Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh praised the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on Thursday for her role in the 1971 war with Pakistan. Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) symposium on the role of women in the armed forces, Rajnath Singh said Indira Gandhi not only was at the helm of affairs of he country, but led it in times of war.
He also referred to Rani Laxmi Bai and former President Pratibha Patil adding about India’s positive experience about the role of women’s power in national development. “A few years back, Pratibha Patil was the President and the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces,” he said.
While it was okay to talk about the role of women in the armed forces, their vast contribution in all areas of security and nation-building should be recognised, Rajnath said. “There are a number of examples of women taking up arms to protect their country as well as the rights of the people throughout history. Rani Laxmi Bai is amongst the most revered and respected amongst them,” he said.
Talking about India’s initiatives towards women’s participation in the armed forces, the defence minister said, “Women have been serving with pride in the Indian Military Nursing Service for over 100 years. The Army had commenced commissioning women officers in 1992. It has now moved to inducting women officers in most of the branches of the Army,” he said.
“Women are now being accepted for permanent commission and shall be commanding Army units and battalions in the near future,” he added.