Don’t let anyone stop you, however don’t expect concessions: Lt Gen Madhuri Kanitkar’s message to women

Lieutenant General Madhuri Kanitkar who was on Saturday promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General — becoming the third woman officer in the Indian Army to achieve the second-highest post — said that women should not let anyone stop them but at the same time they should not expect any concessions.

Speaking to ANI, Lt Gen Kanitkar said: “I would say don’t let anyone stop you but at the same time don’t expect concessions. When you take with one hand you have to give double with the other. I think a woman can multitask. I think she’ll bring a huge amount of strength and resilience to the workforce and inclusivity, a different perspective. I think the organisation would benefit from having more women in the armed forces.”

Flooded with congratulatory messages from all over the country for having cracked the glass ceiling, Kanitkar said that she was “a little overwhelmed by the love and affection shown by so many people”.

“I feel very humbled and honoured. I can’t say the journey was a bed of roses but determination was always there,” she said.

Lt Gen Kanitkar who put on her rank on February 29 has now been posted to Headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff under the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

On being asked how she looks at working with the CDS, Kanitkar, who is a paediatrician, said: “We have CDS giving a direction to the whole thing and at this juncture medical is already an integrated tri-services service and yet we are working with three compartments. So, I think, when we look at combat support and pooling our resources, I am sure it would give excellent results.”

Kanitkar, who has served in the forces for 37 years, said her family has played a very important role in her career. “Not just the husband but it was also the children, my parents, and in-laws who pitched in because I have done postings all over and have lived alone most of the times. But at the end of it, when you have a vision or a dream and you reach the destination, there is tremendous satisfaction and I think that’s what is there today,” she said.

Speaking about her husband, Lieutenant General Rajeev Kanitkar, who is now retired from the Army, she said that throughout their journey they kept raising the bar for each other to stay motivated.

“We started with high expectations from each other. He was a President’s gold medal from NDA and I was a President’s gold medal from AFMC. We kept raising the bar for each other. It was difficult but we had to find our own solutions but I think the family’s role was also very big,” she said.

On her area of specialisation, Kanitkar said she is not just a soldier but also a doctor and a teacher. So she would first like to integrate the effects of one with the other. “My forte has always been education and research and I would like to bring the best of education and research for improving combat care in the field.”

Welcoming the Supreme Court’s recent judgment on Permanent Commission for women officers in the Indian Army, Lt Gen Kanitkar said that it’s a positive step.

“When you choose a career and if you have to look at short term goals, you have some but you always have mid-term and long-term goals. So, unless you give an option to a girl to have a permanent commission and make it a career, she cannot give it her best. This decision would encourage more girls,” she said.

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