Army Chief General M M Naravane. (File)
Welcoming the Supreme Court verdict on permanent commission for women in the Army and for them to be considered for command posting, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane on Thursday said that it is a “very enabling judgment and gives us clarity”.
The verdict brings out a “sense of clarity and purpose to gainfully employ officers for better efficiency”, he said.
Calling the Army a “champion of gender equality”, Gen Naravane said: “Indian Army does not discriminate any soldier based on religion, caste, creed, or even gender. The outlook of Indian Army has been throughout like this; that is why we started inducting Women Officers as early as in 1993.”
On the process forward, he said the first task at hand is to comply with the apex court’s order. For this, he said, letters will be sent to everyone to get their opinion on “whether they want to be considered for permanent commission”.
About the possible creation of an independent command for the entire border in Jammu and Kashmir and other theatre commands, Gen Naravane said it is “at very preliminary stages of discussion”, and is at the moment “very loud thinking on our part”.
While Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat had earlier this week said that theatre commands should start rolling out by the end of 2022, Gen Naravane was more cautious on the time-line, stating that “we must always have a plan”. The eventual roll-out, he added, “may take much longer time than that”.
Theatre commands will be joint commands of all three forces facing a geographical threat perception for a more effective military action.
On the new Thal Sena Bhawan to be built at Delhi Cantonment —Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will lay the foundation stone for it on Friday — Gen Naravane said it will bring all Army headquarters offices under one roof and improve efficiency and reduce carbon footprint and logistics requirements. It will also allow more family time for soldiers during peace posting in Delhi, he said.
Offices of senior functionaries like the Army Chief and Vice-Chief will, however, continue to be co-located with the Defence Minister’s office, Gen Naravane said.
Back from Kashmir recently, the Army Chief said general law and order situation has improved “manifold” in the Valley and incidents of terrorism and terror-related violence have seen a downturn. But “conversely”, Line of Control remains “very active”, he added. Gen Naravane said if the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force comes down heavily on Pakistan, the neighbouring country “may have to rethink on their rhetoric and activities”. He said, “Even China has realised they cannot back their all-weather friend all the time.”