The pandemic saw Indian industry churn out PPEs. The government says it created a Rs 7,000 crore indigenous PPE industry almost overnight. There is another area where India’s crippling import dependence continues — Extreme Cold Weather Clothing Systems (ECCWCS) for troops in Siachen and high altitude areas. At heights of over 18,000 feet, temperatures drop 50 degrees below zero. It needs specialised equipment like cold weather shirts, down jackets, Gore-Tex suits, rucksacks and waterproof bags to withstand the elements.
Army Chief General MM Naravane with troops in Siachen in January. (Photo: Twitter/ @PBNS_India)
Each year, the army’s Master General of Ordnance branch buys between 20,000 to 25,000 pieces of ECCWCS equipment from abroad. They are divided into 'Category I' for personal use (20 items) and 'Category II' for general purpose items (35 items). Army officials say it cost the army over Rs 1 lakh to kit each soldier out for a three-month high-altitude deployment. The army spends over Rs 400 crores annually to import ECWCS and mountaineering kits. The equipment is supplied by firms in the US, Europe and Singapore. Several OEMs, however, source their materials and finished products from China. The prospect of Indian soldiers wearing Made in China gear alone should propel indigenisation efforts. Indigenous capability to manufacture such specialised clothing exists but it has strangely, not been tapped until now
(Courtesy of Mail Today)