Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Fair Lady

The talk show host was a menacing man who had somehow taken the onus upon himself to carry the baton for equality on behalf of the fairer sex. A couple of middle aged ladies were vociferous in their opinions about an equal share with their male counterparts. And in the middle of this chaos was a retd Lt Gen,smiling helplessly. This was a setting from a talk show aired on a prime news channel and which I unfortunately ended up watching. The talk show host was discussing the pros and cons of inducting Lady Offrs in combat arms serving in active field areas. What amused me most was the manner in which the talk show host and the two, third wave feminist ladies were carrying forward the propoganda of an equal share for women in combat arms. So much blabber from the people who had neither stepped into a combat zone nor had any experience dealing with troops. The only gentleman who shared a helpless smile was the retd Lt Gen,who lost out on the debate, probably because of his chivalrous nature to let the ladies(and a very feminine looking mascara laden talk show guy)speak.
Any which ways, I lost interest in their blabber a few moments later, but which got me thinking – ARE WE READY TO INDUCT LADY OFFRS IN COMBAT ARMS SERVING IN ACTIVE FIELD AREAS? Even at the cost of being labeled a Male Chauvinist Pig(MCP) or a sexist, I’m writing this article. Let us consider a few scenarios before we come to a conclusion.

A far flung post in Northern Kashmir is created to prevent a new route of infiltration. The troops are inducted at short notice led by a lady Capt. After a gruesome walk of 10 hrs through treacherous terrain they reach their designated spot. There are no living barracks, no bathrooms & no basic amenities there. The situation demanded troops to reach first and administrative build up to follow later. Will the Lady Offr be comfortable going about her morning ablutions in the midst of nature? Will she sleep under the same poncho with her male counterparts without feeling violated?

After a successful stint in a CI ops area Capt I M Smart wishes to go on a well deserved leave for his engagement. Posted in the same Bn is a Lady offr, Capt I M Fair. Capt I M Fair is pregnant and also wishes to proceed on leave. The Commanding Offr is caught between the deep sea and the devil, for he can only send one Offr on leave at that time. Capt I M Smart is told to postpone his engagement while Capt I M Fair is asked to proceed. Who is responsible for the lowered morale of a bright young Offr serving well in a high stress environment? What choices did the CO have by keeping an impregnated Lady Capt in a high stress environment?

Hav I M Pagal hails from the back and beyond of Bhiwani district, Haryana. He is carrying on a family legacy of producing fine soldiers for the Army. He comes from a socio-eco background where women enact the role of a nourisher and homemaker while the men take on the role of being the provider. Posted on the LC fence Hav I M Pagal is enjoying some ‘quiet time’ thumbing through  a magazine which has pictures of scantily clad women posing. Capt I M Fair walks in unannounced to check the living conditions of the barracks and takes personal offence at Hav I M Pagal’s actions. She gives him a mouthful and awards him a warning letter for actions improper of good order and military discipline. Hav I M Pagal is flabbergasted! What wrong did Hav I M Pagal do when he read a magazine for leisure and to distress himself? Was Capt I M Fair justified in punishing a senior Hav for reading material which can best be described as ‘leisure reading’?

Capt I M Fair is a courageous young Lady Offr doing her field stint in the dense jungles of Manipur. During a routine patrol ,her patrol is ambushed. All the jawans are killed in the firefight whereas Capt I M Fair is taken alive by the terrorists. A couple of days later she is found by the rescue team. Capt I M Fair has been brutally raped many times over in the last 48 hours and then dumped in a far away jungle. Will the media cover this story in a responsible manner? Will Capt I M Fair’s kin and kith feel the same patriotic pride, a mother of a slain martyr feels?
        While I have just brought out a few aspects of the problems faced while operating in a high risk environment, there are millions more which can be told(due to paucity of space, I’m letting go).While I, in no way consider women inferior to men, I strongly feel that being in the front lines should only be for male Offrs, atleast till we improve our administrative and infrastructure requirement alongwith the social thinking that is presently in vogue. Women are in no way less courageous, a mother bears more pain delivering a child than any man can think of. A woman makes a million sacrifices in various roles of life like a sister, wife or a mother. We have had the best of doctors, engineers, IT reps, pilots as Lady Offrs. The best and brightest minds in the country are women. But for a job which has various social repercussions, there’s still time when a Lady Offr can be inducted into combat arms in active field areas.

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