Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Women pilots to fly fighters in IAF?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

A lot is being said about President Pratibha Devisingh Patil's scheduled ceremonial flight in a Sukhoi-30MKI. Being the supreme commander of the armed forces in the country our President wants to lay a precedent like her predecessor APJ Abdul Kalam did. But honestly it seems quite an absurd thing in a country where women are still not allowed to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. What message does the President or the Indian Air Force wants to send to the nation. Ceremonial flights and forward base visits seldom boost the moral of soldiers

Although women are allowed to fly transport aircrafts and helicopters they are yet to sit in the supersonic jets. Women not being allowed to enter the combat forces has been more due to cultural reasons than anything else. Although we have had the legends of Razia Sultana and Rani Laxmi Bai we are yet to come in terms with Indian women being involved in combat. The bar on it is not illogical though with a huge chance of women being exposed to grave threats like being taken a Prisoner of War if they get into combat roles.

IAF vice chief Air Marshal P K Barbora said that women fighter pilots in the future might have to avoid getting pregnant during their flying career of 10-15 years. This will soon snowball into a major controversy with Women Rights Groups making a issue out of it. But is what P K Barbora saying absolutely wrong? The IAF spends over 12 crore to train a pilot and this spread over a period of 10-15 years that would me almost a crore a year for a pilot. A medical leave of close to one year will mean a loss of Rs 1 crore of tax payer's money. Now does that amount seems insignificant to any individual?

Now, many people might argue that the IAF is talking away the right to freedom from women if they are inducted into the fighter wings. It may be so but women who choose to go into specialised combat wings might have to make this much sacrifice. All male fighter pilots are required to report to the duty immediately when a crisis arises, similar will be the case with women pilots when ever they are inducted into the fighter wings.

So if women are determined to join the Indian Air Force's fighter wing they should be prepared to make such sacrifices in their personal lives. After all, IAF fighter wing is a specialised job not an employment generation scheme.


bikramjit November 19, 2009 at 1:18 PM  

male chauvinist point of view!!!
actually no.... but the whole program needs a headstart first and air marshal P.K. Barbora's statement comes at a time when the issue of induction of women in the fighter squadrons of IAF is coming close to materialising and his comment is utterly realistic and sceptical at the same time.

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