Historic! Two Navy women officers to join frontline warships crew
In what is sure to pave the path for more gender inclusivity in the armed forces, two women officers will, for the first time, be deployed on Indian Navy warships as crew members. The officers who shattered the glass ceiling are Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh. Soon, they will operate helicopters from the deck of warships. Here are more details.
The officers received their "Wings" in a graduation ceremony, which happened today at INS Garuda, Kochi. "The ceremony was presided by Rear Admiral Antony George NM, VSM, Chief Staff Officer (Training) who presented the awards and coveted wings to the graduating officers," Commander Vivek Madhwal said. Interestingly, both of them are engineering graduates and chose computer science as stream, before being commissioned in 2018.
While the Indian Navy employs several women, operating helicopters has largely remained a "man's profession" due to various reasons. These include the lack of separate washrooms and privacy in crew quarters. As the new recruits have scripted history, they will now operate multi-role helicopters, complete with sonar consoles and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) payloads. They could eventually fly the MH-60 R helicopters.
Beaming with joy after scripting history, Sub Lt. Singh said, "It was my dream to adorn the white uniform." A Hyderabad-resident, she comes from a family of soldiers. While her father served in the Navy, her grandfather was with the Army. Similarly, Sub Lt. Tyagi said Navy personnel work in land, air, and water. It was a challenge she wanted to take, she added.
"I was motivated to join the naval aviation wing on hearing about the death of woman officer Lt. Kiran Shekhawat in 2015 in an accident involving a Naval aircraft," Sub Lt. Tyagi, who hails from Ghaziabad, reportedly said.
Sub Lt. Tyagi and Sub Lt. Singh were a part of a group of 17 officers who got "Wings" after graduating as "Observers." The group included four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard, reports said. The other women officers — Sub Lt. Afnan Sheikh and Sub Lt. Kreeshma — will be operating the Indian Navy's fixed-wing aircraft.
Quite recently, reports suggested the all-men squadron of IAF, trained for flying Rafale jets, will soon get its first women pilot. One of the 10 current active woman fighter pilots is undergoing training to fly the jets, that were formally inducted into IAF this month. India purchased 36 Rafale jets from France and the first batch of five jets arrived in July.