We invest nearly Rs.11 crores on training a fighter pilot. And the investment is recovered over nearly 14 years, according Vice-Chief-of-Air Staff Air Marahal P K Barbora. Viewed in this perspective, he reckons, it is not feasible to keep women fighter pilots in service once they get married.
As he would put it, constraints crop up the moment they get into the family way. Besides, there are concerns about what could happen, if women officers were taken POWs during combat operations.
Air Vice-chief’s plain speaking hasn’t apparently found favour with the government top brass. A newspaper report citing highly placed sources said, ‘the stated policy of the government – IAF’s doors are open for induction of women in non-combat operations – requires no further elaboration’.
That the officially stated position doesn’t contradict what the air marshal said is not the point. It is that a high-ranking Air Force officer sought to explain to the media something he need not have done. In so doing , Air Marshal Barbora violated the most important of policy guidelines, which reads, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. There are certain issues media wouldn’t raise; and the government doesn’t feel obliged to explain.