The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the NDA exam all over India in which more than two lakhs candidates appear for it. Out of these candidates, around six thousands are selected for the interview round and over 300 of them are shortlisted to enter the prestigious NDA. However, one debatable aspect of this admission process was only male candidates were allowed to apply for this exam. But in a recent development, the Supreme Court has given a ruling to allow women to appear for UPSC National Defence Academy’s exam. This means that now the females of our country who are seeking their career in defence services will be eligible to apply for the NDA exam.
What is UPSC NDA’s Eligibility Criterion for Females?
Before the interim order of the Supreme Court, female candidates were not allowed to apply and sit for the NDA exams. Neither government nor the NDA has ever revealed the reason behind this. Not allowing the women for the NDA exam was also a hurdle in their career opportunities. So, a few days back, a plea against this rule had been filed in the Supreme Court to which the apex court has announced its decision of girls to join the Indian Armed Forces by permitting them for the NDA exam. However, the eligibility criterion of girls for the NDA exam is not decided yet. The UPSC will publish the updated eligibility details for females in the coming days.
Violation of Right to Equality
A petition was filed against the denial of women in the NDA exam by lawyer Kush Kalra. He is seeking equal opportunity for women at par with men in taking admission into prestigious Indian Armed Forces academies. In the petition, he said that by not allowing girls for the NDA or INA (Indian Naval Academy), the government is violating the Right to Equality because our constitution clearly states that there cannot be such discrimination on the lines of caste, colour, religion or sex. Eligible female candidates have been denied the opportunity to join the NDA on the basis of their sex. This later becomes a hurdle in the career of females’ officers.
Candidates should be selected on the basis of their performance in written examination followed by intelligence and personality test, not on any other medium. The petitioner said that this policy of UPSC is a matter of concern as it is a constitutional body and such body should not promote discrimination between genders. The Supreme Court also said that the policy decision regarding the NDA exams is based on gender discrimination. Hence, the topmost court permitted the entry of girls in the NDA exam.
Why women were not allowed to appear in NDA exam?
There is no official or written clarification about the denial of female candidates in NDA or INA exams. It has been speculated that women have less physical strength than men and in the Indian Armed Forces, physical strength matters the most. Another reason was cleared when a navy veteran had given an interview in which he said that the Armed Forces are not ready yet for women officers to lead non-commissioned male officers. To change this mindset of male officers in the Indian Armed Forces, it would need a cultural shift.
However, the government and many other army officials never said that the policy of denying girls for attempting the NDA or INA exams is based on gender discrimination. They said that army has opened other modes for women to get admit into the Indian Armed Forces. All three wings of the Armed Forces whether it is the army, air force or navy, have begun to induct women as short-service commission (SSC) officers since 1992. Women can enter the army by taking SSC exams after graduation. But the major question arises here that why do only women have one mode to get admission into the Indian Armed forces unlike male candidates.
Even the eligibility criteria of both men and women are different. The men can apply for the NDA after 10+2 but females were only allowed to apply for Short Service Commission’s (SSC) post through Officer Training Academy (OTA) Chennai after graduation. After getting selected for SSC, a female can only serve for ten years. After completing 10 years, she will have two choices either to ask for an extension of her service period for 4 years or can opt-out from the Armed forces. The difference between the admission process of males and females shows discrimination whether it is based on sex or other aspects.
What are the things that need to be changed?
Is the entry of women for NDA exams sufficient? What are the things that actually need to be changed so that nation can move towards equality? Many countries have actually moved forward by allowing women in combat units. Many studies have shown across the world that the group intelligence of an institution increases when women come on board. Countries like the US have long ago seen the women of their country as armed commanders. But in India, many servicemen will resist the idea of women commanders. The reason behind this is the stereotype thinking of people who sometimes afraid of women being exposed to violence or do not feel comfortable that a woman is dominating the males.
So, only changing laws is not sufficient. What we truly need to do is to change our mentality. The attitude, that a woman needs a male figure for protection, need to be changed. Society should teach girls to protect themselves.
The second issue that needs to be modified is that the differentiation of physical strength. It is a universal fact that in physical stamina, males are ruling the world but there are many women who have good physical strength and on being trained they can serve in many areas of life. Without giving opportunities, no one has a right to decide or fix the roles of males and females in society.
NDA Exam 2021 Update: Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Can women give NDA Exam?
Yes after Supreme Court’s interim decision, women now can apply for NDA Exam 2021.
Q2. What is the required minimum age for the NDA exam for males?
The required minimum age of candidates for the NDA exam for males is between 15 to 18 years.
Q3. What is the eligibility criterion for admission in NDA?
A candidate must have qualified the 10+2 with PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Maths) exams for getting admission in NDA.
Q4. What is NDA Exam?
Ans. UPSC conducts the NDA exam for admission to the Indian Armed Forces. This exam provides a gateway to candidates who want to make their career in Defence Forces.
Q5. What is the minimum salary in NDA?
Ans. After completing the NDA training successfully, a candidate in Level 10 has a salary of Rs 56,100/ per month.
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