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Open mind on combat role for women says Nirmala Sitaraman

By Vicky

India's new Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has an open mind on combat role for women. After taking charge as the Defence MInister on Sunday she said that she is keeping an "open mind" on women in combat roles -- a matter that Army Chief Bipin Rawat said is being looked into.

Nirmala Sitharaman

"After my taking charge, I will be certainly be going through a lot of what has happened on that front... I will keep an open mind and look into the matter," 58-year-old Sitharaman said. The issue, she added, has even been discussed by the National Commission of Women.

Women are allowed in some select areas in the army - including medical, legal, signals and engineering wings. But in June, General Rawat had assured that the army is ready to open up combat positions for women and it will begin with inducting them as military police. Last year, the Indian Air Force had inducted three women as fighter pilots.

"We have already started the process," General Rawat had told Press Trust of India in an exclusive interview.

So far, only Germany, Australia, Canada, the US, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden and Israel have allowed women in combat roles.

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