Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Friday said he expected women cadets to be welcomed with a sense of fair play and professionalism upon their admission into the National Defence Academy (NDA), and added that 40 years down the line, women could be standing at the spot where he was standing today.
General Naravane, himself an alumnus of the 56th course of the tri-services academy, was the Reviewing Officer for the Passing Out Parade of the 141st course of the NDA, which was held on Friday morning and marked the culmination of three years of rigorous training for the passing cadets. In August, while hearing a plea seeking directions to allow eligible women to take the NDA and Naval Academy examinations, the Supreme Court had allowed women to appear for the exams. The court however, said that admission of women candidates would be subject to a final ruling on the petition.
In his address at the Passing Out Parade, General Naravane said, “It was a proud moment for the instructors and staff who have worked day and night to mould you (cadets) into responsible professionals, who will uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our nation. Going on, as we open the portals of the NDA to women cadets, I expect you all to welcome them with the same sense of fair play and professionalism that the Indian Armed Forces are known for the world over.”
During the media interaction on the sidelines of the parade, Gen Naravane said, “As we go ahead, we shall be inducting women cadets into the NDA. And I am sure that they will perform equally well as male cadets. This is just the first step towards gender equality and the Army has been at the forefront of all such initiatives in the country. As a result of this, they will get further empowered to hold even more challenging assignments in the Armed Forces. We will have to create additional infrastructure to accommodate women cadets. But as far as training is concerned, there will be no difference. We are already following the same regime at the Officers’ Training Academy in Chennai. The squads for the training are all mixed squads and they train together.”
“I think 40 years down the line, women could be standing where I am standing,” said the Army Chief while answering a question on where he sees women in the Armed Forces 20-30 years down the line.
Earlier, addressing the passing out cadets, the General said, “A little over 42 years ago, when I stood as a cadet at the same drill square as you stand today, little could I have imagined that one day I shall be reviewing this magnificent parade. Even as the flypast is the testimony to the changing character of war, the parade is a testimony to the fact that boots on ground are as relevant today as they were four decades ago. From here on you shall step into your respective service academies for more focused military training. But always remember that no single service by itself can fight and win modern wars… new developments in niche technologies are transforming the very character of war. Therefore, it is very important that you keep yourself abreast of these changes with regular professional education.”
Addressing the parents of the passing out cadets, Gen Naravane said, “You have raised them with love and affection. Now, we have taken on that role. They were your children till yesterday, they are ours from now on. We shall nurture them, cherish them and even admonish them but we shall always be with them, in sun and snow, in war and peace.”
Answering a question on cyber security, the General said, “Cyber security is an issue being addressed at various levels. Not just the training at the academy level, but I feel we should also be training our children on this aspect. From various workshops and seminars conducted within Armed Forces, we bring home the point of how cyber security is very important to maintain operational preparedness.”
On technological preparedness of the Armed Forces, he said, “We are no way behind than any country in the world. We have the best of the equipment that is available. It will be heartening to know most of the state-of-the-art equipment, especially IT and surveillance equipment, has been bought from Indian companies, small start-ups and MSMEs.”