As SC opens up NDA for women, ground rules set to change in hitherto male ground: KP Sanjeev Kumar

(Capt KP Sanjeev Kumar is a former navy test pilot. This column first appeared in The Quint on September 13, 2021)

  • “Are you ex-NDA?” This would most likely be the first question from any officer graduate of the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA) to another from any of the combat arms of the Indian armed forces. Hitherto an exclusively male preserve, ground rules are set to change when the admission process to NDA is thrown open to women. India’s Supreme Court (SC) recently cracked the whip on this ‘boys-only club’; the service chiefs quietly acquiesced after visiting their alma mater to ‘review arrangements’. It is the season for breaking moulds, setting trends in the name of ‘new India’. This decision – hanging fire for years since the forces first opened doors to women in 1993-94 – was only a matter of ‘when’, not ‘how’. Another male bastion ‘fighter pilot’ fell recently. After flying MiG-21s, Flt Lt Avani Chaturvedi will soon complete her operational syllabus on Su-30MKI. Her compatriot Flt Lt Bhawana Kanth engages in dogfights daily with male pilots in her fighter squadron. Women strap up in Indian Air Force (IAF)’s newly-inducted Rafales with panache. The excitement is palpable, coming at a time when ‘Talibanisation’ has (again) cast a long shadow over gender equality and women’s rights in our neighbourhood…

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