The first-ever batch of women who will be inducted into the rank-and-file of the Indian army have transformed into professional soldiers from cadets that came in with inhibitions, the commandant of the Corps of Military Police (CMP) Centre and School, where they are training, said, adding that it will take a while for the system to accept them, but that the national will be very proud of them soon.
“These girls who had come, initially with a lot of inhibitions and deficiencies have actually been transformed into professional soldiers all thanks to their own hard work, grit and determination they have, the zeal and the passion. Needless to say that the instructors and the trainers have worked really hard with them and that’s why they turned out to be what they are today,” Brigadier C Dayalan, commandant, CMP Centre and School, said.
Conceding that while it will take some time for the system to accept them as colleagues, he said: “…But mark my words, the way we have seen them transform, the way they overcame the obstacles, I am sure, I am more than certain that the environment/system is bound to accept them sooner than we had envisaged. This is primarily because of their (women soldiers) professionalism and the values that they have imbibed. Very soon, the nation will be very proud of them.”
He said that the induction of women soldiers into the army has been a very significant step towards achieving gender parity. And this historic decision by the Indian army, he said, would pave the way as a harbinger of a similar step by the sister services of the defence forces in the times to come.
“Why the CMP? We’ve been made the pioneers for training the first batch of women soldiers that’s below the rank of officers because every military police soldier is vested with authority. Policing the army means an authority and they are trained suitibly. And that’s the reason why CMP was chosen,” he said.
Further, while pointing out that change in any system was bound to have difficulties, obstacles, fraught with challenges, he said that the biggest challenge that he looked at was the acceptance of women soldiers as colleagues, the change of mindset in the system and the environment.
“Not only now, in my view, it will take some more years. Even after they have merged with the environment, even after the system has absorbed women, it will take some time. And it is our duty to ensure that they are amalgamated into the system quickly. To ensure this, we’ve taken some steps as preparations,” he said.
Even before the first recruit joined training, the CMP put in place the right kind of accommodation and infrastructure, security aspects, hygiene and sanitation and women-specific amenities.
“The aspect of gender sensitisation was very important. Not just our troops here, but we also sensitised families of soldiers serving here. All of them were sensitised about gender parity so that they understand the concept and ensure acceptance. Also, every aspect of the women’s training here was at a par with their male counterparts keeping in mind gender parity,” he said.
Besides, the CMP took special care in training the instructors, who were themselves trained by a team from other establishments of the army that has experience in training women cadets (officers).
“There are already two establishments — Officers Training Academy, Chennai and NCC Training Academy in Gwalior — that are training women cadets. A core team of instructors from there visited our campus and conducted a capsule here under the aegis of the deputy commandant and the chief instructor, who is responsible for the overall training activities as also the trainers,” he said.
Dayalan added that the capsule was conducted with the primary aim of sensitising CMP’s instructors, to refine their conduct with the women recruits, what to do and what not to do — A code of conduct was formulated for both the trainers and the trainees to arrive at how the training was to be impared.
“And one important issue was the Vishaka guidelines — the government-mandated instructions to prevent sexual harassment at workplaces. This was highlighted right from the beginning. Not only were the trainers and trainees given information about them (guidelines), but we also constituted a board of officers from Day-1 with the primary aim of looking into any complaint received against any offences and to take necessary actions. And I can proudly say that this board of officers has not even received a single complaint because of the steps that we had taken,” he added.