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Thursday November 14, 2019

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Woman Power!

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History has repeatedly proved that women have always played a pivotal role in the development of any civilisation. Reservations, hurdles and challenges of consorting in strictly men oriented disciplines of life have instilled a compelling momentum and bolstered her level of commitment to emerge victorious.


Defence and Security have been two such verticals where induction of women has always been considered a taboo, other than medical and nursing corps where postings are largely behind the front lines of battle. However, the last couple of decades have seen a paradigm shift with women officers participating effectively in aviation, logistics, law, engineering and executive cadres. The question is … If European, American and Israeli defence forces have women in combat roles, why is India still apprehensive for this metamorphosis!?

In retrospect, the disposition of our most agonisingly persistent adversary, Pakistan and its proclivity to inflict brutal torture on prisoners of war / combatants, appears to be the root cause of our apprehension in allowing women into the combat zone. Another argument reflected in military ethos is the prevailing civilian attitude of menfolk drawn from the rural areas of India who are unprepared to deal with a greater role of women in society.

In India, this process has been exceedingly slow and women in higher ranks are rare. I still remember my interaction with the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Ms Padmavathy Bandopadhyay who was interviewed for the inaugural edition of DSA in October 2009. It was fascinating to talk to a lady who has become a trailblazer through sheer determination, dedication, commitment and hard-work and became a role model for the younger generation.

This edition of DSA is dedicated to ‘Woman Power’ and the indispensable role she plays as a mother, a sister, a wife, a daughter and above all … a soldier! Experts and stalwarts have beautifully encapsulated their roles, their challenges and their perceptible contributions. Almost all operations of defence and security are now witness to their phenomenal success. However, the bottleneck of antiquated policies is still a marathon that needs to be sweated out.

Defence and security segment in India has become skewed by the predominance of public sector in the production of military wherewithal. With the present government insisting on ‘Make in India’, we feel emboldened to suggest measures for creating the gravely needed and viable Military Industrial Complex with an active policy of public-private participation and productive and profitable partnership. With Aero India 2015 recently concluded, expectations of a clear road map from our Prime Minister are soaring as we feel he understands the paramountcy of much contemplated exponential escalation of indigenous defence production capabilities. I know it is not going to happen overnight but with transparent policies reinforcing this vision, India can expeditiously affirm an upswing in GDP, strengthening and self-reliance of defence and security and generation of jobs and foreign exchange.

Almighty has bestowed a woman with the power to create and I firmly believe that she has the ability and competence to elevate India to the pinnacle of developed nations. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I look forward to the day when the world says, ‘Behind every successful Woman, there is a Man!’ May the festival of colours adorn your lives with the vibrant hues of happiness. Happy Holi!!

Jai Hind!

Pawan Agrawal

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