Two women officers have been selected as airborne tacticians and will be deployed on Indian Navy warships, PTI reported on Monday. This is seen as a landmark event as before this, women have not been posted on warships despite being employed in different ranks in Indian Navy.
Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh would be the first women airborne tacticians in India to operate from the deck of warships. Entry of women was earlier restricted to the fixed wing aircraft that took off and landed ashore. They were not posted on warships for lengthy durations due to several reasons, including lack of privacy in crew quarters and the non-availability of gender-specific bathroom facilities, according to NDTV.
Both Tyagi and Singh passed out of Indian Navy’s Observer Course at Southern Naval Command in Kerala’s Kochi city on Monday. The two officers are part of a group of 17 officers of the Navy, including four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard, who were awarded “Wings” on graduating as “Observers” at a ceremony, a defence ministry statement said.
The ceremony was presided over by Rear Admiral Antony George, chief staff officer (training) who presented the awards and the wings to the graduating officers. George said this was a landmark occasion that would ultimately pave the way for the deployment of women in frontline warships of Indian Navy.
The two officers are expected to eventually fly the Navy’s new MH-60 R helicopters, which are designed to detect enemy ships and submarines and can be engaged using missiles and torpedoes.
“Things are changing in the Indian Navy every day,” Tyagi, a fourth generation armed forces officer from Ghaziabad, told NDTV. “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.”
Tyagi, whose father retired from the Navy several years ago, said the training was rigorous. “We’ve both completed over 60 hours of training,” she added. “We take pressure and tension bang on. We don’t get worked up...We’ve been treated equally. Whatever training our male counterparts received, we went through the same training... It is a huge responsibility, the task is challenge. We are looking forward to it.”
In July, the Ministry of Defence had issued a formal letter to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army. It came five months after the Supreme Court called for a “change in mindset” regarding women officers and ruled that women officers can get “command and criteria” appointments in the Army on par with their male counterparts. On February 17, the court had dismissed the Centre’s submissions that women were physiologically weaker than men as perpetuating sex stereotypes.
Last year, Flight Lieutenant Mohana Singh became the first woman fighter pilot to become fully operational by day on a Hawk aircraft. She was one of the three women pilots inducted in the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force in 2016. Singh along with Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi were the first three women to be commissioned into the IAF in 2016.