By Pradip R Sagar
Published: 02nd Nov 2014 06:06:55 AM The New Indian Express – The Sunday Standard
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit this Diwali to the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen, to applaud the Indian army troops deployed there again brought into national focus the difficulty of operating under such adverse climatic conditions.
A study by Defence Research and Development Organisation, India’s premier defence research institute, to find solutions and shorten the acclimatization period has been junked by the Army.
Keeping unforeseen events in mind, the Army wanted to reduce the pre-acclimatisation training period to faster deploy its troops to high-altitude locations in cases of emergency. And for this, the DRDO was mandated to carry out a study on how to reduce the pre-acclimatisation training period in May 2009 with budget of over `3 crore. Delhi-based Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), a wing of DRDO, carried out the study for which they selected 210 soldiers. In order to study the soldiers’ physiology changes, they were asked to stay in a make-shift chamber filled with nitrogen for intermittent periods. But the Army has rubbished the study report and criticised the methods adopted by the DIPAS scientists.
In a strongly worded four-page letter to DIPAS on 10 September, the office of the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) has raised serious objections and sought explanation on various key points related to the study including selection of troops for the study, use of multiple investigators to collect data, use of master step test as an indicator of exercise performance for high altitude and disparity in heart rate date from the same cohort at different points of the report.
DIPAS had used intermittent hypoxia study at sea level before dispatching soldiers to high-altitude locations. Explaining the terminology, a DRDO scientist said that Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) is a test protocol usually given to the individual with reduced oxygen concentration as prevailed in high altitude for pre-acclimatising them at sea level in a normobaric hypoxic chamber, before they are deployed for high mountain warfare.
On the basis the outcome of the study, two costly normobaric hypoxic chambers were planned to be set up in Chandigarh to cater northern command and Sukhna for eastern command troops with a cost of over `10 lakh.
Reacting strongly to the samples of troops taken, that had men who had already served in high-altitude postings, the DGAFMS raised concerns on the validity of conclusions drawn from the data presented. While seeking justification for the selection of re-inductees as study subjects, the Army has said, “Current knowledge on the phenomenon of de-acclimatisation is limited. It is accepted by many experts in the field that certain physiological changes induces on exposure on high altitude may persist beyond one month of return to sea level.”
“Hence the choice of re-inductees as study subjects raises questions about the validity of date being presented, especially since the aim of the project is to extrapolate the findings to healthy soldiers being rapidly inducted to high altitude, in all probability, for the first time,” DGAFMC said in his detailed response to DIPAS study.
When contacted, DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta refused to comment as it is a classified matter.
See the following post and judged the DRDO culture, DRDO having rs 2 crore budget per year to manage the media. Public Interface Director jobs to suppress all news which expose the corrupt practices of DRDO, will modi ji will look for this budget?
DRDO’s only woman lab chief climbs new heights
Debabrata Mohanty : Bhubaneswar, Mon Jan 09 2012, 00:15 hrs
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh singled out Tessy Thomas, the project director of Agni ballistic missile programme, in his inaugural speech at the ISC, as evidence of women making great strides in the field of science, he could well have been talking about another distinguished woman scientist, Shashi Bala Singh.
Singh, in her mid-40s, is the only woman director in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to head a laboratory that is doing crucial research in acclimatising over 80,000 jawans posted in cold and arid regions of the western sector.
Singh, a physiologist from New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, is the director of Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS), one of DRDO’s 52 laboratories, which is now in the process of reducing the six-day acclimatisation period for jawans in cold climates to three days.
In Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, which is about 3,500 metres high from the sea level, hypoxia (lack of dissolved oxygen in air making breathing almost impossible) can be a traumatic experience for a person from the plains. Hypoxia affects the short-term memory of jawans as lack of oxygen impairs the brain cells. For jawans posted in Ladakh and Siachen, the need to acclimatise fast to the harsh surroundings has always been a challenge.
“There is a limit to the body’s physiological manipulation in sub-human conditions as jawans need to work in the temperature as high as 40 degrees Celsius in a tank to as low as —60 degrees Celsius. The trick is how to adjust quickly and optimise the performance of jawans. In places such as Siachen and Ladakh our goal has been to increase the oxygen level in blood so as to avoid drowsiness and fatigue,” said Singh, who was in Bhubaneswar to deliver a speech on “low cost sustainable technologies for cold arid desert” at the ISC.
At DIPAS, where she started her career in 1990 and since then has been one of the star scientists in the DRDO’s male-dominated labs, Singh has been involved in getting the Ladakh locals grow 75 types of vegetables such as radish, turnip and bittergourd using the DRDO technology which helps the Army meet its vegetable requirement during summer. The lab has customised yoga for soldiers as the jawans can’t go for physical exercises outside due to paucity of oxygen. It is also using aloe vera in the treatment of frostbite, pentoxifyl-line and aspirin in managing cold injuries, and has developed a solid-state cooling garment for tank crew.
Singh’s area of interest has been hypophagia (undereating) at high altitude in terms of taste receptor sensitivity changes. Her lab maintains a database of the nutritional requirements of the Indian population under various stress/ environmental conditions.
Singh says that she never felt disadvantaged at male-dominated DIPAS, where she now heads a 120-member staff.
“In 2007, the DRDO asked me to go to Defence Institute of High Altitude Research at Leh-Ladakh as director and I accepted it without a murmur. Some people asked if it was a punishment posting for me. But to me it was an opportunity to prove my worth,” said Singh, adding that in the next one year, the DRDO will be able to bring down the acclimatisation process of jawans in high altitude areas by 50 per cent.
“All our research so far has been in the western Himalayas. But with Chinese interests increasing in eastern Himalayan states like Arunachal Pradesh, we need to do high-altitude research there,” she said.
A fellow of Indian Association of Biomedical Scientist and Indian Academy of Neurosciences (IAN), Singh has over 60 publications. In 2007, she received the prestigious DRDO Technology Spin Off Award.
Thanks for the information
At DIPAS, where she started her career in 1990 and since then has been one of the star scientists in the DRDO’s male-dominated labs, Singh has been involved in getting the Ladakh locals grow 75 types of vegetables such as radish, turnip and bittergourd using the DRDO technology which helps the Army meet its vegetable requirement during summer. The lab has customised yoga for soldiers as the jawans can’t go for physical exercises outside due to paucity of oxygen. It is also using aloe vera in the treatment of frostbite, pentoxifyl-line and aspirin in managing cold injuries, and has developed a solid-state cooling garment for tank crew. – is wrong information.