Indian Army

‘Change in mindset required’, says SC after Centre offers ‘soldiers not ready for women commanders’ excuse

‘Women should progress’, ‘the society should not divide roles based on gender’, ‘women should be empowered’ – all these are such gendered statements, which in a way puts the onus on women to take the first step towards a life of ‘inclusion’.

Somehow, we tend to shy away from the fact that it’s also the men who need to take a step back and shed their patriarchal mindset if women have to step forward. It’s a two-way process, not a ‘we will let you be’ policy.

The central government has let aspiring women soldiers down by telling the Supreme Court of India that male soldiers in the Indian Army are not yet ready to accept women commanders.

The SC ruled that “if there is a will and a change in mindset on the part of the government, then women officers could be allocated command posts in the Army”, adding that there are several other services where women could be included, such as combat operations.

On behalf the Ministry of Defence, Senior Advocate R Balasubramaniam said that “there are no rules in appointments that contribute towards gender-based discrimination for promotion, appointments, etc.”, adding that “all provisions and rules apply equally to both men and women, and any proposition of gender discrimination is misplaced”, news agency IANS reported.

The SC bench, headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, including Ajay Rastogi, ruled that two things are required to eliminate any kind of gender discrimination – “administrative will and change in mindset”.

In response to the Centre’s controversial note to the apex court on Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said “no gender discrimination should be read into it”. “Why do women try to be equal to men when they are, and can be far ahead?” he added.

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