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For the first time, govt orders special helmets for Sikh soldiers

Possibly for the first time ever, the government has come out with an order to buy helmets for Sikh soldiers

For the first time, govt orders special helmets for Sikh soldiers
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Known for their impressive and well-proportioned physiques, the mandated fitment for the Indian military’s burly Sikhs has usually been on the larger side of things.

Possibly for the first time ever, the government has come out with an order to buy helmets for Sikh soldiers who form a sizable chunk of the Indian Army.

On Thursday, the defence ministry issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to buy 12,730 ballistic helmets for its Sikh troops under the emergency procurement through the fast track procedure. The end-user is to be the Indian Army.

The break-up of the proposal includes 8,911 large and 3,819 extra large helmets with the condition that it has to be largely indigenous in design or content.

Mandated by religious norms not to cut their hair, for Sikh soldiers of the Indian military, wearing a helmet has been a matter of personal choice.

But often for reasons of safety especially in operational areas like Kashmir or in the Northeast, donning a helmet may have been desirable.

But it could have posed a problem in many cases because of the turban covering the hair, necessitating special helmets.

The design requirements specify that the "helmet should be able to suit the head size of Sikh troops and should have a centre bulge design".

It should also "facilitate unhindered use of handset of communication radio, in-service night vision devices, personal spectacles and respirators / chemical hoods".

The proposal mandates that the helmets should be able to withstand 9 X 10 mm bullets fired from a distance of 5 metres and be able to operate at temperatures ranging from minus 20 degrees to plus 45 degrees centigrade bringing the operable range from the hot and arid areas to the freezing cold high altitude areas from Siachen to Arunachal Pradesh.

The helmets should also be comfortable enough for continuous wear for at least six hours in varied operating environments.

Forming less than 2 per cent of the Indian population, Sikhs comprise about 12 per cent of the Indian Army.

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