14:34 GMT +315 October 2018
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    Defense Minister of India Manohar Parrikar

    Indian Gov’t to Create All-Female Battalion

    © AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi
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    India’s Defense Minister offered to strengthen the involvement of women in the army, creating a possibility for them to enter the country’s main military institutions and serve onboard warships.

    In the strongest endorsement from the government on women's involvement in the armed forces, Defense Minister of India Manohar Parrikar said that the idea of an all-female battalion could be looked into.

    "There is a thinking that soldiers will not listen to a Commanding Officer who is a lady because they are not trained to do that. I don't agree with this as the only restriction today is infrastructure," he said speaking at an interactive seminar "Parivartan (Change) in Defense Sector: Changing Role and Opportunities for Women," organized on Monday by FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO), the female-wing of the industry chamber.

    ​"There can be women in combat duties. If a woman-officer leading a men's team is questionable, why not have a complete women's team, a battalion of women?" the minister added.

    Parrikar also indicated that women officers could soon serve onboard warships as well but said that deployment on submarines could be an issue due to logistical concerns.

    "Warships can be modified and new ships can be designed to have facilities for women. But in the case of submarines, women cannot be inducted immediately as provisions for a separate area for women is difficult to create at the moment," the minister said.

    He added that the idea of allowing female cadets at the premier National Defense Academy as well as Sainik Schools run by the Ministry of Defense is also being considered.

    "If the Army and the Navy are opened up for combat roles for women, India will join the small club of countries in the world, including US, Israel, to have such a system.

    The first and foremost psychological barrier was crossed when the Indian Air Force inducted its first batch of women pilots into its fighter squadron on June 18, 2016. Three trainees were selected for the fighter stream among six female cadets in the competition.

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