In a first, women to be inducted as officers in border security force
Breaking the male bastion in the five decade-old Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the government has approved recruitment of young women as ‘combat officers’ in the second largest border guarding force.
The women officers, after induction, will have an opportunity to serve in far-flung border locations of the force which secures ‘open’ and important Indian frontiers with Nepal and Bhutan.
Young women under and up to the age of 25 years will be recruited as direct entry officers in the rank of Assistant Commandants (ACs) and according to sources in the Union Home Ministry, the force will have the trained women officers on ground by late 2015.
Till now, women could only don the combat uniform in the officer cadre in three other central security forces, the Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force and the Border Security Force.
However, women will still not be inducted as officers in the third border guarding force of the country – the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force– deployed along the China border.
The SSB, in 2007, was the first to recruit women in junior ranks of Constables but since then, the contingents were being commanded by male officers and hence a desire was felt to have women officers in the paramilitary which has close to 1,400 women personnel in ‘khaki’ at present.
The new female officers will be recruited by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as part of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) Exam-2014.
A total of 136 officers, both male and female, will be recruited this year.
‘This is for the first time that women will be commissioned as officers in SSB, a border guarding force.The BSF was allowed to recruit women officers last year and as part of women empowerment in these premier forces, it was thought apt to induct women in combat ranks in this border force,’ a senior home ministry official said.
The SSB is about 50,000 personnel strong force at present and secures the 1,751-km long Indo-Nepal border and the 699-km Indo-Bhutan border.
Officials say that while having male officers as commanders of women units was not a problem but deputing women as leaders surely sends the message that they are second to none and can accomplish any task as good as their male counterparts.
Under the current exam of UPSC, there will be no cap on the number of women taking up these posts as the selection is based on merit.
After being recruited and commissioned as ACs, these women officers can rise and get promotions to become Deputy Commandants and Commandants of an operational company (about 100 personnel) or a full battalion (approximately 1000 personnel) in the SSB.