My mom and I found ourselves hooting in excitement while watching Gunjan Sharma: The Kargil Girl recently. There was something really powerful to watch a woman infiltrating through a predominantly male territory and then proving her mettle. Now, while an Indian woman might have flown a helicopter in the Airforce way back in the 90s, the truth remains that the sex ratio in the Navy quarters has been quite grim. In fact, women have been long kept off the Indian Navy's warships all this while. However, all of this is all set to be challenged and changed very soon.
In a first, two women officers have been selected to join as 'Observers' (Airborne Tacticians) in the Indian Navy's helicopter stream. The historic move would eventually pave way for women officers to being posted on frontline warships. The two officers, Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh are all set to create history. And that's because, before this, women were never employed on warships for long durations owing to problems like lack of separate bathrooms and privacy in crew quarters.
The two officers are a part of 17 officer-crew who were awarded "Wings" at a graduating ceremony held on Monday at INS Garuda in Kochi. They are now being trained to operate a number of sensors onboard navy multi-role helicopters. Once the training is finished, the women will eventually be flying on the navy's new MH-60 R helicopters, 24 of which are on order. They are considered the most advanced multi-role helicopters in the world and are specially designed to detect enemy ships and submarines.
"Things are changing in the Indian Navy every day. The navy is giving everybody an opportunity every day. Yes, we're breaking barriers every day but there are a lot of opportunities coming up every day. Whatever role the Indian Navy gives us, we will gladly take them," shared Sub Lieutenant Tyagi, a fourth-generation armed forces officer, in a media interaction.
She further added, "Our training has been really rigorous. We've both completed over 60 hours of training. We take pressure and tension bang on. We don't get worked up."
Here's how the Twitterati are applauding the welcome move:
This news comes in conjugation with two other very important announcements. The Indian air force is now set to welcome the first women fighter pilot to its Rafale squadron. For the unversed, the Rafale happens to be the most advanced inventory of the IAF. The identity of the pilot has been kept a secret owing to security reasons. In addition to this, the Indian Army is now screening women officers for permanent commission after the landmark verdict of February 2020, which allowed all women officers to hold a permanent commission in the army.
Long things short, Indian defence services have made a significant leap towards gender equality and we cannot wait to see how all of this would be put into motion. Here's to women power!