Good news, this time, came from the Indian Navy whose bosses have agreed to employ women on warships to guard the nation’s seas from invaders. The Indian Navy had been having women in its ranks, as was also the case with other Armed Forces, namely the Army and the Air Force. Women worked in battle tanks, too, and also in communications sections of the Air Force. In the Navy, too, they were engaged in important tasks. Yet, when the news came that the naval top brass has agreed to have women on the warships, one felt satisfied that Indian women have entered one more critical sector of national defence.
Of course, Indian women did not need this certificate to prove their prowess. For, they have been working in so many critical sectors that this one is only an addition to already expanding circle of their influence. Yet, the mental picture of women standing on the decks of warships keeping a vigilant eye on the high seas to see if any intruder is acting smart, gladdened the heart all right. May Indian women keep capturing more and more critical areas of endeavour. May their strength grow in leaps and bounds.
Of course, when women were kept away from many critical areas, the concern was for their safety. Or so the men claimed. May there not be any debate on that point, since such debates yield no results. But the most important point which women activists wanted to prove all the time was that women are capable of doing everything which men normally do. True, they may not have similar physical strength as men, but on the endurance scale, the women have often proved better than men on most occasions.
The reason is quite simple: Endurance is not a physical characteristic, but a psychological trait and spiritual dimension of the personality. And in this area, the women have always proved themselves stronger and better than most men. So, when the Indian Navy’s top brass has agreed to have women on the warships, it has only added value to the Navy’s strength and endurance.
As a psychologist, I can assure everybody that endurance is actually a spiritual dimension. When Sir Edmund Hillary launched his project to set up a modern hospital in the Khumjung area in Nepal in the Himalayas, he employed scores of porters to heave hospital equipment across the mountains and valleys. There were women, too, among those porters. Recalls Hillary in one of his articles about how he built the project, “One of the porters was a woman on the wrong side of 50s. She was carrying on her cack an X-Ray machine that weighed about 90 pounds, that is more than the woman’s weight. But she insisted upon carrying that load across one mountain and two gorges. And she was often then first to reach the next stop, much earlier than men porters who carried a lesser load. What mattered most in her case was her spiritual quality”.
This is what I am talking about. This is a universal experience – that women possess a greater spiritual strength to carry through a trying and demanding assignment than do the men.
But this is not, again, an issue of any heated debate. On the contrary, this is only an appreciation that when women would find their positions on the warships, they would only add to the overall value of the preparedness of the ship’s crew. Their sense of commitment to the assignment, discipline, focus will give the crew an added strength.
This is not to suggest that the men lack these. Not at all! They also have these in good measure. Yet, when women get added to the contingent – any contingent – then they make a great value-addition to the team, as is the experience of human society all over the world.
In Indian Navy, too, the women on the warships would make such a positive difference, such a great value-addition to the ship’s crew.
One feels happy that the human society is shedding its apprehensions about women. A long way is yet to be traversed in this regard universally. Yet, each small step is a gain which all of us must celebrate. It demonstrates that we are thinking about the other gender in a proper way by giving it its’ due honour. That is a bigger cause for celebration.