Pune: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has ruled out recruiting women for combat operations in armed forces due to apprehensions about their safety but said they would be encouraged to join other operational areas with their inclusion being stepped up in phases.
"No. Think of what can happen if a woman is taken as a prisoner in combat operation," he said, implying at possible atrocities they might suffer if held captive by enemy forces. He, however, said except for combat role women will be encouraged to join other operational areas of the forces.
"This inclusion will be increased in phases," Mr Parrikar said during a brief interaction with reporters on the sidelines of a passing out parade at the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla near Pune.
On shortage of officers in the forces, he said the deficit is being reduced and the gap currently stood at 7,000 as against 11,000 earlier.
Mr Parrikar said the admission capacity of the Academy, the premier institute which trains future officers of the three wings of the Armed Forces, too will be enhanced from existing 1950 to 2400 in next two years.
On his arrival on the campus, Parrikar reviewed a smartly turned out parade of the passing out cadets on the sprawling premises and asked them to cultivate a "sound mind and sound body" to serve the country with an emphasis on moral and ethical values.
He awarded the President's gold medal to cadet AK Sinha.
The silver and bronze medals were bagged by cadets Nishant Philip and RS Bisht.