Why is no Woman General in the Indian Army?

Why is no Woman General in the Indian Army?
06-June 2023...........

From allowing girls to join NDA to allowing female officers to hold command roles in the Indian Army, the Indian Army has witnessed a sea change towards gender equality in the Indian Army. But, Since Historical Times, the Army has always been patriarchal in nature because of the requirements of physical fitness, stamina, and ruthlessness. Generally, Women were not considered to be fit for these roles because it was deemed that women lack these qualities.


But, If we study our history closely, we will know these are baseless claims only. India has always been a land of leaders and women are no exception. India has produced some of the best women leaders who sometimes outweigh male leaders. Leaders like Rani Lakshmi Bai, Ahilya Bai Holkar, Tara Bai Bhonsle, and Rani Chennamma are some of the female military leaders whose bravery is still sung today. General Hugh Rose who led the British forces against Rani Laxmi Bai and on her death said that "here lay the woman who was the only man among the rebels".


How Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army is selected?


The Chief of Army Staff is appointed by the Appointment Committee of Cabinet which is headed by the Prime Minister of India. The chief of army staff of the Indian Army is appointed for a period of 3 years and up to the age of 62. There are no clear written rules about the appointment of chief of army staff.  Generally, seniority, operational, and command experience are the key criteria for the appointment of chief of army staff.


List of Chief of Army Staff in the Indian Army


Sr. No.

        Name of Chief of Army Staff



General Sir Robert Lockhart

51 Sikhs Frontier Force


General Francis Robert Roy Bucher

Scottish Rifles


Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa

Rajput Rifles


General Maharaj Rajendrasinhji Jadeja

2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse)


General Maharaj Rajendrasinhji Jadeja

2nd Lancers (Gardner’s Horse)


General Satyawant Mallana Sringesh

19th Hyderabad Regiment


General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya

19th Hyderabad Regiment


General Pran Nath Thapar

1st Punjab Regiment


General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri

7th Light Cavalry


General Paramasiva Prabhakar Kumaramangalam

Regiment of Artillery


Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw

12th Frontier Force Regiment


General Gopal Gurunath Bewoor

Dogra Regiment


General Tapishwar Narain Raina

Kumaon Regiment


General Om Prakash Malhotra

Regiment of Artillery


General Kotikalapudi Venkata Krishna Rao

Mahar Regiment


General Arun Kumar Shridhar Vaidya

9th Deccan Horse


General Krishnaswamy Sundarji

Mahar Regiment


General Ashwa Nath Sharma

16th Light Cavalry


General Sunith Francis Rodrigues

Regiment of Artillery


General Bipin Chandra Joshi

64th Cavalry


General Shankar Roy Chowdhary

20th Lancers


General Ved Prakash Malik

Sikh Light Infantry


General Sundarajan Padmanabhan

Regiment of Artillery


General Nirmal Chander Vij

Dogra Regiment


General Joginder Jaswant Singh

Maratha Light Infantry


General Deepak Kapoor

Regiment of Artillery


General Vijay Kumar Singh

Rajput Regiment


General Bikram Singh

Sikh Light Infantry


General Dalbir Singh Suhag

5 Gorkha Rifles


CDS Bipin Rawat

11 Gorkha Rifles


General Manoj Mukund Naravane

7 Sikh Light Infantry


General Manoj Pande

Corps of Engineers




Women were not allowed to join Core Regiments/Units of the Indian Army

  • If you analyze carefully, all the Chief of Army Staff belong to Core Regimenst/Units of the Indian Army i.e. Infantry, Armoured Corps, and  Artillery.
  • It is not a written rule, but the Chief of Army Staff is generally selected from the fighting arms of the Indian Army not from support arms like Army Medical Corp, Corps of Signals, or Army Supply Corps.
  • Women Officers of the Indian Army were not allowed to join these fighting arms of the Indian Army. Women Officers have been allowed to join Artillery Regiment this year only.
  • It was not a practical choice to appoint a chief of army staff without operational experience.


  • The Chief of Army Staff is normally selected on the basis of seniority.
  • So, Army Officers who get commissioned at a young age have higher chances of becoming Chief of Army Staff.
  • That’s why almost all the Army Officers are alumni of the National Defence Academy only because they get commissioned at a young age.
  • In the case of female Army Officers, they get commissioning from  Officers Academy, Chennai at the age of around 23-25 years.
  • Late commissioning of female officers is one of the reasons behind not being selected as Chief of Army Staff.

No Permanent Commission

  • A permanent Commission was allowed in the Indian Army on the intervention of the supreme court a few years ago.
  • Before this, only a short service commission was available in the Indian Army, JAG, and AEC being exceptions. It means that female officers could serve for a maximum of 14 years only.
  • In the absence of a permanent commission, it was impossible for female officers of the Indian Army even to dream about the rank of Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.

No Command Role for Female Officers

  • Command Role was not available till this year for female officers of the Indian Army.
  • Only a few months ago, the Ministry of Defence decided that Female Officers of the Indian Army should hold the rank of commanding officer in the Indian Army.
  • The command role is a very important position in the Indian Army that shows a high level of leadership qualities.
  • Without Command Roles, Female Officers could never have been considered experienced enough for the rank of Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.

Patriarchal Nature of Indian Society

  • Indian Society is a patriarchal society. From home to parliament, there is the dominance of males.
  • So how can the Indian Army be an exception? After all, our soldiers and officers of our society only.
  • The Indian Army did not have proper infrastructure, flexible working, and gender-neutral policies until now.
  • Lt Gen Dushyant Singh has highlighted that due to a patriarchal mindset, female officers were generally not considered for higher ranks of the Indian Army.


Can a Female officer become Chief of Army Staff in the Future?

Female Officers of the Indian Army, indeed, have a chance to become Chief of Army Staff in the Indian Army. Now, Female Officers have a suitable gender-neutral environment within the Indian Army that will allow them to go up to higher ranks of the Indian Army. Now female officers can get permanent commissions, command roles, and entry into prestigious army staff colleges. We can see in the Russia-Ukraine War, Today, technology is playing a big role in the war, and in the coming time war will hardly be fought on the ground. So, the role of women in the coming wars is going to be imminent. In such a scenario, female officers can be considered for the role of chief of army staff.


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