Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said women will be able to join the premier tri-service pre-commissioning training institute, the National Defence Academy, from next year.
The statement came days after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to allow women candidates to appear for the November 2021 entrance exam to the National Defence Academy (NDA). The Supreme Court had refused to accept the Centre's request to allow women candidates to appear for the entrance exam to the NDA from next year, saying it doesn't want women to be denied their right.
While addressing a webinar on 'Role of Women in Armed Forces' which was organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Rajnath Singh said, "The induction of women in Military Police has commenced last year, marking a major milestone wherein women are inducted in the rank and file of Army".
"I am happy to share with you that from next year, women shall be able to join our premier tri-service pre-commissioning training institute, the National Defence Academy," Rajnath Singh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Describing the induction of women in the military police in the Army as a major milestone, he said India's approach to their induction in the police, central police, paramilitary and armed forces has been progressive. "We have taken the evolutionary path of moving from support to combat support and thereafter, to combat arms within the armed forces," he said.
"We have found that the process of induction, given its broad-based and progressive path, has also simultaneously prepared the society and the armed forces for this change. This is an important aspect to ensure a smooth and successful transition," the defence minister added.
In an apparent reference to her role in the 1971 war with Pakistan, Rajnath Singh said Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi not only led the country for a number of years, but she also did so during the times of war.
In an address at a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) seminar on the role of women in the armed forces, the defence minister also talked about Rani Laxmi Bai and former president Pratibha Patil, and said India has a positive experience in harnessing women's power in national development.
Singh said though it is justifiable to discuss the role of women in the armed forces, their wider contribution in all spheres of security and nation-building must also be recognised and reinforced.
"There are a number of examples of women taking up arms to protect their country and the rights of the people through history. Rani Laxmi Bai is amongst the most revered and respected amongst them," he said.
"India's former prime minister Indira Gandhi not only led the country for a number of years, she also did so during the times of war. And more recently, Pratibha Patil was the president of India and the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces," the defence minister added.
Under Indira Gandhi's prime ministership, India won the 1971 war against Pakistan that resulted in the birth of Bangladesh.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
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