Meet Major Priya Jhingan, The First Lady Cadet To Join The Indian Army

Major Priya Jhingan is an Indian Army officer and Lady Cadet No 1 and Silver Medalist from the first batch of 25 lady officers who were commissioned in the Indian Army in 1993. A decade ago, on 21 September 1992, the feisty Priya Jhingan enrolled as 001 — the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army. “It’s a dream I have lived every day for the last 10 years,” says Major Jhingan, formerly OIC, Judge Advocate General, at the Chennai headquarters. Returning to the dream, she says it was her single-mindedness that won her an entry into the Army. Soon after she finished her graduation, she wrote a letter to the then Chief of Army Staff, General Sunith Francis Rodrigues, requesting him to open the doors of the armed services to women.

Being the daughter of a police officer, Priya initially wanted to join the Indian Police Service but decided to write to the then Chief of Army Staff General Sunith Francis Rodrigues to allow her to join the army. Her request was accepted in 1992 for training at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. She started her military training from 21 September 1992 along with 24 other lady cadets. She passes out as the Silver Medallist of the First Women’s Course on 06 March 1993 Her request to join an infantry battalion was rejected by the army as there were no such provisions for the same. Being a law graduate, she joined Corps of Judge Advocate General. After ten years of distinguished service at Judge Advocate General Department where she conducted numerous Court Martial , Major Priya was released in 2003 as per the contract of service Major. Priya has always been a strong advocate for women being given equal roles as men in the Indian Army. She defended the women in Indian Army as a right over the controversial suicide of Lieutenant Sushmita Chakravarty in which the then Vice-Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen S Pattabhiraman had to apologize for an insensitive remark about women in the army. Post-release from the Indian Army, she always advocated permanent commission and giving command of units to women officers in the Indian Army. Her views were published in The Times of India on 17 Feb 2020 and taken note of by decision-makers. The Supreme Court of India passed a ruling granting equal opportunities to women to command units in the Indian Army in February 2020, 17 years after she was released from the Army.

After retirement, Major Priya cleared the Haryana Judicial Services but ended up not joining the Judicial Service. She then completed a Bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass Communication and took up editing a weekly, Sikkim Express, in Gangtok. In 2013, she was one of the participants of Khatron Ke Khiladi Season 1. In 2013 she joined Lawrence School, Sanawar as an English teacher and a House Mistress. Priya Jhingan is married to Lieutenant Colonel Manoj Malhotra who runs an adventure sports company named Pep Turf. The couple lives in Chandigarh, India and have one son, Aryaman.

In Feb 2018, Major Priya Jhingan was felicitated by the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, for being the pioneer of women in the Indian Army amongst 112 other prominent women in various fields in India. She has led treks in Himachal Pradesh from 2012 to 2019 and also summited Mt Kilimanjaro (19,357 feet) with an all-girls team from The Lawrence School, Sanawar. In 2018, she led a 104 km all women white water rafting expedition on River Ganges.

In March 2020, Major Priya Jhingan switched careers from being an English Teacher and Housemistress at The Lawrence School, Sanawar to take on the challenging leadership role as Director Pep Turf, to share her strengths in experiential learning with the youth.

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