Indian army officer Kalpana Kundu has achieved the unthinkable by undertaking a rare high altitude patrol in the Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday, 20 June. In a bid to provide medical cover to her team on a crucial patrol in inhospitable and treacherous terrain along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), she took on the task and achieved a rare feat.

Kundu serves in the Army Medical Corps, a specialist wing of the Indian Army that primarily provides medical services to all personnel – both serving and veterans.

“Capt Kalpana Kundu, a young Medical Officer of the Indian Army undertook an arduous high altitude Patrol in the mighty Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh on 20 June 2019,” the Indian Army praised her efforts in a statement, Zee News reported. “In this rare feat she volunteered and accompanied an important patrol in an inhospitable terrain to provide medical cover to her brethren deployed along the Line of Actual Control,” it added.

“This was in the true tradition of Indian Army where officers lead from the front,” said the Army. Indian army allows women to join as officers but they are not deployed in forward operational areas. “Capt Kundu can set a trend. While women officers do participate in outdoor activities like mountaineering, white water rafting and paragliding with their male counterparts, they are not posted to advanced areas. I know of many women officers who are itching to get posted to such areas, even for a short period of time,” a senior army officer told TOI.

As on July 1, 2017, Indian Army reportedly had 1,548 (excluding Medical, Dental, and Nursing) women officers, according to figures provided by the Ministry of Defence in Parliament in 2018. The numbers increased to 3730 by January 1, 2018.

While women are yet to make an entry in forward operational areas in full force, the process has somewhat begun as Indian Air Force recently inducted three women fighter pilots –Mohana Singh, Avani Chaturvedi, and Bhawana Kanth. The Indian Navy also allowed the permanent commission to women officers, starting with a small group of seven in 2016 and has promised to expand the numbers.

Capt Kundu can set a trend. While women officers do participate in outdoor activities like mountaineering, white water rafting and paragliding with their male counterparts, they are not posted to advanced areas.

At the beginning of this year, NDA I government’s Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took a major decision in January by directing Indian army to induct women in Corps of Military Police positions. “To improve the representation of women in our armed forces Smt N Sitharaman takes a historic decision to induct women for the first time in PBOR (Personnel Below Officer Rank) role in Corps of Military Police. The women will be inducted in a graded manner to eventually comprise 20% of total Corps of Military Police,” official handle of the Defence Minister tweeted.

A formal recruitment process for it was kicked off in April 2019. Recently in a historic event, Sikkim became the first state to start the recruitment by calling out to women to join the Indian army as Military Police.

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