Women in the Army – Should Rank be Conferred upon Women?

Women in the Army – Should Rank be Conferred upon Women?

The President of India conferred Honorary Rank upon Dr. Deepak Rao, MS Dhoni and Abhinav Bindra on Nov 1, 2011. Combat specialist Deepak Rao contributed selflessly in modernization of Close Quarter Battle for the Indian Army for 17 years. His life partner and wife Dr. Seema Rao has been a part of this tireless pursuit every step of the way. And yet the Rank was bestowed only upon Deepak Rao. Dr. Seema Rao is probably the world’s first woman combat specialist in the field of Close Quarter Combat training, who has significantly contributed to the Indian forces. deFacto endeavors to defend equal political, economic, social rights and equal opportunities for women everywhere. Dr. Seema Rao has already been featured in the First Edition of the deFacto Women’s Directory, so we are no stranger to her accomplishments. Neither are we as women, stranger to discrimination in every field that we venture into.


  • Credentials: Dr. Seema Rao is an MD, MBA in Crisis Management and PhD Honora Doctoris (Indiana) in Martial Science. She  is the daughter of a freedom fighter. Along with her husband, Major. Deepak Rao, she has dedicated her life to the service to the nation. In a country where women are still looked upon as weaker sex and the Indian Army itself has many reservation in terms of capabilities of men and women, here stands a women who did not bring up a family for the sake of her work for the nation. Her contributions include Combat training and authoring books for the Indian Forces. She earned her Para Wings from the Indian Air Force under special directive of the Air Chief. She is a 6th deg Black Belt in Military Martial arts and a medallist Rock climber from the Army Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. She is also a crack shot Combat Shooting instructor. One of the 10 women in the world to be certified in Bruce Lee’s martial arts of Jeet Kune Do 38 years after Lee’s death. She was runner up in the Mrs India World beauty pageant in 2004. She received the World Peace Diplomat Award from the Malaysian PM at the World Peace Congress (UN Affiliate) in 2008. She received the “Outstanding Law Enforcement Instructor Award” from US Hall of Fame. She was interviewed by Femina, Savvy, US mag ‘V’ and of course deFacto Women’s Directory.
  • Vocation or Devotion? She has devoted 17 years of her life to sharing her expertise in Close Quarter Combat with the Indian forces. She along with her husband, Prof. Dr. Rao have imparted training in CQB to almost every elite unit of the Indian Forces, including NSG-Black cat, Marine Commando, Air Force Commando-Garud, Paracommando Special Forces, BSF, Army Corps Battle Schools, Commando Wing, National Police Academy, Army Officers Training Academy, etc. They have been called to train the Police QRTs of almost every major City & State in India as Official Resource Person by Directive of the Home Ministry. Their innovations have been used in modernization of training by the armed forces.
  • Selfless Service without Compensation: All of Seema’s work over past 17 years has been without any monetary compensation, as a selfless service to the country. The Rao couple’s research of last 17 years was compiled into a book – Encyclopedia of Close Combat Ops. All of the copies of the limited edition of this book was distributed to the Indian forces by the Union home ministry. Seema has not accepted any compensation for the book, not even the cost of production.
  • National Commendations: Dr. Seema has received the Army Chief’s citation, the Home Minister’s appreciation letter & Chief Minister’s commendation for her work for Indian soil. in 2008, Army Commander Gen VK Singh, who is the current Army Chief, commended her efforts in modernization of combat training for the Army. In 2009 the Home Minister of India, Shri P. Chidambaram put on record her selfless work for the country.
  • Sacrifices: In her pursuit for service to the country, Dr. Seema has suffered from head injury & Amnesia, vertebral fracture and other life threatening injuries. She has opted to not have children in order to enable her to continue the rigorous demands of her high intensity job profile.

Despite sharing equally in all of the above contributions as a couple, Dr. Seema was not conferred equal Rank. When she has clearly shown calibre, that women can be of equal capacity even in a combat role, why is the Army still reluctant to commission women in combat capacity. Why cannot a provision be made for her to be awarded Honorary Rank for her selfless contribution? When the President of India, a woman can confer rank upon Deepak Rao, why not Seema Rao, who is equally part of the combat couple team? Let us take the example of Mary Edwards Walker who is the only one woman to have been awarded the Medal of Honor; highest military decoration awarded by the President of USA and one of only eight civilians to receive it. She received the award for her role as a combat surgeon in the Civil War. Is it then not imperative for a woman who has spent 17 years training the Forces to receive an Honorary Rank if not a Medal of Bravery? On one hand the Business World have begun to recognize women entrepreneurs for their role in contributing to the economy of the nation and on the other hand the Armed Force refuses to acknowledge the contribution of women as combatants in the Armed Forces. Should this disparity exist? Let us endeavour to educate our country men that such Draconian laws no longer hold true and a woman is the equivalent of a man in any field and we have been proving that time and again. It’s time to change the status quo!

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One Response to “Women in the Army – Should Rank be Conferred upon Women?”

  1. firestarter says:

    Selfless service undoubtedly! This is indeed commendable as very few women would sacrifice everything in the face of service to the nation and society even family! Forget the fire-jumping image, the accomplishments that follow depict far greater courage and conviction. Congratulations are in order and yes we must destroy such Draconian laws and mindsets in order for our civilisation to grow and evolve. Women hold the keys to the future! Let them free…

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