Barred from combat, Indian women seek greater role in army

National Cadet Corps personnel watching India's Republic Day parade at a cricket stadium in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on Jan 26. Huge crowds gathered for the parade, with women taking centre stage. The Indian government last year allowed Permanent
National Cadet Corps personnel watching India's Republic Day parade at a cricket stadium in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on Jan 26. Huge crowds gathered for the parade, with women taking centre stage. The Indian government last year allowed Permanent Commission - tenures until the age of retirement - in all 10 branches of the Indian Army open to women, but denied it to female Short Service Commission officers who have served for over 14 years. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

When Captain Ruchi Sharma joined the army at the age of 20, she often faced questions on her career choice, as people wondered if women had a place in the Indian Army.

Yet, she overcame doubts even among her superiors within the army, to become India's first female operational paratrooper in 1996, four years after women were allowed into select non-combat roles on an "experimental basis".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2020, with the headline 'Barred from combat, Indian women seek greater role in army'. Print Edition | Subscribe