In a historic decision that has been a secret desire of almost all women in the forces, the defence ministry announced on Tuesday that women officers will now be granted a permanent commission (PC) in all 10 branches of the Indian Army.

Ministry of Defence has taken steps to ensure that women who were inducted as Short Service Commission (SSC) are granted PC in the Armed Forces.

“Women officers will be granted Permanent Commission in the Indian Army in all the ten branches where women are inducted for Short Service Commission,” it said.

These 10 branches include Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps and Intelligence. SSC women officers will give their option for PC before completion of four years of Commissioned Service and they will exercise an option for grant of PC and their choice of specialisation. The two streams of the army where women already had the option of PC are Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Education Corps.

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“SSC Women officers will be considered for grant of PC based on suitability, merit and will be employed in various staff appointment,” it added.

Before this development, women candidates were admitted in the armed forces only as officers. They are not inducted in the subordinate ranks. Currently, the Army comprises 1,561 women officers, IAF has 1,594 women and there are 644 women in the Navy. While male SSC officers joining under the SSC scheme have the right to opt for a permanent scheme at the end of ten years, women did not have the same choice until this announcement came through.

Also, women officers have been inducted for a period of ten years. This tenure could only be extended up to four years under the SSC scheme.

“SSC Women officers will be considered for grant of PC based on suitability, merit and will be employed in various staff appointment.”

The defence ministry noted that in so far the Indian Air Force is concerned, all branches, including Fighter Pilots are now open for women officers.

“In Indian Navy all non-sea going Branches have been opened for induction of women officers through SSC. In addition to education, Law & Naval Constructor branch/cadre, women SSC officers have been made eligible for grant of PC in the Naval Armament branch, at par with the male officers,” it said.

The proposal for induction of three new training ships for the Indian Navy is underway. This will provide the requisite infrastructure for training of both men and women officers. Indian Navy will start inducting women in all branches, once the training ships are in place.

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