REMARKABLE WOMEN IN THE INDIAN ARMED FORCES
From being confined to four walls to keeping a front foot in all the fields, women saw their own their growth. They can now be seen in the fields, working hard to feed their family and in the Indian Armed Forces too.
They have time and again proved their worth. Not only the commercial sector but they are now show casing their valour in the battlefields too.
Women in the Armed Forces were first seen in the year 1888 when the British Raj formed the Indian Military Nursing Service. In 1992 the Armed Forces started to welcome women in the Non-Medical roles.
In the year 2015, Indian Armed Forces had opened the doors for women as fighter pilots. I shall talk about the lady officers who are worth remembrance. They were the ones who paved the road for the other female defence aspirants.
- On 27 August 1976, Gertrude Alice Ram, the military nursing service Matron-in-Chief, became the first woman officer in the Indian Army to attain the rank of Major-General, and the first female officer in the Indian Armed Forces to attain two-star rank.
With Ram’s promotion, India became only the third nation in the world to promote a woman to flag rank, behind the United States and France.
- Ruchi Sharma became the first operational paratrooper in the Indian Army, joining in 1996. When she was 20 years old, as a Short Service Commission Officer and was commissioned to the Army Ordnance Corps. She volunteered to become a paratrooper. Captain Sharma retired in 2003.
- Priya Jhingan, commissioned in 1993, is one of the first 25 women to join the Indian Army as an officer. Priya Jhingan is an Indian Army officer and Lady Cadet No 1 and Silver Medalist from the first batch of 25 lady officers who were commissioned in the Indian Army in 1993.
- Alka Khurana, also commissioned in 1993, is the first woman from Indian Army to participate in Republic Day Parade and Army Day Parade in 1994.
- Sapper Shanti Tigga is the first female jawan (private rank) in the Indian Army who joined in 2011. Her fitness and skill surpassed that of her male colleagues, following which she was awarded the title of Best Trainee in the Recruitment Training Camp.
- Lieutenant Colonel Mitali Madhumita, commissioned in 2000, is the first woman officer in India to receive a gallantry award, who received the Sena Medal in 2011 for exemplary courage shown during the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul by terrorists in Kabul, Afghanistan on 26 February 2010, and operations in Jammu-Kashmir and the Northeast states.
- Anjana Bhaduria, who joined the first-ever batch of female cadets in 1992 at the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, is the first female officer in the Indian Army to win the gold medal. Including Priya Jhingan and her, the first batch of women officers of the Indian Army was commissioned in March 1993.
- Divya Ajith Kumar, commissioned in 2010, is the first female officer to receive the Sword of Honor. She led all women contingent of 154 women officers and cadets during the Republic Day parade of 2015.
- Captain Swati Singh, an engineer and then only female officer in her 63 Brigade of the Indian Army, is the first female officer to be deployed at Nathu La pass as Signals in-charge
- In February 2020 Madhuri Kanitkar became the third woman to become a Lieutenant General in the Indian Army.
INDIAN AIR FORCE
- The first woman officer in the Indian Air Force, Vijayalakshmi Ramanan, was commissioned into the Army Medical Corps and was seconded to the Air Force. She retired as a Wing Commander in the Air Force in 1979.
- In August 1966, Flight Lieutenant Kanta Handa, an IAF Medical Officer, became the first female IAF officer to receive a commendation for her service during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.
- In 1994, women joined the air force as pilots in support role; Gunjan Saxena (Flight Officer) and Sreevidya Rajan were among the first women to fly in a combat zone during Kargil War (May–July 1999).
- In 2006, Deepika Misra was the first IAF woman pilot to train for the Sarang display team.
- In 2012, Nivedita Choudhary (Flight Lieutenant), a Jat from Rajasthan, became the first woman from the Indian Air Force to summit the Mount Everest.
- On 22 May 2019, Bhawana Kanth became the first woman fighter pilot to qualify to undertake combat missions.[
- Avani Chaturvedi, Mohana Singh Jitarwal, and Bhawana Kanth being the first 3 women fighter pilots.
- In October 1976, Dr. Barbara Ghosh became the first woman officer in the Indian Navy to attain the rank of Commander. Having joined the Navy in 1961, she was also the first Woman Medical Officer to receive a permanent Naval Commission.
- Dr. Punita Arora, commissioned in 1968, is the first woman in the India Navy to reach the second highest rank as the Lieutenant General, and the first female Vice admiral.
- Padmavathy Bandopadhyay is the first woman Air Marshal of the IAF and the second woman in the Indian Armed Forces to be promoted to a three-star rank after Lt. General Punita Arora.
- On 8 March 2018, International Women’s Day the six-member crew of INSV Tarini that participated in Navika Sagar Parikrama namely Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi, Lt Cdr P Swathi, Lt Cdr Pratibha Jamwal, Lt Payal Gupta, Lt Aishwarya Boddapati, and Lt Shourgrakpam Vijaya Devi were conferred Nari Shakti Puraskar for outstanding contribution towards women empowerment
- On 2 December 2019, Sub-lieutenant Shubhangi Swaroop became the first woman pilot for the Indian Navy. She will be flying the Dornier 228 survelliance aircraft.
Dr. Seema Rao, also known as “India’s Wonder Woman”, is India’s first Woman Commando Trainer, having trained over 15,000 Special Forces of India (including the NSG Black Cats, MARCOS, GARUD) as full-time guest trainer for 20 years without compensation as a pioneer in Close Quarter Battle (CQB).
CENTRAL ARMED POLICE FORCES
1) In 1992, Asha Sinha, a 1982 Batch IPS Officer, became the First Woman Commandant in the Paramilitary forces of India when she was posted as Commandant, Central Industrial Security Force in Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and after 34 years of service she retired as Director General of Police (DGP).
2) In 2018 an IPS Officer Archana Ramasundram of 1980 Batch became the First Woman to become the Director General of Police of a Paramilitary Force as DG, Sashastra Seema Bal, she retired after serving for 37 years.
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