Since the start of year 2016, Indian women have been making history and dominating the front page of newspapers for the right reasons. The recent news of the appointment of IPS officer Archana Ramasundaram as the Director General of Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) drew great appreciation from people across the subcontinent.
Before achieving this feat, Ramasundram served as the chief of the National Crime Records Bureau. In 60 years’ combined history of the five paramilitary forces, viz., CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and the SSB, she is the first lady to take over the command. This is yet another success story of a woman of high calibre, who is setting the benchmark for Indian women.
Speaking about the challenges women officers face, Ramasundaram said people at the top believed combat duties were not suitable for women. For two decades, the lady has broken stereotypes by choosing to work on field, rather than off it; she was also the first woman joint director of CBI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been making conscious efforts to bring women to the forefront in all the Indian forces. Critics cite it as a clever PR tactic to keep his image as a pro-woman opportunity provider, but the fact is, PM Modi has been a consistent ‘doer’. Even if we agree to the critics’ view for a moment, there seems nothing wrong in creating opportunities for women in forces that had been a male bastion till recently.
Last month, we had reported that Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) commissioned a 500-member women contingent to guard the Indo-China border. The women, all in constable ranks, were inducted into the border-guarding force after undergoing tough training in battle craft and mountain survival. A couple of weeks back, Aparna Kumar became the first Indian woman IPS officer to successfully climb Mount Vinson Massif, the tallest peak in Antarctica. The adventure-loving woman braved temperatures as low as minus 35 degrees in the climb.
When US President Barack Obama visited India in January 2015, Wing Commander Puja Thakur of the Indian Air Force led the guard of honour. In a glorious moment for the nation, the lady became the first woman officer to lead a tri-services guard of honour in India’s history.
Later that year, the cabinet cleared 33% reservation for women in Delhi Police. Home Minister Rajnath Singh sent advisories to the states asking them to ensure 33% quota for women in their forces.
In 2014, Tanushree Pareek became the first woman assistant commandant in BSF, the second largest paramilitary force after the CRPF. The force did not have any provision for recruitment of women officers at assistant commandant level before Pareek was commissioned. Aruna Bahuguna became the first woman to head the National Police Academy in Hyderabad in 2013. This was not her first; she had carried the role of the first woman special DG in CRPF before being honoured with the post.
The move of the Modi government to give women adequate representation and positions in the forces is reiterating the fact that it’s time India does away with its patriarchal mindset and get rid of sexist attitude.