Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General M M Naravane on Tuesday said there was a need to create greater awareness among the youth about the armed forces as a career option. General Naravane was speaking virtually at the silver jubilee function of Rani Laxmibai Mulinchi Sainiki Shala, a military-oriented school for girls run by the Maharashtra Education Society near Pune.

In its 25-year journey, the school has taught 2,000 girls starting with the first batch of only 40 girls and eventually growing the intake into 90 per year from all over Maharashtra. This special school is spread in 32 acres of land that was given by the government of Maharashtra with a special sanction right from the first day. Located under Mulshi tehsil, at Kasar-Amboli, just 25 km from Pune, the school is located as part of hill -top construction.

General Naravane pointed out that some regions are under-represented in the defense forces.

“We ensure that all the officers and soldiers, irrespective of gender, get equal opportunity to serve the nation and enhance their career prospects. Women officers are serving in the Indian Army with distinction and we have taken a number of steps to give them maximum exposure in challenging assignments,” said Gen Naravane.

The army chief also emphasised that the Indian defense forces and the Army in particular believe in gender parity and women’s empowerment.

The Indian Army reflects the unique strength of the country which is ‘unity in diversity’, he said.

“The army recruits from all the regions and in that effect mirrors a Mini India. However, I must highlight that the regional representation in the army is not a balanced mix,” he noted.

‘The northern region of our country, which comprises 14 percent of our population, accounts for 45 percent of the strength of the Indian Army, while the western region which also includes Maharashtra, with the same 14 percent of the population has mere eight percent representation in the army,’ he said.

This disparity needed some introspection, he said.

“There is a need to create greater awareness among the youth about the armed forces as the preferred career option and offer them adequate guidance and opportunity and we need to join hands and start the collective work towards this, and this school is one step in that direction,’” the army chief said.