t come under the list of men, who are apparently immortally tough, the dreams of these girls don’t turn into reality due to the constant ramming of negativities by the society.
From lady traffic police to lady constables, India is gradually getting all of them; and it’s not that these women are a make shift face of “We are against discrimination”. These women, who wear the security forces’ uniform with pride have earned, and as a matter of fact, deserve their ranks.
However, life is not a fairy tale journey, and for the women population, it becomes worse.
Due to the strong opposition from the vested interests, the formation of an ‘Army Nursing Corps’ in the Indian Army could not happen. They want to maintain the MNS as an auxiliary force recruited under the Indian Military Nursing Service Ordinance, 1943. As the Army Act, 1950, applies to officers of MNS as it applies to the regular officers recruited under the Army Act, subject to the limitations specified in the Ordinance; the vested interests finds it easy to discriminate the women officers of MNS as being part of an auxiliary force. Even though, the Rules, Regulations and Orders issued subsequently treated the officer of MNS at par with the regular officers recruited under the Army Act, 1950. The current terms and conditions, promotion policy etc. governing the MNS shall continue to be in force without bringing any additional financial burden on the Government. Further, there is no need for a change in pay and allowances or other privileges to officers of MNS; and they are to remain in the current grade pay for the time being, which will not affect their status after they become officers of the regular Army, recruited under the Army Act, 1950. Even the officers of AMC demands a different grade pay for themselves, which is higher from the other officer of the Army, as they wants the implementation of dynamically assured career progression (DACP) as applicable to the Central Government service civil doctors.
It’s not only with MNS, but even in the Army, Navy and the Air-Force, it’s a rare scenario when women are promoted to high ranks, and many of them are not given permanent commission. In the Air-Force, women are not eligible to fly fighter aircrafts, and the Army doesn’t really fancy giving combat roles to women.
Many things have changed from the past when women were ceased only to the household work. Let’s just hope that we awaken in to time to the worth of our female counterparts and make do with all the existing irregularities