Women Officers of the Indian Navy and a spouse of a senior serving Naval Officer shared their experiences and association with the Indian Navy at the Women 20 inception meet under the aegis of G20 at Aurangabad on February 28, 2023. Speaking to the audience under the theme Breaking the Barriers : Stories of Unconventional Women, their thoughts and stories were reflective of gender empowerment and inclusivity in both letter and spirit in the Indian Navy. Each had something unique and special to say.
Lieutenant Commander Swati Bhandari spoke about overcoming her fear of heights and becoming a proficient aircrew, who has flown both operational and search and rescue missions. She has been felicitated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Women’s Day 2022 for her achievements. Surgeon Commander Shazia Khan a superspecialist in Gynaecological surgery shared her experiences as a medical professional and the thrills of yachting, sailing and her recent car rally to Rajasthan all of which has helped to shape her confident personality. Lieutenant Commander Disha Amrith proudly narrated her journey from being a part of the NCC Republic Day marching contingent to leading the Indian Navy marching contingent comprising 144 personnel on the Republic Day earlier his year. Lieutenant Commander Tavishi Singh a Naval constructor described how she oversees the work at the shipyards to ensure the timely completion of activities associated with the pre-launch and delivery of warships. Two women officers Lieutenant Commanders Dilna and Roopa,are both presently on board INSV Tarini sailing in the South Atlantic and training to undertake the first circumnavigation by an Asian woman. Their coming live on video conferencing was a surreal experience. In conclusion, Deepa Bhat Nair a professional as an early interventionist, spouse of a senior serving Naval Officer shared her thoughts on the role of the Navy Welfare and Wellness organisation (NWWA) run by volunteer spouses. With the changing times NWWA has also evolved to embrace gender neutrality. She highlighted the role that Naval spouses play and how they serve as force multipliers maintaining a well-oiled support network that supports the families behind even as the Navy fulfils its responsibilities. The wind beneath the sails, they provide the belief and the strength that the families will be taken care of.
A multi-dimensional force, the Indian Navy operates on the surface of the sea, below the sea and also in the skies above the sea. Its activities cover the military, diplomatic, constabulary and benign roles. The naval platforms : ships, submarines and aircraft use cutting edge technologies and therefore the Navy lays great emphasis on the quality and training of its greatest asset, namely on the personnel who man these machines. Personnel from all walks of life and all parts of India are part of the Armed Forces. Indian Navy is no different. It is often said that an Indian Naval Warship is a shining example of India’s diversity and is a microcosm of the real India. While women have served in some branches of the Navy earlier, the recent initiatives to open all branches for both officers and sailors is a bold transformative step. The stories were inspirational and embodied Nari Shakti in its true form. They also brought to fore, the various outreach programmes and philanthropic effort done under the aegis of the Indian Navy and NWWA in the society.