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Over 7,000 women personnel serving in Indian Army: Govt

NEW DELHI (PTI): Over 7,000 women personnel are serving in the Indian Army at present followed by 1,636 in the Indian Air Force and 748 in the Navy, according to details provided by the Government in Lok Sabha.

Replying to a question, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said 7,093 women are in the Army, which included 6,993 in the Army Medical Corps, Army Dental Corps and Military Nursing Service (MNS). Hundred women are serving in other ranks.

Bhatt said, currently women are serving in officer's cadre only in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and their strength as on March 1 (excluding medical and dental branches) is 1,636.

"As on date, women are employed in the Navy in the officer's rank. The strength of women officers in the Indian Navy, as on March 9 is 748, including medical and dental officers," he said.

The Minister said that employment in the Indian armed forces is gender neutral. "There is no distinction in the deployment and working conditions of male and female soldiers in the arms and services in which they serve," he said.

"The postings are as per organisational requirements and employment is as per qualifications and service qualitative requirements," he said.

Referring to the Army, the Minister said consequent to grant of Permanent Commission to women officers, a gender neutral career progression policy covering employment and promotional aspects was promulgated on November 23, 2021, providing equal opportunities to women officers.

About the IAF, he said women officers are empowered to hold key appointments, including commanding officers, in combat units of various field units.

"The rules in this regard are gender neutral and provide them equal opportunities. Their medical fitness and medical conditions are also factored prior to their effective utilisation," he said.

On employment of women in the Navy, Bhatt said officers are given opportunities for spouse co-location, re-settlement posting and compassionate grounds posting in a gender neutral manner.

To a separate question, he said a proposal for creation of Non-Lapsable Defence Modernisation Fund (DMF) is under consideration with the Ministry of Defence.

"The DMF will be available for modernisation of defence forces and would supplement the regular yearly budgetary allocations by eliminating any uncertainty in provisioning of adequate funds for various defence capability development and infrastructure projects," he said.

"A suitable mechanism for operationalising the fund is being worked out in consultation with the Ministry of Finance," he said.

Various parliamentary panels had also recommended the constitution of the DMF so that the unspent budgetary allocation to the three Services can be retained even after the end of the fiscal year.

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