I like warm boots and I cannot lie
Is what we imagine a jawan or a trekker freezing in the upper reaches of the Himalaya will say to the revolutionary new snow boots developed by a 65 year-old researcher in Noida, especially when they cost a fraction of the price of the imported snow boots available in the country right now
Somewhere at an outpost in Kargil, when the temperature on a chilly night drops to -48 C, a young soldier pushes a button in his boots, switching on a lithium battery-powered heating device. His warm feet lead him towards his sentry duty for the night.
Outer (right) and inner snow shoes
If the soldier was ever to thank someone for these warm pair of shoes that keep him cosy, and most importantly, alive, it would be a modest 65-year-old man who spent two years making them a reality.
But VB Parvatikar, Advisor (technical) at Footwear Design and Development Institute, Noida, would most likely shrug his stooping shoulders and say, "Hello! I'm just doing my routine job."
We think not, considering he has developed an indigenous pair of shoes that can withstand both, -60 C or over 100 C temperatures.
"During the Kargil war, there was a shortage of snow boots, which were mainly procured from Italy. So the Army wanted me to design indigenous ones," he says. The result is a pair of scratch, tear and skid-resistant boots that are multi-purpose. They cost a maximum of Rs 4,000, as opposed to the imported Italian ones, which cost Rs 13,000.
A mechanical engineer by training, Parvatikar spent his initial years making rifles at the Ordinance factory in West Bengal. A few years later, this same man who once designed guns ended up building artificial limbs for injured soldiers at the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Co-operation in Kanpur.
Parvitikar also developed an anti-mine boot in collaboration with the Defence Material and Store, Research and Development Establishment. There's also a pair which protects one from snake bites.
"I love research and development. These boots have better insulation material compared to their foreign counterparts," says Parvatikar. "It gives me immense satisfaction, when I imagine that it will save a jawan's or a trekker's life on a snow-clad mountain," he adds.
Parvitikar is not ready to hang up his boots. You can notice the slight shiver of excitement when he says, "I want to make a plastic cricket bat next. The Willow can be put to rest. But it's just a dream for now."
He will offer 21 samples of these boots to the Army by September 30, after which mass production might start. Those who want to procure a pair (skiing clubs, etc) can contact him directly on 09910547676.