A lot many articles have been written about Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat in the media over the past two days. Ever since he gave an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, the General has been branded a “sexist” by a section of the media – the left wing, primarily.
If one reads the reports (and opinions) published by these media houses, one would gather that the General indeed said that women cannot become part of combat because, as reported by Scroll.in, their “primary responsibility is childcare”.
Obviously, reading these one-sided, misleading and ill-informed and out-of-context news reports would make even a non-ideologue believe that the General said something inappropriate in today’s times.
THE FACT, however, is that the General did not AT ALL say anything that can be called “sexist” unless you are one of those Feminazis or little learned keyboard warriors or a rabid leftist or simply a hater of the General (and Indian Army, by extension) masquerading as “feminists”. (Feminism is a genuine concern which is not only beyond the purview of this article but also beyond the bird-brained understanding of the Leftist or Rightist ideologues.)
Before we go into an explanation, we need to first listen to what the General said. (A video of the same is attached below this piece, but for the sake of readers a transcript has been produced.)
Transcript (Begins from the question of women officers in combat roles)
Interviewer: You say women make very good sources. I say woman will make very good soldiers as well.
General: What a misnomer! You know every time I have said…
Int (Interrupts): No, Military Police doesn’t count.
Gen: No, I am talking about officers.
Int (Interrupts): No, tell us about combat.
Gen: There are women officers and engineers…
Gen: No, not non-combat, they are doing demining and mining operations, they are doing bridging. In air defence, they are manning the weapons systems.
We have not put women yet in frontline combat. Today the frontline combat where the army is involved is proxy war. You have to deal with terrorists. In such an operation, commanding officers, company commanders can die. So a lady officer can also die…
Int: But they know the risk. They volunteer.
Gen: Yes, true. They are going. But let me tell you that even today, our jawans come from the rural areas…that acceptance will take time.
We have started copying western analogy. I will give you an example.
I did a course in the US. We had 4 women and 10 men. You get one hour break after every 3-4 hours. You either have your lunch or go to the gym. Now in the gym all of us changed for the gym course in the classroom.
Int: This is about logistics!
Gen (Repeats): I am saying all of us. If you can follow this system, its okay.
We have orders to issue a hut in the COB then place a sheet around it otherwise even the ladies may say “somebody is peeping”
Int: These are all assumptions.
Gen: If you think this won’t happen but even women in Delhi say the same thing. And I am saying that she is in isolation and there are 100s of jawans.
Int: So you are saying the Army is not ready to accept women combat officers in their ranks.
Gen: No, it is not that the Army is not ready.
I make a lady officer the Commanding Officer of an RR Battalion. Can she be away from her command responsibility for 6 months?
Gen: Do I now put a restriction on her that during that tenure you won’t get a maternity leave? Can I put a diktat? You will raise a ruckus.
Int: So combat role for women is a distant thing?
Gen: No, it is there. I am just saying that frontline combat where you get isolated with a larger male population with you and contact with adversary takes place.
(He cites Captain Saurabh Kalia’s example who was brutally killed by Pakistanis after he was caught during patrolling in 1999.)
We should not create a hue and cry if a woman officer is caught saying ‘Pakistan has caught a woman, get her back’. Even a male gets caught, so would a woman soldier. Why should we get worried? I hope the environment in the country will not be different when a lady is caught by Pakistan. I hope the country will do the same thing (for both male and female soldiers).
A simple reading of the transcript would reveal that the General is making sense. Far from being sexist, he is looking at things from a completely practical point of view as should be by the chief of the world’s third largest army instead of looking at things from the shaded perspective of social justice warriors.
When he cited the example of his US gym class, he was implying that India is not yet ready for the gender cohesion that one sees in nearly EVERY college in the US. Will the women be okay in changing clothes in the presence of men? And no, that stupid Leftist argument that women often change clothes in the middle of the road in India is a misplaced in this context. The Army, as the General says, has to provide facilities for the women members of the staff, which is absolutely unthinkable and logistically impossible – let alone strategically devastating – in frontline combat situations.
The transcript reveals nowhere did the General say or imply what Scroll.in reported. The General said that he CANNOT place a diktat on a lady commanding officer or the RR (Rashtriya Rifles) Battalion DURING the time of her tenure if he wants to. Because if he does so, he will be hounded by the SJWs in the media. What IF a woman commanding officer becomes pregnant during such a tenure? Should she not be allowed maternity leave? By all means, she should. Would that not put ongoing operations of the RR in jeopardy? Of course, it might! Now the General is in a Catch 22 situation. If he doesn’t allow the maternity leave, he will be criticised as anti-women. If he does, he will put operations at risk. If he places a diktat prohibiting any woman from taking maternity leave during the tenure of such service, he and the Army will again be branded anti-women. The problem is therefore the SJWs and not the Army.
He is absolutely right when he says that the Army cannot be forced to rescue a woman combat officer from the clutches of the enemy JUST BECAUSE she is a woman. He is, sadly, not wrong. It is very much likely that the (fake) “feminists” and SJWs will try to create a situation. The General actually says that men and women shall be treated equally in the Army. Is that not what the “feminists” demand? Some Leftist social media users tried to cite examples of the Israeli Defence Forces to troll the Army chief. They do not know that the women in IDF do not even demand any kind of special treatment and consider themselves genuinely equal to the men in every respect, unlike SJWs.
And the General is right about men feeling uncomfortable under a female commander. His “village” reference might come around as harsh but is not wrong. Those criticising him for this comment should realise that the Army is not a social justice laboratory. The moment it becomes one, even the smallest of our enemies would be able to overrun the nation. So the societal mindset needs to change first. Some said that the General should prosecute men who behave like “peeping toms”. Indeed, he should but should the General leave the security of the nation on the back of his mind and become busy with such cases? Thus again, the Army is not a social justice laboratory.
The media houses which branded the Army chief’s comments “sexist” smartly excluded his comments on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. That was the last question of the interview, but the one that highlighted the respect the Army has for women as well as women commanders.
Int: What is like for you to be reporting to a female Defence Minister?
Gen: Nothing at all. Only thing is that she told us sternly not to call us ‘Ma’am’, which we have a habit. She said you will refer to us as ‘Raksha Mantri’, which I think was a good sign. Because she says don’t look at me as a woman because when we say ma’am we think she is a woman. I think she comes as strong as a male counterpart. As an Army chief I can say, I have had no problem.