When you watch movies like LOC Kargil, Border, Lakshya, Tango Charlie; have you ever wondered why there are no women fighting alongside the men? This fact alone forces us to think about the status of the women in serving their country.
Till the year 1992, women could not enter the armed forces and this particular field lay solely under men’s territory. But not anymore! In 1992, the Army, Navy and Air Force, the three pillars of our defence sector, opened their gates to women.
Isn’t that great? Women who have a fervent desire to serve their country against enemy forces now have the chance to do so. So, if you are willing to do whatever it takes, I will highlight the different routes through which you can join the armed forces of India. Feeling pumped up? Let’s begin!
Under the scheme of Short Service Commission, women who aspire to join the Indian Army can do so for a total period of 14 years. They can enter into different branches like Engineering, Law, Logistics, Education and Medicine.
There are 3 different routes through which you can join the Indian Army: Graduate UPSC (Non-technical), Graduate UPSC (Technical) and Graduate Non-UPSC.
You can apply online to these routes through the official website of the Indian Army. The shortlisted candidates are then called for an interview by the SSB either in Dec/Jan or Jun/July.
Route 1: Graduate UPSC (Non –Technical)
Those who have a non-engineering background fall under the category of Short Service Commission (non-technical) and its selection is done through a written exam conducted by UPSC twice every year in the month of February and September. The candidates who clear the written exam are then called for the interview conducted by the Service Selection Board (SSB).
Eligibility Criteria: The female candidates applying through this route must be unmarried and fall in the age group of 19 to 25 years. They must also have done graduation (any stream) from a recognized university.
Route 2: Graduate UPSC (Technical)
This route is for female candidates who possess a graduate degree in Engineering. The selection for short service commission (technical) is done solely on the basis of merit and no written exam has been conducted till date. The candidates are shortlisted on the basis of cut-off percentage applied on their marks obtained till 6th semester.
Eligibility Criteria: The female candidates applying through this route must be unmarried and fall in the age group of 20 to 27 years. They must also have done Engineering in the stream mentioned in the notification published by UPSC on its official website.
Route 3: Graduate Non-UPSC
There are two different sub-routes under this: National Cadet Corps and Judge Advocate General (JAG).
1. Short Service Commission (National Cadet Corps)
The NCC or National Cadet Corps is a youth development organization, which provides young individuals with basic military training in small arms and parades. Those female candidates who had been an active volunteer in the NCC can join the Indian Army through this route.
Eligibility Criteria: The female candidates applying through this route must be unmarried and fall in the age group of 19 to 25 years. They must be graduates (in any stream) with a minimum of 50% aggregate marks. They should also have done two years of service in NCC Senior Division Army obtaining a minimum ‘B’ Grade in ‘C’ certificate exam.
2. Short Service Commission (Judge Advocate General)
The Joint Advocate General is a branch in the Indian Army that provides legal help to the military, particularly related to court-martials and military law. To apply through this route, you need to have a recognized law degree (either 3-year or 5-year).
Eligibility Criteria- Female candidates applying through this route must be unmarried and fall in the age group of 21 to 27 years. They must have graduated LLB with 55% marks and be a member of the Bar Council of India or have passed through a law course recognized by the Bar Council.
Those candidates who clear the SSB interview go on for the medical test done by the military hospital. Once they are declared fit, they have to undergo training at Officers Training Academy, Chennai for a period of 49 weeks (11 months). The training commences either in the month of April or October.
Indian Air Force
Those females who wish to touch the sky can surely do so by joining the Indian Air Force! To join the Air Force, you need to clear the AFCAT exam, held twice a year (February and August). Once you clear the exam, you are then called for the AFSB (Air Force Selection Board) interview. Those who clear the interview undergo certain medical tests, clearing which they receive their final offer letters.
Women can enter the Flying branch, Technical branch and Non-Technical branch through AFCAT.
1. Flying Branch
You can apply in the flying branch for Short Service Commission, which extends for a maximum of up to 14 years. In the flying branch, you can be flying fighter planes, transport/cargo aircraft, helicopters etc.
Eligibility Criteria: To join the flying branch, you need to be 20 to 24 years of age and have a graduate degree in any discipline or a B.E/ B.Tech degree with an aggregate of 60% marks. You should also have studied Math and Physics at 10+2 level with min 60% marks.
NCC Special Entry: As an Air Wing Senior Division ’C’ Certificate holder of the National Cadet Corps, you can apply to the Flying Branch of the Indian Air Force directly. The upper age limit is relaxed to 26 years in case you have a valid commercial pilot license at the time of commencement of the course.
2. Ground Duty (Technical Branch)
Female engineering graduates in the age group of 20 to 26 years can join the technical branch. There are two types of services whose educational qualifications are:
A. Aeronautical Engineer (Mechanical)
You need to fulfil one of the following conditions:
- A minimum of 4-year degree course with an aggregate of minimum 60% marks and qualification in at least eight subjects out of eighteen.
- Cleared Section A and B exam of Associate Membership of Institution of Engineers or Aeronautical Society of India in regular courses.
B. Aeronautical Engineer (Electrical)
You need to fulfil one of the following conditions:
- Minimum four-year degree course from a recognized university with an aggregate of minimum 60% marks and qualification in at least eight subjects as per notified in the advertisement.
- Cleared any of the following exams: Section A and B exam of Associate Membership of Institution of Engineers, Aeronautical Society of India, or graduate membership exam of the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers in regular courses.
