Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Friday said that women officers in the armed forces will reach his position in the next 40 years, reported PTI.

“At least 40 years down the line, they will be standing where I am standing,” Naravane said in response to a question about the progression of the role of women in the armed forces in the next 20 to 30 years.

Naravane made the remarks while reviewing the passing out parade of the 141st batch of the National Defence Academy in Pune.

In September, the Centre told the Supreme Court that women will be admitted to the National Defence Academy. However, the government had requested the court to postpone the induction by one year.

The court had denied the request and directed the government to allow women candidates to take the exam to enter the defence academy in November and not wait till May next year.

On Friday, the Army chief said that as women were being inducted into the National Defence Academy, he was sure that they would perform better than their male counterparts.

“This is just the first step towards gender equality as the Army has always been at the forefront of all initiatives that have been taken in the country,” he said. “As a result of this, they will also get empowered. They will hold more challenging assignments.”

Naravane pointed out that the Army already has women officers, who are undergoing training at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. “They are doing exceedingly well,” he said. “I am sure that the academy will continue to prosper and flourish and bring fame and glory.”

When asked about changes in the infrastructure as women were joining the defence academy, he said slight alterations will be made to suit the requirements, but the training will remain the same.

“The training will be held jointly and there will be no difference in the training standards,” Naravane said. “The same regime of the officers training at OTA [Officers Training Academy] will be followed.”

The Army chief urged everyone to welcome the women cadets with the “same sense of fair play and professionalism as Indian armed forces are known world over”.

He also appealed to the cadets to keep themselves adapted to new technologies to counter contemporary challenges.

“A little over 42 years back, when I stood as a cadet at the same drill square as you stand today, little I could have imagined that I would be reviewing this parade,” he added.

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