He praised the role of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1971 war with Pakistan. He said that the former PM not only held the command of the country for many years, but also led it in times of war. Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) symposium on the role of women in the armed forces, the Defense Minister also referred to Rani Lakshmibai and former President Pratibha Patil. Said that India’s experience about the role of women’s power in national development has been positive. Singh said it was okay to talk about the role of women in the armed forces, but their vast contribution in all areas of security and nation-building should be recognized. There are many examples in history of women taking up arms for the defense of the country and the rights of the people. Rani Laxmibai is the most prominent among them. The Defense Minister said, “The former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi not only held the command of the country for years, but also led in times of war. A few years back Pratibha Patil was the President of India and the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. India won the 1971 war against Pakistan during Indira Gandhi’s tenure as Prime Minister and a new country Bangladesh was formed. Singh said that women have been playing a role for centuries as guardians and protectors. He said, ‘Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, wisdom and education, while Maa Durga is the goddess of protection, power, destruction and war.’ He said that India was one of the few countries which took early initiatives for women’s participation in the armed forces and women are being recruited into the army as permanent commissions. Singh said, “Women have been serving with pride in the Indian Military Nursing Service for more than 100 years. The recruitment of women officers in the Indian Army started in 1992. Now women officers are being recruited in most of the branches of the army. He said that from next year women will be able to get training at the National Defense Academy (NDA).
[Attribution to NBT]