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Sunday, 19 June 2016

From Today's Papers - 19 Jun 2016

Sky’s limit for women fighter pilots
Flying Officers Avani, Bhawana & Mohana commissioned into the IAF by Parrikar
Suresh Dharur

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 18
History was created at the Air Force Academy today with the first batch of three women pilots inducted into the fighter squadron. Flying Officers Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were the cynosure of all eyes at the graduation parade at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal as they became the country’s first batch of fighter pilots. They were commissioned into the Indian Air Force (IAF) by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who reviewed the parade.

India has now joined a select band of nations in the world that have women fighter pilots. The three women pilots will get to fly fighter jets next year on completion of stage-III training at Bidar in Karnataka. They will receive training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.

It was a proud moment for the young achievers as the Defence Minister awarded them the President’s Commission. “This is just the beginning. Slowly, women in large numbers will be part of the armed forces,” Parrikar said.

“It is a great honour. We are happy to get this opportunity to serve the country,” Avani, Bhawana and Mohana told the media after the parade. “Joining the Indian Air Force for flying was a dream instilled by my parents and grandparents,” said Mohana Singh, whose father is with the IAF and whose grandfather served as a flight gunner in the Aviation Research Centre.

“It is an opportunity to serve the country,” said Avani who hails from Satna district in Madhya Pradesh. She was motivated by her brother, who is in the Army, to join the IAF.

Bhawana hails from Darbhanga in Bihar. Daughter of an officer with the Indian Oil Corporation, she opted for the fighter stream after successfully completing stage I training. Six women cadets had competed to become fighter pilots. Only three were selected.

While women pilots have been flying helicopters and transport aircraft since 1991, it was in October last year that the government decided to allow women to fly fighter jets. Combat roles in the Army and the Navy are still off limits for women owing to operational concerns and logistical constraints.

Parrikar urged the young officers to give their best by adapting themselves to the dynamically changing security environment. He exhorted the officers to keep pace with the swiftly advancing technology to exploit the potential of aerospace power.
Indian Army's 'naari shakthi' takes a nosedive, sharp decline in numbers
NEW DELHI: At a time when the Indian Air Force has commissioned three women fighter pilots, the Indian Army is struggling with the sharp decline of women personnel. Following an initiative by the Centre, Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh became the first women fighter pilots in the country on Saturday. In sharp contrast, the number of women officers in the Army has declined by 50 per cent, in the last six years.

In 1992, the Army had opened its doors for women and in 2011, 166 officers were recruited. However, in 2014, the induction of women officers declined to 100.

In the 2015 Republic Day parade, 75 women officers had participated showcasing the armed forces’ “Naari Shakti”. This year, the number of women officers went down to 61. Since 1992, the Army has not assessed the requirement of women officers. Now, after their induction in the IAF, the Army may witness a rise in their number, sources said.

The Army Headquarters explained the downward trend by saying that exit of women officers from Indian Army is negligible due to pending litigations in the Supreme Court.“Non-exit of women officers has led to reduction in vacancies,” Army headquarters told Express.

The Indian Army has a shortage of more than 9,000 women officers at present. The number is likely to increase after the induction of new strike corps. Though the Army does not send women officers to combat missions, they are inducted in Signals, Engineers, Army Air Defence, Intelligence and Legal, among other services.

Military analysts said women candidates, who had appeared for the Service Selection Board (SSB), were interested to join the Army after watching women officers marching on Rajpath. On the other hand, there is also a rise in vacancy for men as number of candidates applying for the Army cannot fulfil the requirements.

The Indian Military Academy (IMA) has a capacity of 275 male cadets. This year, only 150 of them could clear the SSB and the remaining positions were left vacant due to shortage of suitable candidates. In case of women, 22 cleared the SSB. However, all of them could not make it as there were only five vacancies.
Soumya Sharma (name changed) says, “I am working as an advocate with Chandigarh High Court. Even after clearing the SSB, I could not make it as there were only four vacancies.”

The current notification of Combined Defence Services gives 375 vacancies for men and only five for women. There are only four vacancies left for the position of Judge Advocate
Pooja Singh (name changed) from Chattisgarh says, “ I have cleared the SSB for JAG entry and I feel proud about it. However, my chances are low as there are only four vacancies.”
Army begins inquiry into Arunachal infantry unit ‘unrest’
The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry to investigate the reasons behind the unrest in an infantry battalion of the Army in the North East last month.
THE ARMY has ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate the reasons behind the ‘unrest’ in an infantry battalion of the Army in the North East last month.

Sources said the inquiry panel was headed by a Brigadier rank officer and included two Colonels who are commanding units in the same area. These officers – Brig S K Chawla, Commander 2 Mountain Artillery Brigade, Col P K Singh, CO 502 ASC Battalion and Col Lakshman Singh, CO 11 Grenadiers – are investigating the incidents pertaining to May 11 when a confrontation took place between some jawans of 8 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (8 JAK RIF) and officers of the unit at a location in Arunachal Pradesh.
The sources said that Army Rule 180, which pertains to military reputation of a person, has been invoked for several jawans and officers of the unit who are to be examined by the inquiry, which is taking place at Headquarters of 2 Mountain Division in Dinjan.

Among the officers who are to be examined are the then officiating Commanding Officer of the battalion, the Regimental Medical Officer and several other officers. The actual commanding officer of the unit was away on leave when the alleged fracas took place and he was urgently recalled to take over command.

The Army had termed the unrest in the unit as an “emotional response” by a few jawans after a jawan died of a heart attack following a route march. The jawan had earlier complained of some unease but had been medically examined and found fit.

The sources said the genesis of the indiscipline shown by some jawans – who raised slogans besides allegedly manhandling officers – lay in the events of preceding days when some jawans had been caught in an out of bounds area. The inquiry is expected to look into the circumstances leading up to the fateful day in detail in order to find out if there was any laxity on the part of anyone.

As a large number of witnesses are to be examined by the CoI, its completion is expected to take time.

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