Country's first line of defencealong the China border - the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force - has a new 'enemy' in sight in the form of heart attack deaths which has claimed lives of dozens of its jawans in the recent past.
The paramilitary force, whose troops are largely deployed in inhospitable high altitude areas, has pressed the alarm bell on the worrying trend with ITBP chief Subhas Goswami writing to his field commanders along the borders and other locations asking them to make drastic changes in the present cooking style and eating habits of the personnel.
In his communication, the ITBP Director General has issued instructions to cut down on the use of high cholesterol ghee and oil for cooking at border posts, battalion locations and in mess rooms of the force as he expressed concern over the high number of deaths due to heart-related problems.
Officials said while close to three dozen jawans had sudden death, including 16 cases of heart attack, in the first six months of this year, over 50 such cases were reported last year from across various locations of the force, including in places where the troops are deployed in plains.
What got the force worried was the fact that some of the heart-related deaths took place among the younger lot who have joined the mountain-trained force in the recent past, the officials said.
The DG, they said, has now got issued a first-ever exhaustive 'recipe book' which talks about preparation of healthy food with the minimal use of oils, spices and salt.
Henceforth, ITBP kitchens will only prepare food as described in these latest manuals.
Goswami, the officials said, took the step after he was told that high calorie and oily food taking toll on the health of the personnel and the absence of a standard cooking guidebook in the force.
Subsequent to this, a 69-page guide recipe book was prepared with the help of nutrition experts charting out the preparation of a balanced diet of vegetarian, non-vegetarian food and desserts by the cooks of the force.
The force has also made regular health check-up mandatory for all the ranks that include the jawans and officers deployed at all hard and normal area duties.
ITBP guards the largely snow-capped 3,488-km Indo-China border at an altitude ranging from 9,000ft to 18,700ft and it conducts both long range and short range patrols along this frontier which is prone to frequent incursion attempts by the troops of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.