EDUCATION PLUS

IAF opens the skies to more women

The Indian Air Force is opening its doors to women more than ever before. A lot has changed since the force first inducted women into its administrative and education branches in the Nineties. The IAF is now recruiting entire batches of women pilots.

It was the first amongst the three wings of the Armed Forces to entrust women with a combat role.

The IAF offers Short Service Commission to women in all its branches - flying, technical and ground duties. Age and educational qualification criteria are the same as applicable to male candidates in all these branches.

"Life in the Air Force is a unique combination of discipline and excitement. But one thing is for sure... there is never a dull moment. We begin work as early as 7 a.m. to prepare for our briefing and mission.

After the mission and de-briefing session are over, a game of tennis and a social evening with colleagues is the perfect way to relax," is what Flight Lieutenant Karishma Bhalla has to say about her experience as a pilot in the IAF.

"But there are always times when one is required to be on duty almost round-the-clock. One such instance was during Operation Safed Sagar when I was detailed as the standby crew. The standby crew is required to be available round-the-clock, including at night. It was a busy time for everybody in the Squadron. Each crew was doing anywhere between two or three shuttles," she explains on the IAF's web site.

Working in the Air Force is about being in the middle of supersonic jets, state-of-the-art technology and the best of the people. Indian Air Force provides you with the most modern facilities, gives you an unparalleled way of life and creates an environment, where the best in you comes out. Whether you are a graduate or you have finished your schooling or you have passed your class tenth, Air Force has an exciting career opportunity, suiting your qualification.

It was just a few days ago that the IAF invited applications from dynamic Indian women, for a fulfilling career in the flying branch of the IAF.

An unmarried female Indian citizen, born between July 2, 1982 and July 1, 1986, who is a graduate in any discipline, including engineering, with physics and mathematics at the 10+2 level, is eligible to apply for selection to the 25th Short Service Commission (Women) Flying (Pilot) Course, scheduled to commence in July 2005.

Engineers and candidates with better academic performance would be given preference in the matter of selection. Similarly, those possessing a Commercial Pilot Licence will enjoy a relaxation in the upper age limit. Whatever be the qualification, you should be in sound physical and mental health and at least 162.5-cm tall.

Those satisfying all these conditions, can send in their handwritten or typed out applications in English in the format already advertised, by ordinary post to "Post Bag No 001, Nirman Bhavan Post Office, New Delhi- 110011" before December 15, 2004.

The selection procedure is scientific and thorough and will be based on aptitude test, personality test, psychological test, interview and medical examination as well as demonstrated performance.

The selected candidates will have to undergo a training for 74 weeks at the Air Force Academy, Hyderabad, on the completion of which they will be granted Short Service Commission in the Indian Air Force.

The initial engagement period will be for 10 years from the date of commissioning. An extension of five years may be granted to those fulfilling stipulated performance criteria, subject to service requirement and availability of vacancies.

During the training period, Rs. 8,000 will be paid as stipend a month. On successful completion of training, she gets commissioned in the rank of a Flying Officer, in the payscale of Rs. 8,250-300-10,050. Entry-level emoluments with all the allowances admissible, work out to Rs. 18,750, per month.

There are other benefits, including furnished accommodation, comprehensive medical cover (also for families), leave travel concession, supply of entitled rations, canteen and officers' mess facilities and many more, that are available to a commissioned officer. Besides there is also an insuranace cover for Rs. 10 lakhs.

The Air Force is also looking to recruit women in its other branches, the advertisements for which have come out in recent days.

J. AJITH KUMAR

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