The long-standing proposal received the approval of the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony, today. The branches where permanent commission would be granted include Judge Advocate General, Army Education Corps and its corresponding branches in Navy and Air Force, Accounts Branch of the Air Force and Naval Constructor of the Navy. The selection will be based on a common merit and eligibility criteria, which would be decided by each Service Headquarters.
The issue of grant of Permanent Commission to women officers had been under the active consideration of the Government. A tri-Service study carried out in 2006 on all aspects of employment of women officers in the Services recommended that women officers would be excluded from induction in close combat Arms where chances of physical contact with enemy were high. It was further recommended that it was essential to obtain feedback on their performance based on revised pre-commission training, from 24 weeks to 49 weeks, detailment on courses such as Junior Command Course and assessment of their performance as sub unit Commanders, especially in field areas for holding higher ranks and the grant of Permanent Commission. A gestation period of 10 to 14 years was considered essential to assess on-ground performance of women offices before the issue of Permanent Commission or otherwise could be examined. The Services Headquarters, who were asked to re-examine the issue had only a few days ago recommended granting of Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission officers in select cadres and branches.
Women officers have been in the Armed Forces for about 80 years and served with competence and distinction. They were inducted in the Military Nursing Service in 1927 and in the Medical Officers Cadre since 1943. Following Cabinet approval, induction of women officers in other branches in the three Services started in 1992. There are 1072 women officers in the Indian Army. The figure does not include Army Medical Services.
In the Air Force, women are eligible to fill all vacancies in branches of Ground Duties and transport and helicopter stream of the flying branches. The current strength of women officers in IAF including Medical Services is 793. Of these, 63 are from the Flying Branch, 132 from the Technical Branch, 126 from the Medical and Dental Branch and the remaining from the Non-Technical Ground Duty Branches. In the Flying Branch, women officers have been flying AN-32, Avro and Dornier aircrafts in the transport stream. They are now going to be inducted in advanced platforms like IL-76 aircraft.
In the Indian Navy, women were inducted as officers in the Education branch and Logistics and Law Cadres of the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy from 1992. In 1993, approval was also accorded for induction of women in the ATC cadre. Women officers are however, presently not being posted to serve afloat. The present design of ships, congested living conditions do not allow a mix crew onboard ships. The rest of the training patterns are same as those for male officers. Women officers have not found any major difficulty in adapting to the Naval environment and their performance has been satisfactory. At present, there are 258 women officers in the Indian Navy.
In the Armed Forces Medical Services there are about 752 lady Medical Officers, 86 lady Dental Officers and 2834 members of the All Women Military Nursing Service. Out of the 752 lady Medical Officers, 490 are Permanent Commission Officers. Similarly, 38 % of lady Dental officers and 90 % members of the MNS hold the Permanent Commission.