DefenceIndian NavyPolicy & Govt

Agnipath Scheme: On Vikrant, The Largest Indigenous Warship, Women Sailors May Be Deployed.

Story Highlights
  • According to Lieutenant Commander Rajeshwari Kori (retd), who participated in a brief naval experiment to deploy women on warships in 1997, having more women sailors on board warships will encourage more of them to join the navy.
  • The navy is offering women officers additional opportunities to serve on board warships alongside their male counterparts.

Women Sailors May Be Deployed On Largest Indigenous Warship Vikrant Under Agnipath SchemePeople with knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday that some of the women sailors, who will be commissioned as Agniveers into the navy early next year, are likely to be deployed on India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant, the largest warship to be built in the country and scheduled to be commissioned into the navy in a month.

Under the government’s new Agnipath model for short-term induction of soldiers in the three services, women are being recruited into the navy for the first time in the personnel below officer rank (PBOR) cadre. They will be deployed on warships based on the vacancies and facilities on board, according to one of the officials cited above who wished to remain anonymous.

Around the time of Independence Day next month, the navy is scheduled to commission Vikrant, which will greatly expand both the nation’s naval presence and its reach. The MiG-29K fighter jets, a new deck-based fighter the navy plans to purchase (it has already tested Boeing’s F/A-18E Super Hornet and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale-M), Kamov-31 helicopters, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, and indigenous advanced light helicopters will all be operated by the warship, which has a displacement of 37,500 tonnes.

Undoubtedly, there are female officers in the navy working on board a number of vessels, including INS Vikramaditya, the only aircraft carrier in the nation. “After entering duty next year, the navy’s Agniveers, including women, are anticipated to be deployed on a number of warships, including the two aircraft carriers. Men and women are given equal opportunity in the navy, according to a second official who also asked to remain anonymous.

Up to 20% of the 3,000 candidates the military hopes to hire this year under the Agnipath initiative, a comprehensive and contentious recruitment reform, are expected to be women, according to the authorities. According to them, the ladies will receive the same training as men. This year, 46,000 Agniveers will be enlisted in the three services, with the army and air force holding 40,000 and 3,000 positions, respectively.

“With the services growing more accepting, women in combat is now the new normal. Over the past 25 years, we have made significant progress. According to Lieutenant Commander Rajeshwari Kori (retd), who participated in a brief naval experiment to deploy women on warships in 1997, having more women sailors on board warships will encourage more of them to join the navy.

Several of them have already been assigned to front-line ships patrolling in the vast Indian Ocean Region (IOR), as previously reported, as the navy is offering women officers additional opportunities to serve on board warships alongside their male counterparts.

In order to reduce the age profile of the armed services, assure a fitter military, and develop a technically trained war fighting force capable of addressing future challenges, India unveiled the new Agnipath scheme on June 14.

With a provision to keep 25% of recruits in the regular cadre for 15 years following another round of screening, the Agnipath initiative only attempts to hire soldiers for a four-year period. Widespread demonstrations followed, which compelled the administration to make a determined effort to allay concerns about the plan.

During a meeting of the parliamentary advisory committee on defence on July 11, at least six opposition MPs expressed concerns about the Agnipath plan and called for its withdrawal.

On Monday, the three service chiefs and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed the panel on Agnipath. However, some members of the Opposition, including those from the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), pointed out flaws in the new recruitment programme.

Undoubtedly, the Agnipath recruitment process has already begun for the three services. Defense-related applicants have responded positively to it. In comparison to 631,528 applications submitted last year—the most ever—the air force has received 749,899 applications this cycle.

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