3. Ground Duty (Non-Technical Branch)
This branch includes departments like Administration, Accounts, Logistics, Education and Meteorology. As part of these departments, you would be required to control air traffic, manage human resources (education), material resources/ inventories, funds etc.
Eligibility Criteria: For graduates and postgraduates 20 to 26 years. There are 5 types of services in ground duty branches whose educational qualification conditions are given below:
Under this branch, the officers are selected to carry out the duties like Air Traffic Controller (involves maintaining an orderly flow of traffic and airspace management) or Fighter Controller (involves close contact and supervision between the air and radar for effective airspace management)
You need to have done graduation in any discipline from a recognized university with aggregate of 60% marks OR cleared Section A & B examination of Associate Membership of Institution of Engineers (India) or Aeronautical Society of India from a recognized university with a minimum of 60% marks or equivalent.
For joining the accounts branch, you need to have a B.com degree (minimum 3-year degree course) with minimum 60% marks or equivalent.
The Logistics department is responsible for the material management of all Air Force resources. For joining this branch, you need to have a graduate degree (Minimum 3-year degree course) in any discipline with 60% marks or cleared section A & B examination of Associate Membership of Institution of Engineers (India) or Aeronautical Society of India with a minimum of 60% marks or equivalent.
For joining the education branch, you need to have minimum 50% marks in MA/M.Sc degree in any of the following fields: English, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Statistics, International Relations, International Studies, Defence Studies, Psychology, Computer Science, IT, Management, MBA, MCA, Mass Communication, Journalism, Public Relations.
You should also have a minimum of 60% marks in your graduation from a recognized university.
A postgraduate degree with a minimum of 50% aggregate in any science stream/Mathematics/Statistics/Geography/Computer Applications/Environmental Science/Applied Physics/Oceanography/Agricultural Meteorology/Ecology & Environment/Geophysics/Environmental Biology (provided Maths & Physics were studied at the graduation level with a minimum of 55% marks in both).
Presently, women are directly inducted in the Indian Navy on Short Service Commission. The applications for each post are invited through advertisements published in leading newspapers and employment news twice a year between February to May and August to November.
After receiving the applications, candidates are shortlisted for the SSB interview based on cut-off (% in educational qualification/ current year JEE Main rank) decided by the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defense (Navy)/ DMPR.
Following are the branches/cadres/specializations of the navy where women can be inducted as SSC Officers:
1. Air Traffic Control Officer (ATC)
An ATC officer is responsible for controlling and navigating the aircrafts both ashore and afloat. Women candidates should fall in the age bracket of 19.5 to 25 years with a BE/ B.Tech degree in any discipline with Physics & Maths in 12th
An observer officer operates various equipment in the ship like sonics, radars, sonars and communication devices. Women candidates should fall in the age bracket of 19 to 24 years with a B.E/ B.Tech degree in any discipline and Physics & Math in 12th
Female candidates in the age group of 22 to 27 years should possess a degree in Law qualifying them for becoming advocates.
A Logistics officer is involved in planning, forecasting and executing the budget and inventory management of spare parts and other day-to-day material requirements on the ship. There are three different categories under the logistics branch vis. Logistics cadre, Works and Catering. Each category has the age limit of 19.5 to 25 years.
Educational qualifications for each of these cadres are:
- For Logistics Cadre – BE/ B.tech in any discipline with 1st class or MBA with 1st class or B.Sc/ BCom/ B Sc (IT) with 1st class and PG Diploma in Finance/ Logistics/ Supply Chain Management/ Material Management or MCA/ MSc (IT) with 1st class.
- For Works – A degree in B.E or B.Tech (Civil Engineering) or B.Arch
- For Catering – A postgraduate degree in M.Sc (Hotel Management)/ MBA (Hotel Management)/ B.Sc with 1st Class and PG Diploma in Hotel Management.
To enter into the education branch, female candidates must fall in the age bracket of 21 to 25 years with any of the following educational qualifications-
- A degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering or Engineering in Computer Science/ Technology
- Master’s degree in computer application or computer science. Must have studied either Physics or Maths at their graduation level.
- A postgraduate degree in Humanities (Economics/History/Political Science)
6. Naval Architecture
Eligibility Criteria – Females candidates in the age group of 19.5 to 25 years need to have scored at least 60% marks in BE/B.Tech degree in any one of the following streams: Mechanical, Civil, Aeronautical, Metallurgy or Naval Architecture.
Note: The government has also given approval for permanent commission in Education Branch, Law and Naval Architecture on completion of SSC tenure depending on merit and vacancy.
The SSB (Service Selection Board) interview is basically a five-day selection procedure through which candidates are selected to join the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. It comprises of two stages:
- Stage 1: This is a screening test stage and consists of Officer Intelligence Rating (OIR) test, picture perception and description (PP & DP) test.
- Stage 2: It consists of psychological tests, Group Testing Officer Tasks (GTO Tasks), personal interview and conference.
Each stage is an elimination round and those candidates who clear all the 5 stages then go on for medical tests. Those who pass the medical tests are then inducted in the specific defence branch.
This article briefly introduces you to the different ways women can enter into the armed forces. Women can also enter the Indian Coast Guard and paramilitary forces, but in this article, we have limited the discussion to the most sought-after defence areas – Army, Navy, Air Force. For more information, you can visit their respective official websites.
Now that you are aware of the different routes through which you can enter the armed forces, I hope it will help you in making your decision on which branch to join. No doubt the selection process is rigorous but it remains unmatched to the pride in serving your own country.
Think you have it in you to join the Indian armed forces? Share with us in the comments!