It's 5 am and cadets wake up to the sound of the Boatswain's Pipe in the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Kerala where 12 women will join 1,200 men for a gruelling day of training, beginning with an eight kilometre run.

Each squadron in the academy has 200 men, with just two women cadets, who remain undaunted about the surroundings. Earlier, the women would run six kilometres but for the last one year, they match the men in carrying out exactly the same tasks in their training.

A 50-meter swimming lap, three-minutes floating and at least five-meters jump in the pool are the minimum requirements for both men and women cadets.

DNA visited the academy where the second batch of lady cadets is being trained to prepare them for deployment on warships and be part of combat roles.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has said recently that the proposition of allowing women officers in combat and on warships is under consideration and once the number of women in the Navy increases, it could be implemented. Currently, the closest women have come to being assigned combat duties is in the 'Observer' branch, where they are deployed on an armed maritime patrol aircraft.

The only option for women who have a Bachelor's degree in Engineering is a six month course at the academy where gender lines have been blurred.

The young cadets do not complain and see this as a step forward in being assigned same roles as the men once they become officers.

Akshi Panwar, who is recovering from a foot injury, can't wait to be back out in the sun. She says her father was reluctant about her joining a profession dominated by men. "He has finally accepted my decision, even though he was worried when I got injured, he did not ask me to leave as he knows my love for the path," she said. While recuperating, she's reading books on the Navy and talks to the lady doctor about her experiences as a Naval officer.

Cadet Shivangi, a 23-year-old from Muzaffarpur in Bihar, says the intense training has changed her body and mind. "I am looking forward to experiencing where this will lead," she said.

While training, the women cadets show the same steel as their male counterparts.

"In the cross-country run, a few men fell short but all the eight women completed the race," said Captain Arjun D Nair, a senior officer at the academy.

"We expect same standards from all our cadets irrespective of gender. The idea is to prepare them for the future, where they will assume leadership. For this the training has to be same too," said Vice Admiral RB Pandit, Commandant, Indian Naval Academy.