The Russian winter in World War 2 proved to be a graveyard for Nazi Germany which was breathing fire all over the world. The abhorrent Nazis were no less than monsters in men’s flesh. These German monsters collapsed like packs of cards in the bone-chilling winter. On a different note, the onslaught of nature in the Himalayas is no less than the infamous Russian blizzards. The Indian Army is crushing the dragon’s salami-slicing strategy while dislodging the heads of Chinese Minions with ease. Hence, being pragmatic, India understands that their main cause of worry in the mountainous terrain is nature’s cold fury. For that Indian start-ups are stepping up and equipping the Armed Forces with indigenous cold weather clothes.
Start-ups taking the mantle
The Indian Armed forces in the Hilly terrain constantly face subzero temperatures which can drop to record low ranging between -30 to -50 degree celsius. Hence, without proper gear, normal metabolic activities are impossible let alone thinking about performing Army duties. For this very reason, Indian startups have come to the fore and are delivering on the winter apparel requirements of the Indian Armed Forces.
AROO has delivered more than 60,000 sets of Extended Cold Weather Clothing Systems (ECWCS). For a reminder, AROO is India’s first defence start-up specialising in defence clothing and ECWCS is a three-layer modular clothing system that keeps the body warm in temperatures of up to minus 50 degrees Celsius. It is worn by soldiers in high-altitude regions, including the Siachen Glacier.
These Extreme Cold Weather Clothing Systems (ECWCS) capable of operating in temp. as low as -50 degrees C (for place like Ladakh and Siachen) are now being manufactured in India for the Indian army. #MakeInIndia pic.twitter.com/xzHGQqSw2l
— Ankiit Koomar (@AnkiitKoomar) April 21, 2022
With this, the Indian startup has eased our import dependence and a possible foundation for future export. Munish Hinduja, AROO’s co-founder in a conversation with ThePrint said, “It has been an honour for us to serve Indian soldiers through our indigenous solutions. We can with pride comment that AROO ECWCS outperforms the imported clothing systems provided to the Indian Army. It also comes at a lower cost, thus providing savings to the Indian government. Furthermore, the Indian Army is no longer dependent on foreign companies for this life-saving apparel”.
Why is this a major achievement?
India is the third-highest military spending nation in the world amounting to $76.6 billion in 2021 as defence expenditure. But we had a very dismal record as far as defence exports or indigenous manufacturing is concerned. In late 2020 alone, India made an emergency procurement of about 11,000 sets of ECWCS for our soldiers deployed at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to smash the Chinese expansionist policy.
This import dependence has been a major thorn for us which eats a major chunk of our budgetary pie. Hence, it has been India’s resolute stand to indigenise our defence sector and for that, the government has been issuing lists of arms embargo banning specific imported defence Equipment that included these ECWCS. Moreover, In late last year, India’s premium defence organisation DRDO transferred the technology of these ECWCS to 5 Indian firms. The army had projected a requirement of 50,000 to 90,000 sets of these cold winter clothes.
Past Hit and Misses
The Josh of the Indian Armed Forces is as high as the Himalayas. Yet there is a limit for physical endurance. India was back-stabbed by the Chinese in the winter times and India was caught off-guard. Indian Soldiers had to fight the planned assault of the Chinese and also nature’s fury. Indian soldiers fought the war without proper winter clothing and only had canvas shoes which proved to be one of the reasons for our dismal fate in the 1962 war with China.
The easternmost stretch of the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan was not demarcated beyond a point called NJ9842 since it was inhospitable and uninhabited. But the Pakistanis are known for their betrayal, hence when they wanted to illegally capture the icy barren lands of Siachen, Indian Armed Forces made pre-empted moves and launched Operation Meghdoot. The timely arrival of the winter clothing played a crucial role in that operation.
Since the India and China border tensions started, India has mirrored every move of the dragon and has foiled its dreams of forever expansion. But the actual crisis for the dragon began when the winter arrived in the Himalayas. The Chinese sissy soldiers became nauseating and ran away from the Himalayan terrain, adopting a quick rotation policy. While the battle-trained Indian Soldiers kept their grounds with much greater ease. Now with the advanced level of winter gear, the armed forces have become a more lethal force, one that is beyond the Chinese comprehension. With the help of a seasoned player like DRDO, Indian start-ups will be manufacturing import substitute, cost-effective and indigenous solutions that will be a game-changer for India’s defence export in the future.