Madhuri Kanitkar 3rd woman in India to assume Lt Gen rank.

Close on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling for women officers who have been fighting for an equal footing with men in the armed forces, Major General Madhuri Kanitkar was elevated to the rank of Lieutenant-General. Lt Gen Kanitkar took charge as Deputy Chief, Integrated Defence Staff (DCIDS), Medical (under the Chief of Defence Staff) in New Delhi.

Kanitkar is the third woman in the country and first paediatrician from the armed forces who will now wear this rank. Kanitkar and her husband Rajiv, also a lieutenant general, will be the first couple in the armed forces to reach this rank. Kanitkar has served in the Indian military for 37 years.

The CDS is a post that acts as a single point advisor to the government of India who is in a position to advise on matters related to all the three services —Army, Navy and Air Force, thus making India’s armed forces integrated. “This organisation is fair, transparent, respected and safe for a woman where she is given opportunities to grow. If there is one message I would like to share, it is to enjoy every day in uniform with childlike enthusiasm and challenge yourself to achieve the impossible. Never give up, just give back! To every woman in uniform, I can say ‘half the world is yours to take, but the full is yours to give’. So, always give your best,” Lt Gen Kanitkar told.

Kanitkar was selected for the rank of Lieutenant General last year, but she assumed the rank on Saturday following a vacancy. Three-star officers hold the rank of Vice Admiral, Lieutenant General and Air Marshal in the Air Force. Lt Gen Punita Arora was the first woman in the country to don the second-highest rank of Lieutenant General in the armed forces. Padmavathy Bandopadhyay is the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force and the second woman in the armed forces to be promoted to the three-star rank.

A topper at AFMC and winner of the presidential gold medal for the best outgoing student, Kanitkar completed her post-graduation in paediatrics and training in paediatric nephrology at AIIMS. Kanitkar is also a member of the Prime Minister’s scientific and technical advisory board. The first trained paediatric nephrologist of the armed forces, Kanitkar, who single-handedly set up units to monitor kidney ailments in children in Pune and Delhi, had returned to her alma mater, AFMC, as its first woman dean in 2017.

After completing more than two years as dean of AFMC in Pune, Kanitkar had last year taken the responsibility as Major General Medical, Udhampur. The Northern Command is an operational command of the Indian Army engaged in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir.