Admiral RK Dhowan
Admiral R.K. DhowanTwitter/MinistryOfDefence

Indian Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan said on Wednesday that women will be inducted as pilots for surveillance aircraft, but not for combat roles. 

"As far as combat roles are concerned, this is in consonance to the policy of the Government of India, the policy of Ministry of Defence, as it is applicable to all three Services. As and when we look at the aspect of changes that come about, we will proceed step by step," Admiral Dhowan said at a press conference relating to the International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam next year, reported PTI.

The Indian Navy currently has 9,000 officers, out of which 500 are women.

It is pertinent here that on 8 October, while speaking at the Air Force Day, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had announced that women would soon be inducted to fly fighter planes. 

 Admiral Dhowan said that women have been involved in the Navy in various roles, such as being observers in flights, air traffic controllers (ATC), in the education department, legal branches, and overseeing the construction of ships, "therefore, it would be unfair to say we are lagging behind anybody." 

Speaking about the increase in participation of women in other units of the Navy, the Naval chief said they would take up the issue with the Ministry of Defence.

"We are looking and we have taken up the issue to the Ministry of Defence as a proposal which is still under consideration to see how women pilots can be allowed in our maritime reconnaissance aircraft. That is something which is under consideration. Government will have to take a view," Admiral Dhowan said. 

Veteran Captain BN Kishore (Retd) commended the move to widen the scope for women to serve in the Navy. 

"I think it is a do-able thing. The reason is there will be equal representation of women, not for political reasons. The plus points are that they (women) are better suited for certain roles. They bring maturity. You have lady fighter pilots in many countries. In western countries women assemble the aircrafts, they do everything," Capt.Kishore told IBTimes India.

He cited another reason to induct women as pilots. "There will be effective utilisation of human resources. In any case, everybody cannot be a fighter pilot. Only above-average or exception people become fighter pilots, not only in terms of merit but also physiologically. The same rule will apply for women as well".