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A Battle Physical Efficiency Test In The Army Will Now Mean That Women Officers Can Move Up The Rank

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Let’s admit it, stereotypes are here to stay. From often being shunned to the kitchen or to produce kids, women have seen their roles evolve from baby-making machines to now competent counterparts to the males in their profession. Where once we weren’t allowed to go study, we are now taking charge as the CEOs of multinational corporations and where once we were seen too weak to defend ourselves, we are now serving to defend the country at the borders.

And seems like, over time we have finally reached the point when others too have started viewing us, and giving us an equal treatment like that given to men. We say this, after the army has tweaked its Battle Physical Efficiency Test (BPET) applicability for women, and made it mandatory for all the women cadets, officers and recruits from here on. The issue read, “Lady officers, who are commissioned before April 2009 and are above 35 years of age, will be excused BPET and only Physical Proficiency Test (PPT) will be applicable for them.”

Including the women who were commissioned before 2009 and above 35 years of age, and who were earlier exempt from it, this test now stands as a compulsory undertaking for all the women soldiers. The BPET that is essentially a cumulation of several physical tests that include strenuous and challenging tasks such as 5-km run, a 60-metre sprint, climbing vertical rope up to a certain height, traversing horizontal rope up to a certain distance and jumping 6-feet ditch.

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The letter that has formally issued on May 12, 2020 with the new change in the guidelines for women soldiers states, “The standards will be applicable to all categories of women entries and trainees in all training academies and regimental centres of all arms and services with immediate effect irrespective of date of joining training establishments/commission/enrolment”.

The directions also explain that the time taken to run at height of 5000 feet/1500 metres in age category for women officers below 30 years should be 30 minutes of less for ‘Excellent’ grading, 31 minutes 30 seconds for ‘Good’ grading and 33 minutes for ‘Satisfactory’ grading.

When an officer was reached out to comment on the new move, he said, “Many of the women officers would be considered for promotion to rank of Colonel therefore they need to do this course which was hitherto not compulsory for them.” This certainly does open up avenues for women in that they will be able to move up the ranks and newer positions will be available to them for the taking. That’s a step forward.

However, a woman officer didn’t see it exactly that way, “Why has this been done only after the SC gave a favourable ruling for permanent commission to women officers? Is it a move to ensure that women in higher age bracket who have not been doing BPET due to 2011 orders fail in their endeavour and are forced out of service?” Permanent commission was granted to women officers only recently. It is interesting to note that women, even of the calibre of Gunjan Saxena, were forced to retire because permanent commission was not an option that time.

Guess we are yet to find out how this new tweak by the army shall turn out to be, but for now, seems like the ground has been levelled for both men and women.

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