This Bengaluru food brand reduced Indian Army’s burden during Kargil War

Kunjabihari Panda

Maiyas Beverages and Foods Private Limited Quality Assurance and R&D General Manager Kunjabihari Panda answers questions from students of St Joseph's College (Autonomous, Bengaluru, on Friday, March 13, 2020. | Image credit: Times Of Food/Arkadev Ghoshal

Bengaluru-based multi-vertical brand Maiyas apparently more than halved the wight of the bags Indian Army soldiers would carry into the 1999 Kargil War.

Maiyas top executive Kunjabihari Panda told students on Friday, March 13, that the bags initially weighed 27 kg.

They would contain not just food but also essentials like toothbrushes and toothpastes for the army men.

The soldiers would have to carry these bags every day when they went to man remote posts.

However, Maiyas — invited by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee — managed to bring down the weight of this bag to just 11 kg, said Panda.

The process

Panda, the keynote speaker at an event organised by the Department of Food Technology at St Joseph’s College (Autonomous) in Bengaluru, told students that Maiyas was initially not made aware of the purpose of the project.

The general manager of Quality Assurance and R&D at Maiyas Beverages and Foods Private Limited gave some examples of emerging technologies in food processing.

He explained to the students a process called retorting. It involves the heating of low-acid foods that can become spoilt by microbes present in them.

The process destroys these microbes, which means the food becomes sterile and can therefore have a longer shelf life. It also ensures that the food, once packed, does not need to go into a refrigerator for preservation.

Panda told Times of Food later that Maiyas used this process to create food for Indian Army soldiers. The food was apparently in the form of bars, like those used by astronauts during space expeditions. They went into food packets for entire meals for the soldiers.

Indian Army
Indian Army soldiers commemorate 20 years of the 1999 Kargil War. | Picture credit: Twitter/ADGPI

Indian Army gets a boost

Maiyas managed to deliver 16 lakh food packets of lighter weight for the Indian Army well before its deadline, Panda told the students.

The lighter food packets meant the weight of the soldiers’ bags went down from 27 kg to 11 kg.

The Kargil conflict started two days later, he said. Up until then, Maiyas did not know for what purpose it was developing these foods.

Maiyas eventually won the Defence Technology Absorption Award from the Defence Research and Development Organisation for this innovation.

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