Dear Friends,

It couldn’t have been a better news break , one which will change the facade of the defence forces of India in the coming decades. Sainik Schools will open their doors to girls. When the Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre informed that the government has taken revolutionary decision to induct  girls in the Sainik Schools and open the doors of quality training a historic step towards the empowerment of girls, little would he have realised that he was making an announcement of a change of face of the Indian forces a decade hence. What might seem like a small step is a giant leap for the services and India .

Girls can now dream of a career in the armed forces getting realised  as now they will have an opportunity to pick up their profession as early as school, just like their male counterparts. Today it is the Sainik Schools , tomorrow the elite Rashtriya Indian military college (RIMC) at Dehradun might also follow suit. Though RIMC does permit girls of teaching faculty to study there but they cannot take the National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance exam in Class XII.

And the most important point to be pondered is that boys who pass out of the Sainik Schools go to NDA for the next leg of the training though only after competing in the regular entrance, so will the  girls once they pass out get an equal opportunity to take the NDA entrance exam? If so are we heading towards NDA opening its doors to women cadets? And if so then Indian Military Academy, The Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy will start getting  women through this channel for permanent commission. This if happens it will be the biggest step to give women in India equality in the true sense of the word.

Defence Forces were the only career where women did come but through different channels like Medical Corps, Short Service Commission and Nursing Corps but entry along with men on the same platform for permanent commission is still a dream.

Dr Bhamre emphasised that it would be his earnest endeavour to get this policy implemented at the earliest by developing required infrastructure in all the Sainik Schools. Lets hope that this decision gives the little girls who dream of flying wings, who dream of sailing masts and who dream of  wearing the olive green the ability to march ahead with the nearly best permutation combination -Sainik Schools- NDA-IMA/AFA/NA-permanent commission- thereby giving them confidence, boosting their morale and making the phrase – catch them young- applicable to women in Indian defence too. The day RIMC opens its doors to women the Indian girl can also vye for the best permutation combination of the Indian defence forces which is RIMC-NDA-IMA/AFA/NA-permanent Commission.

It is a historic decision and just what a half of a 100 Billion plus nation has been waiting for. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

Sangeeta Saxena

28 October 2019